Road vehicles of the period – part 1 – EFE, Base Toys and Lledo

EFE model with base toys wheels and tyres fitted.  New plasticard bumper fitted.

The first in a few articles on simple lorry conversions I will post over the next few weeks. I will show how using parts from several manufacturers can produce some interesting variations. 

First up is the EFE Atkinson cab, converted into two different generator/ ballast units. Despite being more of a 1960’/70s cab design, many lasted until the 1980s as Fairground/ Showman’s Drag units.

The EFE Atkinson cab can be found relatively cheaply either at toyfairs and shows or on Ebay.  Please be aware however that some of these early EFE castings from the late 1980s and early 1990’s are suffering from mazak rot! – yes, the same problem that still plagues Hornby and Heljan some 25 years later.

The blue Pickfords Aktinson shown below, had a chassis so bad it literally crumbled into pieces when I picked it up from a box at a local toyfair. Luckily the cabs are seemingly made from a different metal and seem unaffected. The stall holder seeing the problem in my hand was only to pleased to offer the item for a generous discount rather than consign it to the bin. So, please take a good look at the chassis on older models for signs of cracks and blemishes in the paint . I Have since found two EFE trailer chassis with the same problem.

The Lledo diecast ballast body comes from a variety of their underscale/overscale models like the foden steam lorry and the earlier Thorneycroft bonnet style lorry . Again, picked up cheaply at car boot sales and toyfairs. The rear ballast section can easily be drilled off the chassis. Put the cab part and chassis to one side for further future use or incorporate a scrapyard into your layout for all these unwanted parts.

The Blue Pickfords Aktinson cab started life as Tate and Lyle Sugar articulated tractor front. Once the decaying metal was removed two new plasticard stretchers were made to support the frame what was left and to extend it slightly to incorporate the generator section. Whilst the cab was removed a driver was added and the Tate and Lyle crest was removed with T cut from the cab doors. The Pickfords ballast back from the Lledo truck was remarkably the same shade of blue and white lining so a repaint was not needed. A lucky break for a change!

The ballast back with a couple of plasticard spacers on the chassis to even out the height differences fits nice and snug onto the chassis base. Superglue is our friend here to refix together. Various parts from the scrapbox were used to form an extra diesel tank and Generator behind the cab.  A Bit of modellers’ licence here but the main parts are from a Bachmann Derbyweight DMU chassis I had  previously salvaged from a conversion project.

The wheels refixed and a tow hook fixed on, its good to go to work. A repaint could see this workhorse look good for any Fairground operator of the 1970s or 80s.

The BR liveried example follows a similar principle to the above, however this chassis did not suffer the same problem, so the ballast back was placed straight onto the Articulated lorry chassis once levelled off, again with plasticard.

It is worth noting though that this lorry has the wheels and axles from a base toys model, showing that many parts from different manufacturers are interchangeable with a little work. A new deeper looking front bumper was made from plasicard strip as the original was broken. It may be a fictitious livery, but the combination worked well together with the original red cab and Cream ballast box again from a LLedo model. Again, a repaint would not be too difficult to resemble a unit of a local haulage company or fair operator.

Two, individual looking models and no more than a couple of hours work on each of them.

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