Halloween Train – The Engine

I had been hoping that I would get my “Engine” post up sooner but events conspired against me.  Floors.

There have been three floors in my home that were the last to get a face lift, and believe me they had to wait a long time to get it, too.

I knew I wanted to make my Halloween engine out of a paper mache coffin but what I hadn’t counted on was I had used up all my coffins last year and of course, it’s too early to find such things in craft stores yet, so I had to order some online.  I thought I would have my engine done before I started tearing my house apart in order to lay my new floors.  As it turned out, it was close, but I didn’t make the deadline.  Sorry for the delay folks but finally, here it is.  The Engine.


I like working with this set of coffins.  They come three ‘nested’ together so I get a nice variety of sizes to work with.


I chose the middle size, which is about 7¼” tall.


Again, I used Tim Holtz Pulley Wheels, but this time I used both sizes – the regular and the mini.  I put the regular size at the back of the coffin and the mini to the front.  I wanted to give my engine a bit of a ‘jacked up’ look to it.


I completely covered the outside of the coffin lid and body with black acrylic paint, but I did not paint the inside at all.


Now we’re cookin’.


Tim’s Woodgrain Cardstock has a very nice heavy weight to it and it is already embossed with a very realistic wood grain pattern (kind of hard to see in this picture, though).  It comes ready to be colored using watercolors, acrylic paints, Distress Crayons, Ink Spray – you name it.  This stuff is really fun to play with.


Here’s how I chose to color my woodgrain cardstock.


I put a sheet in my spray box, which is a three-sided cardboard box.  These are great when spraying color on something – it helps keep the over-spray from going everywhere.  Here I’m using Distress Spray Stain in Walnut.


I wanted a smooth coverage of the color, so while it was still wet I used a paint brush to spread the color out evenly.  You can let it dry as it is on the left side, too, it just depends how you want your wood to look.


Another Tim product: Distress Collage Medium.  This gives a satin finish look and it also adds another layer of tint in an old Vintage patina color.


The paper’s still wet here, but it will dry fairly quickly (I helped it along with my heat tool).


Do you miss your crayolas?  These are Tim’s Distress Crayons.  They’re much softer than a kids crayon which makes them much more versatile.  I scribbled some black soot over the knotholes on my wood and then using a paper towel rubbed off as much black as I wanted leaving a fair amount to get into the nooks and crannies of the wood’s grain..  There’s a huge number of ways to play with these crayons – just Google some videos for ideas.


My wood sheets are ready to be made into boards.  Using scissors, I randomly cut widths length wise from my sheets.  Then using Archival Black and a sponge, I covered the edges and a bit of the tops of each board.


Using Tacky Glue, I start board number one towards the center.  I want this to have a primitive ‘random plank’ look when it’s finished.  By painting the coffin black and edging the boards in black, I’ve made it easy to use pieces of wood that don’t have to line up exactly but will still look great with no white/light colored gaps showing through when it’s all done.


Tacky Glue is a ‘white’ glue but it dries clear so no worries on those bits of white you can see on there.  But see the gaps? This is coming out just like I wanted it to – creepy!


The very top is covered now, see how I’ve let some of the edges of the boards go over a bit while others are a bit short?  It all adds to the ‘rustic’ flavor.


And here I’ve got the sides of the top finished.  I’m really liking how this is turning out.  It looks like old ratty boards cobbled together to make a ‘poor man’s’ coffin.


Moving on to the bottom section – see the line?  I simply put the lid on and traced a line around the bottom edge with a pencil to mark where to stop the boards.  If I put boards all the way up to the top edge my lid would no longer go on.



Ta Da!  All covered now.  Love it.  Now for the ‘decor’.


These are actually cupcake toppers.  I picked them up somewhere ages ago, but thought they would be perfect for a Halloween project, and this is the one.  I’ve added a bit of color to the one so I could bring out more of the detail that’s there, as well as a spookier, aged patina.  This will go on the very front of the engine – like headlights.


More Tim stuff (I can’t help it, Tim’s idea of craft supply is right up my Vintage/Grungy alley).  These are the Heirloom Roses in the Halloween version of black and blood red.  There is also snow white roses that you can color if you wish.


Using a hot glue gun, I randomly added these roses all around the lid’s sides.


There are three different sizes of each rose color so even though this was a pretty narrow area, I was able to get a fairly diverse pattern on the roses.


Next up, coffins need handles.  These are those little metal wall hangers  that usually come in a pack of four – perfect.


Using a 1/16″ drill bit, I drilled holes for the screws on the little hangers.  Once they were in, I blobbed hot glue on the screws sticking out on the inside of the coffin.  I also put a bit of E6000 on the contact area of the outside of the little handles.  People are going to want to play with those handles and I don’t want them coming off!

By the way, you can use a hole punch to make your holes, too, but if you don’t already have a rechargeable drill I highly recommend getting one.  For us gals, there are ones that are a bit smaller, lighter duty style and are rechargeable so you don’t have to mess with cords.  They take drill bits and screwdriver bits, too.  I would be lost without mine.  These are serious time and effort savers – try it, you’ll like it.


I took this shot right after I set the last handle, but oops, the left one is a bit crooked.  I fixed it right after the shot, I like rustic but not unbalanced.  But I do like how the ‘handles’ came out.


