City man makes wooden trains, cars

December 10, 2000

City man makes wooden trains, cars


photo: YVETTE MAY / staff photographer

Harold Strite and wooden creationsIn his small basement workshop, Harold Strite does a number on lumber.

The 80-year-old Hagerstown resident recently crafted a detailed passenger train from scrap wood that he scavenged from a lumber yard in Waynesboro, Pa.

The yellow and black "Amtrack 2000" diesel locomotive with an engine and four passenger cars is Strite's latest - and largest - invention.

Since he dove into his woodworking hobby about seven years ago, Strite has built airplanes, freight trains, buses, horse-drawn carts and tractors.


He's constructed a replica of the White House surrounded by a car-crammed beltway.

Strite fashioned a model of the Waynesboro nursing care center in which he visited his mother every evening for eight years. He recreated the Leitersburg area home and barn where he romped as a child.

"The good Lord gives me ideas. I like to do it all," Strite said. "I just love this kind of work."

Strite's first train, the "Western Maryland Express," was purchased by a person in Thurmont, Md., he said. An individual in Waynesboro bought the two freight trains and the passenger train that followed.

His 14-inch wide wallpapered and carpeted replica of the "Hoover House," the nursing home in which his mother lived, now rests in the Hoover House, Strite said.

It's hard to let his creations go, but Strite said he plans to sell Amtrack 2000.

"I guess that's what'll happen to it," he said. "The thing is, when it's finished it's all done."

Strite spent countless hours on his latest locomotive, he said.

He used a band saw, drill, hammer, miniature planer and a custom sander that he made from a hodge-podge of materials to build the boxy train. Strite crafted the engine from Styrofoam sandwiched by two-by-fours. He fronted the engine with a watch face, added a smokestack on the roof, and put a tiny wooden conductor in the driver's seat.

The train's passenger cars boast upholstered seats, Plexiglas windows and the hinged doors that Strite said are the toughest features to construct.

Screen door hooks connect the cars, he said.

Growing up during the Great Depression, the Washington County native never had his own toy trains to play with. Strite reckons he might be making up for lost time with the hobby that now consumes most of his time, he said.

Now that his newest train is finished, Strite said he plans to take a break before starting his next project- transforming his broken electric alarm clock into a battery-operated model.

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