Die Cast Insider - February 1999
© 1999 Paul M. Provencher
Lots of attention is given to cars in the die cast world. So much so that it can be hard to find a model of a favorite truck. Recently weve seen an indication that more attention is being placed on trucks not only contemporary trucks, but also to vintage trucks. Kids have had toy trucks to play with for decades but they tend to be less detailed than our favorite die cast vehicles, and now with the cost of manufacturer licensing, more generic.
Its surprising who collects trucks. For example, I have enjoyed a good relationship with my father. We have become closer even as geographically we become further apart. My father arrived for the annual post-holiday visit with a rather large box. Now my Dad always had a great reputation for giving cool gifts but this one beat all. Inside the box were 12 die cast trailer trucks! I never knew he collected them . It turns out that during his job as an international shipping analyst he had accumulated them, gifts from shippers and carriers, and a few that he ordered for himself. I guess I should not be too surprised the fruit never falls far from the tree I have also accumulated some trucks. But I tend to prefer pick-up trucks. I still dont think that there are enough vintage truck models, but it is getting better. Here are some of the models that my Dad passed on.
Well known for their quality reproductions of trailer trucks, Winross has made models of a wide variety of haulers for over thirty years. They feature realistic vehicles with authentic company decorations that are hand-screened. The trucks are 1/64th scale. One interesting note is that they are made in Rochester, NY. It is unusual these days to find die cast vehicles made in the U.S.A.
Steelcase Inc. is the worlds leading designer and manufacturer of office furnishings. This model from the late 70s/early 80s displays the corporate logo and slogan ("Quality Office Furniture") of the period. The colorful lettering on a midnight blue background is quite striking and appears on all four sides of the trailer. This early model is not as detailed as current offerings but nevertheless is very pleasing. The tractor is assembled from three main parts the chassis, "fifth wheel", and cab. There is no interior or windows. But the exhaust stacks, a plated metal part, are riveted to the back of the cab. The wheels are white-painted metal with rubber tires "duallies" on the rear. Chassis detail is almost totally absent, but the rear suspension is represented by a crude but effective assembly of hinged metal parts that allow the pair of rear wheel suspension to work the same was as a real truck. Its a White-brand truck. This model is a cab-over, made before GMC and Volvo took over the company. The logo is molded in to the front of the cab. The headlights, grill details and front bumper are painted silver. The orange running lights are painted on. The gas tanks on each side are silver. Step rails are molded in to the cab below the doors and are silver. Small Steelcase logos are printed on the doors.
The trailer is constructed of several pieces. The base, top, and ends are die cast metal. The sides fit into channels formed in the top and base and held in place by the ends. The rear end has two die cast doors that open and close. The top is painted in metallic silver. The rear wheels of the trailer are the same as those found on the tractor. Two rubber legs that hang down from the trailer frame represent the dolly wheels. They are designed to support the trailer when removed from the tractor. The base of the trailer is embossed with "Winross Rochester N.Y. 14602 U.S.A." Overall length of the tractor-trailer combination is 9 inches. The trailer is 2 ¼ inches high and just over 1½ inches wide. Most of the Winross tractor-trailers that I have are variations of this basic combination.
An interesting variation is the cab on my St. Johnsbury version. It is an all-red cab-over with no sleeper behind it. That is probably typical for this company since it mainly handled short-haul cargo in the New England area. The same chassis parts are used, but no special paint detail is present. The company logo is very detailed though, and is correct.
Another interesting variation is the trailer for my John R. Hess truck. This trailer has two boxes that are removable. They are containers that are transported over the road and put onto trains for long distance shipping. The cab on this set also has the wind fairing on the roof.
The Ralston Toy and Novelty company was founded in 1939. It used molds from two toy companies prior to World War II. Following the war, new toys were made, although some dies from other companies continue to be used. These trailer-truck models are much simpler than those by better known companies. Without paint, these models would be nearly featureless. Most details are painted on. There are no windows, or opening doors. One-piece, black plastic wheels are riveted on to wire axles, then crimped on to the cab or trailer. Dual wheels are used where appropriate. The trailer is towed by inserting a pin from the trailer into the "fifth wheel" hole on the tractor. Although these are very toy-like, they are quite pleasant in their own way.
