Toy bashed Thomas the Tank

“My two year old grandson is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, so I thought I’d purchase one for my n scale layout.

After a lot of searching, including a number of hobby shops in Japan, I finally found one on the Plaza Japan’s Ebay store.

It was on auction so I had a punt at US $75. (all prices estimated in US $s) It finally went for close to $200! Seems Thomas and friends are in very short supply!

My “toy bashed” version based on a Fisher-Price diecast toy, worked out at around $22.

A WARNING from the outset!

The Fisher-Price Thomas is over scale, so you may have to fiddle around a bit to get Thomas to make it around your n scale layout. My layout has several tunnels and Thomas was unable to get through some of them. Signals and station platforms might also be too narrow on some layouts. However, with a few minor adjustments to Thomas and to my landscaping, I was able to get Thomas around a simple routing avoiding the major trouble spots.

Materials:
Thomas The Tank Engine, Take-n-Play By Fisher Price ($4)
Kato 11-105 Powered Motorized Chassis, n scale mechanism, Plaza Japan ($13) plus $5 postage to Australia. North America and European postage will be slightly dearer.

thomas 1

Tools:

Small vice (optional, but useful)
Small file
Hobby Dremel (Rotary tool) with cutting disk and small burr.
Small snips
Power drill
Glue

Construction:

The difficulty in ‘bashing’ any Fisher-Price toy is a testament to the quality product this company puts out! They can be tough to crack!

To remove the diecast shell from its plastic base, drill out the rivet like ends of the small retaining posts holding these parts together. The rear post is metal and will require some gentle pressure on the drill to sever it from the plastic chassis. I had to complete the job with a sharp tap on metal punch. The front post is plastic and burs out easily.

thomas2

Remove the three blue wheel sets. Cut the wheel axles and remove the wheels. File or grind down the small studs in the back of all wheels and set aside for now. . The black plastic portion of the chassis can be discarded.

thomas3

The Kato mechanism measures 58mm x 15.3mm. (Sorry Americans, Burmese and Liberians, but metric only!) As it turns out, the inner portion of the red chassis is also very close to 58mm long. For a perfect fit, a ‘whisker’ might need needs to be filed off the end of the mechanism. (either an imperial whisker, or a standard metric whisker will suffice! )

Cut out the base of the red chassis to accommodate the mechanism. This is very much a ‘cut and file’ process until the mechanism fits snugly. Cut off the ends of the mechanism’s cowling as shown. below.

thomas4

Now cut and grind off the plastic and metal posts on the diecast shell. I added two packing strips to the red plastic chassis to lift the chassis a little higher (see photo) to avoid major grinding out of the diecast shell. The opening for the couplers will also need to be enlarged to allow the bogie to swing freely.

thomas5

Optional LED light
An LED and 600 ohm resistor will fit neatly behind Thomas’s face and with a little careful burring-out, to thin the plastic; Thomas can have spooky glowing eyes!)

thomas6

I then glued the shell to the chassis and very lightly glued the mechanism into the chassis. (This final joint can be easily levered open if required.)

Cut the wheels just above the raised hub and glue them to the side of the chassis.

thomas7

Thomas is now happily chugging around dragging a couple of vintage DB Rail coaches. My next project will be to ‘toy bash’ a couple of Fisher-Price “Clarabel and Annie” coaches.

thomas8

Best of all, 2 year old Jack (aka Captain Chaos) just loves HIS Thomas.

Paul”


Well, I have to say, I never thought Thomas would be appearing on this site – but I’m glad he has, it’s an excellent ‘how to’ what ever cab you use.

A huge thank you to Paul. It really did make me smile when I saw it in my inbox.

And if it’s got you thinking too, there are lots more like it here.

Please do keep ’em coming.

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here. Some cracking stuff about at the mo.

Best

Al

17 responses to “Toy bashed Thomas the Tank”

  1. George Lush says:

    This article made me smile too. Although he is very young, little two year old Jack will remember Thomas the Tank Engine on Granfather Paul’s layout the rest of his life. It was a really sweet thing to do. Nice going, Grandpa Paul!

  2. Bob Tucker says:

    Great Gift for Captain Chaos (I can only imagine how the name came about).

  3. tracy penman says:

    Thank you! I always admire people’s resourcefulness when presented with a problem or situation.

  4. Dave Whatley says:

    Very good taking the time to remake this train for your love ones, you are a true modeler.

  5. Bill says:

    Thanks for the article on the N scale Thomas conversion. I have looked for one in N scale, but to no avail. Now I am all primed to do a conversion.

  6. Dr. Bob says:

    On a recent excursion to Australia for a job relate venture, I came across several shop areas where Thomas the Tank Engine is poised for sale. Not quite the quality you would expect for American standards but none the less functional and adept in three scales n, ho, s scales. Also did not make any note of the costs (wasn’t really shopping for Thomas or my grandson at the time) but the store did seem reasonably priced for items I did purchase.

    Wonderful story and bashing of your project for your grandson. I too have a 2 1/2 year old grandson we call ‘Tornado Tony’! Thanks for bringing back some memories.

  7. Don Garner says:

    This is great! Thomas has graduated from toy to model railroad. This could be the beginning a whole new line of products for Fisher-Price. Let’s see if they have the guts to venture forth. Paul has demonstrated there is no limit to human imagination and creativity in model railroading. That’s what makes this site so superior. Keep up the great work Paul and Al.

  8. paul Otway says:

    You should put some side rods on it, mind you it looks good.

  9. John Parker Clayton, CA says:

    Very well done…my grandson (now 6) Loves to see Thomas run on my “O”
    gauge layout… so why not add to the n & ho layouts too… good on you OZ…
    JP

  10. John Ortis says:

    That was neat.

  11. Paul says:

    Thanks for all the positive comments. “Captain Chaos’ is just a BOY. Never stops! Drives his older sister (10) crazy! I’m building him a ‘chaos proof’ mini-layout so he can rip Thomas around at top speed with minimal damage to himself, our furniture or Thomas!

    Paul

  12. the best EVER post on this site
    excellent bashing and in N scale
    I dont know how you guys work with that small scale stuff…..
    congrats to Captain Chaos….
    this is surely a lifetime memory for him
    Kudos to grampa Paul..!!!!!!!!!

  13. and Kudos to Al for posting this!!!!!!
    Yaaaaaaay!!!!

  14. Ron Schultz says:

    This proves us grandpa’s are the best thing for grand children . But just wait until the great grandson takes your little finger and Says ” Come on poppy lets go down in the basement and run the trains .” I have an HO lay out with Thomas to run on it . Poppy and Tristan have been running the trains together for 4 1/2 years .

  15. Bill Logan says:

    Hi Al and Paul.
    I downloaded the article last July,purchased the bits and pieces and finished the unit today.Could only test it on a piece of train line as i do not have a layout at the moment (next project).
    I will have to look into another “project” before the track.
    Any bright ideas and can i expect some help from Al and Paul
    Regards to both of you and keep up the good work.
    Bill

  16. hUGH Muller says:

    I have a G SCALE Thomas and two THOMAS PASSENGER CARS FOR SALE

  17. Fred says:

    Best thing I’ve seen in an age ….. way to go ….fun fun !
    Fred

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