Friday, July 18, 2014

We will be at the 2014 DHS Diecast Open House & Auction Weekend

It's here once again. The annual event where DHS Diecast opens their 12,000 square foot facility to the public for an amazing weekend of model madness that has to be seen to be believed. Get up close to all kinds of real equipment, experience a fantastic model and diorama show, view over 3000 models out of their boxes and available to purchase, participate in fantastic sales and giveaways, get a chance to meet the DHS staff, and take the opportunity to talk about the hobby with fellow collectors and enthusiasts.

Gary Peterson, will be on hand representing CCM and showing some prototype samples of our upcoming models. He's already getting excited for the free gourmet hotdogs!

DHS  Annual Open House is scheduled for July 27th, at the world headquarters of DHS Diecast in Berea, Ohio USA. The Auction is on July 26th, the day before.

Check here on the DHS website for more information.

Friday, July 11, 2014

William Ford - Henry's brother - gave Unit Crane its start

Units of Separation
William Ford - Henry's brother - gave Unit Crane its start.

By Chad Elmore
Originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of OEM Off-Highway Magazine

The immense popularity of Ford's Model T automobile led to the creation of a diverse industry of aftermarket parts with which the car could be modified to meet practically any whim or application. When Henry Ford applied the same basic concept to the farm -- offering a basic, dependable machine at a low price - the results were similar. The Fordson sold very well to farmers, most of whom had never before owned a tractor. The tractor won so many customers, in fact, that the little gray Fordson had a disastrous effect on a number of established equipment makers. But while some factories closed, others opened: a new industry grew up around the Fordson, as well.

Established engineers and backyard welders alike came forward to offer features and attachments that made the bare-bones Fordson tractor the picture of versatility. They created and sold anything from rear fenders (which the first Fordsons didn't have) to heavy contraptions of angle iron, cables and gears that made the Fordson capable of digging basements, grading roads or hauling dirt.

Henry Ford, who became both celebrity and wealthy manufacturer, was the first of eight children. With the success of Ford Motor Co., many of Henry's immediate and distant family members opened Ford dealerships. Younger brother William was hired in the employment office for the tractor company and in 1920 William Ford & Co. became the tractor distributor for Michigan and northern Ohio.

William Ford entered the construction equipment business in 1925 with the formation of the Wilford Shovel Co. in Detroit. The most obvious component of the tracked 1/4-yard Wilford shovel was a gray Fordson skid unit. In 1927 the company changed to Universal Power Shovel Co., with William Ford as president. In addition to the Fordson powerplant, the shovel used several parts from Ford cars and trucks: the crowd device on the shovel was a Ford truck worm gear. The machine could be purchased at Ford dealerships.

New owners
United States production of the Fordson tractor ended in 1928, the same year Universal found a new owner - Unit Corp. of America - and a new powerplant - often McCormick-Deering. The shovel began to look more like a purpose-built unit than a tractor conversion. It was a given a 1/2-yard bucket and some models were fitted with the large box-like cabs that were coming into vogue, while others were mounted on truck chassis.

Wilford's new owner was founded in 1918. Unit produced forged steel components at its West Allis, WI, plant for railroad, agricultural, and other industries. The excavator line was transferred from Michigan to Unit's drop forge plant and production continued. In the 1930s the shovel and forging businesses separated, and a group from Unit Drop Forge left to run the new company. It incorporated in 1934 as the Universal Power Shovel Corp.

Chief engineer and company president Harold Brey gave the marketing department an important exclusive when he developed a fully enclosed gear case in which the components operated in an oil bath to significantly reduce wear. The machines with Brey's unitized gear case were the first to carry the Unit brand.

Ownership changed again in 1940, and the name of the company became Universal Unit Power Shovel Corp, simplified to Unit Crane & Shovel Corp. in 1956. During the World War II years, Universal produced cranes and excavators for the military as well as anti-aircraft gun mounts. Unit met the pent-up demand for equipment during peacetime with an offering of crawler and wheel-mounted cranes, excavators and material handling cranes. When the company celebrated its 25th birthday, it was specializing in 5 to 30 ton cranes and 3/8 to 3/4 yard excavators.

