My oldest son is currently in the biggest Fireman-everything phase right now. I hear the Fireman Sam themesong in my dreams and we have so much fun finding pretend-fires everywhere to put out with our pretend-hoses. We found a very cute fireman costume at Costco this year, and he has been a sweaty mess ever since, as he rarely wants to take it off, regardless of how hot the day is!
He has loved his Radio Flyer wagon, as well, and takes his brother for walks in it or rides in it to go see the neighbor’s horses. But we thought there might be something more we could do, and my husband and father are handy guys to have around. So we made a Firetruck case to go on top of the wagon – and have almost regretted it since, as our oldest wants to play in it basically every minute of every day.
This would be very easy to modify into a different design – a police car, an ice cream truck, a monster truck, a tractor, a garbage truck – you name it! Let your imagination soar! Here are the basics of how we did it.
1. Create a template that will fit on your wagon. We have a couple of different wagons, but chose to use our Radio Flyer All Terrain Wagon because it has a steel frame that can withstand the weight of the heavy wood frame as well as both of our boys.
2. Go shopping. Here is what you’ll need from Lowe’s Home Improvement:
- 1- 4’x8’ 1/2″ Plywood, sanded on one side
- 2 – 2″x4″x8′ boards
- 2 – 2″x2″x4′ boards
- 2 – 1” Dowels , 4ft long each
- 1- box of 1 1/4″ wood screws
- 2″ deck screws
- Wood glue
- Bondo or other wood filler
- Roll of painter’s tape
- 1 – Metal Board
- White paint
- Red paint
- Yellow paint
- Playset steering wheel
- Puck light set and any other lights you may want
- PA system
- Motorcycle battery
- Electric switch
3. Build the frame. We made a frame of 2×4’s around the edge of the wagon lip to attach our firetruck. Cut these to length of your wagon, apply a little wood glue, and screw together w/ decking screws. It will be held on top of the wagon by weight – no need to screw it onto the wagon itself.
4. Design your truck. We basically just drew out a design on the plywood, the length of our wagon, cutting out wheel wells and a window/door to enter the truck. We then traced this onto the other half of the sheet of plywood to make the other side. We used both a circular saw and a handheld jig saw for this.
5. Attach sides of truck to 2×4 frame on wagon with the 1 1/4″ screws.
6. Measure and cut panels for the front grill, the roof, and the back of the truck. Glue and screw on to frame. The weight of the truck now holds it firmly onto the wagon, and the overhanging lip prevents the truck from sliding off the wagon. Add a seat and dashboard if desired.
7. Cover screws and any other bits with bondo or wood filler and sand flat.
8. Paint the truck.
9. We used a miter saw to cut a 45 degree edge of the side corners of some 2×4 pieces to look like bumpers and attached those to the front and back after painting them white.
10. We fashioned the ladder out of 2×2 with the 1″ dowel laid into a 1.25″ hole drilled with a spadebit and glued/screwed into place with the 1 1/4″ wood screws.
This is the part then where my dad went a bit nuts. He made a little shelf and attached a motorcycle battery, then wired it to a switch and hooked up this PA system. The problem comes in how loud the darn thing is. My son absolutely loves to call into it, “Fireman Sam, come in! There’s a fire over there!” He loves the alarms that are programmed on the buttons. However, as the firetruck’s engine (meaning, the person pulling the wagon), I do not love how loud it is. We’ve tried to quiet it down by stuffing some quilt batting into the loudspeaker and even cover the whole thing sometimes with a styrofoam box, which does help some.
We also found these great puck lights for our activity board and used them again as headlights here, then we also found flashing lights at AutoZone and wired those up as well to the motorcycle battery. We found these battery powered red and blue flashing lights as well which we attached to the roof with some velcro. Add a soft hose with a large spray end piece, a metal plate for the back with some spray-mount adhesive, paint some decoration on the back, and we got the ultimate in mom-powered firetruck wagons! This was a very fun project, and really not that hard. Obviously you can customize it any way you want, and there are other options that wouldn’t require the motorcycle battery and hard-wiring electronics. You could add in a couple of hand held walkie talkies, or a battery-powered PA system.