America on Wheels is a non-profit museum in Allentown, PA dedicated to educating people on the history of automotive transportation. In order to engage a younger audience, America on Wheels wanted to transform one of the museum’s rooms into an interactive garage and restoration center custom scaled for kids 12 and under. They sought out Illustrated Designs for the job.
Illustrated Designs, Inc. began planning the project with America On Wheels Museum in April 2017, and a mere eight months later, the Kids’ Garage and Restoration Center opened its doors to the delight of young car enthusiasts throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
The Center is designed to be entirely interactive, with modifications to give kids safe, hands-on experience with vehicle maintenance and restoration. Kids entering the Garage and Restoration Center are greeted by a mural illustrating the basic parts of a car, a touch screen where they can walk through 10 steps for vehicle restoration, and kid-friendly worksheets for inspection, restoration, and inventory.
At the heart of the Kids’ Garage and Restoration Center is a custom-designed 3-D car with interactive parts. The Illustrated Designs, Inc. team used plywood, foam, Poly-Armor™ Hard Coat, and acrylic paints with a canvas top to construct the car, which sits atop an 8-foot long base and center lift featuring a permanently fixed creeper with undercarriage, exhaust pipes, and two removable mufflers.
The finished product—a custom scaled 3-D car—features the following interactive parts:
- Orbital Sander with sound
- Paint Sprayer with sound
- Welding Stick with sound and light
- Battery tester with light
- Radiator with play antifreeze
- Engine with a dipstick and play oil
- Air Filter with removable filters
- Pneumatic Wrench with sound
- Tires including removable and interchangeable wheels and hubcaps
- Air Compressor with sound
Linda Merkel, executive director of America on Wheels Museum, couldn’t be happier with the work. “The fabricator, Illustrated Designs, Inc., has been a treasure to work with and extremely knowledgeable in all areas. The fabricated car allows enough space for ‘Little Wheelers ages 12 and under’ to view the creeper and affix a muffler to the bottom of the car while another youth mechanic works on the engine,” she says. “Children will also change two of the tires using lug nuts and a realistic-sounding air drill.”
Children of all ages have learned and enjoyed their time in the Kids’ garage! As a bonus, the museum has been able to increase revenue by renting the space for special events & birthday parties!