Makin’ Trax: Print and Play Canals

Canals are artificial waterways. Originally built to help irrigate crops, they also proved to be a useful means of transporting people and goods. Canals were the highways of their day, allowing larger quantities of goods to be moved faster and cheaper than overland methods of the time.

Although canals have been built around the world for thousands of years, (The oldest canals we know of were built in Mesopotamia around 4000 B.C.E!) the golden age of canals was arguably the early nineteenth century. At this time, canals were used to carry the vast quantities of coal and iron that fueled the Industrial Revolution. Ironically, these same materials would be also be used to construct the very networks that would eventually replace canals as the dominant means of transport … The Railway.

Now you can build a canal system of your own from the comfort of your home. Download and print our modular canal templates then cut out the pieces and put them together to create the canal of your dreams. You can even mix and match your canal pieces with pieces from our Makin’ Trax: Roadways set and/or Makin’ Trax: Railways set to create a truly impressive transport network!

Getting Started

The templates below contain all the corners and straight sections you need to build an impressive canal system. We’ve even made special Bridge Sections in case you want to run your canals through your existing road or railway! Building your track is as easy as downloading the templates, then printing and cutting out the track pieces. Remember, you can print each template as many times as you need to so to make longer tracks just print more templates. Easy!

If you aren’t sure where to start – no worries! We’ve put together three layout ideas to get your engine going. Just print out the templates listed by each of the tracks and then use the diagram to put it together.

Layout 1 – Simple Canal:

This layout is a great starting point that combines sharp and shallow bend pieces to create some interesting shapes. This layout can be easily expanded by simply adding more pieces at either end

Layout 2 – Branching Canal:

This layout makes use of T junctions to create a sprawling, branching canal system. The shape of the layout can be easily changed by rotating the T-Junctions and extra pieces can be added to any or all of the branches to create a larger setup.

Layout 3 – Bridged Canal:

This layout is a good example of how you can use the bridge components to connect your canal system to your road or rail network. To complete this track, you will need to download the Makin’ Trax: Roadways templates which can be found here, or the Makin’ Trax: Railways templates which can be found here.

Of course, these layouts are just suggestions to help get you started. Feel free to change, add, and subtract from them as much as you want!

Tips n’ Tricks

  • Planning your track before you build can be helpful. Try drawing a picture of your track first. This will help you to work out how many of each piece you are likely to need, and can help you put it together faster.
  • Every piece can be attached to any other piece, at either end. Try flipping pieces around and combining pieces in different orders to create new layouts.
  • If your layout uses bends and junctions, you might find that your tracks don’t always line up when you try to connect them to later pieces. When this happens, try adding spacer pieces in different places to get back on track. If you still can’t quite get it to work, don’t be afraid to cut your roads down the size you need. That’s the joy of paper!
  •  Big Layouts are great fun to play with but can seem daunting to put together. Try breaking your layout down into small sections that can be built separately and then joined together later. This will make it easier to construct more complicated builds, plus it will make things easier to pack up later!
  • Your track pieces have a glue tab at each end, in case you want to glue your track together. You only need to use one glue tab on each piece, so once you have decided the direction the piece will face, just cut the extra tab off. Or, if you don’t want to glue your tracks at all, just cut both tabs off.
  • Depending on the type of printer you use, you might find that your track pieces start to curl once you cut them out. Try placing a heavy weight (stacks of books are great for this) on top of the pieces and leave them over night. Alternatively, you can also glue the paper pieces onto cardboard for extra rigidity.

Get Makin’ Trax!

So there you go! You now have everything you need to create an amazing rail network. If you do create your own Makin’ Trax Canal, we’d love to see it. Make sure you snap a pic or even record a video of your road and upload it to your social using #motatfun (don’t forget to ask your parent’s permission first though.) so we can check it out!

Also be sure to keep checking back, as we will be adding new tilesets and track pieces over the coming weeks, so you can expand your layouts even further!