Many modelers have probably seen the increase of fire service related HO or 1/87 scale models that have appeared on the shelves or pegboards of stores and hobby shops. Several traditional toy manufacturers as well as specialty production firms have produced models ranging from class A pumpers, aerial ladders and chief’s vehicles to specialized support units including ambulances, tankers and even tow trucks.
Following the lead of our European counterparts, famous for “chopping” or modifying models into specific prototype apparatus, we will take a look at what is available in the American markets, and how to make modifications to these HO scale rigs .
One of the most notable companies making HO-scale rigs is the Boley Corporation. Boley has produced a number of HO-scale rigs including pumpers and tankers based on Navistar two- and four-door cab chassis, as well as a Spartan/S&S top-mounted pumper in a variety of colors. One of the most recent and notable models produced by Boley is a Seagrave four door cab pumper, quite similar in design to units in use by the New York City Fire Department. I have already seen several modelers who have modified this Seagrave unit as well as the Spartan/S&S unit into tractors for tillered aerials by removing the pumper body and shortening the chassis. After examining these models, and disassembling several pumpers of this type, I will pass along several tips for those planning on “chopping” this vehicle along with several other vehicles in the Boley range of products.
First off, it would be a good idea to have handy a Dremel, Sears or equivilent hobbyist moto-tool, an adjustable spool rod with several cotton buffer attachments, a small phillips head screwdriver, several small drill bits and a good bit of patience.
The basic configuration of the Boley models is that the cab assembly and body assembly can be removed from the chassis by removing the two small Phillips head screws under the chassis. Once this is done, the body and cab can be removed from the chassis. The Seagrave unit is in two pieces while the Spartan/S&S pumper unit has three, including the pump panel.
The Seagrave unit includes three sets of hose in trays, one at the front bumper and one on each side of the pump panel. These trays are molded into the bumper and running board, but the hose is a seperate unit in each tray. These can be removed by drilling out the adhesive hole on each side at the bottom of the chassis. Once a bit of drilling is completed the hose should drop out. If you are planning on painting the vehicle a different color, remove the molded interior and take note of the adhesive points for the windows and other exterior parts inside the cab interior. Using a small drill bit on low power will enable you to loosen and remove the exterior parts by opening up the adhesive points therein.
Once the cab is stripped of internal and external parts, and in order to ensure a smooth, uniform paint job, the modeler may want to remove unneccesary graphics from the cab itself. This can be accomplished by using the cotton buffer attachment on the moto-tool or by using a very fine grit hobby sanding paper. When using a moto tool, do the buffing at a very low speed, both to control the surface on what you are buffing, and to prevent a “burn-out” point which would result from high-speed buffing and expose the finish down to bare metal. The concept here is to remove the more heavily enameled graphics with minimal disturbance to the underlying finish. This will allow a uniform appearance overall after the new paint has been applied and dried.
These are just a few start out tips on converting Boley models. In the next column, we will look at expanding, or shortening the Boley chassis to accomodate different bodies or act as a tractor for a tillered aerial.
If you have already started or have completed a similar project, feel welcome to submit your ideas and photos to me at 1st Responder News c/o Tim McCue/ Mini Rigs, 53 Route 17K, Newburgh, N.Y. 12550.