Make a 1/64 Replica Truck

Many present and former truckers, spouses or family members of truckers, and super freaks like me have taken great pride in what they earned a living in and want a replica for fun or to give a gift to the hard to buy for.

Where do we start? In this guide we will go through step by step where to start making a permanent memory of your rig. 

First, it does not have to be hard. Yes it will take a bit of time and skill but really it is very figuroutable. Plus, I will be your step by step guide as you dive into what can be a very fun and enjoyable hobby. 

A couple things to build confidence in this process. One, if you are reading this brand spanking new to the 1.64 diecast hobby I recommend starting out small before diving into a full blown replica of your ride. The reason for this is simple. I read comments from people saying “I tried painting and it turned out awful”, “I tried changing this part and it broke so I gave up”, “I am too busy”, “I don’t have the skill” and on and on. Basically people give up before they even get started. I DO NOT want that to happen to you.

Here is the thing, my first paint jobs were awful. I broke a lot of parts. My first customs were questionable at best. I started this hobby with kids 12, 8, 5, working full time, my wife working full time and we were active in church and community. 

The point, give yourself the mental wiggle room to fail, to make crappy models, to have paint runs, and learn when you can. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your new hobby. 

Hire it done 

Finding a builder to make a replica is the simplest way to go. Having said that there is a caveat. Finding a builder is the hard part. There a lot of 1/64 scale enthusiasts making remarkable models. Many of these same people are hobby people. They build for enjoyment. The challenge of making something they see in real life. And, they often build for others for a variety of reasons. 

Here is the rub, because their hobby fits in around work, family and other interests it can be difficult to find a person that A: wants to do our project, B: can do it timely. 

What about doing it yourself? 

Finding a donor

Once we decide to make a model we need to choose a scale. For this whitepaper we will focus on 1.64 scale as there is a wide variety of models and aftermarket parts for us to use. 

A donor is the base model from which we build out our replica. Many common brands and model numbers are available such as Peterbilt, Kenworth and Freightliner. Click here to see a list of models available in 1/64 scale. Donors will cost at the low end of Ertl $15 to the high end DCP $65.

Once we determine a real truck is made in 1/64 scale it is time to troll dealer sites and eBay to find a donor. I recommend inspecting each choice to see how many matching parts are on the donor compared to our real truck. Spending time doing this will reduce the cost of the build and the hunt to find either OEM or aftermarket parts. 

We can spend time looking for a donor that is similar in color but often the models will not be close to the color of our real rigs and custom paint will be needed. More on that below. 

The Donor arrives

It is good practice to make a note of all the matching parts we will need to purchase that are not on the donor. When we have our list it is time to go shopping. Typically eBay is a good source of OEM parts. 

We also need to get artwork for decals and matched paint. There are custom decal makers online. Check out the decal resources at Rockin H Farm Toys. When decals are ordered, it is time to get matched paint. Most trucks from the 90s forward we can get matched paint with the last six digits of the VIN and a call to the truck brands dealer. 

Many brands offer DuPont Paint codes which makes finding matched paint pretty easy. There are a few that use Sikkens paint codes which adds a level of difficulty but not impossible in my experience. 

Tear Down

Next we need to disassemble the truck and strip the paint off. There are a number of videos showing how to teardown a variety of trucks at Rockin H TV. 

There some basic tools needed to tear down a trucks. This will largely be dependent on what brand of diecast model the donor is. The most complex 1.64 scale model truck is Diecast Promotions (DCP) brand. For that brand a builder would need a small phillips screwdriver, flat side side cutter, an awl or sharp pointed device, tweezers and an Exacto knife are the basic tools a person would need. There is a beginners tool kit in the Rockin H Store of tools I use all the time

Many lower detail trucks like Ertl will need a drill to remove diecast rivets for disassemble. 

For DCP brand trucks, one way to make disassembly easier is to freeze the model for 24 hours. The freezing action helps make glue brittle thus lowering our ability to break parts. This is not a mandatory step but can help a beginner get a victory as they take apart their first models successfully.