Full Vision cabs
The company developed a revolutionary cab during World War II. Introduced as the Full Vision cab, the new Unit cranes abandoned the large square housings used to protect machinery and man. The Full Vision cab was a central feature on all subsequent models, including the versatile Unit 357 mobile crane. Unit 357 was a wheeled machine capable of 1,001 uses, the company advertised, including operating as a shovel, dragline or crane.

Unit went off-shore in the 1950s with the introduction of the popular Unit Mariner crane for oil and gas platforms, and in the 1960s built a number of specialized material handlers, including models used for placing Titan missiles in underground silos.

The factory moved to New Berlin, WI in 1967, and the last excavator was built in 1982. Its production of the Mariner line and stationary cranes used in scrap handling continued, however. In 1988 this business was purchased by Offshore Crane Co. of New Orleans.

Unit Drop Forge is still active in the off-highway OEM industry, although it doesn't build complete machines. "Unit Drop Forge is alive and well," says Dennis Schloerke, sales manager. "We do closed-die steel forgings between 10 lbs and 250 lbs. That size range is ideal for the off-highway market."

Marketed as Unit Forgings, mobile off-highway work accounts for 50% of its business, which is still done in the original factory on 62nd Street in West Allis, WI.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Memorable Model: Caterpillar D8H

With an operating weight in excess of 47,000 pounds and a 235 HP turbocharged diesel engine for power, the Caterpillar D8H track type tractor literally changed the face of the world. First introduced in 1958, the D8H had more of an impact on the earthmoving industry than any machine before it and many, many after it. With an innovative new design that optimized operator comfort and usability to help maximize production, the D8H was quickly accepted as the industry standard for large earthmoving applications.

As testimony as to how advanced the tractor was when introduced, consider first that it was in production for almost 15 years. In the world of construction equipment, that in itself is an accomplishment that very few machines have ever attained. During that time span, more than 50,000 D8H tractors were delivered around the world. Their durability and enduring popularity is easily verified by the number of these tractors still in use today in every conceivable type of earthmoving operation imaginable.

The decision for Classic Construction Models to produce a model of the D8H was made in honor of the legendary status this machine earned, as well as to continue our 1:24 precision scale brass models that started with the release of the Caterpillar Seventy in 1996. Following the Seventy, we produced 1:24 scale models of the Caterpillar Ten and D2, the smallest gasoline and diesel powered tractors made by Caterpillar, and the D11R, the largest diesel tractor Caterpillar has manufactured to date. With this well established family of models, the decision to produce an H series D8 in essence the great grandson of the Caterpillar Seventy created a model that fit into the middle of the long line of legendary tractors produced by Caterpillar.

Although this model was released in December of 2004, development actually began in 2002 when CCM acquired a set of factory general arrangement drawings. After discussing the different versions of the H series tractors, it was decided to build a model of an early machine with a direct drive transmission and cable operated blade specifically a circa 1960's 36A machine. With the specific tractor selected, we began the process of sourcing all the information required to build a true, precision scale model.

As it turned out, the primary source of information for creating the model of this vintage machine was not Caterpillar, but instead the photographs, drawings and machine surveys we compiled ourselves. In addition to the schematics and diagrams, hundreds of photographs with measurements were compiled from two separate prototype 36A D8H machines.   

Countless days were spent examining the smallest details and documenting them for the model makers' reference. With this information, the process of creating the first model from raw brass began.

As museum curators know, there is no material better suited for creating mechanically accurate miniatures of complex equipment than brass. The ability to cast, etch, machine and form this metal at any scale is what allowed us to create a model that approaches being a part-for-part recreation of the actual machine. Unlike a die-cast model which must maintain a minimum thickness – regardless of the dimension of the original part – brass can be as thin or as thick as necessary. This means sheet metal on the real machine can be sheet brass on the model and parts that are cast in iron at full scale can be perfectly replicated in reduced size from cast brass. Similarly, the versatility of this metal enabled us to investment cast complete parts with shapes so complex they could never be successfully produced through die-casting or any other metal modeling method. The result, with hundreds of hand-made brass parts laboriously assembled into a single D8H model, is absolutely stunning.

