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Local welder creates small scale steam engine during pandemic

Prince George welder Brad Hutton uses his heavy-metal skills creatively to pass the time during the pandemic.

Local welder Brad Hutton has created a fire-breathing dragon, a bear-shaped fire pit and now he’s made a small-scale steam engine.

Hutton started welding at eight years old as his dad, Greg, started building aluminum boats.

When Hutton got to Grade 11 he opted into the Career Technical Centre program where half of the year was academic and the other half was geared towards a trade. Of course, he chose welding - or maybe welding chose him?

He’s been a professional welder since he was 18.

Now at 37, Hutton makes some pretty cool stuff during his leisure time, especially during the pandemic when he turned to the shop in his parent’s garage to keep himself occupied.

“Turning junk into something useful and or just art, right?” Hutton said. “It’s repurposing things, I suppose.”

In 2015, he built the dragon fire pit that literally breathes fire after he saw someone else’s on a YouTube video.

“When COVID hit, I built the bear for something to do,” Hutton said. “And this year I started working on the train and it was the same sort of thing - just killin’ time. I’ve probably got about 500 hours - conservatively - into the train.”

He believes he’s only half way done now.

The train needs the steam cylinders and linkage to the wheels to make it look complete.

“And I’d like to add a light box to the front,” Hutton said. “I’ve built a steam whistle for it but I haven’t mounted it on the train yet.”

He believes he’s still about a year out for it to be done completely.

He’s looking to build a coal car, too.

“And buddies at work suggest I build a caboose as well but I’m not sure about that,” Hutton laughed. “It would look really neat, though.”

He’s got a line on a short section of track that might be available to him.

Hutton lives in the same area as his parents and knows that once the train is completed it’ll be on display on his corner lot for everyone to see.

The inspiration behind the little steam train was a cool clip Hutton watched on Sandon, BC, a silver mine ghost town in the Kootenays that had a full size steam train.

“And when I saw that I thought hey, that would be cool - on a miniature scale - in Lower College Heights,” Hutton smiled. He’s thinking it might start a trend.

“Slowly putting scrap metal all over lower College Heights could be my objective,” Hutton laughed. “It’s just a hobby, right?”

He’s got a few more ideas of what he’s going to be building next.

He’s looking to expand his repertoire with sheet metal art.

“I love old cars, so I was thinking an old sheet metal pick up in miniature scale would be really cool,” Hutton said.

He’s had his eye on his Uncle Roger’s old sheet metal brake and Roger has finally agreed to sell it to Hutton. He’ll be going to the island in a couple of weeks to pick it up from his tin-smithing uncle.

“I’ve always like creating stuff and I don’t plan on quitting any time soon,” Hutton said.