The Mayflower moving van that I have is dark green and bright yellow with the classic Mayflower company decorations. I have located more than one variation of the decorations on this vehicle that reflect the changes made to the company logo over the years. The decorations are decals similar to those in plastic model kits. These are shrinking and have formed small splits on my model. But they do not show any sign of peeling yet. Other models that I have are made from the same castings but feature different company logos Neptune Moving and Burnham. All are 8 ¾ inches long overall, 1 5/8 inches wide and 2 5/8 inches high. The windows, grill, door outlines, headlights and bumper are all printed on, or decals.
It is no secret that Ertl makes a wide selection of die cast trucks. The quality is consistent with the other types of vehicles that they make. Numerous companies for promotional reasons use these castings. I have found quite a number of Ertl castings in grocery stores with that stores decoration. But the models that I like best are those that depict vintage trucks.
One of my favorites is the 1937 Ford Valvoline Tank Truck. Its painted with green enamel and decorated with yellow "Valvoline" logos from the 30s. The tractor is made from several parts, a die cast cab, interior parts, windows, plated bumper/grill, die cast fender/frame unit, and a black plastic base. The fenders are painted with black enamel. The two-piece wheels are made from rubber tires and chrome plated hubs. The tires have very nice molded details and tread pattern. The hubs probably should be painted in a color to match or contrast the truck. I would choose black since I have seen trucks of this period with black hubs. The rear wheels are duallies. The details of the tractor are quite good. There is a section behind the cab that has a wood plank pattern molded in. The fifth wheel has leaf springs molded in. The gas tanks are part of the plastic base and hang below and behind the cab. The headlights are molded in to the grill. Again, for authenticity, the back of them probably should be painted the same color as the body or black. The interior has a black dash, steering wheel, and seats. More painting here would make it more realistic, but it would be hard to take apart since the whole thing is riveted together. The base has cursory chassis detail, showing the oil pan, drive shaft and rear differential.
The cargo tank is made of a die cast metal with a black plastic base. A coin slot is provided in the top of the tank. A trap door complete with little plastic key opens on the base, to liberate the coins stored inside. The base is attached with screws, a nice nod to the possibility that all coins might not come out through the intended door. The rear wheels are another pair of duallies just like the tractor. The chassis detail is minimal, suggesting leaf-spring suspension, and a pattern of bolted frame members. There are no dolly wheels, so this tank cannot be displayed separately from the tractor, even though it is removable. Other tank details include the filler caps on the top and taillights on the rear. Small panels are suggested along the lower rear edge of the tank. The set is 8 ½ inches long overall, 2 inches high and just over 2 inches wide. It is about 1/32 scale.
Lledo Days Gone for Chevron
For six years, Chevron gas stations sold special Lledo Days Gone 1/43 scale die cast vehicles. These were nice, primarily trucks that depicted the history of vehicles used to deliver oil and gas products. I managed to collect a number of them. They sold for about $4.00 each and represented a great buy. It is quite possible, although unlikely that some out-of-the-way Chevron station may still have some stashed away behind the dirty rag box. Here are just a few of the models offered.
The 1934 Dennis Refinery Fire Truck is red with black fenders. It has a removable ladder with gold metal wheels. The windshield, grill and headlights are gold colored chrome. The two-piece wheels have red hubs and black plastic tires. The rear wheels are duallies. The model is marked in gold with the lettering "Refinery Fire Department" and "Standard Oil Company". The truck is 3 ¼ inches long, 1 ¼ inches wide and 1 5/8 inches high. The ladder is 3 ¾ inches long and has 7/8-inch wheels.
