CHEK Upside: Cobble Hill retiree turns lawnmower into locomotive

CHEK Upside: Cobble Hill retiree turns lawnmower into locomotive
CHEK News
WatchJohn Walker's Cobble Hill Express has been a labour of love for the past five years.
John Walker's Cobble Hill Express has been a labour of love for the past five years.

In his Cobble Hill backyard, John Walker’s wild mechanical creations gather.

The former aircraft mechanic has always been a self-confessed tinkerer.

“I have a garage here that’s full of all kinds of welders and tools and everything else and it was kind of my dream when I retired just to do my thing in the garage,” says Walker.

Couple that with a love of steam locomotives dating back to his childhood in Quebec and you get his latest creation, the Cobble Hill Express. It is a scaled-down replica of a locomotive, complete with flat deck cars and a caboose.

“The locomotive itself was built approximately 5 years ago,” says Walker,

“It was a heavy duty lawn mower, a Club Cadet lawn mower, and the flat decks and the caboose were built this winter for something to do,” adds Walker.

There’s all the bells and whistles one might expect on a full-sized locomotive and it’s all made from recycled materials.

“I just kept adding pieces on that I found either in a junkyard or in the thrift store or any odd piece laying around,” says Walker.

Pre-COVID Walker would display the little locomotive at the Cobble Hill Fair and other events around the Cowichan Valley, but even now the train still draws plenty of attention.

“I park it out here on the road and quite often I look out and there’s some people there getting pictures taken,” says Walker.

It’s all to bring some smiles and keep Walker’s creative juices flowing.

“The creativity is really I guess what keeps me going,” says Walker.

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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