Connecticut S Gaugers
For Scale, Hirail and American Flyer S Gauge Model Railroaders Notes On Diecast Vehicles For "S"
I'm sure most 'S' scaler's are used to checking out the various lines of diecast cars for potential vehicles. The Racing Champions Mint Editions series has been a gold mine in that regard, although the manufacturer finally admitted it was a 3 1/2" series, rather than strictly 1/64 scale. Still, they work for the most part. Unfortunately, the Mint Editions (or Motor Trend) series is ending. Racing Champions promises a replacement series. Still, some of the vehicles are available in other series, needing repainting and maybe replacement wheels to be usable. One series worth looking for are the Field and Stream/Outdoors series which has used the '40 Ford Pickup, '50 Chevy Pickup and '53 Ford Pickup as wheel as the '40 Ford Panel van (which was part of the Hotrod series, but never a Mint Edition) and a '40 Ford "Woody" station wagon which I don't believe has appeared in any series before. There are actually two Ford Panel trucks, the smaller version has much nicer body detail while the larger van is rather slab-sided. The WWF series includes a convertible version of the 1950 Ford that needs repainting. Looking beyond the wild paint schemes on several of these series (Hot Country, Rock, KISS, etc.) will find you vehicles that will work just fine with a bit of paint. Most of the Hotrod type vehicles, and ALL versions of the panel van that I have seen, require new wheels. I made a mold from the wheels of another vehicle that I had disassembled for repainting and cast duplicates in Durhams Waterputty that work well. Commercial metal cast wheels are also available in several sizes.
All the pickups are really too large for 'S', but that opens some other options. Most light and medium trucks in the late 1940s through 1950's used similar styling to the pickups of the same manufacturer. By removing the pickup cab from it's bed, we have a part with a variety of uses. The 1950 Chevy Pickup cab appears to a drop-on fit to replace the F-5 Ford cab on Hartoy AHL trucks, so you can add some more variety to that fleet. The 1935 or 1940 Ford cabs could be used on the AHL Peterbuilt or Mack BM trucks (I assume, I haven't checked the fit). If you don't want to cut up the AHL vehicles (which are out of production), use the cabs on the Leigh Valley Models Mack trucks in place of the fabricated wood cab, or replace overly modern cabs on some of the other toy trucks out there. Even the "Lowrider" version of the Chevy pickup can serve in this capacity, since the wheels don't matter! Just remember that the van bodies in the 1940s and '50s had a more rounded style than current vehicles.
There are some other vehicles besides Racing Champions worth looking for. I found a Matchbox "Star Car Collection" panel van in a Ben Franklin's recently. I think that this is the truck previously used in their sports team series, a circa 1950 Dodge? (with a different grill, it could pass for a Chevy). The truck is white, lettered for Shotz Brewery with a large "Laverne & Shirley" on the roof. If you can remove that marking, you could probably get by with the rest of the lettering as is. The interesting think is, the truck is pre-weathered! There are mud splashes hind the wheels and someone has wiped "Wash Me" in the dirt on the tailgate. Interesting enough that I may try to remove the lettering without damaging the base paint or dirt! The series also includes a '57 Chevy Bel Air with Coke markings, but the same car has been in their regular series.
Another Matchbox vehicle with potential is the "Got Milk" dragster - milk truck. Beyond the flashy paint and racing wheels, the nose is a very good Divco milk truck! Unfortunately, the body has been "chopped" in the process of making it into a funny car, so the roof needs raising and the doors rebuilding. I bought two of them (in the dollar bin at KB Toys) and will report later if I successfully "raise the roof".
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