Miniature trucks for a bygone era
October 28, 2011 | by: Robby Gaines
I started making model trucks when I was about 7 and have been building ever since. Like all other model builders I started by assembling them straight out of the box. Soon, I started modifying and, as buffs say, kit-bashing them with parts from other kits. Later I started building my own parts from scratch.
The 1977 Kenworth, like the one in Overdrive’s July 1977 issue shown here, was one I always wanted to replicate because of its paint scheme. I started with an AMT Kenworth K-100C Aerodyne kit. I tried to build the tractor to match the one in Overdrive as closely as I could with the addition of a few lights.
I modified the basic kit by shortening the wheelbase. Then I replaced the Detroit and Allison that comes in the kit with a Cummins and a 13 speed transmission. I also swapped out the kit stacks and bumper for nicer ones from my parts box. I had the fuel tanks and steps chrome plated. The cab lights, horns and breather cap are made from aluminum. The paint is all DuPont basecoat, clear automotive paint.
As far as I know, nobody ever had a real trailer painted to match one of these trucks so I decided to make one. I used an ERTL Great Dane 40-foot van kit and used a Thermo King unit and an extra set of chrome wheels from the parts box. I had the roof, nose and back end chrome plated. The reefer tank is aluminum. I used chrome foil on the rub rails. Masking over the ribs on the trailer to do the stripes was a challenge, but I’m pleased with the results.
Over the years, I found out about other truck modelers and discovered the aftermarket parts available for them. My models gradually became more customized. Now I rarely build a model that doesn’t have lots of modifications to the basic kit. I use mostly DuPont automotive paint on them.
I really like trying to replicate the factory paint schemes often found on trucks from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I collect old copies of Overdrive because they’re full of great ideas and photos of trucks I want to build.
I’ve been around trucks my whole life, in part, because my grandfather inspired my brother and me when we were young. He died in 2010 and was a trucker for many years. A blue and white 1970 Peterbilt 359 with the Great Dane reefer was the last truck he owned, and I’m working on restoring one like it.
I am 33 now and started driving trucks when I was 20. I am probably one of the last drivers to come along who started in a 1979 Freightliner cabover. My white 1981 Kenworth that is in Overdrive‘s Reader’s Rigs Gallery is one of the trucks I used to drive. It is now a retired antique show truck.
For several years, few truck models were produced. Revell of Germany and Italeri kept making several kits. But the old AMT and ERTL kits were hard to find. Fortunately in recent years, a lot of the older AMT and ERTL kits have been rereleased.
Now is a great time for truck modelers. There are more kits available than have been in a long time. And the aftermarket suppliers have tons of great parts, conversion kits and decals available.
My only problem now is deciding which model to build next.