A Train Ride Through The Pumpkin Patch
Visitors to a Missouri pumpkin patch can ride in style to the fields on the Pumpkin Patch Express - a home-built passenger train.
  "We built it to take families and school groups on a quick 20-minute tour of our pumpkin and cotton fields," says Scott McWilliams, who operates the McWilliams Pumpkin Patch near West Plains, Mo. "I tried to make it look as authentic as possible."
  The 102-ft. long, rubber-tired train is made mostly from treated lumber and marine plywood. The steam locomotive up front was built over a Kubota 30 hp 4-WD tractor, followed by two passenger cars, a gondola, and a caboose. The four cars hold 50 to 60 kids at a time - 24 in each of the two passenger cars, 30 in the gondola, and 20 in the caboose. The gondola has removable sides, allowing wheelchairs to enter on a ramp.
  Each car has two sets of 14-in. high, 4-in. wide wheels on front and back. "I used narrow wheels to make them look more like train wheels," says McWilliams. On each car, the axles ride on a triangular-shaped frame that results in a walking tandem axle effect to smooth out the ride."
  The locomotive's round hood is made from rolled plastic and sets in a tapered frame. It lifts off for refueling the tractor. The locomotive has a fake compression chamber on each side, similar to a real steam locomotive, to hold pressure on the wheels.
  "I just finished building it in September, but already I've hauled a lot of school kids on it. It's really popular," says McWilliams. "I added 40 ft. to our barn so that I can keep the train out of the weather. My biggest problem is that every organization in town wants to put it in parades. We feature a variety of attractions on our land including 4-horned Jacobson sheep, goats, Longhorn cattle, Scottish Highlanders, a corn maze, cotton, peanut and pumpkin fields. We drive the train on a route that takes kids by everything. The train weighs about 3,000 lbs. loaded with people."
  McWilliams says he plans to install a cylinder inside the locomotive's smokestack to contain the heat from the tractor, allowing him to set old rags inside it to smoulder and create smoke. "I also plan to add a steam whistle, bell, Halogen lights, and an intercom system."  
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, McWilliams Pumpkin Patch, 4007 CR 6920, West Plains, Mo. 65775 (ph 417 256-6470; scottmcwilliams@mcwilliamspumpkinpatch.com; www.mcwilliamspumpkinpatch.com).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6