There can be few people who do not stop and look at a fire engine as it passes by. Who can ignore the urgent siren, flashing blue lights and highly polished red machine hurrying along the road to give assistance to someone somewhere? I find it most reassuring that throughout the country there are men, and now women too, willing and able to undertake dangerous rescue tasks for the general public. This fire engine is dedicated to all those who work in the fire and rescue services.

The toy is built from Nordic redwood and has a working steering wheel, spot light, bell, cable reels and a working water pump. (Well, it wouldn’t be much fun playing with a fire engine if you couldn’t get wet!) The bonnet slides open to show off its V6 engine complete with ignition leads, distributor and fan. The twin ladders are capable of taking the weight of an adult, so these are really useful.

The engine is designed to carry a driver and one crew member, although I am sure that extra crew could be accommodated on the rear mudguards. At first sight there appears to be a great deal to make, but there are really no difficult joints to cut and although it could not be recommended as a first woodworking project, it is easier than it looks.

1 The main chassis members are the first items to get underway. You will have to select two wide boards from the stocks of your local builder’s merchant, and although these are very wide I am assured that this is a stock size width. Cut them to length, tape them together, and mark out the pieces of wood to be removed. The two cut-away areas will accommodate the front axle steering mechanism and the front bumper bar. Drill holes for the rear axles.

2 The steering mechanism is not difficult to make — providing you study the drawings carefully!

i First cut out the steering cross bar and drill the holes for the bolts that will hold the steering blocks.

ii Now cut out and shape the steering tie bar. Again, drill holes for the bolts that will attach it to the steering blocks and also a slot to accommodate the end of the steering wheel shaft. iii Finally cut out the steering blocks themselves and drill holes for the bolts and also for the steel axles that will hold the wheels in place. Note that one of the holes for the bolts must be recessed so that the bolt head sits below the surface of the wood. Use a large flat bit to do this. Remember, too, that the holes must all be drilled at 90° in each plane.

iv Assemble the steering mechanism by threading coach bolts. through the cross bar. tie bar and steering blocks. I used two nuts to secure the bolts as one might come undone. Don’t do these up too tightly — you need to allow for the movement of the mechanism — but when you are happy with the fit thread one nut against the other which effectively locks them in place. You’ll need to apply a liberal smearing of candle grease between the wooden parts so that they move smoothly against each other.

v When you are satisfied with the steering mechanism, you can screw it to the main chassis planks by passing screws through from under the cross bar into the edges of the planks. You will first have to remove the coach bolts that hold the steering blocks to the bar. When screwed in position, re-insert the bolts, tighten up the nuts as required again and lock the two nuts in position on the end of the bolt by tightening one against the other. (Engineers call this operation ‘lock nuts’.)

3 The steering wheel shaft is a piece of mild (i.e. soft) steel rod. You need to bend this in two places to form 90° angles and for this you’ll need a stout vice, firmly attached to a workbench, and some brute strength!

Once you have bent the shaft, you’ll need to cut two small blocks of wood and drill holes to take sleeve bearings in a tight push fit. Once pushed into the holes, these bronze bearings will provide a smooth channel for the steering wheel shaft to turn in. The bearing blocks have to be screwed on to the right-hand chassis member.

At the bottom of the shaft a piece of plastic pipe over the end acts as a bearing in the slot you previously cut in the steering tie bar. When the steering wheel is turned, the shaft then activates the steering mechanism.

4 The steering wheel is an ordinary plastic wheel with some of the spokes removed. To attach it to the shaft you need to do a bit of soldering. Take a mild steel bar and drill three holes through it, using a suitable bit Two of these will take coach bolts. The centre one, however, accommodates the steering wheel shaft, which has to be soldered m position. Ordinary soft solder will do but if you can find a local engineer who will silver solder the two pieces of steel together you will have a much stronger joint.

Now cut out the plywood steering wheel hub with a jigsaw, and drill the two holes required. To attach the steering wheel to the shaft, pass two coach bolts up through the steel bar, then between the spokes of the wheel and finally through the holes in the plywood hub. Thread nuts onto the end of each bolt and tighten them up so that the wheel is clamped on to the bar. Glue spring caps (see page 94) over the ends of the bolts (sawn off. if necessary) and over the end of the steering wheel shaft.