A curious item is the 1936 Packard Standard Announcer Car. I am not old enough to remember cars with loudspeakers on the roof, and have only seen them in cartoons. But here is a nice model with four gray speakers on the plastic roof. It has two spare tires mounted on the front fenders. The van is red with black fenders. The front bumper, grill and headlights are molded in one piece and chrome plated. Two piece wheels feature a gold-colored artillery hub and black plastic tire. The sides are marked with "Standard Oil Announcer" and "Standard Oil Company of California" surrounding a dark gray graphic of a speaker. The back doors are marked "RPM Motor Oil Unsurpassed". Its 3 ½ inches long, 1 7/8 inches high and 1 ¼ inches wide.
The next model, a 1933 Atlas Tire Truck, is blue with black fenders. The raised roof is black plastic. The front bumper, grill and headlights are molded in one piece and chrome plated. Two-piece wheels have blue plastic hubs and black plastic tires. The markings on the truck, a van of sorts, include "Atlas Tires" on a red and white background, "Guaranteed by Standard Oil Company" and "Red Crown Ethyl Gasoline". On the back doors it says "Keep 20 FT in Rear Air Brakes" and "Atlas Tire", written in gold on a black background. Its 3 ¼ inches long, 1 7/8 inches high and 1 ¼ inches wide.
1936 Farm Delivery Trucks were used to get gasoline to remote areas. It reminds me of the kind of trucks that used to deliver fuel oil to us when I was a kid. This small tanker is blue with a white plastic tank, marked in red with the words "Standard Oil". Behind the tank are six blue molded cans of some sort, perhaps for gas. The steps are made of black plastic. There is no window "glass". The interior is white. The front bumper, grill and headlights are molded in one piece and chrome plated. The one-piece wheels, single front and dually rear are embossed with the word "Lledo". The cab doors are marked with a red and white oval and the words "A Standard Oil Product". The back of the truck has white lettering that spells out "Standard Gasoline Unsurpassed". It is 3 ¾ inches long, 1 5/8 inches high and 1 3/8 inches wide.
The 1927 Pearl Oil Van harkens back to an earlier time when the styling of motor vehicles had not yet departed significantly from horse-drawn carriages. This vehicle is black, with a textured, black plastic roof. A vertical placard on the front of the roof says "Standard Oil Company". The chrome grill and headlights are molded in one piece. The headlights are lantern style fixtures, and two more are molded in to the windshield frame. There is no window"glass". Reasonable detail depicts the transverse leave springs front and rear. The red, white and blue "Red Crown Gasoline" logo is printed on both sides. The works "Standard Oil Company" and "Pearl Oil for Oil Heaters, Cook Stoves and Lamps" are printed on both sides and on the rear doors. The two-piece wheels have gold spoke hubs and black plastic tires. The van is 2 ¾ inches long, 1 3/8 inches wide and 1 7/8 inches high.
The cab, base, grill, headlights, bumper and wheels of the 1939 Roof Coating Flat Bed are the same as the Farm Delivery truck. It is painted blue. The cargo body is configured to carry paint cans instead of gas. Inside the body is a large plastic stack of paint cans, all marked with the words "Roof Paint" in red and white. The cab of the truck is marked simply "Standard Oil". The interior is black. The rear panel is marked "Drive Carefully", "Standard Oil", and carries the 1937 California numberplate "FL5510". It is 3 ¾ inches long, 1-½ inches high and 1 ¼ inches wide.
The largest of this group is 1937 Six Wheel Refined Oil Truck. It is nearly 4 ¼ inches long, 1 ½ inches high and 1 1/8 inches wide. It is painted red with a white plastic tank mounted on the back. The grill is chrome plated. The two-piece wheels have white plastic hubs with 8 lug nuts, and black plastic tires. The tank has four black filler caps on top and the words "Supreme Chevron Gasoline" on the sides. The "v" has wings. The cab doors have "Standard Oil Company" in white written on them. The back panel of the truck has "Standard Gasoline Unsurpassed" and bears the 1935 California number plate "PC F3584"
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