The Dale Maley Family Web Site


Buildable Large Fire Engine

Several years ago, I built several large fire engines to sell at a charitable auction.  For some reason, the last one I built, I did not finish.  All the parts were made, and everything painted except the main fire engine body. You can see this earlier project here.

Then my grandson came along.  I got to thinking he might like to tear apart and put the fire engine back together, better than just playing with the finished fire engine.   I was right, he loves taking it apart and putting it back together at age 2.5 years.

Mother from Texas

A mother from Texas saw my woodworking web site, and asked me to build another fire engine for her son.  The father is a woodworker, but is serving in the military, and is too busy to make one.

So, I decided to make another one, but this time, design it to be taken apart and put back together. I am going to try to make as many parts as possible one this one.  

My original Sketchup model is in the Sketchup Warehouse here.

Main Rail

I decided to make the 2 axle housings removable.  I have not decided whether or not to glue on the wheel axle pegs or not.  If you do not glue them, then wheels come off when you push it around, and you have to "fix" the wheels.........but it is more parts to have fun and assemble.  If I glue them on, then less parts to have fun and assemble, plus you don't get to fix the wheels every so often.  I will decide whether to glue them on or not later.

Removable Fenders

The fenders will be doweled to the sides so you can assemble them.  I will put 3 dowels in 1 side, and just 2 on the other, to force you to assemble it the right way.  I also made the dowels as long as I can, so the assembled fenders are pretty sturdy.

I used a scrap board to help locate the fenders properly when I doweled them to the rail. This worked well.  I used my old Sears aluminum dowel centers to mark the mating holes for drilling.

I used the oven at about 115F to make the glue dry faster......

Big Blank for Engine

The engine takes a chunk 4.5x4.5x3.25 inches.  I had to glue up 2 pieces of 2x6 and 1 piece of 1x6 to get a blank big enough for the engine.

Radiator Grille

I set the table saw to cut 1/8 deep.  I marked the end where the saw cut grooves go. Then I cut them on the table saw, indexing the fence 1/4" for each slot.

Rabbet grooves for cab

The original plans for this fire engine called for rabbeted corners on the cab.  Back a few years ago, I did not see how to cut them safely, so I skipped them and used simple butt joint corners.  This time, I just set up the table saw, then sawed both sides of each board, then kept indexing the fence until I achieved the desired 1/2" width. No problem. The rabbeted joints help you keep the cab square when you glue it up........versus butt joints.

Making the Engine from a big block of glued up wood

The air nailer worked ok for nailing the cab together. It is glued also.

I used the table saw to cut a 45 degree angle piece that goes in the bottom of the cab. The steering column will be drilled into it later.

Simplified Cab interior design

The original cab design had a complicated seat, so I simplified it.

Band-sawing the roof

I sawed the blank to the right length, and it just fit in the band-saw in the vertical  orientation.  I was able to saw out the curve, but the resultant curved top looked inconsistent because of blade drift.  I had to do some belt sanding to get it to look right and even on the borders.

I did temporarily clamp a short pieced of 2x6 horizontal to the vertical piece being cut, like is shown on photographs of the other large fire engines I built.

Fixture for Making Ladder Sides

I made a simple fixture for making the ladder sides.  You saw some 1/2x1/2" pine to 10" long for the ladder sides.  You slip 1 side into the fixture and push until it bottoms on the LH side. You can then quickly pilot drill the rung holes.  Remove the side, and drill the (5) 1/4" diameter holes from each side to avoid tear-out.  It worked pretty slick.

Lathe Work

I made the 2 headlights and water tank using my wood lathe.  I used some new carbide tipped lathe tools I recently bought at the St. Louis woodworking show.

Old Big Fire Engine with 15 pieces

New Big Fire Engine with 23 Pieces

Closing Thoughts on This Project

I can't wait until my grandson tests this new design!!  He really liked the old fire engine with only 15 pieces...........he should really like the new one with 23 pieces!

It still takes a while to make all 33 pieces required for this fire truck. The only issue I had was some un-anticipated belt sanding on the cab roof, due to band saw drift while sawing the curved top.