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Kids Love His Tough Aluminum Toys
Norman Hornburg makes toys that are tough.
  Built big out of 1/8 and 1/4-in. thick aluminum, they are strong enough for his 6 and 8-year-old boys to ride. Plus they are personalized with individually stamped letters with the child’s name on the top and an encouraging message on the bottom.
  The Pennsylvania welder and mechanic began making toys when his sons were 3 and 5 – and seemed to break all their purchased toys. A friend suggested he use his talents and leftover materials to make a bulldozer.
  “I made it out of steel, and it weighed 53 lbs.,” Hornburg says. “A grader weighed 30 lbs., so after that I decided to use aluminum.”
  His first aluminum toy was a pickup and the second was a dump truck that he painted blue. He followed up with a bulldozer. The toys now weigh a more manageable 10 lbs.
  “They are about double the size of Tonka toys,” Hornburg says, noting the size is determined by the wheels he uses. Some are lawn mower wheels, and he purchases others from a supply house.
  Hornburg makes axles out of 1/2-in. stainless steel.
  “I built a grader that is steerable, and the kids can ride on it. They love the ones that steer,” he says, noting he has also made an articulating dump truck and front-end loader. He makes them Lego compatible so the toys can have passengers.
  The toys are TIG welded for strength and sandblasted before priming and painting. When others saw the toys, they started ordering them for their children, and Hornburg sells them for $225 and $300.
  “Kids appreciate anything that’s personalized to them, and kids realize that nobody else has these things. Make something unique and a kid will love it – that takes the pressure off if it isn’t perfect,” he says.
  He’s also discovered a couple of other benefits from toy making.
  “Since they’ve been getting my toys, my boys call them the ‘Dirtworks toys,’ and they haven’t asked for toys from the big box stores. They know the difference now, and they know we can make them better than what you can buy,” Hornburg says.
  And, even better, they are learning to make their own. He worked with his youngest son to draw and form his first toy recently – a “monster” truck. Hornburg welded it for him.
  “It’s been a real joy. The kids want to come to my shop. The toys are good because they are unique, long lasting and it gets them involved,” he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Norman Hornburg, 755 First Ave., Johnsonburg, Penn. 15845 (ph 814 688-5432; normanehornburg@yahoo.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2