5 Cut out three of the four bulkheads needed to fix the two main chassis members together: the back of the engine compartment (front bulkhead), the driver’s seat back and the rear bulkhead. These all need to be recessed at the sides so that they fit snugly between the chassis members. In addition the rear bulkhead has to be drilled with three holes for the water pipes, and the seat back needs angles cut so that it can be fixed at a slight recline for driver comfort. The front bulkhead has angles cut at the top so that it will align with the engine compartment.

Glue and screw all these pieces of timber between the main chassis members, passing the screws into the edges of the bulkheads from the outside of the chassis members. Whenever a screwhead will show, counterbore the hole and plug it with wood or dowel rod to give a better finish. Screw two support strips of timber behind the seat back for added strength.

6 Now make the radiator. Cut out the main shape which, like the front bulkhead, has angles cut at the top so that it will align with the engine. Cut two thick and five narrower vertical battens of wood and glue them in place for the grille. A further batten across the bottom and a shaped piece across the top finish off this section. It is surprising how much character the radiator adds to the finished engine.

Glue a block of wood for the ‘filler cap’ on top and then screw the radiator on to the front edges of the chassis members using three long screws on each side. Again, these should be counterbored and plugged with dowel rods to hide the screw heads.

7 Cut out two discs of wood for the headlamps and drill a hole into the side of each. Glue a length of dowel rod into each hole.

8 Cut out and shape the bumper. Drill holes for the headlamps to fit into and then glue the lamps in place. Glue and screw the bumper on to the main chassis members. It fits into the recesses you cut on the front of these and you’ll need long screws. They need to pass up from underneath the bumper into the edges of the chassis members.

9 Cut out the dashboard and remove the waste along one side, using a smoothing plane, to produce an angle. Cut out a slot for the steering wheel shaft. Glue and screw the dashboard on to the front bulkhead, passing the screws into it from the bonnet side of the bulkhead.

10 The windscreen is perspex and, because this has very sharp edges, I fitted a car boot seal around it. This type of rubber seal is available from the accessory and ‘spare parts’ departments of most car dealers and motorists’ shops. Cut out the windscreen using a metal-cutting blade in your jigsaw and screw it to the front bulkhead. The rubber seal is moulded in such a way that it simply slots on to the perspex leaving a nice rubber surround.

11 Now for the engine.

i Cut out a length of timber on which to mount the engine block and glue it in position between the two main chassis members.

ii Cut out the engine block itself and drill holes for the ‘electric leads’, three on each side. Drill a hole at the front for the cooling fan.

iii The cooling fan is made by cutting out a disc of plywood and then marking out ‘blades’ on it. The waste wood then has to be cut away with a jigsaw. Attach the fan to the front of the engine block with a long screw.

iv Finally, cut out a distributor from a piece of timber. Drill holes for the leads and a central hole. Drill a corresponding hole through the centre of a thick piece of dowelling and glue the two pieces together. Attach the distributor to the engine support member by passing a long screw through the central hole into the timber. Glue six leads (I used a co-axial cable) into the distributor and into the holes in the engine block — a V6 engine, no less!

You can detail the engine for more, if you wish.

12 For the bonnet assembly you need to cut out a short length of timber and glue and screw this between the radiator and the front bulkhead. Cutting out the bonnet flaps is a more tricky operation. These are each formed from two pieces of wood which need angles cut along both sides of the top pieces and one side of the bottom pieces. Mark the waste area to be removed carefully with pencil and. working from both ends, use a smoothing plane to achieve the required angles.

Glue the top pieces to the side pieces and when they have dried, fix them in place on to the centre of the bonnet using lengths of piano hinge.

Fit magnetic catches to keep the bonnet sides closed and cut out. shape and glue on a bonnet handle on each side.

13 Cut out the driver’s seat and round off the edges with a spokeshave. Screw it in position on top of the chassis members.

14 Cut out the four chassis cross members required and screw them into position on the underside of the main hassis members. These not only give the vehicle extra rigidity but also provide a running board and floor for the driver at the front and a support for the water container at the back.

15 Cut out the mudguards for the back wheels. These need to be glued and screwed to the chassis since children may sit or stand on them. Drive the screws into the edges of the planks from inside the chassis.