Equipped with a Caterpillar No.30 front cable control unit that operates the working blade, as well as a working Carco J-120 winch mounted on the rear, the D8H model showcases the finest in modeling skills. The highly detailed 235 HP Cat diesel turbocharged engine, direct drive transmission and complete undercarriage are a perfect compliment to the individually-linked, free-rolling tracks complete with spring-loaded track tensioners and roller guards. A close look under the hood shows details such as the shrouded radiator fan with drive belts, as well as fuel injectors, manifolds, fuel lines and complete pony motor. Even the control levers are connected through the control panel into the engine compartment.

Other precision features include a full complement of operator's controls with gauges on the dash, moving levers and diamond plate flooring. Flawless exterior sheet metal work with rivets, accurate perforations on the radiator guard, front and rear spotlights and a working rain cap on the exhaust help complete this truly amazing replica.

With Caterpillar "Hi-way Yellow" paint and vintage markings, this model looks like it just came off the production line in 1960. Although the tool box next to the operator's seat is not strictly factory, it was decided to include it on the model for two reasons: virtually every operator we spoke to said that is where they carried their lunch box and thermos of coffee, and the opening lid on the tool box created the perfect place to put an engraved serial number plate for the model.

Because of the high level of skill required to assemble such a museum-quality model like the D8H, the number that can be produced is obviously very limited. Thus the total production for the model was limited to only 348, each one registered and certified, ensuring collectors the demand for this model will outlive those who created it.

The Cat D8H is one of the best examples of our continuing determination to produce construction equipment models at the highest of standards. We hope this legacy of limited edition models will continue to thrill construction collectors for generations to come, making it a necessity to find room for at least one of these legendary models in their collection.

Friday, June 13, 2014

From the Archives: The UNIT 357 Mobile Crane

The UNIT 357 Mobile Crane
Machine - Model - Toy

By Jason Diamond

Toy Trucker & Contractor
Feature article, February 2006

It's a feeling that all collectors recognize: Slightly sweaty palms, shallow breathing and great mental churning as the brain tries to align the senses and make a final determination as to whether what is being held in hand is "treasure" or "trash."

When the first UNIT 357 Mobile Crane rolled out of the Milwaukee factory in 1946 it was heralded as being "Fast, Powerful and Rugged." With its remarkably modern looking design - including the unique UNIT "full vision cab" - and the capability to work as a shovel, hoe, dragline or crane, the UNIT 357 was an ideal machine for the expanding post-war construction market.

With a heritage that started in Detroit when William Ford, Henry Ford's brother, founded the Wilford Shovel Company in the early 1900's, the design of the UNIT 357 Mobile Crane was based on the company philosophy of building machines that could be quickly and easily converted to suit the task at hand. Whether digging, lifting or material handling, the UNIT 357 was found to be more than capable of its advertised "One Thousand and One Uses."

As the first of the production UNIT 357 machines were rolling out of the factory in 1946, Julian Kutz, the head of engineering at the UNIT Crane and Shovel Corporation redrew the plans for the "357" at 1:16 scale. Using these plans, Kutz took it upon himself to produce 3 hand built models of the UNIT 357 Mobile Crane to be used for sales presentations and trade show displays.

One of three UNIT 357 Mobile Crane sales models made at the UNIT Crane
& Shovel factory - the prototype for the Doepke UNIT Crane toy.

Sales model showing full vision operator cab and hand built boom.

Although the details were never recorded, it is safe to assume that Kutz made use of the facilities at the UNIT factory to create the brass masters and sand cast aluminum parts for the major components of these functioning scale models. Again, there is no written record, but it's easy to imagine Kutz using a small factory lathe to turn the solid aluminum wheels, brass hoist drums and sheaves to complete his miniature machine. With hand soldered open lattice booms, opening cab doors, working rigging, functional steering and a coat of UNIT factory orange paint, these models played a key role in the sales and marketing program for the cranes.    

