DIY Easy Barrel Train

What kid doesn’t love a train!  Barrel trains are always the hit of the party and no one (including big kids like myself) can resist riding in them!  They’re great for any kind of party or even parades and they offer endless hours of entertainment for everyone!  You can pull barrel trains with just about anything including lawnmowers, 4-wheelers, golf carts, side-by-sides, and the list goes on!

This barrel train that I built is super easy to make and anyone can have a whole train put together, from start to finish, in just one afternoon!

 

Tutorial:

Tools:

  • Hand drill with bits
  • Wrenches Or Ratchets for tightening nuts to eye bolts
  • Jigsaw (for cutting hole out of plastic barrels)
  • Wood-cutting chop saw (for cutting wooden seat)

Supplies:

Body:
  1. Plastic Barrels (get as many as you want train cars)
  2. Pool Noodles-I used these as padding for the center opening of the barrel, and used two (2) noodles for each barrel.
Seat:
  1. (2 in. x 12 in.) wood planks cut at 22 in. long (1 for each train car, as this is the seat)
  2. A set of the following for each seat:
    1. Wood Screws – (4) 2-1/2 inches
    2. Fender Washers (4) that fit the screws (to mount the seat)
Base and Wheels:
  1. Dolly or hand trucks (You will need one dolly for each train car)  I bought mine at Walmart, but you can also get them HERE.
Hitch:
  1. A set of the following per train car:
    Eye Bolts – (2). Originally, I used 90lb light duty bolts (5/16in x 3-1/4in long) with an inside eye diameter of 3/4 inch) found HERE. Then, some heavier passengers rode in the train and the eye bolts bent. I then switched the bolts out for heavy duty, galvanized steel eye bolts (3/8 inch x 4-1/2in long, & an inside inner diameter of 3/4 inch) found HERE. They held up well, but they are more expensive.  In conclusion, I recommend using the heavier eye bolts, but if you won’t be hauling any heavier passengers, and you only have 3 or less cars, the lighter duty may work fine.
    Nuts (4) – to fit your eye bolts
    Fender Washers (4) – to fit your eye bolts
  2. Loctite- I smeared this on the threads of all of my eye bolts (every place on the screw there would be a nut), to prevent the nuts from unscrewing from the bolts. Found Here.
Attach Body to Dolly:
  1. Self-Drilling Hex Head Screws – (2) #10 x 3/4 inch
  2. Fender Washers – (2) that fit the Self-drilling Hex Head Screws (to mount barrel onto the dolly). Both Screw and Washers can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe’s or purchase the screws HERE. (you’ll need one set of these supplies for every train car you have).
Hitch Lock:
  1. A set of the following to connect two train cars together:
    1. Grade 5 External Hex-Head Cap Screw  (1)  5/8 inch x 2 inch, 18 pitch (18 threads per inch) found HERE.  I drilled a hole through my bolt with a drill press for the hair pin clip to fit through.  If you don’t want to go through the trouble of drilling a hole, you can omit the Hex Head Cap Screw and instead purchase a clevis pin (size 3/4in x 3in) found HERE.
    2. Hair Pin Clip – (1)  5/32 inch found HERE
    3. Cut Washers – (2) 5/8 inch found HERE

Body #1 – (See Supplies)

 

Hitch #1 – (See Supplies)  Note:   I changed these Light-Duty Eye Bolts for Heavy-Duty Eye Bolts for heavier passengers.             See them Here:

 

 

Hitch #2 – (See Supplies)

 

Seat #1 – (See Supplies)

 

Seat #2 – (See Supplies)

 

Base #1 – (See Supplies)

 

Base #2 & #3 – (See Supplies)

 

Base #4 – (See Supplies)

 

Body  #2 – (See Supplies)

 

 Tip:

When you’re drilling into the barrel, it helps to have a flashlight on hand.  Shine it onto the barrel from the outside and you’ll see the silhouette of the frame on the inside of where to drill.

I drilled a couple of holes at the bottom of the cars for easy drainage when I hose them off for cleaning.

Cutting the Hole:

First,  cut a hole out of each of your barrels.  I used a pillow case as my pattern and simply traced around it with a pencil, rounding off all the corners instead of keeping them square like the pillowcase).

Drill a hole into the barrel large enough to slide your jigsaw blade into. Make sure the hole is on the INSIDE of the line that was drawn (which is the part that will be removed). Now, cut along the pencil line with the jigsaw.

Perfect!

Now, use the plastic piece that you just cut out as your template for all the holes in the other barrels that you’ll be cutting out.

Making and Installing the Seats:

For your wood seats, measure 6 inches up from the bottom, then cut a 10 degree angle off the corners. If you need to sand the wood down so there are no splinters, and/or if you would like to paint or varnish your seats, this is the time to do it.

Next, gather your #5 supplies to mount the seats onto the barrels.

Place the seat inside the barrel where you want it.  Next, drill two pilot holes from the outside, through the barrel and into the board (to avoid splitting the wood).

Using the drill and a phillips bit tip, insert the screw through the fender washer. Now, screw the wood screw into each pilot hole (use 2 screws and 2 washers in each end of the seat).

Making a Hitch to Attach Cars:

First, drill a hole into the top of the dolly, large enough for the eye bolt to slide in.  Make sure the hole is not too loose of a fit (not too large for the eye bolt to rattle around in, but large enough to slide it in).

Next, gather your (2) eye bolts, (4) washers and nuts.  (See Body #2 in Supplies).

Now, mount onto the dolly as shown.

I smeared a little loctite everywhere there was a nut that was screwed to a bolt, to avoid anything from wiggling loose over time.

Next, drill a hole in the center of the bottom of the dolly.  This is where the other eye bolt will go.

Finally, mount the other eye bolt, washer and nuts to the dolly as shown.  Remember to add the loctite!

Mounting the Barrel to the Dolly:

First, gather your self drilling screws and washers (Base – #2 & #3 supplies).

Then, place the barrel onto the dolly and drill two screws through the barrel, into the frame of the dolly.  Do this in the front and back of the barrel.  (I drilled pilot holes first to make it easier).

Next, I also drilled a few holes in the bottom of the barrel for easy drainage when I hose them off for cleaning.

Locking the Hitch:

Gather your Grade 5 External Hex Hex-Head Cap Screw (or clevis pin if you don’t want to drill a hole), one hair pin clip and two cut washers. (Base – # 4 Supplies)

If you haven’t drilled a hole into your bolt, you can do it now (if you choose to use a clevis pin instead, you can skip this part).  Using a drill press, I drilled a few holes before deciding that the best placement for my hole was about an inch down (See Picture).

Last, connect your cars as so, with the back car eye bolt on top of the front car eye bolt (doing it this way keeps all the weight on the eye bolt and off of the hair pin clip).

Adding the Padding:

First, gather your pool noodles.

With a knife, slice to the center of the noodle, from end to end.

Next, using two noodles per barrel, slide a noodle onto the perimeter edge of the barrel hole, making sure to squish it tightly into all the curves.

Do the same thing for the second noodle.  Cut it to the desired length, making sure to leave an extra 2-4 inches.  You’ll basically squish it tightly into place because the tighter the fit, the better it’ll hold.

Last, hook it up to the engine of your choice and you’re ready to roll!  All aboard!