16 Cut to length a block of wood for each of the front mudguards.

Pencil in the outline of the areas to be removed, then scribble over the waste sections to be certain you know what you are doing. Start by removing the curved wheel area with a coping saw (or bow saw if you have access to one). Then remove saw cuts with a spokeshave and glass paper. Remove the front corners with a tenon saw and smooth them into a satisfying rounded shape with a spokeshave. Finally, chamfer off the waste section at the back of each mudguard and use a firmer chisel and spokeshave to achieve a gradual slope. It is worth spending some time on these mudguards as they add tremendously to the overall effect of the fire engine.

When they are finished, glue them on to the sides of the chassis members.

17 The last stage of the main chassis is fitting the ‘water tank’. The tank is simply a plastic bottle and pump-action spray such as are sold in garden centres for spraying plants with water or pesticide. You will have to do some careful measuring and then probably try several suppliers before you find the size you need. The one I used was a 2-litre spray.

i Cut out a piece of plywood to sit on top of the two cross members and provide a base for the ‘tank’. Position the ‘tank’ on top. far forward enough so as to leave room at the back for a crew member.

ii Now make the cover for the pump compartment. Cut out a piece of plywood and mark out on it where the neck of the container has to come through. Drill a hole of the same diameter as the neck and then cut away a section of plywood from the hole out to the edge of the plywood.

iii Slot the plywood cover in position around the neck and then fit the cut-out piece back in position, glueing two small strips of wood underneath to support it.

Cutting list

Main chassis members 2 off 1025 x 19! x 22mm(403/8 х7½ х 7/8in) Timber

Front bumper 1 off 451 x 98 x 22mm (17¾ x 37/8 x 7/8 in) Timber

Headlamp 2 off 25mm (1 in) x 79mm (37/8 in) diam Timber

2 off 70mm (2¾ in) X 20mm (¾ in) diam doweling

Rear bulkhead 1 off 362 X 254 x 22mm (14¼ X 10 X 7/8 in) Timber

Rear mudguard assembly 2 off 480 X 98 x 22mm (187/8 x 37/8 x 7/8 in) Timber

4 off 165 X 98 x 22mm (6½ x 37/8 x 7/8 in) Т’гпэег

Cross members 3 off 254 x 98 x 22mm (10 x 37/8 x 7/8 in) Timber

R.B. cross member 1 off 451 x i 68 x 22mm (I7¾ X 65/8 X 7/8 in) Timber

Steering cross bar 1 off 343 X 64 x 44mm (13½ x 2½ X 1¾ in) Timber

Steering tie bar 1 off 343 X 64 X 44mm (13½ X 2½ X 1¾ in) Timber

Steering block 2 off 127 X 64 x 44mm (5 X 2½ x 1¾ in) Timber

Front mudguard 2 off 343 X 33 X 76mm(13½ x 3¼ x 3 in) Timber

Radiator 1 off 327 X 254 x 22mm (127/8 X 10 X 7/8 in) Timber

1 off 254 x 47 x 22mm (10 x 17/8 x 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 279 X 22 X 22mm (11 X 7/8 X 7/8 in) Timber

5 off 260 x 22 x 9mm (10¼ x 7/8 x 3/8in) Timber

1 off 210 X 22 x 20mm (8¼ X 7/8 x ¾ in) Timber

1 off 25mm (1 in) x 32mm (1¼ in) diam dowelling

Bonnet assembly 1 off 203 X 83 X 22mm (8×3¼ x 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 203 X 108 X 22mm (8 x 4¼ x 7/8 in) Timber

