A Resin Kit Fire Truck Build

Sometimes I think its a damn good thing I am only building a small layout. I am easily distracted by shiny things or side projects, sometimes at least they do have some layout applicability. For whatever reason, I have always been smitten with the look of late 1940’s/1950’s American La France Fire Trucks. There is just something, gorgeous about their lines and their look. The Toronto Fire Department had many examples of them, and even though there was not a station in Liberty Village, and I’m not doing anything such as modelling a building on fire, there is no reason I can’t have a fire truck in my fleet of vehicles that will be out and about on the layout scenery.

So at sometime in the past year, I ordered a Sylvan Scale Models American Le France 700 Pumper Truck. I have built a number of the Sylvan vehicle kits over the years. They do build into nice models, but they need to have some care taken in building them to get there based on my experiences.

Parts straight from the box, and as test fitting and assembly proceeds before painting. None of the major sub assemblies are glued together yet in these pictures.

The first thing a Sylvan kit needs is a good cleaning, the parts have a lot of mold release remnants, and a lot of overcast to be carefully scraped away to reveal the parts and details, and to open up windows. The other major thing to be aware of is air bubbles. The castings can have a lot. Mostly, my experience has been they are on the inside of the parts, with one critical exception. I think pretty much every Sylvan kit I have built with a rear axle that isn’t cast into the frame has had air bubbles inside the axle, often where the wheel drum meets the axle, or the weakest point when you try to put the tires and rims onto the axle. I have broken several axles over the years, some have been savable, at least once I needed to ask for a replacement part. With careful opening of the bubble, you can gently fill the hole with filler and let that harden to make a part that will do the job, but its a big thing to be aware of.

Working through painting, after airbrushing the major sub components, test fitting, glasing the windows with Micro Kristal Klear, then adding details and paint before final assembly.

Honestly, As I was working my way though painting, I think I wanted to do this just because fire trucks are so bright and shiny. They are and always have been kept clean, and working to create a glossy paint finish and details really stand out. It will be noticeable wherever it is parked on the layout. For windows in these vehicles, I have long used Microscale Kristal Klear. Its a clear drying flexible glue, meant for gluing clear parts, but, with careful application, you can create windows with it. I use a toothpick and create a border of the glue around the edge, then draw it across the opening. There is a definite technique, and it doesn’t always work, and sometimes as it dries it will fail, or get air bubbles. The upside of this product is, it is always a little soft. If the window fails, you can just scrape it out after its dried and try again, or get a bit more glue on the toothpick and build up your supply to swipe across again.

A couple of finished shots on the workbench prior to moving to the layout.

For decals, I harvested from sets I have. I wound up using Canadian Pacific Dulux Gold Decals from Black Cat, meant for a CPR Sleeper to get the “TFD” markings, and used a number for the scroll work on the nose turned sideways. The silver and gold lining were done with fine tip sharpie paint markers.

This is one of those projects, looking at the dates of the pictures, I worked on it for like 2 months, but in reality the actual build time is substantially less than that, it just sort of would get something done, set aside, picked up, eventually painted, and all of a sudden, look at that, its finished. This seems to be a trend in my model making, and I am trying to see if I can’t clear a trio of half built kits by years end, but that’s a story for some other evening.

Fire engines were always kept fastidiously clean, so no need for weathering here. My Toronto Fire Department pumper on Liberty Street, inspecting hydrants no doubt.

3 thoughts on “A Resin Kit Fire Truck Build

    • Thank you, the fine lines are definitely a challenge. There was a back to getting the line on the ridge of the castings. Fortunately I discovered the silver and gold sharpie paint markers are more forgiving than regular sharpie and you have a few seconds at least to wipe away mistakes and try again!


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