James B. Bishop likes building and fixing things.
The 78-year-old native of Enon keeps busy helping his neighbors, children and grandchildren.
Bishop demonstrated that skill recently by building a replica of “Thomas the Train” for his 4-year-old grandson, Henry B. Bishop.
James used a 16-horsepower lawnmower engine to power the train, which includes a barrel and cab.
He built the train for his grandson’s fourth birthday, which happens to be the same day as his: Jan. 30.
It took a month to build. “I worked on it between other projects,” James said.
Henry drives it on trails at his parents’ home, which sits on a farm in Varina.
“We’ve got 17 acres, and he’s been from one end to the other,” Henry’s dad, Jason F. Bishop, said.
“I like it,” Henry said, adding that it’s his favorite toy. He shares it with his cousins, Aubrey and Charlie Parker, when they visit from North Carolina. The girls are ages 5 and 3, respectively.
James – who spent 15 years as superintendent of road maintenance for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Bon Air office and owned a machine shop for 20-plus years – said he’s built parts for spacecraft and nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.
He has a lathe, a mill and welding equipment in his garage.
People bring him things that are broken, James said. “I fix it and make it usable,” he said.
He is currently restoring a 1941 John Deere tractor.
“I enjoy being busy,” he said.