Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ford AA 1934 Leach Refuse Getter

Inspired by another photograph on, I challenged myself in scratchbuilding one of these garbage trucks. The picture above shows the unpainted model.

I have a couple of 1/87 scale Ford 1931 AA truck kits from Con-Cor with different body styles which I could easily swap against a new refuse body.

From the prototype picture I approximated the length and height of the garbage body. The width was defined by the width of the track chassis. I cut the floor and sides from .040" plain styrene. 

I glued the one side to the floor using the magnets from the Micro Mark glueing jig to keep the assembly square.

After one side had dried, I glued the opposite side to the floor also.

To ensure that the side walls were spaced evenly with the floor, I inserted a piece of strip styrene like shown in the picture.

In the meanwhile I started construction on the collecting bucket using a piece of styrene tube, cut to the width of the body. I removed one side, giving a "U".

I glued a piece of .015" plain styrene to the front of the body. After this had dried thoroughly I attached one side of the roof using clamps to hold it in place. Because the body is curved, I waited until the glue had dried at the front edge before continuing to glue the roof along the curved side walls.

Using a "Curvograph" (that´s a ruler to draw eliptical, sinus etc curves) I sketched the special shape of the top lid brackets.

Taking the original photograph as a guide, I positioned the bracket on the side of the body.

When the glued had dried a trimmed and sanded the bracket smooth with the top.

Again, using the picture for reference, I added .010" plain styrene sides and rear panels to the bucket.

With all the brackets in place I glued the top lid to the roof of the body. I had to use four clamps to keep it in shape on the curved body until the glue set.

The Con-Cor kits don't feature an interior for the cab, so I scratchbuild one using scrap pieces of .040" plain styrene and C-channel as shown in the picture above.

Then using the cabs as a guide, I glued the interiors to my four truck chassis. The two on the left side will be for garbage trucks the third a produce truck and the one on the right will have a flatbed.

I contemplated a lot on how to represent the roller guides that lift the bucket to the roof top for unloading. Again I approximated the shape from the prototype picture and used a cutting compass, which has a scalpel blade insteat of a pencil tip, and cut the curved shape on .020" plain styrene.

I also fabricated two brackets to attach the bucket to the roller guide and placed the body on the truck chassis to check if everything fits.

I´m very pleased with my first attempt to scratch-build a truck only from a picture. Unfortunately I did not find any reference about what kind of garbage trucks were in use in Southern California during the 1940's. I will use some modelers license and suppose these vintage 1930's trucks were still in use in smaller towns, considering that because of the war effort there was no money for newer garbage trucks anyway.

Now the trucks are ready for the paintshop. As always stay tuned for updates.

Monday, March 30, 2015

7 ton Semi-trailer, Panel Cargo

Some time ago I purchased the 1/72 kit of a Studebaker US6 truck with semi-trailer and was hoping to use it on my HO layout like I did with the LCVP. Unfortunately this kit is accurately scaled and thus too large compared to my other HO trucks.


I searched the internet of useable models in HO. It proved that Roco (now Herpa) manufactured a 1/87 model of a M118  Semi-Trailer. It was listed under Roco Minitanks with the item number Z168. Although being a more moder version, it could be modified and give a good stand in for the WWII 7-ton Semi-trailer.

I purchased six trailer models, some already modified. This model seems to be out of production for some years because in Europe I couldn't find any, so I had to buy them all in the US. None came in the original boxes, which didn't matter much because I would modify and paint them anyway.

The first step consisted in removing the landing gears, rear axles and spare tires.

Then I started to build up the tool box which on the model only had the front panel and no sides, back or bottom.

I used .020" plain styrene pieces from my scarp box to build new tool boxes.

On the prototype the landing gear is attached to the underside of the frame near the center and is used as a temporary support, or whenever the trailer is uncoupled from the tractor. It is operated through a worm screw and miter gears by a hand crank, located on the right side of the trailer. I used C-channel to represent the long worm screw and the nut where the guide bracket is attached.

Using .015" brass wire I bend the back brace assembly in shape.

In the photo above the tool boxes are completely built-up and a steel bracket for the spare wheel was installed on the front of the body. (The spare tire on the model was attached to the underframe)

This photo shows the operating mechanism of the landing gear. The wire back brace assembly is locked into a hole that represents the guide bracket srewed to the long worm gear (C-channel). The detail isn't visible from the side.On the prototype, turning the crank handle in either direction, rotates the worm screw. The nut and guide brackets, which are connected to the landing gear back braces, follow the thread of the worm screw, thereby raising or lowering the landing gear, depending on the direction fo rotation.

I also decided to represent the cross ties on the frame because they are partly visible when viewed from the side.

I primed the bodies and sprayed them with Tamyia Olive Drap from a spray can.

The finished semi-trailers.

Roco/Herpa did not manufacture a tractor (Studebaker or GM) so I also had to transform a GMC truck by removing the truckbed and installing a saddle plate.

 I will probably also convert some of the Classic Metal Works tractors to pull the trailers.

I still need to find bigger wheels for the landing gear (or eventually build them from scratch). The trailers will we loaded with boxes and equipment and some also covered with tarp before they are put into action on Broadway Pier for loading on the next cargo ship.

Stay tuned for my upcoming conversion of a Roco/Herpa M30 Fuel Tank Semi-Trailer into a commercial tank truck.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Garbage Truck

To populate the streets on my layout I am constantly looking for interesting vehicles and figures to create unique scenes.

One such vehicle is a garbage or refuse truck, to collect all the garbage bins placed along the sidewalk. A few modern models of garbage trucks exist, but I need a model that suits my 1940's era.
I searched the internet for appropriate pictures and probably would need to scratch-build one. has a wealth of vintage pictures from the 1930's until the 1960's.
The truck above is equipped with a Leach garbage Loader.

The smaller rear bucket loader garbage trucks above would be right for smaller communities and I will try to scratchbuild one of these. (A Heil Collecto truck at left and a Leach at right)

Then on ebay I was fortunate to find a couple of resin bodies that I could mount on an existing truck chassis.

THE RAIL CONNECTION offers several resin bodies and trucks.

I choose one of my flatbed truck models from Classic Metal Works to accept the garbage body.

I removed the flat bed by inserting a small screwdriver between the bed and the chassis and popped the deck off. It is actually glued at several spots.

The rear axle and wheels are wider than the garbage body so I needed to add fenders. I salvaged two rear fenders from a Con-Cor Steam Era 1930's Ford Truck kit.

I drilled a small hole (#76 ??) in the side of the fenders to accept a piece of .019" brass wire.

Then I also drilled the same size hole in the side of the body where the fenders would be.

As you can see, the resin body casting is not very clean and has a lot of small holes that came from trapped air bubbles during the casting process. I tried to fill some but as the truck will not be too close to the layout edge they will not be visible after painting.

I test fitted the body on the chassis, to check if the fenders would well cover the wheels. Then I glued them to the resin body with a few drops of CA.

Then I applied a coat of grey primer from a Tamyia spray bottle.

After the primer had dried I brush painted the body with Vallejo Alluminium paint. I didn't feel the need to fire up my airbrush because the Vallejo paints cover well even with a brush.

Finally I glued the garbage body to the chassis with a few drops of contact cement.

Soon later the city workers were busy collecting the garbage bins.
I will apply a decent weathering to the truck and body and keep on checking for appropriate lettering for the garbage truck.

Stay tuned for more special vehicles to be added soon.