See You in 2013 - next issue on January 9th Whimsical train made from scrap
It’s just amazing what some people can build from the junk lying around their garages or workshops. If you drive along Lamy Street, in Coaticook, during the Christmas holidays, you’ll discover a child-sized, working train, which might even be chugging along with a
few smiling kids seated inside, on the front lawn of lifelong Coaticook resident, Albert Dupuis.
The colorful train, paint- ed bright red, green and yellow by Mr. Dupuis and his grandchildren, is a handmade labour of love that runs on a slightly elevated track, seeming to hover magically above the snow, around and around in a circle about twenty-five feet in diameter.
“I had the idea of building a train for quite a few years and, finally, started building it in the summer of 2010,” said Mr. Dupuis, a retiree who worked in construction and carpentry. “I made just a few plans from my imagination then I started to build it one step at a time. I used whatever material I could get my hands on,” explained the handyman who used material like leftover plywood, metal and plastic water pipes, tin cans and buckets for his little marvel. “I paid only $20 for the used motor that runs the train,” he added.
The track the train runs on is made from used water pipes, lead by the look of them. “They were really difficult to curve into just the right shape for the track,” he said.
Mr. Dupuis even put up an old Coaticook street lamp that he had lying around to help illuminate the train at night, attaching it on top of a wooden pole to add a little ‘touch of yesteryear’ to the installation.
Mr. Dupuis’ four-car train, once it was all painted and assembled, rode the elevated track beautifully on its maiden voyage, with one small problem. “It was too fast! I had to take all the wheels off and make them bigger to slow it down.” The Christmas train now cruises at a comfortable pace with Santa behind the driver’s wheel.
Although Mr. Dupuis made the train with his grandchildren in mind, he’s also happy to let the neighborhood kids go for a ride. “Sometimes kids come and knock on the door,” he admitted. The well-made express is actually strong enough for adults to ride in, if they’re playful enough to give it a try.
“Cars often stop to take a look at it, too.” When they do, now Mr. Dupuis can just get up and turn the switch on that he recently installed in the front hallway. “The first year that I ran the train, when cars stopped I had to run down into the basement to switch the breaker on to make the train run. By the time I got back upstairs the car would be gone!”
Every holiday season this ‘inventor’ improves his whimsical Christmas train a little, one year adding the ‘little red caboose’ and, this year, modifying the heavy anchors of the eighty-foot track to make the annual installation a little easier on his back.
“Now I’m trying to figure out how I can make steam come out of the train’s chimney stack!”
Mr. Dupuis’ grandchildren, Arianne and Charles Etienne, earned their rides on the train by helping to paint it.
Albert Dupuis, of Coaticook, built this functioning train out of leftover building materials and a lot of ingenuity.