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Cover story: 359 Peterbilt with Fridge trailer:Little Window

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Trucks & Construction - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 4/2019 vom 15.07.2019

In the 80s, with films like Duel, Convoy or Smokey and the Bandit, as well as the TV Series Movin’ On with Sonny Pruitt and his co-driver Will Chandler, the wave of trucker movies washed over Europe …

At the time, this movement was not taken seriously and was quietly laughed at but over time it became the lifestyle for many European truckers. They gathered together and formed trucker clubs, societies and movements to shine a light on long-existing grievances in the transport business. Certainly, at the head of all these efforts was the Truckers International Association, TIAfor short. It was the society ...

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Collector’s portrait: Jakob Weissbecker collects historic models: Exclusivities
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Collector’s portrait: Jakob Weissbecker collects historic models: Exclusivities
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Collector’s portrait: Jakob Weissbecker collects historic models: Exclusivities
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... with the most members, mainly in the Northern European Countries. As in the film Convoy, the drivers identified themselves as freedom fighters and hoped for betterment in their working conditions and also for fair prices when buying diesel fuel, tires and spare parts.

@The model with its shiny chrome refrigerated trailer takes us on a trip in the land across the big pond (large picture)!

The Peterbilt 359 is one of the most extensively modified models made by René Tanner, until now. But the effort was worth it!

Cover story

Wanderlust pure: The Peterbilt 359 drives towards the sunset.


The lumber magnate Theodor Alfred Peterman purchased the Fa- geol Truck & Coach Company of Oakland in 1939 and began building high-value trucks for the construction and lumber industries. The company brand name of ‘Peterbilt’ is comprised of his name and the nickname ‘Bill built’ which came from the Fageol trucks made up until then in the factory. After the death of Peterman in 1945, a group of factory workers took over the business. Finally, in 1958, Peterbilt was taken over by Pacific Car & Foundry (Paccar). Over the years, the production program of Peterbilt was successfully expanded. wSince its foundation in 1939, Peterbilt has been considered one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality heavy-duty trucks in the United States. Cab-over models were built commencing in 1950 and since 1959, the cabs have tilted by 90 degrees. Beginning in 1967, one of the most famous mo dels was the extremely adaptable 359 Conventional that was designed for long distance transports. Fater models like the 379 were a further development of the 359 and even today are considered the only classic Peterbilt.

Its nickname, ‘Little Windows’, was given to the 359 because of the relatively small front windows that were the standard size for the earlier ones used on the Unilite cabin. Peterbilt modernized the cab of the successor, the 379, with a higher roof which brought larger door and window openings. Among experts, it was called the ‘1100 Series cab’ because of the 1,100 square inch surface of the windows.

Tractor truck

My 359er started its life as a pure toy which I purchased on eBay for a handful of dollars. It came in a yellowing blister pack. Also in the same parcel was a Kenworth W 900, a COE Kenworth K 100 and a COE Peterbilt 352. Later on, I bought the matching trailers, however, even with squinting both eyes and despite the really bargain price they were not useable.

These ‘models’ were produced by the Universal Associated Co. Ltd. and beginning in 1976 were sold in a variety of department stores, shopping centers and retailers under the brand names Kid- co Super Tough Wheels or Kidco Champs of the Road. In 1978, the name was changed to Kidco Road Baron and production ended in 1982. Today these collector’s items are quite rare. For me, this was not a consideration since the shapes of these ‘toys’ are really great and I was surprised about the close to prototype modeling of the cabins. The rest of the attached parts were unusable and so the building project of the 359 became a mammoth enterprise.

The chassis was lengthened by 10 mm at the rear axle using bent U profile made from 0.5 mm aluminium sheet stock and re-enforced. Accordingly, new axles with rims and tires left over from tlie Corgi Kenworth were adapted and installed. The paint of the cabin was removed by soaking it off and then all unnecessary holes were filled in with Plasticard and everything was sanded smooth. According to the original, the window openings of the 359 were customized to fit and the engine hood was lengthened by 2.0 mm. The hood’s fenders were firs: taken off and then replaced by scratch-built ones from 0.5 mm aluminium sheet stock. Then the loose fenders were sanded into shape and glued back on. The cast- on 36” Sleeper was cladded with 0.3 mm aluminium sheet stock and side doors were added. New battery boxes were made from 10 mm Plasticard and later on detailed with etched scale checker plate parts. The front rear axle fenders are made from 0.3 mm aluminium sheet stock and glued directly to the chassis. My experience has shown me that all pans that need to be polished should be made first so that they can be attached to the mounting brackets on the model. However, in this case they were only mounted after painting.

