I have a 20 month old grandaughter and a 14 month old grandson who are dressing up as Pebbles and Bambam for Halloween. I decided they needed a Flintstone Car to complete the look. This is how I made it...
Step 1: Log Sides
Using a cartoon picture of the Flintstone's Car I drew out the sides on 1/2" plywood making them the same width as a large swim noodle and scaled the length to match. Once cut these plywood pieces would provide the shape of the log sides and determine the scale of the rest of the car.
Next I cut a large 4" swim noodle in half using a table saw. After doing some basic shaping of the swim noodle with a large bread knife my daughter coated both the noodle and plywood with contact cement. I then bonded the two pieces together which provided the contour of the log sides.
After the glue was completely dry I did a little more shaping and trimming with the bread knife. I then coated the entire noodle side with Bondo-Glass (available at any auto parts store, large hardware store, or Wal-Mart) putting it on in one direction but a little sloppy so it would look like tree bark when I finished. Bondo-Glass hardens in about 15 minutes, which keeps the project moving quickly.
After both sides were cured I sanded them to remove any sharp edges. We gave the sides a thorough base coat of gloss black and then brown. This gave the sides a realistic log look.
Step 2: Frame, Seat, and Wheels
I next built a simple frame that would be strong enough to hold the entire assembly together. My original plan was to leave the floor open so the kids could push with their feet. However, my grandkids were too small to move the car so I later installed a floorboard to protect their little feet while being pushed.
The seat was constructed from scrap wood and I used a band saw to shape it to look as though it was chiseled from rock. I cut three small slits to accommodate safety restraints. I found straps with clips in the camping section of Wal-Mart for about $1 that became the seatbelts.
The rock wheels are made from concrete forms I found at Home Depot. I started with 8" forms and cut 3/4" plywood circles to cap the ends. I attached the plywood caps using Gorilla glue and brad nails. We then set the parts together to check the scale and I decided to change from 8" wheels to 12" wheels.
Step 3: Rock Wheels and Dashboard
After making the 12" wheels I coated them very unevenly with Bondo-Filler to add imperfections so they would look more like rock instead of a smooth tube.
My daughter then sanded them to remove any rough edges and painted them the same rock pattern she used on the seat. Once completed they were held in place with woodscrews between the fiberglass sides. The holes in the fiberglass were repaired and painted.
I cut a dashboard from 3/4" plywood and a steering wheel from 1/2" plywood. I also carved a bone shaped piece from wood to use as a lever.
Once sanded the dash and steering wheel received the rock paintjob and the bone handle was painted white. I then covered the steering wheel with a piece of water pipe insulation so it would be soft and safe and installed both parts onto the dash.
Step 4: Car Top
To make the top I ran a 2x4 through a table saw several times turning it slightly each time. This produced poles that looked like they were whittled from wood. I then cut them to length.
Once the cutting was complete Pebbles and Bambam tested the car to ensure it was the right size and then decided they wanted to help.
After the kids were safely inside I used a hole saw and electric drill to cut openings through the sides. I then mounted the upright poles to the plywood using Gorilla Glue and screws. I took care to mount them securely since they would also serve as the handles to push the car.
I found that any time I needed to screw a part to the sides I could simply drill a hole through the fiberglass coating and re-bondo it once the screws were in place. Due to the roughness of the sides you couldn't tell that I ever touched it.
Once the uprights were in place I added the rest of the pieces using 3" screws and glue. I always drilled pilot holes to ensure the wood would not split. After painting the top wooden parts I lashed them with natural fiber twine. I then glued all knots and other cross joints so the twine could not loosen or unravel.
The cover is cut from white vinyl canvas and is held in place with heavy-duty Velcro strips. The Velcro strips are attached to the vinyl and crossbeams using contact cement giving a seamless look. The Velcro holds the cover tight but it can be easily removed if needed.
Step 5: Castors
The original castors were attached to the frame but I soon found that the rock wheels had a tendency to scrape when the car went across uneven ground.
To fix this I cut openings in the bottom of the rock wheels and installed a 2x4 flush with the bottom. This provides a strong mount for the castors. I then attached the castors using 2" lag bolts.
Step 6: Project Complete!
The last step was to add detail to the car. I painted the ends of the log sides to simulate wood grain and touched up any imperfections on the car.
The entire project took me about three weeks with most of the work accomplished on Saturdays when my oldest daughter was in town. Most of the materials used were from scrap wood I had laying around. Since I fabricated this car from my imagination I ended up spending extra money experimenting with different materials and parts that did not work. Even with this I probably spent under $100 for the entire project.
This was nothing compared to the priceless expressions on my grandkids faces when they saw the car.
My next step is to make it electric and remote controlled...