One of the bigger gaps in the model railroad world is modern (really 1980’s onwards) cars for layouts. If you model the 1950’s and 60’s, finding cars and trucks to populate your scene is relatively easy in terms of both ready to plant cars, and a variety of models in white metal or resin. For the diorama of 587 Yonge Street I am building, its set circa 2016 before the building was demolished. This poses a bit of a problem, as suitably generic cars appropriate for the era can be hard to find. I’ve never bought any as my previous and future layout as planned are set in the 1950’s. The only modern car I have ever bought was an Atlas 1996 Ford Taurus, and that’s only because my 2nd car was a used silver 1996 Ford Taurus my parents helped me purchase me in university to replace a life expired hand me down 1986 Mercury Sable!!
Yup, I bought this years ago when I owned a silver 1996 Ford Taurus. Now it has a home on a diorama project.
So, with that, I’ve been searching online and at shows in recent months for a couple of more modern vehicles. One was easy, one of the Rapido Trains GMC “New Look” buses in the modern TTC Scheme. While these were retired by 2016, it’s a high quality modern transit vehicle that helps clearly set the scene as being Toronto.
Nothing says Toronto like the TTC. A Rapido “New Look” bus in the modern TTC paint scheme.
While thinking about options, I decided that I wanted to have a modern police car in the scene. After some searching, I found a few sources for Ford Crown Victoria’s, which currently form the backbone of the Toronto Police’s fleet, though they are slowly being retired after production of the Crown Vic ceased in 2012. The Toronto Police retire cruisers after 5 years, but they bought a big surplus of Crown Victoria’s in 2011 and their last “new” one entered service in 2015, so they’ll be gone by sometime in 2020 if things go to plan.
Modern Ford Crown Victoria Police Car in HO Scale from “Cop Car Collection”
There are a few different models in HO Scale for the Crown Victoria out there. They represent different variants of the car, as there were subtle design changes over the years. I was also looking for one that would be easily modified to add LED lighting to the car. I figure why make the effort if I wasn’t going to go all out with it. I eventually settled on a model from a company called “Cop Car Collection”, and found an eBay seller with old new stock of them going cheap. When it arrived, I was both pleasantly surprised by the quality of the car, but the ease with which the all plastic car came apart, and the room inside for hiding lights and wiring. All pluses for my project!!
Cop Car Collection Crown Victoria stripped down to its parts for paint stripping the markings off the car
The car easily pulled apart, with nothing being glued together, its all pre-fit tight parts. This meant I could put the body into some paint stripper, and the police markings quickly came off. For lights, I ordered a set of pre-wired flashers from Evan Designs in the US. The set contains a pair of headlights and taillights, and a pair of bulbs for the roof. You can request different colour combinations for the roof. Over the past few nights I’ve been slowly working on figuring out how I am going to get the LED’s installed and set in place. The following videos show the work and the lighting effect better than pictures can.
Working on getting the LED roof lights into the right position for the roof light bar.
Re-assembled with the roof light bar installed and being held in place while the glue sets.
Flashing front headlights installed. Just the rear tail light flashers to go, then I can get the wiring adjusted for installing on the layout.
I’ve got the front headlights and roof light bar installed. For the light bar, I’m using a set sold by Herpa to hold the LEDs in place, when they aren’t on it looks like a modern light bar, and disguises the LED’s a bit.
I have decals on order from a small supplier of custom printed police decals for modellers to get the Toronto Police graphics onto the car. In order to minimize handling after the decals are on, I wanted to have the lighting installed first.
I think for the diorama I want one more modern vehicle. They are surprisingly difficult to find generic everyday cars. Everything is either a truck/work vehicle, or a high end luxury car. Good thing I’m not in any rush. Sooner or later at a train show somewhere in the province I’ll find one.
EDIT: Update 1 March 8@9:30am
I hate being ham fisted. I broke one of the battery leads off the wiring last night after installing the rear lights (and it looked so good with all the lights in too, didn’t get a video before I broke it 😦 ), and my initial efforts to fix it clearly didn’t work. I’m waiting to hear back from Evans if my attempt at re-soldering the lead has somehow potentially melted something else in the wiring. Depending on their response, I’m either going to need to order a new set of lights, see if I can solder it back together right, or pass it off to one of my more electrically inclined friends to see if they can fix is. Blah.
Damaged lead on left after cutting away heat shrink protection on lighting rig, and my re-soldered but now not working repair attempt on the right.
Update 2 March 8@3:30pm
Got an email back from Evan Designs. Basically what I screwed up can’t easily be fixed, that’s why the wiring rig is so heavily glued and protected with heat shrink (aka I broke it good, stupid fumbling around). Going to get a replacement sent though, so my project is only setback and not killed. The great customer service is appreciated as Evan Design is really fast at replying to queries on my orders in the past, and now my self caused issues with the product. Nice to know that there are still companies out there willing to help their customers!