Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919

Make Toy Car Part 5

A permanent body of a certain type may be soldered directly to the rear part of the chassis or slides may be soldered to the rear part of the chassis and different types of truck bodies arranged to fit into these slides so that one chassis may be arranged to hold a number of different bodies. A coal truck may be transformed into a tank truck and from a tank truck into an army truck or an ambulance, etc. A driver's cab may be fitted over the seat and any number of realistic details added to the truck, limited only by the ability of the maker.

Truck Body Figure 74

The wagon body is the simplest to make, as it may be made from a square can with rounded corners. The two quart or gallon cans that have contained olive or cooking oils make up into very realistic truck bodies. The body of the army truck shown in the frontispiece was made from a two quart can that had contained a cooking oil of a very well-known brand. The object is to find a rectangular can that is just about the width of the chassis so that the tops of the wheels will clear it nicely. Cut the can in two otherwise, using the file to cut through the rounded or rolled rims, see Fig. 74, A. The can will probably be too long for a well proportioned body and will have to be cut down to a suitable length, about 7 inches. Truck bodies usually overhang the chassis. Study some of the big trucks seen on the streets, as some of them are remarkably easy to reproduce.

If the can has to be shortened, use a can opener or the double cutting shears and cut around the can 1 inch from either end until one end of the can is completely cut away, then cut the shorter end down to 1/4 inch at the side, leaving that much of the side of the can so that it may be slipped inside the other or larger part of the can when that part of the can is cut down to a suitable length, when the shorter end is soldered in place to form the end of the body, see Fig. 74, B. When one end is cut off the can, cut the can in two lengthwise so that the part to be used is about 1 1/2 inches high, and then cut off the shorter end so that it is also 1 1/2 inches high to correspond to the other part of the body. Then fit in the end of the can and solder it in place. Cut four strips of tin 1/2 inch in width, two of them as long as the two sides of the can and two as long as the ends and fold these strips over to make a protection for the top edges of the body just as you did for the lower edges of the chassis. Solder these strips in place and the body is finished and ready to be soldered to the truck, see Fig. 74, C.

Truck Chassis Figure 75

Different Types of Bodies to be Fitted to the Same Chassis

The body described above may be soldered directly to the chassis of the truck or to a strip of tin and so arranged as to slide onto the chassis between two slides made of folded tin. These slides are soldered directly to the chassis in the rear of the seat and the different types of bodies arranged to fit between them, thus using the same chassis for as many different types of bodies as one cares to make for it. The fixed slides should be made of two 1/2 inch strips of tin as long as the back or floor of the chassis, about 6 inches. These strips are folded over into a gutter shape as are the strips used to protect the bottom edge of the truck frame, but the folded strips used for the slides are left somewhat more open, about 1/8 inch between the edges, so at when soldered to the truck a strip of tin may easily slipped between them as shown in Fig. 75.

Truck Body

A flat strip of tin should be cut as long as the two slides and of such a width that it will fit easily to the slides soldered to the truck to receive it. Care should be used when soldering the slides to the truck to get them parallel with the sides of the same and also parallel with each other as shown in Fig. 75. Several cross-members may be made of folded and may be soldered to the flat piece of tin that is to slide between the slides. The truck body should be soldered to these cross-members so that the body will clear the fixed slides when slipped into place. These cross-members or body supports are usually found under the bodies of large trucks and they add a very realistic touch to the model. They should be just long enough to clear the edges of the fixed slides when attached to the flat strip of tin. Cut three pieces of tin 1 1/4 inches wide and long enough to make the cross-members, about 3 inches (make sure of this measurement for yourself). Scribe a line 3/8 inch in from each of the long sides of the three pieces and then fold down two sides of each piece from the scribed lines, making three cross members or supports as shown in Fig. 76. Solder these to the flat strip of tin that is to fit between the fixed slides. The truck body should be soldered to these three supports.

Oil Tank - Oil Tank - Fire Engine - Army Truck - Ambulance - Coal Truck Beds Figure 77

A round can with the lid soldered on will make a very satisfactory tank truck. A part of a small can, such as a tooth powder can, may be soldered to the op of the tank for a filler dome and imitation faucets made of wire or of brass cup hooks may be soldered to the rear of the tank and a small delivery can may easily be made and hung on the faucets as shown in Plate XIII. Six different types of truck bodies that may be attached to the chassis are shown in Fig. 77.

Tank Truck

The tank truck is made from a rectangular cooking oil can with a part of a small can soldered to the top. The faucets are made of pieces of galvanized wire bent over at an angle.

Street Sprinkler

Toy Ford Car Plate 13

The street sprinkler may made from a large round can, such as a molasses syrup can with the lid soldered on to make it water tight. A hole is cut in the top of the can and the top, or open end, of a small soup can is soldered over the hole. The sprinkler tubes are made of strips of tin rolled around a large nail and then soldered together. The sprinkler ends are made of small round metal boxes with tiny holes punched in the under side. A hole is punched in the top of each round box and the sprinkler ends are soldered to the tubes and the tubes soldered to the tank which has holes punched in it to admit water to the tubes in such a way that the water contained in the tank will flow from the tank into the tubes and out of the sprinkler holes punched in the small boxes. These small boxes or sprinkler ends may be made of thumb tack boxes or from two bottle caps soldered together, but the crinkled part should be cut away from the bottle caps before soldering.

Coal or Sand Truck

The coal or sand truck body is made of less than half of a rectangular cooking oil can, the top of each side flared out and extra pieces fitted to each end so as to fit into the flaring sides and to each end. All sharp edges should be folded over or extra folded strips of tin folded over and placed over the edges of the truck body.

Army Truck

The army truck body is made from part of a cooking oil can. Galvanized wire of small diameter is bent into hoop form and soldered to the sides. These hoops may be covered with a khaki-colored cloth like the one shown on the large army truck in frontispiece; a khaki-¬colored handkerchief will make an excellent cover for a small truck. truck finance

Red Cross Ambulance Plate 14


The ambulance body may be made from a large cooking oil can. Both ends are cut out of the can and the extra tin trimmed away. One side of the can is cut off and a flat piece of tin soldered across the open side of the can to form the floor of the ambulance. A hood to cover the driver's seat is made from the curved side of the can cut away to form the floor of the body. Two strips of tin may be soldered to the side of the body to form seats or stretchers and two pieces of galvanized wire may be soldered to the seats and to the floor and roof of the body to form handles. The rear step may be made of a piece of folded tin and two pieces of galvanized wire as shown. A realistic touch may be given to the ambulance by making a small curtain of carriage leather and attaching it to the rear of the roof so that it may be rolled up and fastened in place.

Army Truck Figure 78

Fire Engine

The fire engine boiler may be made from a tomato can with several different sized can lids soldered to the bottom to form the smoke hood and a cylinder of tin soldered to the lids to form a chimney. The flaring top of the chimney may be made of the small center lid sometimes found in the ends of round cans. This small lid or sealer may be melted off, the center cut out of it, and then may be soldered to the top of the chimney. The steam gauge and water gauge may be made of the screw tops of cooking oil cans. The water glass may be made of a small piece of galvanized wire and the try cocks of rivets soldered to the boiler. The rivets may be held in place while soldering by a pair of pliers. The boiler platform may be made of a sardine can. The engine and pump cylinders may be made of adhesive tape boxes or strips of tin rolled into cylindrical form and ends soldered in place. The engine wheel may be made from an evaporated milk can. The air chamber may be made from a nickeled shaving stick box or a brass curtain pole ball. The whistle may be made from a used .22 cartridge case, etc.