Servicing the harvest fleet – how to build a service truck

The Service Truck

The service truck is where a model crew can really take on its own personality. The harvesters are using a huge variety and styles of trucks to keep the combines rolling and fueled up. A good service truck is wicked important if the crew is any distance from parts and diesel. One of the troubles the harvesters have is the ability to haul enough fuel to keep their outfit going. Federal rules limit drastically the amount of diesel that can be hauled on a service truck, causing the harvester to be very creative when servicing machinery. When I say drastic, we are talking less than 119 gallons of diesel can be hauled at once without a hazmat endorsement on the Class a CDL.

Bulk fuel trailers were quite common. Without a Hazmat endorsement though many have been retired until the fuel transportation rules can be eased to help the harvesters during the short harvesting window.

In addition to fuel and parts, service trucks are heavy enough to move double header trailers, campers and grain trailers from location to location. Plus, service trucks are doubling as people movers if a four-door rig is used.

Here is a list of what real havesters are running:

  • Haynes Custom Harvesting – Freightliner cab over with homemade bed. Four door Freightliner M2 tandem
  • Frederick Harvesting is using a light duty 4-door Kenworth and a T800 with manufactured service beds
  • Keimig Harvesting and Trucking uses a light duty 4-door Peterbilt
  • Whight’s Harvesting – 4-door Freightliner
  • Stevens Entities – 4-door Volvo
  • Larson Harvesting and Zeorian Harvesting – Heavy duty 4 door Ford pickups
  • Open A Lazy E Harvesting – GMC Top Kick.
  • Neumiller Harvesting – 379 Peterbilt with a service bed and Kenworth T600 with van body

When building a model service truck(s), it is good to consider how many combines will be serviced and what story your crew will tell. If the model crew will be kept in one spot or broken up into smaller groups but close together, one truck can keep an outfit like this serviced. However, if a crew is to be split up across larger areas, more than one truck will be necessary to keep the fleet going. The Rockin H model crew presently has one 4-door M2 Freightliner to keep the five combine crew going. Rockin H is generally pretty close together on the run.

Different manufacturers have released service trucks of one variety or another over the years with various tools and accessories found on real trucks. Some have cranes and air compressors while others were quite generic. This pushes the model harvester into some sort of a customized model out of pure necessity to make the trucks in our fleet look authentic.

A regular cab truck is simple enough to find. Simply choose a model truck, find a service bed and trick it out as desired. Easy right? From chapter on selecting a truck, we found what kinds, styles and varieties of trucks exist in scale. The difficult cab to find is the four-door. Four-door pickups are very common but the semi is another matter. International entered the light duty truck market with the IH CXT 4-door. This truck came with a pickup style bed and could be used as is. However, most CXTs I am seeing have the pickup style bed replaced with a service bed, then tricked out with accessories.

A few custom builders have taken 4-door trucks found in the emergency vehicle niche and created cool service trucks as well. A word of caution when searching the emergency vehicle market is to watch the scale the vehicle is being offered. Emergency vehicles come in a variety of scales including 1/87. This is not a problem unless the desire is to keep the scale of the vehicles in the harvest fleet the same; which I recommend 100%.

To create a four-door service beyond what is offered commercially, a new skill set is required. Typically two diecast cabs are purchased, chopped and married together. This is the only way to either replicate or create the custom look that is used in the field.

A variety of service beds can be found in 1/64 and other scales. The focus here will be 1/64. Moore Park Model Works offers several styles of single axle service beds that can be mounted on pickups and both single axle and tandem axle trucks. Moore’s Farm Toys offers cast service beds. Circle C Farm Toys offers a great 3D printed service bed with very cool functioning crane that can be mounted. Rockin H offers 3D printed single and tandem axle service beds that have all been modeled after harvester service beds or manufactured beds. All beds mentioned will require a truck to be modified to accommodate the bed by either stretching the truck or making the frame shorter. Not an impossible job, but this effort does take skill.

To trick out your new rig, Moore’s Farm Toys offers a variety of accessories including welders, crane (non-functional) hose reels, oxy-acetalene tanks, fire extinguishers, vises and so on. Now that 3D printing has a strong foot hold in the modeling arena even more accessories are being offered plus variations of existing accessories.


  1. Drew Reed on January 18, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    I like how you said that two diecast cabs should be used together for a custom look that is useful. A friend of mine works in a field during harvest season for a month or two out of the year. I’m not sure what sort of trucks they use. I’ll have to show him this customized option. Thanks for sharing!

    • Eric Haselhorst on January 18, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for the comment Drew. Glad this content is helpful. If you need anything else, let me know.