The 1922 book, Advanced Toy Making for Schools by David M. Mitchell, has many design patterns for children's toys.
Here is a copy of the pattern for a 1922 toy racing car:
I entered this pattern into Google Sketchup:
I have used spoked wheels on other projects, and they add an extra touch to the design. Spoked wheels are also time-period appropriate for a 1922 car. Here is where I got the spoked wheels:
I messed up when I ordered these. I ordered 12 thinking that would make 3 cars at 4 wheels per car. I forgot the spare wheel on the trunk . Either I will have to leave off the 5th wheel, or order some more wheels. I have enough to make 2 cars, which will take 10 wheels. I ordered some fancy steering wheels as well.
Making the Curved Hood
I first routed the 2 top edges with a 5/8 inch router radius bit. Then I used the big 4 inch diameter 60 grit drum sander to sand to the pencil line of the curve, on each end. I finished with 220 grit on the drill press drum sander.
Planing the 1/4" and 3/8" thick pine pieces
I used my planer to first plane 3/4" stock to the desired 1/4" and 3/8" stock needed for the car pieces.
I started with the hood to the base plate, and worked my way backwards on the car.
Rear Curved Section
I super-glued the back portion onto the 2 curved side pieces. I put a dummy piece in the front, so I could clamp the 2 sides together.
Once dry, I used the drum sander to sand the angled piece to match the 2 curved side pieces. I finished sanded with 220 grit.
First Car Assembled except for Wheels
I used a small toy wheel axle piece for the radiator cap.
I painted the 1st car yellow.
I bought some plastic Painter's Pyramids from Rockler, and used them on this project. They worked very well. I should have bought these years ago!
The catalog picture was blue, but they actually came in the red color shown above.
I was disappointed to find the new spoked wheels did not turn freely on their axles. I put the axle in the drill press, then held the spoked wheel by hand, and "broke" in the axle and the wheels. I did a little sanding also. I wanted them to spin freely on the car when it was assembled.
Drilling the axles Holes in the Car
The top of the wheels is flush with the top of the main 1/4" thick body piece. I held a scrap piece of pine on top of the main 1/4" piece, then moved the wheel up until it touched the scrap. I then started the drill into the car to mark the axle hole. I finished drilled the axle hole in the drill press.
I did 3 wheels first, installed the 3 wheels, then used the same method to mark the axle hole for the 4th wheel. This resulted in the car setting on all 4 wheels, versus only 3 of the 4.
How to do the Air Louvres in the Hood
My wife came up with the idea of using thin veneer wood for the louvres. I am not good at hand painting such fine detail, so that was not an option.
I glued the louvre pattern onto some very thin holly veneer with white Elmer's glue. I cut out the louvre with sharp scissors (I tried scroll sawing but the wood is too thin). I washed off the paper and Elmer's glue. I painted the louvres gray, then super-glued them to the main hood. I marked the point of max bending with an Exacto knive, so the veneer would crack and form itself to the curved hood shape. I was able to touch up the gray paint on the louvres after they were installed on the car. I used rubber bands to hold the louvres in place after super gluing.
The small dowel put force at the top of the louvres where it was needed.
Finished 1st Yellow Car
Finishing the Other Cars
On the last green car, I used the masking tape method to paint on the louvres on the hood:
The whole fleet................
After I got the 4 colored cars done, I had to build a plain gray one. I thought it might look pretty cool.
I used Rustoleum gray for the body and gloss black for the wheels. It takes 24 hours for the Rustoleum to dry, and you have to give it 2 coats, so this is 48 hours. I did an experiment where I baked it at 150F in my oven (not my wife's oven) and after about 1 hour, it was dry.
I have tried drying or baking other wood before, and sometimes the resin in the wood boils out. It did not happen with this pine car.
I laid the car on a piece of scrap pine to set it into the oven. The pine piece is shown sticking out in the photo above.
Whole Fleet of 5 Cars
Closing Thoughts on This Project
My son complained about the unfinished wooden spokes on the wheels. I told him that early cars did have wood spokes, and my unfinished spokes were typical for that time period. He said he preferred the spokes to be painted.