Stripping Paint

Once we have all the plastic parts off our diecast we can strip paint. 

Below are 4 ways to strip paint. A couple thoughts on stripping paint. One, in my experience older DCP brand trucks must have different formulations of paint because some of them do not strip well with any of these methods below. Two, some colors strip better than others. There is really know way to now until a person uses one of the products below and and gets going.

If our model has difficult paint a wire wheel in a drill or dremel may be necessary to get it off. Sandblasting is a possibility too. As of this writing I cannot say how this works as I have not done it. 

Priming and Painting

In the diecast lab, I have a great guide on paint. For this article here is a great rule of thumb. Spend all you can afford on paint. Below are a few quicky thing as you get going.

  1. You can get away with cheaper primer but not paint. I still use Krylon aerosol. Duplicolor through my airbrush. 
  2. If I have paint problems like crackling on the second coat or crackling at clear coat it was with cheap paints like Krylon, Rustoleum.
  3. Hobby paints like Testors are really good. It seems these normally will spray heavy versus light. Test the spray pattern on cardboard.
  4. Duplicolor from an auto parts store rarely give me any trouble except different color seem to spray heavy. See the last sentence of #3.
  5. Automotive grade paint generally give great results.
  6. An airbrush does amazing paint jobs. It is not mandatory I would not recommend it for someone new to the diecast hobby. 
  7. Cheap clear coats do not seem to affect higher grade paints. Cheap clear on cheap paint does not work well every time. 

These rules of thumb are not definitive but will at least give beginners a good place to start. 

What if we do not have a place to paint? I have painted a ton of models outside in the cold with great results. There are photos online of my kitchen with painted parts strung all over from wires drying. I would run outside in the middle of winter, spray my parts then go back in the house. 

Work with what you have. It does not have to be fancy to get great results. 

Decals

Decals make or break a model, especially a replica. In the Diecast lab there is a 5 parts series for DIY decals including application. For custom decals, there are several choices on the resources page a Rockin H Farm Toys.

One thing I like to do is to spray clear coat over decals before assembly. This ensures they will never come off. In the vent we are putting decals on painted vehicles this is not possible. 

Assembly

Ease of assembly will vary depending on the brand of truck used. As with disassembly, DCP brand trucks will be more difficult but certainly not impossible. 

Tools needed, I love CA glue for sale in my store. It is a gel and not prone to running. Plus it doesn’t take much for parts to adhere to the model. 

Another great tool to have around is a 1/32, 3/64, and 1/16 drill bit. This helps clean out mirror attachment, air breather and other holes where plastic pins from parts go. Provided we did not break them off during disassembly. 

Basically, we are going to go in reverse of assembly. A helpful thing to do on DCP brand trucks is to put the rear glass in the cab first before ceiling and door panels. Also any sleeper glass before adding in the floor. 

A needle nose pliar is needed reattaching the hood with the small pins we took out during disassembly. 

The key to assembly is to take our time. Do not force parts, clean out holes, test fit, then glue. 

Details

Finally, door latches, cab lights, “chicken lights” and other details can be added. 

A 1 mm Molotow Chrome pen is a great way to add door and cabinet latches as well as cab lights. A silver sharpie can be used well but does not give the chrome appearance like the Molotow pen. 

A variety of colored paint pens can be used to add other details and can be purchased at hobby and craft stores. 

CB antennas can be small wire from around the house with fancier versions online. Chicken lights are typically sold from vendors online and may very well be offered by the company where we purchased custom decals.

Time to enjoy

Now that the details are added we can enjoy our work. To get step by step help on a variety of models join the Diecast Lab. You get a ton of great lessons plus special access to me when you need a hand. 

Do not stop with one replica. Take the skills learned and try the next level of complexity. It is time to really enjoy our hard work and to challenge ourselves to do more. Plus, share what we learned with others.