Kenworth T600 Grain Semi
By Dave Tallon, Tallon Custom Collectibles

With the harvest fully underway here in Central Illinois, long lines at the grain elevator are a common sight.  At the elevator in my hometown, one truck you are likely to see in line is Terry Brown’s Kenworth.  Although not as tricked out as some over-the-road big rigs, Terry’s metallic green T600A is a prime example of a nice, clean farm truck.  When Terry’s daughter Amy, a friend of my wife and I, asked me to make a model of the truck to give her Dad for Christmas, I was more than happy to oblige. 
Fortunately for me, the Kenworth T600 is a fairly common replica in 1/64 scale.  The majority of them are T600B’s, and although Terry’s truck is a T600A, the differences are small enough that a reasonable replica of an A can be made from a B.  The truck I chose to use for this model was a T600 from the “Fast and the Furious” series RC2 had available last year.  It might seem odd to choose this truck when Ertl already has a T600 that is available with a grain trailer, but the old Racing Champions T600 lends itself better to modification.  I say this because the cab is one piece and separate from the chassis, whereas on the Ertl T600 the rear frame and cab are one piece. The Ertl truck also has black windows, but the RC truck has clear glass with an interior.  

The biggest modification necessary on the truck was to convert the cab from a sleeper model to a day-cab.  I used a similar process on this truck as I did when I made the T600 grain trucks featured in my October, 2003 article.  This involved cutting off the sleeper behind the cab, and then fabricating a rear cab wall.  The wall was made from a thin piece of sheetmetal, and then smoothed into the rest of the cab with body filler.  A few slightly different touches I incorporated on this model when modifying the cab were getting rid of the sunroof, and adding a rear window.  The clear plastic window piece and cab interior had to be modified as well to fit the new, shorter cab.  At this stage I also drilled holes for mounting mirrors, a spotlight and grab irons, and modified the grill slightly to look more like the T600A style.  

Also like my T600 grain truck article from 2003, the chassis on this truck was fabricated from 1/8” brass channel and brass tubing was used to run the axles through.  In this case, the chassis was shorter since all I had to mount to it was the fifth wheel and not a grain box.  I located the front cab mounting plate, and then placed the front axle accordingly to fit in the wheel well.  I added a 1/4” x 1/8” strip of wood across the fuel tank skirts on the cab to rest on top of the frame and act as a support for the rear of the cab.  The rear axles were placed at the rear of the frame, taking care to allow adequate clearance between the two axles and behind the rear-most axle to mount mud flaps.  For aesthetics, I used the fifth wheel off of the RC T600.  The “snap” style of the fifth wheel on that truck is not compatible with the “pin-and-hole” style of the Ertl trailer I planning on using, so I cut a brass plate to mount just underneath the fifth wheel and drilled a hole for the trailer pin.  Before mounting it to the chassis, I had to make a spacer so as to mount the fifth wheel high enough to keep the trailer level and clear the tires. 

At this stage the modifications were done and the truck was ready for some paint.  I painted the frame a semi-gloss black and the cab Testors metallic green.  I also added painted details like the bumper, skirts, and lights.  In addition to the painted details, I added a few other finishing touches.  On the roof, I made two air horns from finishing nails.  I added grab handles and rear-view mirrors, all made from paperclips.  The exhaust stack was the stack from the original RC T600, although I shortened the upper portion to better match the roofline of the daycab.  Also from the original T600 I mounted a diamond plate platform behind the cab, and on top of it I mounted a hydraulic tank.  The tank was made from wood, and wrapped in metal foil to give it a metallic look.  Similarly, I added metal foil to the steps and door sills.  To provide some protection from the rear tires, I added fenders and mudflaps.  The rear fenders I used were from a cheap plastic truck from the dollar store, modified to fit this truck. The cab was finished off with “Terry Brown” decals on the door to match the real truck. 

Although not an exact match to the real-life trailer, I chose the common RC2 grain trailer for this project.  These don’t have the level of detail that the newer DCP grain trailers have, but they are much easier to come by, and easier on the pocketbook.  The particular version I found had a metallic green top.  This wasn’t the color scheme I wanted for the end product, so I had to do a little painting.  Fortunately, the trailer is easy enough to disassemble for painting.  The top is removable, and by drilling out the rivets the trailer sides can be removed from the frame. 

The first thing I painted was the top.  I wanted a black top, and although those are already available on RC2 grain trailers, the one on the particular truck I had was green.  This was easy enough to solve with a little paint.  Since there was a chance this top would be removed occasionally, I was afraid that regular paint might chip off leaving green chips showing through.  To prevent this, I first painted it with a coat of black “vinyl” paint used for car interiors.  This paint is specially formulated to bond to plastic. I followed that coat up with a coat of flat black.  Although the trailer sides were molded in white plastic, I decided to dress them up a little as well.  I painted them with a gloss white to give them a more finished look similar to the DCP diecast trailers.  I also masked off the bottom portion of the sides and painted them silver to match the diecast trailer bottom.  I finished the trailer off with some metal foil on the front corners, a set of mudflaps and some painted on lights.

I think the end result turned out very well.  It is one of the more detailed trucks I have done, and although it took a fair amount of work, was relatively inexpensive to do.  I’m happy to say that Terry was very pleased with the truck, and was proud to show it off at the “Farmers Table” at the local coffee shop.  I just hope that I don’t get more requests than I can handle from other farmers for similar trucks this Christmas.   


Tallon Tips Article Index

03/2003 - Removing Tampos
04/2003 - Detailing AGCO MFWD Tractors
05/2003 - Making Your Own Decals
06/2003 - Making 1/64 Pullers Pt. 1
07/2003 - Making 1/64 Pullers Pt. 2
08/2003 - Making a McCormick MTX
09/2003 - Photographing Scale Models
10/2003 - Making Custom Grain Trucks
11/2003 - Detailing a White 4-270
12/2003 - Making a John Deere 6030

01/2004 - Getting Started in Customizing
02/2004 - Dave Tallon's Custom Collection
03/2004 - Building a C&D Steiger Wildcat Kit
04/2004 - Building a Chevy Crew Cab Dually
05/2004 - Tire Customizing Basics
06/2004 - Making 4WD Pulling Trucks
07/2004 - Making Articulated 4WD Tractors
08/2004 - Making 1/64 Service Trucks
09/2004 - Detailing a Challenger MT765
10/2004 - Online Auction Selling Tips
12/2004 - Favorite Model of 2004

01/2005 - Scale Dimensions
02/2005 - CaseIH STX Accusteer
03/2005 - Vintage Dodge Flatbed Dually
04/2005 - Matching Tractors and Implements
06/2005 - Detailing a Gooseneck Flatbed
07/2005 - Customizing Ideas
08/2005 - 1/16 Massey Harris 44 Puller