When they had completed their usefulness for "show and tell", the three models went home with Kutz where they were stored in the basement. It wasn't until many years later that these models would come back to light when they were found by a construction collector looking for information about people who had worked at the UNIT factory.

Opening cab door, gantry and draw works on factory sales model.

Remarkably, all 3 of the Kutz models, along with some spare parts and pieces, the brass masters and his reworked scale drawings, were found intact. Imagine if they had never been discovered - sitting on the shelf gathering dust - due to their striking resemblance to the well known and relatively easy to find toy version of the same machine.

That toy, first manufactured by Doepke in 1949, was one of the most popular pressed steel construction toys ever made. Rugged enough to survive the rigors of outdoor use and having realistic details like rubber Goodyear tires that mom would allow inside the house, the $14.95 investment for a Doepke UNIT Crane toy was money well spent. Operating this toy with its two functional hand crank hoists, accurate rigging, stamped steel open lattice boom and a working clamshell bucket (perfect for excavating the sandbox or a cereal bowl) lead hundreds - if not thousands - of crane operators to their career paths.

Doepke UNIT mobile crane pressed steel toy.

Doepke toy showing gantry hand crank hoists and stamped steel open lattice boom.

Although the Doepke UNIT Crane is a toy, the detailing and proportions are so close to the three original Kutz factory models that there will never be an end to the speculation of exactly how the Doepke brothers and Kutz collaborated in its creation. Whether they have been kept in the attic since childhood, picked up at collector events or purchased on eBay, the Doepke UNIT Crane has remained a "must have" piece for construction collectors.

Doepke pressed steel toy on the left.
UNIT factory model on the right.

In the early 1990's, Classic Construction Models (CCM) created a number of accessory items for the Doepke UNIT Crane toy including a pressed steel track assembly and pressed steel boom inserts to extend the reach of the crane. Drawn from original crane information and inspired by Doepke toy construction details, these custom accessories were quickly snapped up by collectors who wanted to add to the value of their original toy cranes.

Doepke UNIT crane with
CCM pressed steel crawler
assembly and boom insert.

Scratch built UNIT 514 cable hoe pressed steel toy with CCM crawlers.

The track mounted equivalent to the UNIT 357, whether used as a crane, hoe, or shovel, was designated as a UNIT 514. With the release of the CCM track assemblies, collectors were inspired to create toy machines of their own, like this scratch built UNIT cable hoe built from an original Doepke crane cab with a solid steel boom, equalizer and custom paint job with UNIT factory striping.

Perhaps the rarest of the rare UNIT Crane toys is a Doepke factory prototype of the truck mounted UNIT 1014. No one knows when the decision was made to develop this toy and then not put it into production, but as all construction collectors – with the sole exception of the one who owns this piece – would agree, it is a shame it did not happen.

Doepke UNIT 1014 truck mount pressed steel toy prototype.

Given all of its positive attributes, the Doepke toy still presents one insurmountable challenge to many construction and railroad collectors. At more than 13 inches long and over 23 inches high at the boom tip, this toy is out of scale for railroaders and too big for construction display cabinets that are more suited for models a third its size.

The answer, which was recently introduced by CCM, is a hand built, limited edition all brass scale model of the original toy. Proportioned to fit with typical die cast construction models and on "O gauge" layouts, this model is an exact reproduction of the Doepke UNIT 357 Crane toy, modeled at 1:48 proportions from the original machine.

CCM's all brass 1:48 scale model of the Doepke UNIT Crane toy.

From the rubber tires and boom tip sheaves to the cable drum brakes and working outriggers, this model is so true to the original toy that it is easy to imagine all of the employees at the Doepke factory collectively scratching their heads and wondering, "Who shrank our toy?"

The UNIT 357 crane has left an enduring legacy as a machine, a sales model, a toy and once again a scale model. Regardless of what direction your interest in construction collectibles takes you, it would be a mistake not to make room for these legendary machine replicas in your collection.

Friday, June 6, 2014

From the Archives: Day in the Dirt 2005

This article was previously posted in 2008.

