Completing the rig

In Mini Big Rigs, March 20233 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckApril 9, 2023

Model truck looking unfinished? Complete the picture with some creative intervention.

A comment across the office from our editorial director Dave McCoid initiated this month’s build. Dave had recently visited our good friends at Model Barn and purchased a 1:43 scale White-Freightliner 4×2 tractor unit. But sitting on the shelf, it looked lost and incomplete. “What it needs is a set of Idaho hay trailers – that would fix it,” said Dave. That was all the prompting we needed to head straight to the workbench and break out the Evergreen sheet plastic, hobby knife and ruler.

We started with a little Google research. Typing in ‘Idaho hay trailers’ reveals a plethora of flat-deck A-trains. A typical Idaho combination generally comprises a single-axle 24ft flat-deck semi with a matching 24ft two-axle pull trailer. As in the past, a few basic calculations reveals that an American 24x8ft trailer in 1:43 scale equates near enough to a length and width of 170x57mm for our build.

We started by cutting out the two trailer decks from strong sheet plastic. I find that 2mm is stable and stays true over time. The next stage, using the images found on the web as a guide, was to form the chassis rails, adding combing rails, cross members and suspension sets.

The 1976 White-Freightliner 4×2 from Model Barn.

When it comes to builds like this, you can apply a healthy amount of creative license. Yes, the photos e used as a guide and reference for measurements, but there’s no need to feel it must be accurate to the fraction of a millimetre. Taking the time to keep the assembly square and true to form is far more important. Something slightly out of alignment will be seen long before a missing or added millimetre will be.

The painting skillsets learnt from previous projects we’ve detailed bring the trailers to life. I have chosen to add a level of heavy weathering to the finish of this unit to give it a ‘I have spent 40 or so years working on the ranch and never been washed’ look. Weathering is an acquired taste, but it transforms the model into a true one-off original. We will investigate the art of weathering in a future issue and demonstrate some of the products and techniques used to achieve it. All we need now is a load of hay.