In Mini Big Rigs, Mack, March 20217 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 28, 2021

Last month we investigated budgetfriendly model trucking options, looking over a 1:64th scale diecast Mack Super Liner project I have on the go. Over the next two months, I want to demonstrate just how easy it is to take a simple toy and transform it into a one-off model truck for the absolute minimum of cash. On a recent visit to The Warehouse, I purchased three Siku 6×4 Scania fire appliances intending to morph them into a typical modern 9-axle Kiwi truck and trailer unit. The Scanias retailed for $9 each, so I paid $27 to get the required cab and the nine axles and wheelsets needed for the project.

I‘ve been slowly acquiring the rest of the materials when visiting hobby stores and keeping an eye on the rubbish and recycling bins both at home and work. I find these smaller diecast modification projects just as rewarding as constructing the bigger 1:25th- and 1:24th-scale plastic kit sets. As well the low cost, there are other advantages: they are great for beginners, with faster construction, and the finished rig takes up a lot less room in the display cabinet. In this month‘s issue, we will take the model from 6×4 fire appliance through to 8×4 rigid dry-goods truck ready for the paint shop. Next month, we will look at how to scratch-build a matching 5-axle trailer to complete the combination.

Fire appliance or line-haul combination? We are about to find out.

The tools of the trade for this project. In terms of plastic, ‘Evergreen‘ product is available at all good hobby stores and offers a comprehensive range of sheet and mouldings.

Using a 3mm drill bit, remove the heads from the rivets that hold the model together. The disassembled fire appliances will reveal all the goodies required.

Using an ‘Xacto Razor Saw‘ or similar, cut off the chassis‘ rear in front of the drive axles.

Before starting the build, sketch a scale layout of your project. You will find typing ‘truck axle spacings NZ‘ into a Google image search helpful with obtaining the correct measurements.

By overlaying the cab and axles onto the sketch, you get a feel for the proportions. This model is 1:87th scale, so 1mm of model truck represents 87mm of the real truck.

Using 2mm sheet plastic and the dimensions from the sketch, cut out a new chassis. I laminated 2 x 2mm strips for this model, giving a good solid 4mm backbone to the model. Notching the end of the new chassis allows us to overlap onto the diecast chassis of the model, clean away the paint and bond the plastic to the diecast with a good super glue.

Using the ride-height position of the existing front axle, measure (remember to add an extra 3mm of drop for the axle grooves), cut and glue into place up-stands from the chassis at the new axle locations as shown on the drawing.

Once the glue holding the up-stands has dried, using a fine file cut into the up-stands the axle grooves to the same ride height as the existing front axle. This is where the extra 3mm of drop we added when measuring is needed to accommodate these grooves.

Again, using the drawing as a reference, cut out of 1.5mm sheet plastic the pieces required to assemble the two van bodies needed for the truck and the trailer.

The assembled van bodies – note the extra underhang at the rear of the two bodies. This is to imitate the light bar/bump stop commonly seen on this style of truck body.

To hide the fact that this was a fire engine, I used super glue to secure offcuts of old kitset sprue into the holes where the beacons were located. Now, we can glue the cut sheet plastic into place to represent an air deflector kit using the sprue as a brace. Remember to use super glue where fixing plastic to diecast metal and standard plastic cement when fixing plastic to plastic. Also, remember to remove any paint from all glue contact points. A test fit of the body helps calculate the heights for the air deflector.

Using a file and fine sandpaper, shape the rounded edges of the air deflector.

Here, we show how a simple diesel tank can be constructed by gluing ends onto a piece of tube. Then, once the glue is dry, file off the surplus and round the ends. Again, old kitset sprue is helpful for shaping a pair of air tanks to hang under the battery box.

The completed and readyfor- paint-shop Scania 8×4 line-haul rig, with details such as corner finishes (Evergreen 293 2.5mm angle) added to the van body as well as mudguards.

The finished rear end of the van body, sporting a pair of door locks and the under-run bar.

The last detail to add before painting is a tow hook. First, glue a plastic block to resemble a draw beam. Once that has dried, use a 1.5mm drill to place a small hole into the draw beam to accept a small piece of 1.5mm copper wire, held with a drop of super glue. Ask your local electrician for an offcut or two of copper wire – handy to have in the modelbuilding kit.

Fresh from the paint shop. Next month, the trolley!