Day in the Dirt Moves earth and hearts in Tucson
by Cameron MacMullin

Do you remember pushing dirt around your back yard with your old toy tractor and dreaming of doing the same on a real machine? Remember how that dream faded, but the desire to get in a tractor and move some dirt never did? For forty-two Caterpillar enthusiasts the dream and desire were realized on September 30th, 2005, as they came from far & wide to gather under the Arizona sun and make their fantasies a reality at the first ever "Day in the Dirt".

David Hull of Oregon puts a D6R through its paces.

The event was orchestrated by Classic Construction Models (CCM) of Beaverton, Oregon, a small company that has built an international reputation for producing museum-quality scale models of construction equipment. Their unique products have created a diverse global customer base comprised of heavy construction equipment fanatics who are devoted most notably to the industry's leading innovator, Caterpillar Inc. CCM teamed up with the worldwide enterprise to give a small number of "wannabe" operators an unprecedented first hand opportunity to experience the machines that move the earth at the Caterpillar Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Application Center in Green Valley, Arizona. It was a notable first time experience for the enthusiasts and their hosts from Caterpillar as never before had a group of individuals without direct affiliation to Caterpillar been allowed such an intimate look at this exceptional facility.

The adventure began Thursday, September 29th as the crew from Classic Construction Models welcomed the group to Tucson with an evening of food, drink and an opportunity to get to know each other. Also present were the equipment trainer/operators from the Tinaja Hills center that would spend the next day training the group for what was arguably the most alluring aspect of the trip: hands-on "stick time" running Cat equipment. Perhaps it was the anticipation of what was to come or perhaps it was a common thread of admiration for the models and the equipment, but whatever the reason, there was a pervading sense of comradery that night which carried seamlessly over to the next day.

Linda Jaquemet of Switzerland
gets the hang of a 320 excavator.

Bright and early Friday morning, the group assembled again for a full buffet breakfast. Included were an orthopedic surgeon from Texas, a retired professor from Pennsylvania, a former John Deere associate from California, a dentist from Canada, two construction collectors from Japan, a husband and wife from Switzerland and an electrical engineer from Ireland! Not to be forgotten were a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary. No question this eclectic crew was as impressive as the machinery that brought them together!

At 7:30 am the bus departed the hotel, turned south on Interstate 19, and Tucson was quickly left behind. The scenic 45 minute trip delivered the group to the Tinaja Hills Training Center - a true oasis in the 6134 acre desert spread utilized by Caterpillar but shared with an unexpectedly large variety of plants and wildlife.

Meeting and orientation at the training center meeting room.

The Cat Demonstration & Application Center does justice to the prestigious company it represents. The modern facility blended comfortably with the natural beauty of the surrounding area and strategically placed machinery cloaked in that familiar yellow stood guard, giving the campus a fortress-like air. The friendly and accommodating Cat staff, however, quickly made it clear that although this was a tightly run operation, the attitude was anything but military.

After an opportunity to explore the central facility (and familiarize themselves with the generous pastry and refreshment table), the party was treated to an informative presentation by Ric McDaniel, Caterpillar Trademark Merchandise Licensing Program Manager. Ric detailed the history and current state of the Fortune 50 Company. After Ric advised the group they were the first individuals not affiliated with Caterpillar to be given this opportunity.

Following a short safety video and the umpteenth reminder to keep drinking water, a short bus ride took everyone from the cool air of the state-of-the-art meeting room to the open desert terrain at the equipment demonstration site.

An up close and personal review of a 163H Grader.

Soon seated in the grandstands overlooking an impressive dirt playground were 42 of the happiest Cat enthusiasts that ever lived. With a Mexican mountain range looming in the background, Mike Berry - Supervisor of Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Application Center - described the capabilities of more than 40 machines that rolled and rumbled by as the Tinaja operators executed eye-popping choreographed machine demonstrations. From 908 wheel loaders to 420 backhoes, the team of six flawlessly operated every piece of equipment. Just moments after a 777 Klein water truck with 20,000 gallons of very welcome dust suppressing water rolled by, a 785 mining truck with a 120 ton payload stopped from full speed within the length of the truck itself. More than one participant said this demonstration was impressive enough to be deemed the highlight of the action-packed day.
As soon as the machines were parked and the operators thanked for their show with a long round of applause, the crowd headed down to "stage level" for a photo-op with the cast. Fortunately all the machines were gracious enough to pose for the camera, but no autographs were given.

