Wednesday, March 24, 2010

E.L. Moore's VW truck

E.L. Moore used a VW-based flatbed, pickup truck model as a photo prop in three of his construction articles - there may be more, my survey was certainly unscientific - from the 1970s. The composite picture below shows it (from left to right) at Bunn's Feed & Seed in the August '73 issue of Model Railroader, Jones' Chemical Co. in the March '74 issue of Model Railroader, and the RMC Paper Company in the April '74 issue of Model Railroad Craftsman (I built the paper company way back then using some unusual methods, hopefully I'll have a post on it in the future). It turns out that in the Bunn's article Mr. Moore used the VW as a prop, in different poses, in three separate photos.

Since I'm building an E.L. Moore industrial park to showcase the Bunn's Feed & Seed Plant and Jones' Chemical Co., I thought it right to include one of those VW flatbeds. I guess if I searched the internet enough I probably could have found one ready-made; however, I had two Model Power VW buses on hand that I bought awhile back at a local hobby shop, so I thought I'd try to convert one. Turns out it was relatively easy and fun.

The bus comes apart easily: it's only held together by pieces that snap together, so careful prying on the chassis will get the model to fall apart.

I used a Dremel with a cutting wheel, a small hacksaw, and some files to cut off the back of the bus and square it up to the final shape. Before cutting I drew some lines on the bus with a fine, black Sharpie pen so there were some guidelines to cut along.

A new back wall for the cab was cut from 0.020 inch styrene sheet and glued to the metal cab with thick superglue. A file was used to do some final shaping on the back wall once the glue was set in order to blend the metal cab and plastic wall. The joint line between the back wall and the cab was then filled and sanded to achieve the final shape.

And no, there is no rear window on the cab even though it looks like Mr. Moore's had one. No doubt his was a commercial product, and more-or-less modeled a real prototype that included a rear window to make it street legal. To be honest, I didn't think I had the skill to cut a clean, square window, so I deliberately left it off. However, I forgot to remove the rearview mirror from the cab, so maybe the driver has x-ray vision :)

The wood flatbed was made from a piece of 1/8 inch balsa and scored to make it look like it's composed of individual boards. It too was glued in place with some thick superglue.

These Model Power HO scale vehicles have a molding on the chassis to screw the item securely to its packaging. Often these extend into the field-of-view when the model is on display on the railroad - they look unsightly and grossly unrealistic. I used the Dremel to grind it off the bus chassis. I didn't fix up the chassis afterward, since it's never seen when the vehicle is on display.

I lost the headlights during the disassembly procedure. To recover, I filled the headlight holes with white glue since it dries near clear. The resulting new headlights aren't perfect, but they're not bad.

The body was painted with Model Master Acryl Dark Green that I had leftover from the Dodge AT-AT project I finished a couple of months back. I don't know what colour Mr. Moore's was, but dark green seemed right. The flatbed is painted with a loose wash of thinned flat black and brown paint. The cab interior was painted a tan colour, and the steering wheel was painted black and silver. To finish off, the entire vehicle was painted with a loose wash of thinned flat black to tone things down and add a little definition.

The Ontario license plates are items from Penitentiary Productions that I bought last year at George's Trains. If you follow their instructions on the package, they go on quite well and look good.

Now, I just need to locate some of the figures Mr. Moore used in the photos to complete the scene. That'll be tough.

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