Children can be fascinated by the simplest of activities. They can find all sorts of items around the house that are ready-made for play. Other items, however, provide the material for one-of-a-kind creations. Paper is one of these items. Paper can be much more than just a ready drawing surface. It can be used to build all sorts of playthings to fuel the imaginations of little ones. A particularly imaginative project is a model paper train. Model trains are practically guaranteed, in fact, to amuse not only the young ones in your life but adults as well!
A model train can easily be constructed using a variety of paper items. These include sheet paper but also materials such as paper cups, paper towel rolls, and even empty food boxes. The paper towel roll will serve as an excellent body for a tanker car in the model, as a smokestack, or even as logs loaded onto a cargo car! The empty food boxes can be used for boxcars, engines, and cabooses. The bottoms of paper cups can be cut off to become wheels for the train. A model paper train can be as detailed as your imagination allows!
Start the construction process but summing up the various materials that you have at hand. The sizes of the boxes and cups will determine the size of the train. You’ll need glue, tape, and colored markers to decorate your creation, some wooden skewers to construct its axles, and some bread ties to attach the various cars together. Don’t forget to gather up some of the clear cellophane that comes on cake boxes and other food containers. It makes very realistic looking windows!
Using scissors and an Exacto knife cut out the major features of your model train. You’ll need to size each of its components in consideration of the whole. A train with a huge cargo car made using a cereal box as a foundation and a tiny tanker car made with a paper towel role would not be very realistic. Instead, choose a smaller box to make the cargo car. An empty macaroni and cheese box is an excellent choice for this portion of the project. Cut out just its corner to dimensions that will match those of the tanker car made out of the paper towel roll. That will give you a fairly sturdy four-sided foundation to build up from. Cut additional pieces of the box to fill in the other sides and use tape to secure them in place. Use sheet paper to cover the box foundation, drawing in details like company logos and car numbers and gluing it neatly over the entire surface of the foundation.
Adding wheels to your model will really make it come alive. Add cardboard spacers under the train by bending narrow strips of cardboard into squares and taping them in place. Punch holes through the spacers and insert sections of wooden skewers through those spacers to make the axles. Cut several paper cup bottoms to size, punch a hole in their exact centers, and slip them over each end of each skewer axle. Use tape to create a stop at the end of the skewers so that the wheels will stay in place. Be sure and make a cardboard coupler at the front and back of the car so that it can be attached to the rest of your creations.
You can make the train’s couplers from sections of the macaroni and cheese box as well. Cut small rectangles from the corners where the box is the strongest. Tape one end of the rectangle to the underside of the train car, allowing it to stick out about one-quarter of an inch. Punch a hole in the part that sticks out. You can then use loops of bread ties to couple the cars together.
Now that you have constructed the basic cargo car you should have many more ideas about other components that will make your train more life like. You’ll need some tanker cars, of course, but you’ll also need a realistic engine and, possibly, a caboose. Construct those using the basic steps outlined above. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Cut out holes in the sides of some of the cars to make windows and tape cellophane on the insides of these holes to finish those windows. Add smokestacks and details such as headlamps and piping!
Constructing a model paper train can be as time-intensive as you would like it to be. Once you have constructed that first car, however, it is practically insured that you will construct many more to amuse not only the young ones in your life but also yourself!