FUN & GAMES: Toymaker Bill Robson and offsider Sue Ewin, who does his computer work.
FUN & GAMES: Toymaker Bill Robson and offsider Sue Ewin, who does his computer work. BELINDA SCOTT

Wooden machines keep Bill at full revs

BILL Robson is a modern-day Geppetto, but there is no Pinocchio to be found in his Evans Head workshop.

Instead this maker of wooden toys creates miniature versions of the huge machines that excite the wonder of today's children - and their parents. Scaled down versions of road trains, 18-wheelers, bulldozers and excavators line his Canberra St industrial bay.

Made from local timbers like silky oak and cedar, polished to a display-case finish, these replicas have functional moving parts and are sturdy enough to be played with and handed down to future generations.

Caterpillar tracks, wheels and buckets move, roll, open and close, cabs pivot and prime mover and trailer combinations can be hitched and unhitched.

Among the toys on display are a miniature Mack truck with a dog trailer; a 1934 Buick; a road train with 68 wheels; a 1936 Ford and a farm tractor.

Toy vehicles are not all that Bill makes - he uses his wood working skills and his computer-aided cutting equipment to build clocks in the shape of rustic windmills (with tank attached) and creates individually designed timber covers for wedding guest books as well as miniature furniture and turned timber urns.

Born in Casino 73 years ago, Bill moved to Evans Head to become involved in surf life saving, an interest he still maintains. A downturn on the north coast building industry saw Bill forced to move to Sydney for work.

"I had six kids and I was too proud to ask for the dole, so I had no choice," he said.

A losing streak at the races was responsible for his current occupation.

"I was living in a unit in Sydney with nothing to do at the weekends so I used to go to the races on Saturdays," Bill said.

"One day I lost $800, and I thought: 'that could buy a lot of saws and things'."

"So I bought a book on toys and some woodworking equipment and that's how it started."

Busy in his workshop five days a week, he mows his lawns and volunteers behind the bar at the Evans Head Surf Life Saving Club on Saturdays and has a stall at Lismore's car boot markets once a a month to show off and sell his Heirloom Toys 4 Big Boyz.

Phone Bill Robson 0424 411 777 for more information.

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