Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Practical Mechanics covers our Toylander kits

Sean Woods

Staff writer Sean Woods can think of nothing better than “messing about in boats”… or maybe aircraft… or living off the grid… Hands-on by nature, he’s blown away by the ingenuity and quality emanating from backyard workbenches. And despite being called a gadget junkie, he doesn’t actually own any. Don’t ask…

Thanks to Sean at Practical Mechanics for featuring our Toylander kits.

Andrew was keen to have us venture away from boats,even if just the once,so we changed from a water base product to a road based one,I for one saw a future in this,so does Practical Mechanics,thanks to them we are now in the auto industry too.

We occasionally get calls at the PM office from dads lamenting the lack of father-son DIY projects available nowadays. Sensitive to their needs, we’ve delved into our archives (they go back to 1911) on numerous occasions looking for inspiration, only to find that our world has changed so dramatically that those exquisite designs of old no longer seem relevant. So I got quite excited when, trawling the Net for new gadgets, I stumbled across the Toylander – an electric-powered toy Land Rover for small children (top speed: about 6 km/h) available in kit form (watch the video to catch the Toylander in action).
The Toylander has become a legend since it was first launched in the UK 22 years ago, with many home-builds now on their third or fourth generation of drivers. You can either buy the full-sized plans (and do all the cutting yourself), or buy the base car body as a CNC cut kit plus the plans.

Andrew Bain, along with his son James, has built the first one in South Africa. As luck would have it they’re based in Cape Town, so I popped past their place and paid them a visit. James, now almost 12, has outgrown his tough little Landy (although he still enjoys playing with it). To for all intent and purposes it’s been passed on to his younger cousin Alastair.

Roy McBride of CKD Boats, who is responsible for bringing the Toylander into the country, has been developing and supplying quality kit boats – ranging in size from small dinghies to ocean-going yachts – for years. Although highly respected both locally and internationally, he’s the first one to admit that boat kits aren’t exactly fast-moving items. It was when looking for another (and hopefully faster-moving) product to add to his portfolio that he discovered the Toylander.

Needless to say, if you can design a kit boat strong enough to withstand the rigours of an ocean crossing, it stands to reason you can design a very sturdy kit toy car. McBride’s kit, cut in high quality BS1088 marine ply, is stiff yet lightweight. Included you’ll find epoxy, timber cleats, glass reinforced tapes, and micro balloons for making spot fillers and epoxy fillets. You also get finger joints, allowing you to assemble the body in a dry state prior to final assembly. Plus, there’s a jig supplied to form the bonnet.

If metalwork’s your thing, you can fabricate the various engineering parts yourself. Alternately, you can simply purchase the lot, along with the 12 V motor and wheels. The manual includes easy-to-read workshop drawings, and instructions for attaching the running gear and wiring up the electrical system.

Bain had no intention of throwing money into the project and just bolting it together. He wanted it to be a fun experience for both him and his son. So, in true PM style, he started scrounging around. He picked up a damaged 12 V trolling motor for nothing. He sourced an old 12 V deep-cycle battery from a yachtie who needed a replacement. The back wheels came from a ride-on lawnmower, the front wheels where originally attached to two wheelbarrows, and the spare wheel came from an old scooter. And for all the metalwork he bartered his skills with a buddy who makes air conditioner grilles. Says Bain, “Tasks that should’ve taken a few hours to complete ended up taking days because my son, wielding his plastic hammer, was involved. But I was spending quality time with my son, and no amount of money can buy that.”

The price list (depending on the exchange rate) is too extensive to list here. But, to give you an idea, the plans cost about R570, the kit costs about R4 060 and the wheels plus drive conversion set costs about R1 730. If you purchase everything a complete vehicle will set you back about R15 000.

Contact CKD Boats on 021-510 7206.

Watch the video to catch the Toylander in action.

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