See You in 2013 - next is­sue on Jan­uary 9th Whim­si­cal train made from scrap

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Coat­i­cook

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!”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vix­to­ria Vanier

Mr. Dupuis’ grand­chil­dren, Ari­anne and Charles Eti­enne, earned their rides on the train by help­ing to paint it.

Photo Vix­to­ria Vanier

Al­bert Dupuis, of Coat­i­cook, built this func­tion­ing train out of left­over build­ing ma­te­ri­als and a lot of in­ge­nu­ity.

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