I needed a small eye hook on the back of the coffin for the first ‘coupler’ to hook to.  Tim’s Screw Eyes are the perfect size.  But what’s with the packet of gears?  Well, something has to power my Engine, right?


I took four of the gears and glued two back to back (with E6000) so they show well from either side.  Also, I want to point out the seat I made for the driver of the Engine.  I used a small block of wood which I covered with my boards.  From the inside of the lid I drilled a hole through and up into the block on the bottom and then ran a screw up through to secure the seat to the lid.

I also put a little finishing touch to the entire coffin by going through with a fine tip liquid gold metal pen and making ‘nail heads’ on the end of each board.  It really made a big difference on the overall look.


This is what the inside is looking like now.  You can see where I’ve hot glued the screw ends of the handles and where the seat screw went through.  On the right is a section of tapered dowel that I’ve cut to length, this is going to be a control lever for my driver.


And here he is – the driver, testing his new seat.  Check Halloween Train – Car #1 as to how to adjust these stiff plastic skeletons into new permanent positions.


Using my drill and a large bit, I put a hole in where I want the lever to go.  But that wood dowel is totally the wrong color.


Another Archival ink pad, (I have an extensive collection).  This one has three colors of brown all lined up.  I just rubbed the dowel all over and got a great mix of all the shades in one shot.


Time to place the gears.  I used an X-acto knife to cut the grooves out for each set of gears.  I made the grooves just wide enough to fit the gears and when I had the size I needed I used a small paint brush and black paint and painted in the raw cardboard areas that were exposed by the cutting.


See how I’ve got the gear set down in the lid where the center hole is just barely above the lid?  Now I’m going to cut a section of dowel, give it the same color treatment as the lever, and then run it through the gear to anchor it down.


I’ve got a collection of ‘U’ shaped tacks.  Two of the big (wire/cable) tacks will get some Vintage coloring first and then using the small drill bit I made mounting holes for them to straddle the wood dowel that’s now in place.  E6000 on the legs first and then I’ll slip them in after I get the second set of gears in place.


The second gear set is placed now and I’ll cut a smaller dowel to use for the gear mount here.


I chose a set of the smaller plain U tacks for the smaller gears.  Now both sets are glued in and finished.  I also glued the lever dowel in at the same time.

One more Archival ink – Brilliance Moonlight.  Those roses were just to undefined for me.  A light sponging of the white ink is going to give those roses a dusty older look and at the same time make the detail pop out more.


That’s better.


A small metal spring, cut to size and one end will get pulled out to a straight angle.  Why?


I wanted to make a ‘gas’ pedal for my driver to have his foot on.  This is a really busy picture but if you look close you can see the spring under the wood pedal I made.  On the underside of the gas pedal board, I barely started a hole with an awl and then just twisted the spring in with some E6000 on it’s tip – just enough to hold it into place. The other end of the spring that I straightened out  I fed down through a small drilled hole in the lid.  I anchored the pedal with E6000 on the back end where it meets the coffin lid.


Oh my gosh, I did it again.  This is the finished engine but, yes, there were a few steps I jumped over that I just completely missed getting detail shots of.  But I think I can step them out for you fairly well so you’ll know what I did.

Once I got my driver where I wanted him, I drilled double holes in both feet and ran 26 gauge white wire through both the holes one foot at a time.  Once I had the wire through the holes from the top side I went to the underneath side of the lid and pulled the wire tight, twisted it together and hot glued the twist to the underside so the wire couldn’t come loose.  Repeat for other foot, only that one was under the gas pedal (a little tricky, but I made it work).

The final wire went over a section of his pelvic bone but was finished off the same way.  I also hot glued his hand to the lever and topped the lever with a ball head pin and a couple of little gears – all glued together.


And a Halloween project just never seems finished without at least one of my handmade (by me) signature Black Widow Spiders.  The engineer has one of my ‘regular’ sized BWs at his foot, kind of like a pet dog, and another little tiny spider on his hand (a bit out of focus, but you’ll get better pictures of it further down).


And then there’s this guy.  I hot glued a couple of red rhinestones, in the eye sockets, from the back.  Then I hot glued him to the front of the engine AFTER I used Tacky glue to seal the coffin lid to the box so now it can never be opened again.

I did add some more alcohol ink to the creepy specter above once I got him glued in place.  I also added alcohol ink to all the hot glue blobbed all about.  I meant this to look kind of ‘gooey’ like he was leaking protoplasm as he emerged from the coffin.


So here it is – the Halloween Train – The Engine.  I’ll add some photos at the bottom of the complete train, all hooked together, too.






And here it is, the whole train all hooked together, which is 29″ – that’s right at two and a half feet  long!!!



Okay, this one made me put on my creative thinking cap.  And as usual, I had no real idea just where this project was going to go so I’m always a bit surprised when I realized I’ve reached the end of my crafting journey.


Since I hate being between projects – oh yeah, I’ve got another one in mind already.  More Halloween on it’s way.

Thanks for following along with me as I made my Halloween Train.  This item is now listed in my Etsy shop Old Raven, OldRaven.etsy.com .  If you’re interested in seeing a few more pictures of the finished project you can click on the link and browse through the photographic windows of my store.  If you’re after this project specifically, find HALLOWEEN in my categories list and click to see it and all my Halloween projects including Halloween decor for the office, home, indoor and outdoor pieces and my black widows – a favorite to add to any Halloween display.






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