Now the first thing some of the eagle eyed amongst you may be noticing, is that the black & white picture at the top of the page is not in fact a Bedford, but a Morris Transporter. I include it here as it is the initial inspiration for the model in this article, and I think a great example of how a real vehicle can make a Code 3 idea come to life.
I have made a few transporters and race vehicles from old Dinky Fire Engines of late, but always felt there was a gap in the stable for a single car transporter, and the Morris picture when I saw it became the plan for the conversion detailed below.
This was my starting point, one very playworn Dinky 956 Turntable Fire Engine, long since minus it’s ladders and as with all of my revamps, not a model likely to grace a display cabinet as it stands. There are a fair number of these in similar condition to be found at toy fairs or on eBay, and as such they are not a very expensive donor model to obtain.
Having removed the chassis and window set, the first big step is to cut away the parts no longer needed. As Code 3’s go on this project it is a fairly simple task, as it’s one straight cut to remove the ladder platform and rear wheel arch section of the model. I did initially produce a first version with a fabricated rear body that simply slotted over the whole of the origona backl, this however didn’t give such a good a view of the rear load area and deviated to much from the real lorry I was drawing inspiration from. The version in this article is slightly more complicated, but a far more true option.
At last all is stripped away, and here we have the main body of the model that will be saved. The paint has gone of course, and also the bells have been removed from atop the cab. This was in fact the hardest part of the strip down, as the casting under the brass bells was all in one, and as can be seen could not be taken off without some damage to the roof area. Nothing to major to worry about, and the roof will be filled and sanded to give the finished model a smooth streamlined look.
Now to creating the custom back, and the first stage is to size and cut out the side panels. The sides are to be plasticard for ease of production. As can be seen from the picture above, firstly a basic sizing is done and the rear wheel arches are drilled. The panels are then cut into pairs and the finer measuring and cutting can be done. A lot of filing will be needed to smooth certain corners and edges, and to ensure the length of the panels precisely (important to ensure the rear wheels line up evenly). Plasticard material makes the task a whole lot easier.
The main deck of the new rear section has different requirements, in that it needs to be light and strong and once bent into shape it will not move, and the downramps and hinges to be added to it will need a very strong joint. For this reason the rear deck, downramps and hinges are all made of brass. This way they are able to be soldered together and although the metal is harder to cut and work with, the main shapes are just standard rectangles so will need no fine filing or shaping. Once complete, although seemingly delicate to look at, the hinged downramps will be nigh on impossible to accidentally break off the finished model.
The parts are joined together now with sections of right angle plasticard and Powerbond. The last section added just behind the cab is slightly thicker than the side panels. It will give strength to the structure while it is off of the model chassis, and also enables the corners to be sanded into a more realistic, rounder join.
The chassis of this model also requires some modifications.
For the model to follow the picture correctly, the rear section bodywork had to be made a half centimeter higher behind the rear arches. Hence as can be seen in the picture above, showing an old chassis ready to be converted and one recently completed, the chassis has been cut off at this point and a small blanking plate added.
To ensure the underside looks as complete as the top, a filling section has been made up, painted black and fixed on the bottom of the ramp section. One the model is completed it is a pleasing solution and gives impression of continuity. The rear axle has been lengthened with the help of some thin plasticard strips on either side. A lot of Dinky lorry’s of this era seemed to favour having the wheel sets siting quite deep into the model and so the rear axle mimic’s the front in this respect, but needed widening by just a few millimetres to make up for the rear bodywork now being slightly wider than the origional. There is also a slight issue of excess light around the rear wheels which I wasn’t happy with at first, but I’ve solved this using an old Dinky trick of inserting some black sponge into the gap to fill an awkward space.
And finally we arrive at my favorite part of the model making process, the fitting out stage. The paintwork has been done and the model is structurally complete. All the parts in the foreground will go towards adding extra identity. The interior as can be seen is made up from the Matchbox interior with a rear seat from a small stock I bought on eBay. The chequer plate panels awaiting painting are model railway parts, as are the partly repainted oil drums. The wheels, tires and new window canopy are new Dinky spares bought from an on line model supplier.
There are many sources available to finding your componants in a build like this, and I get more fun at toy fairs these days from seeking out the unusual parts to complete a project, than I ever did adding completed models to my collection.
At last the model is complete and paired with a suitable restored racing car in Ferrari livery. It has been an interesting project and proberbly the most complex I’ve done by way of hand built parts, and one I’ll repeat now I’ve worked out the details I’m sure. I’ll add pictures of any different liveries I do below to show what different combinations are possible.
I hope this article has been of use to some of you reading it, and if anyone fancies having a go or has any questions about the build, I’ll be happy to hear from you.
Other Liveries Completed.