Track Record: Owensboro resident builds train for churches' VBS

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OWENSBORO, Ky. - When it comes to building set pieces and props, Glenn Hamilton only has to picture the various shapes in his mind.


“I see things in circles, squares, rectangles and triangles,” Hamilton said. “I see them in dimensions. Like when I want to build a car, I look at it and that’s one big rectangle to me.”


For his latest project, Hamilton spent a week designing and constructing a scaled-down train and a coal cart for Owensboro churches to use for their vacation Bible schools, which have the theme this year of “Rocky Railway — Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through.”


Hamilton has a history of constructing elaborate props such as Noah’s Ark and a biplane for his home church — Walnut Memorial Baptist Church and its children’s ministries.


“God just inspires me and we just work together on it,” Hamilton said. “He tells me what to do.”


Scott Seiber, children’s pastor for Walnut Memorial, said the train and coal cart will be shared among multiple churches for VBS during this summer.


“You give Glenn an idea and he’ll bring it to life,” Seiber said. “…He even built me a bookshelf with a cross in the middle for my office. He thought beyond the bookshelf by putting a message in it. It’s just neat the way he thinks.”


Hamilton said he considers himself a “rough” carpenter who learned by doing.


“I couldn’t ever afford to hire anybody so I had to do everything myself,” he said.


For the train project, Hamilton built it inside his garage in the evenings after work. His day job is working for the Daviess County Public Schools’ Transportation Department.


He started out with a 55-gallon barrel and designed the rest of the body around it.


Hamilton said the mostly wooden train and coal cart, which measure 8-feet long together, were constructed by mainly using recycled materials.


“Everything on there has basically been used for something else and then scrapped out,” he said.


On the side of the train, Hamilton mounted a Bible verse from Philippians 4:13 that says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”


Hamilton said he thought the verse was more than appropriate.


“I was thinking, ‘Well, it’s not a big train and it’s a rocky railway so you need that strength to be able to pull a train through the rocky railway,’ ” Hamilton said.


To make it mobile, Hamilton installed flat dollies at the bottoms of the train and coal cart. The coal cart was also made sturdy enough to hold children if needed.


After it’s used for VBS, Hamilton said he’s not sure where the train will end up.


“After I build it, I just turn it over to the church; I don’t have anything else to do with it,” Hamilton said. “It’s not mine; it’s God’s anyway. He gave me the privilege and I was just thankful that somebody asked me to do something.”

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