One of the new decorations this year is anything but new. It's a wooden toy train made by my grandfather. Recently my dad ran across the original plans Grandpa used from a handyman magazine in 1957.
What's interesting is what differences there are between the magazine plans and the final process.
First take a quick looks at the plans (click on the images to enlarge).
As you can see, there are some minor changes -- the car is a little shorter than the plan, and the tender is (mercifully) turned the right way. Note the smokestack.
The directions call for a turned dowel, but Grandpa didn't have a lathe. So instead, he used the handle from an old rubber stamp.
And finally, for reasons unknown, rather than a metal clacker, Grandpa used a stiff piece of cardboard.
Still, as a home-made toy it worked fine. I remember pulling it along behind me as it clacked away. It's good to have it back, and nice to know the story behind it.