I struggled with the best way to make the air louvers in the hood. I tried gluing on thin wood, and also just hand painting the louvers. On the last green car, I used the masking tape method, and I think it works the best.
On the grey Rustoleum car, I initially taped it and painted red latex stripes. The latex peeled off when I removed the masking tape, probably because the latex would not adhere to the oil based Rustoleum. I rubbed off the rest of the red, and painted it gray again. I am keeping that gray car simple with no louvres.
May 2015 Update
I decided to make 4 more cars, including a pink one for my new grand-daughter expected in October.
I developed a better way to mark the axle hole. I took a bolt the same size as the axle hole in the wheel, and ground a point on it. I hold the wheel so the top of the wheel is flush with the top of the car base (setting a piece of scrap on top of the car base)........I tap the bolt with a hammer and mark the drill position. I take it to the drill press to drill the hole perfectly vertical.
There will be 2 yellow, 1 blue, and 1 pink car.
Lessons Learned on 2nd Batch of 1922 Race Cars
Pay attention to the size of drill bits used to enlarge the existing hole in the wheels (axles don't fit well out of the new bag), and axle hole size in the car. I forget the exact size, but the wheel clean-out bit is a different size than the axle hole bit (one is 13/64 and one is 7/32". I have these sizes in my large bit box.
I used masking tape method to paint the stripes on all of these cars. It works ok.
3RD BATCH OF 1922 Race Cars IN DECEMBER, 2015
I decided to make 1 more batch of 5 race cars for 2015 Christmas gifts to family members.
I also wanted to try some new techniques to reduce the labor time required to make these cars.
Trim Router following a Pattern
Although this has worked well for me on red oak, I tried it on the 1/4" pine used on these cars. In specific, I tried the main 2 horizontal runners on the frame. This did not work because the pine was too soft, and the router bit blew out chunks of wood at the ends. I gave up after 3 or 4 attempts. I reverted back to scroll-sawing these pieces.
Routing versus Drum Sanding the Rounded Hoods or Engines
On the last batch of cars I built, I tried using a huge router bit with a 1.5 inch radius, or 3" OD........versus drum sanding the curves in the drill press. The drill press method is dusty, takes a while, and the geometry is uneven.
I bought the $50 bit from MLCS...........it is the last one on the list with a 1/2" versus 1/4" shank......
I built a special wood fence for the router, because the bit has to set above the table because it is so big........
The last time I tried this method, the first mistake I made was not turning the router RPM down to the minimum setting. When I first fired up the router, I thought it was a 747 jet taking off. I quick hit the stop button. I then dialed the Sears router down to the minimum speed setting.
The next issue I found was when you try to round over both edges of the board, you end up with no horizontal surface to guide the board in the table. I gave up on this method then.
After a few months to think about it, I came up with the idea of just routing one edge versus both edges..........then saw off the curved half you generate on the router table.......then glue both edges back together.
I tried this method on this 3rd batch and it actually worked ok.
The next picture gives you an idea of how big this router bit really is......
I built a simple assembly jig to speed up the assembly of the frame members on the car. It speeds up assembly because you don't have to measure and mark where all the components go.
Using Nexabond CA glue, applying the weights above, and it only takes a few minutes to glue and clamp each frame.
Another Labor Savings Change
The 3 little pieces that make up the seat were always a pain to handle, make, and get glued into place. I combined these 3 pieces into only 1piece that is easy to assemble. This really works well :)
I glued up a 12 inch long piece of 3 regular 3/4" thick pine boards, then planed down to the needed 2 inch thickness. I sawed them out using the band saw.
Ready for Paint Shop
I used white spackle to fill any holes or gaps.
In the Paint Shop
5 Completed Cars
I did not paint any louvres on the hoods for these cars. Kept them a simple design.
6 of the spoked wheels arrived broken. The wood on the outer tire part split when it dried. Emailed company, they are supposed to send me free replacements.
I used the oven to make the paint dry faster, which works ok as long as you don't leave them in too long. Paint will bubble if you leave them cooking too long.