How a toy became a real model: only the comparison with the starter model illustrates the model building effort.

Here you can clearly see the reason for the nick name ‘Small Window’. All border lines are applied by hand with a brush!

The radiator grille is made from a piece of 0.3 mm Plasticard that was framed with 0.3 mm aluminium sheet stock. The rectangular ra diator opening was first fined with fine 0.4 mm aluminium wire stock. Afterwards, a piece of fine Titan netting was glued on and then the whole lot was polished by hand. The hcod ornament, that looks like a swallow, is used to nit the hood: it was made from 0.5 mm Plasticard The front light assemblies are made up from S parts each. For the housing I took a 4.0 mm rectangular plastic profile piece that was sanded until it had the round shape at the front and pointed part to the rear. The front light ring- shaped receptacles were cut from 3.00 mm aluminium pipe stock and fitted into the pre-drilled openings and then glued in Then they were filled in with two-pan epoxy For the next step, two brackets from 0.3 mm were bent to suit and glued to the front radiator using 0.8 mm iron wire. Two further 0.2 mm plastic discs on both brackets were added to be used to attach the two front light assemblies and those then were glued on last.

The 359 Peterbilt with a 40 ft. refrigerator semi-trailer in all of its glory.

Even without the trailer, the re-built model is a real jewel.

The front bumper is made from a strip of 3.0 mn: aluminium sheet stock. It is first shaped to fit and then made ready to polish by san- dmg finely. The diesel fuel tanks were sawn off from o 12.0 mm aluminium tube. The end pieces were made from cut out circles and fashioned into a domed shape with blows of a soft jeweler’s hammer. then glued on and polished by hand. The exhaust plant was made from 2.5 mm aluminium welding wire and both curved sections were shaped then glued and hand polished. The heat protection grilles are from a Tekno exhaust plant The air and Lubrifilter and the Airdry- er were turned from 8.0 mm thick aluminium rod on a lathe of a customer of mine Later on. the polished surfaces were glued on and then painted.

The cabin is removable, and below it is the detailed interior with levers, dashboard, sleeping cot and the driver’s seats including the giued-in interior door cladding. The air intake for the air conditioning unit and two fans in front of the front window screen were also added at the appropriate places. At the start of the project I had also planned to make an engine. but because of the way the hood was constructed. I had to abandon that plan. Both of the mirror bracket assemblies were made up from 0.6 mm steel wire and the mirrors were made from 0.5 mm aluminium sheet stock and polished, of course. The indicators and the fog lights were made from 2.0 and 3.0 mm rings cut from aluminium tube stock and punched-out aluminium discs glued together and painted accordingly.

The semi-trailer

The semi-trailer is also from the extensive Corgi parts box and was re-worked extensively. New side parts from 0.5 mm were glued on and then the re-enforcement ribs were made from suck-on foil. The new ‘Underslung’ diesel tank was made the same way as the one on the tractor truck. The front wall of the trailer with the refrigeration compressor unit and fuse box. and the rear wall with the hinges and the lock rods are made from polished 0.2 mm aluminium sheet stock and were glued in after painting. Using a seven hole puncher, discs were punched out from 0.2 mm aluminium sheet stock and used as brake and mdicator lights. The marker lights are made from puncbed-out discs from 02 mm thick copper snip and then painted with glass pamt color according to needs.

I usually use spray cans for painting. First the lightest shade of paint is applied, then after it is dry and masked off. the darker paints are applied. The orange border lining has been applied with a very fine brush and some thinned-down paint The Peterbilt Ovals and lettering were made by Hans Witte on his 3ro±er Label Printer Up until now-, this model is the most extensively rebuilt one that I own. That is why the 359 has a very special place in my collection and. of course. also in my heart.

René Tanner is an independent truck driver of a DAF CF and is one of the best truck model builders.