Summary: Our client had the unique idea of making a car wash look like a train. He hoped it would entertain kids and attract families. Learning how to integrate the unique design with car wash equipment was a significant challenge. We used our expertise in the design of other complex project types like intensive care units to tackle this project.

Architectural Design for Kids

Wayne Hixon contact us in 2015 to design a very unique car wash. He had the idea of making the building look like a train. He figured that it would (1) grab the attention of young kids who would love the over-sized engine and (2) would act as its own billboard with its convenient placement right on the curve of a busy road.

Don't be deceived. This isn't a train design. It's the actual facade of the Choo Choo Express.

Learning locomotives

One of the challenges of this project was, of course, learning about the anatomy trains. For example, the two largest wheels are called the "drive wheels", the triangle-shaped object at the front is a "cow-catcher", and the three smaller wheels are known as truck wheels. But, even more difficult was sourcing a fabricator who could create the individual pieces. We had the pleasure of working with Clarence Taylor Construction Co. to fabricate all the wheels out of steel. We worked with another company, Master Fog, to obtain smoke chemicals that are pumped from the mechanical room and out through the smoke machine in the smoke stack.

The exterior facade of the Choo Choo Express lit up at night.

Car Wash Mechanics

Harder still than learning about trains is learning how the equipment for car washes works. The equipment is quite proprietary and doesn't integrate easily into conventional building design. For example, the owner wanted to offer his clients warm water for the washes because it is more effective at removing road dirt. To make that possible, we had to install 13 boiler units on a raised platform above the other car wash equipment. The building also includes a water collection and recycling system in the floor of the wash bay to reclaim water, clean it, and re-distribute it into the car wash equipment.

The numbered rectangles represent the water heaters on a raised platform.

See it for yourself

Designed in 2015, the car wash was completed in 2017. Visit the location yourself. Hint: choose the premium car wash to see smoke rise out of the smoke stack and to hear the train sounds we sourced on iTunes.

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