2 off 203 X 102 x 22mm (8 x 4 x 7/8 in) Timber

Bonnet handle 2 off 95 x 22 x 20mm (3¾ x 7/8 x ¾ in) Timber

Front bulkhead 1 off 292 X 254 x 22mm (11½ x 10 X 7/8 in) Timber

Dashboard 1 off 241 X 98 x 22mm (9½ X 37/8 X 7/8 in) Timber

Steering column bearing blocks 2 off 64 x 51 x 51mm (2½ x 2x 2 in) Timber

Seat back 1 off 476 X 254 x 22mm (18¾ X 10 X 7/8 in) Timber

Seat back support strip 2 off 197 x 22 x I6mm(7 ¾ x 7/8 x 5/8 in) Timber

Seat swab 1 off 254 x 1 33 x 22mm (10 x 5¼ X 7/8 in) Timber

Engine assembly 1 off 210 X 98 x 22mm (8¼ x 37/8 x 7/8 In) Timber

1 off 162 x 95 x 70mm (63/8 x 3¾ x 2¾ in) Timber

Distributor 1 off 25mm (1 in) x 57mm (2¼ in) diam Timber

1 off 25mm (1 in) X 25mm (1 in) diam dowelling

Cooling fan 1 off 9mm (3/8 in) X 165mm (6½ in) diam Plywood

Steering wheel hub 1 off 127 X 76 x 6mm (5 x 3 x ¼ in) Plywood

Front ladder pylon mounting block 2 off 95 x 76 x 32mm (3¾ x 3 x 1¼ in) Timber

Ladder pylon cross member 3 off 445 X 60 x 32mm (17½ x 23/8 X 1¼ in) Timber

Pylons 4 off 114mm (4½ in) X 20mm (¾ in) diam dowelling

2 off 572mm (22½ in) x 20mm ( ¾ in) diam dowelling

2 off 343mm (13 ½ in) X 20mm (¾ In) diam dowelling

Tie strips 2 off 1067 x 38 x 22mm (42 x l½ X 7/8 in) Timber

Spot lamp arm 1 off 178 X 64 X 41 mm (7 X 2½ X 15/8in) Timber

Hose reel spindle block 2 of 98 x 98 x 32mm (37/8 X 37/8 x 1 ¼ in) Timber

Hose reel 4 off 9mm (3/8 in) X 197mm (7¾ in) diam Timber

Ladders 4 off 1525 x 79 x 22mm (60 x 31/8 x 7/8 in) Timber

6 off 298mm (11¾ in) x 22mm (7/8 in) diam dowelling

6 off 248mm (9¾ in) x 22mm (7/8 in) diam dowelling

Pump compartment cover 1 off 425 X 254 x 9mm (16¾ x 10 X 3/8 in) Plywood

1 off 165 X 76 x 9mm (6½ x 3 X 3/8 in) Plywood

Pump compartment floor 1 off 381 x :127 x 9mm (15 x 5 x 3/8 in) Plywood


6 off 197mm (73/4in) diam road wheels

2 off 121 mm (43/4 in) x 12mm (½ in) diam steel front stub axles

2 off 451 mm (173/4 in) x 12mm (½ in) diam steel rear axles

2 off 47mm (17/8 in) x 12mm (½ in) diam X 16mm (5/8in) °diam spacer tubes

6 off 12mm (½ in) spring dome caps

2 off 114mm (4in) X 6mm (¼ in) diam coach bolts, nuts and washers

2 off 102mm (4in) X 6mm (¼ in) diam coach bolts, nuts and washers

2 off 197mm (7¾ in) X 16mm (5/8in) piano hinges

1 off 254mm (10 in) X 216mm (8½ in) x 1.5mm (1/16 in) thick clear plastic

8 off 16mm (5/8 in) x 12mm (½ in )°/diam x 9mm (3/8 in) ‘/diam plain phosphor bronze bearings

2 off Magnetic cabinet catches

1 off 1 metre (39in) length of coaxial cable for dummy ignition leads

1 off 610mm (24in) X 9mm (3/8 in) diam steel bar for steering column

1 off 127mm (5m) x 25mm (1 in) x 6mm (¼ in) steel strip

1 off 165mm (б½ in) diam road wheel

3 off 12mm (½ in) spring dome caps

2 off 38mm (1½ in) X 6mm (‘½ in) diam coach bolts, nuts and washers

1 off 203mm (8in) x 9mm (3/8 in) /diam x 12mm (½ in) °/diam plastic tube for various sleeves etc

1 off 610mm (24in) x 6mm (¼ in) diam steel rod to form spotlamp frame

1 off ‘Vidor’ lamp

1 off 660mm (26in) x 9mm (3/8 in) diam steel rod for hose reel spindle

2 off 9mm (3/8 in) spring dome caps

2 off 143mm (5 5/8 in) diam road wheels

1 off ‘Polyspray’ model 3-2 litre pump and hose assembly

1 off 6 metres (20ft) x 6mm (¼ in) bore plastic tubing

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