Standard Handcar Assembly Instructions and Plans
What started as a simple handcar assembly manual morphed into a detailed 126 page examination of the standard railroad handcar. While the book was intended to be an instruction and assembly manual for building our handcar kits, it was expanded to include dimensioned plans for every part included in the kit in the instance the reader prefers to build their own car from scratch without purchasing our kit. Detailed wood plans show you how to cut your lumber, along with tips for efficiently building your car. The book also includes history text and numerous historical photos. As a bonus, purchasers of the book will receive a $50 credit towards a handcar kit if purchased within six months. Professionally printed on heavy gloss paper and spiral wire bound for convenient referencing.
Shipping USA $4.95, Canada $15, all other international $25
Telephone or email us to purchase a kit. Lead time on shipping kits is 3-4 weeks.
We offer complete standard gauge handcar kits for those with technical skills to build their own car. Kits come with all the metal parts necessary to build the handcar including: wheel rims, hubs, axles, crankshaft, bearings, walking beam, brake system, truss rods with brackets, large and small gears, grab handles, and more. We also include all fasteners, except for those required to attach the floor and side tower boards. Most importantly, the kit comes with detailed engineering plans and instructions with plenty of diagrams and photographs to make the construction process as straight forward as possible. All you need to do is buy your own lumber from your local lumber dealer to build the frame, wheel centers, brake shoes, and pump handles.
Kalamazoo handcar in action on the Nevada Northern Railway.
Double cone tapered Timken style roller bearings for optimal performance
Correct 3.27:1 gear ratio
18-1/2” diameter drive gear made to exact specifications from an iron casting with precision machine cut teeth
6” diameter pinion gear machined from steel
Cast Iron Walking beam
Axles CNC machined from 1-1/2” diameter 1045 Carbon steel
Steel wheel rims made from 3/16” thick steel
Many parts have their original casting number cast on them
Bronze connector rod bearings
Babbitt crankshaft bearings
Dozens of iron castings
Many CNC machined and formed parts
No aluminum parts! We only use the materials that were originally available in the early 20th century.
Customers should have experience with woodworking skills that include sawing, mortise and tenon joinery, drilling, routing, and jig creation. All the jigs used to build the handcar are simple, but a general knowledge of jig making is required. Metal working skills include grinding and drilling, and a basic understanding of machinery assembly techniques. No machining is required beyond drilling.
The power tools required for the projects include: table saw, miter or radial arm saw, sander, band saw, drill press, router and basic router table, and hand drill. A wood lathe is also helpful, but not required as we sell the gallows frame spacer dowel that is made on a wood lathe. If you have a wood lathe, you can make this part easily, otherwise it can be purchased from us for $30 including shipping. We produced parts to build 13 handcars. Only six will be offered in kit form as the remainder are for fully fabricated deliveries.
Detailed plans show each step. General woodworking skills are required.
Detailed engineering plans show exploded views of the car and every detailed drawings of every part to aid in assembly.
Handcar kit as described..... $4995
Kit price increased to $4995 effective June 16, 2018 to account for higher metal prices. The United States tariff on imported steel has resulted in a substantial increase in the cost of domestically and internationally produced steel.
We ship nationwide through Fastenal Logistics. Your handcar will be available for pickup from your local Fastenal Store. If there is no Fastenal nearby we will ship by common carrier. Cost for crating and shipping... $475
Handcars may also be picked up in Santa Clarita, California and have the crating and shipping charge waived.
Hickory dowels for pump handle for display use only... $80 For safety consideration we do not sell wood pump handles for actual use as hidden defects could be present.
Optional floor mounted warning bell.... $125
Optional authentic handcar crankshaft bearing without babbit.... FREE SUBSTITUTION We have authentic castings of original crankshaft bearings that we will substitute for the off the shelf Royersford Foundry babbit bearings we supply with our kit. However, you will need to pour babbit and bore them.
We offer wood centered wheel building services. The price per wheel is $500 (includes delivery) for customer supplied wheels. The price does not include painting.
Handcars kits are shipped in a custom built crate.
Packed away neatly are all components needed to build a handcar except lumber.
Sales Tax applied for California purchases. Kit may be picked up in person in Santa Clarita, California.
Fully Assembled Handcars
We offer fully assembled handcars at the starting price of $10,700. We recently had to increase our cost because the cost of lumber has doubled in early 2018, and steel prices have increased 20%.
Upgraded cars coated in polyurethane automotive paint and architectural feature cars are available for additional costs. Contact us for more information about acquiring a built to order handcar.
Delivery time for a fully assembled handcar varies from three to nine months depending upon the complexity of the request. To get started I require 25% down, 25% when the frame is completed and painted, and the remainder at or before delivery. I can ship around the country, but there is a $600 crating charge in addition to shipping fees charged by the shipper. You can pick up the car from me, or I deliver with my trailer if you are within 400 miles from Santa Clarita, California. Shipping weight is about 900 pounds. Common carrier shipping across the USA ranges between $1000-$1200. International shipping vary $1500-$3000 depending upon destination.
Crated car ready for shipping. This car was delivered to the Chicago area by YRC for a cost of $1000