Just recently I bought a beat down wooden toy tractor on a fleamarket. I costed me 4€. Before giving it to my son I decided to give it a little facelift.
3mm and 5mm drill bits
sandpaper (80 to 320 grit)
wood dowels 5mm
welding wire 3mm
blue masking tape 6mm from 3M
standard painters masking tape
spray paint (red and clear)
primer for plastic
Step 1: Taking Apart and Sanding
The title says it pretty clear: take everything apart, keep all the parts (for now) and give the wood parts some treatment with sandpaper. Start with a rough grit to get rid of the old coating and work yor way up to the fine grit to create a smooth surface.
Step 2: Replacement Parts 1 - Steering Wheel
The original steering wheel was missing. Instead of just replacing it with some wooden disc, I decided to make wheel and column out of one piece of 3mm welding wire.
From a wood dowel with the right size I made a bending template. I basically drilled a 3mm hole trough the middle of the dowel and made a centered cut into the top side.
I got the bending right in the second attempt. After cutting off the excess wire, I soldered the gap to avoid injuries. To finish I hammered and filed the lower end of the steering column flat to fit it into the existing steering joint.
Step 3: Replacement Parts 2 - Lights
The original lights were gone. As replacement I found some wood beads in the perfect size and shape. I drilled the existing holes up to 5mm to glue in matching dowels (don't force it or the beads will split). Then I cut them to size and drilled a 5mm hole into the side of each light. After that I sanded off the old paint, cut off the leftover dowel and rounded the back edge of the light. Then I glued in the dowels on the sides and prepped the lights for painting.
On the tractor side I redrilled the existing holes to 5mm diameter
Step 4: Replacement Parts 3 - Decoration
When I bought it, the tractor had some mirror strips nailed to the sides and front. I decide to let go the front decoration.
For the sides I wanted something out of wood. I had some 5mm dowel left from the previous step. So I cut them to the same length as the original mirror strips. Then I split them into half lengthwise with knife and hammer (be careful on that), sanded them flat and rounded the ends. To prep for painting I sticked them on some painters tape I fixed to a piece of wood.
Step 5: Paint Job
Before painting I used Autodesks Sketchbook Pro on my tablet to make some sketches. I decided to go for the simplest version (KISS rules), red with some silver accents.
The shape on the tractor I did freehand with 6mm masking tape from 3M (sorry, I got excited and forgot to take a picture before spray painting), the rest of the tractor I covered with standard painters tape. Same on the wheels.
The tractor hood got several coats of red, as well as the seat. The steering wheel I painted black, the lights and decoration strips silver. The wheels got a layer of plastic primer first, on the wood and metal I didn't use any primer.
Step 6: Assembly and Coating
In this step I added the lights and side strips. After the glue had set I gave all the wooden parts several layers of clear coating.
Step 7: Final Assembly and Show Off
After the clear coat had hardened through I assembled the remaining pieces. I was very satisfied with the result, but this was nothing compared to the smile on my sons face when he saw the tractor! He loves it!