The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Stained Glass Maxwell car

I found a pattern for a stained glass 3D Maxwell car in a circa 1972 stained glass pattern book.

Jack Benny made the Maxwell car famous, because he used it in his show.


Since I do all of my woodworking and stained glass projects in Sketchup, I entered the design into Sketchup. I decided a car width of 3 inches was about right for this the main pieces are all 3 inches wide.

Hobby Lead

I have built quite a few 3D stained glass projects including open top boxes, jewelry boxes, klaediscope airplanes, and clocks. On some of these projects, I just use copper foil for the outer edge of the glass piece........on others I have used lead.

For this Maxwell car, I decided to foil first with black 1/4" wide foil, wrap with hobby lead, then solder the foil to the hobby lead. I think this is a much more robust design, from the perspective of the foil detaching from the glass during handling of the object, versus the hobby lead.

On the 4 wheels, I decided not to copper foil them, just put on the hobby lead on the outside. This worked fine.

Use of 90 degree wood block

On previous 3D projects, I learned that a 90 degree wood block helps hold the 2 pieces at 90 degrees during soldering.  I used the same wood block from previous 3D projects, and I temporarily clamp the glass using plastic spring clamps........which works great.

Getting in a Hurry.......usually means trouble

I had a little time during Thanksgiving day, 2018, to start soldering up the pieces.  But, after I got the seat soldering in...........I noticed I had made a big mistake !!

I thought the back vertical piece joined the bottom horizontal piece........which is incorrect !!!!!!!!

Fixing the error

It was easy to remove the 2 pieces that make up the seat..........because they are just tack soldered in place.

It was more difficult to unsolder the joint between the vertical back and the horizontal bottom base!

2 Angled Brass Rods

I had some brass rods in stock, and I used them for the Maxwell. I buy them from McMaster-Carr online.

Installing the Wheels

I printed a sideview of the car from Sketchup, so I could lay the car body down on it........and tell where to install the wheels.  Once I got 1 side of wheels solder on........I flipped it over.......and used a black plastic square to make sure the top wheels were lined up with the installed bottom wheels.  I checked on the lower horizontal piece and the seat after I had all the wheels soldered on.............and I was within 1 degree of horizontal on the front base........and about 3 degrees on the not too bad given all the tolerance stackups involved.

The Red Lights in Front

These are Hobby Lobby glass globs.  I wrapped them in hobby lead, no foil.  I used a wood shim to hold them in the right position for soldering.

The Fenders

I picked out a heavy lead, number RU-81 from my inventory selection I keep at home.  I wanted some beefy fenders.  I used my fingers to bend the pattern I printed out from Sketchup.  It might be easy to cut a form out of wood first, then just bend the U came lead to the wood form.

To Patina or Not ??

Boy, this is one of the projects where you wonder if not black patina.......or with black patina.............looks the best.  I really like the no patina look..........other than my soldering is not the prettiest to view.  I decided to go ahead and apply patina..............but I might make some more Maxwell's someday.......and may not patina those.

Finished Stained Glass Maxwell Car

Closing Thoughts on this Project

This was a fun project!  If I make more Maxwell's, I need to pay attention to assemble the right pieces on the main body. .............I should print out a side view of the car from Sketchup to remind me the right way to assemble it.

These cars would also look like with no patina applied.