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Building ideas for a onstage train? Answered

My high school is doing Hello Dolly and if possiblelwould like a train to be brought on stage, does anyone have ideas on how to do that? I have a couple but I'm having trouble bring all of it to one idea. I had an idea you can make hand turnable axles and gears for the wheels, other stuff for the smokestack, I was thinking maybe corflute for the body, but its really just chaos in my head right now. Any suggestions? 

It needs to be fairly lightweight. 
It would be nice to have workable wheels 
And not a real smokestack obviously but the appearance of smoke and a whistle
Maybe a back platform if at all possible that Dolly could jump on...

Our stage is small. It has no special things about it and its roughly 20 by 30 feet. There are two backstage wings that are really just small hallways that let out into the audience, and those are about 20 feet long. 

Our plays are all financed by the drama teacher herself so the less expensive the better as well. 

If nothing comes up thats ok too. We have an alternative that can be used.

6 Replies

rocketsurgeryBest Answer (author)2011-01-26

I think the most important aspect of your train is its proportions... you want it to look just like a real steam engine... I would find an image that you are happy with and start constructing the basic facade from cardboard boxes and duct tape (you should be able to get boxes free from supermarkets?)... Then take your time on painting it... detail is the key...

I would try to find a small trailer or trolley (depending on the size) to attach the facade to... the wheels are important... I would cover your trolley wheels with free turning stiff cardboard ones... the key is to connect the wheels so that they look the part when moving (see below).

Re: smoke/steam effect... I would probably go for a dry ice effect (with lights and perhaps a fan to direct the "smoke"), have a look at the alternatives here. You could also get quite a good effect from using bright lights if it all gets too hard.

Download train sound effects... you could set this going with an mp3 player and amplifier.

So basically, I would concentrate on the train's appearance first... then add the bells and whistles :)

For some reason my earlier post (Jan 25, 2011. 9:13 PM) doesn't display for others (or when I'm logged out so I'll post again - hopefully you can see this one???)

See how the train wheels move here.

Additionally, I think Steve's idea of using bicycle wheels is a really good one... you could motorise them (free wheeling) or have them as you trolley wheels (at least from behind)... hope you find a good solution :)

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lemonie (author)2011-01-26

Or borrow a video projector and a smoke machine?


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zlanier21 (author)lemonie2011-01-26

That would work but we dont have the means for the projector part lol.

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rickharris (author)zlanier212011-01-26

Light, Cardboard cut out, cheap magnifying glass lens - projecting a shadow of a train??

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rickharris (author)2011-01-26

Painted Cardboard over a light plywood chassis - Plastic Wheel barrow are fairly cheap or a set of castors. Get the actors to push it across the stage.

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steveastrouk (author)2011-01-26

Use bicycle wheels, they'll be an appropriate diameter, paint them matt black, attach a cover to look like a loco to the outside. A stage loco would only need to be narrow front - to - back, so you can save space.


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