The "Top Gun" operators from the training center.

Climbing up, down, and round this jungle of giants in the intensifying sun stimulated an appetite that the Tinaja Hills staff cured with a large lunch including all the trimmings. Knowing what came next, the group made quick work of the meal.
The group then flocked back to the demo grounds like children to the tree on Christmas morning. Awaiting them sat six of the biggest toys Santa ever squeezed down the chimney. Arranged in working groups were two excavators (a 320C and a 321C), two tractors (a D6R and a D6N) and two wheel loaders (a 924G & 930G). The carefully constructed schedule, another first for the Tinaja facility, ensured all participants ten minutes of stick time on each type of machine. Somehow, order prevailed over chaos despite the eagerness of everyone involved to have their turn. People took their places and four hours of pushing, digging and piling dirt ran its course without a hitch.

Kenichiro Tsuchida of Japan operating a 320 excavator.

Climbing up, down, and round this jungle of giants in the intensifying sun stimulated an appetite that the Tinaja Hills staff cured with a large lunch including all the trimmings. Knowing what came next, the group made quick work of the meal.
The group then flocked back to the demo grounds like children to the tree on Christmas morning. Awaiting them sat six of the biggest toys Santa ever squeezed down the chimney. Arranged in working groups were two excavators (a 320C and a 321C), two tractors (a D6R and a D6N) and two wheel loaders (a 924G & 930G). The carefully constructed schedule, another first for the Tinaja facility, ensured all participants ten minutes of stick time on each type of machine. Somehow, order prevailed over chaos despite the eagerness of everyone involved to have their turn. People took their places and four hours of pushing, digging and piling dirt ran its course without a hitch.

A 924 Loader and 320 Excavator hard at work.

Talk about fun! Engines roared, dirt flew, and emotions soared. Smiles were abundant as long held dreams came true. Although most everyone there was an inexperienced operator, their lack of skill was overshadowed by adrenaline and nervous energy. Excitement and dust filled the air as the group enjoyed over four hours putting the machines they admired to the test. Occasionally an individual was understandably reluctant to give up the controls, but fortunately the instructors never once had to pull anyone forcefully from a machine. Everyone got the time they came for and the time they deserved.
David Lebovitz of Illinois enjoys the
view from atop a 994D Wheel Loader.

Timely refueling kept the show running smoothly.

As the day came to end, these new Cat operators headed back to the central facility for the grand finale: A feast fit for a king! The Tinaja team presented a delicious meal replete with a mariachi band! There was a consensus among the exhausted group that the day had exceeded even the highest expectations. David Becker noted that "The hospitality and presentation were phenomenal." Peter Duggan - who came all the way from Ireland for the day - called it "The fulfillment of a childhood dream." Stephen Smith gave the food and overall experience an "A+", although he admitted he really wanted to operate a D11R or 797. Lofty goals, but as everyone there would agree, well worth pursuing. Every participant surveyed expressed an unequivocal interest in returning if given the opportunity.

Great food, music and company.
Amy and David Becker of Illinois enjoying
the veranda at the training center.

After a day more successful than either CCM or Cat hoped for, it became clear that this first time event had laid the foundation to become much more. In the eyes of this writer, it could be the beginning of a tradition for both companies; a rite of passage, so to speak, for equipment & model enthusiasts everywhere. The only problem might be getting those who've been there to surrender a spot for those who are still dreaming.

Graduating class of 2005 Day in the Dirt.

Friday, May 30, 2014

From the Archives: 1:87 scale Cat D11R Carrydozer review from 2006

This article was previously posted on Construction Collector, but we enjoyed it so much it seemed time to share it with a wider audience.

Classic Construction Models builds a big bulldozer

Review and Photos by Bill Cawthon
Published in Model Railroad News, March 2006

MODERN earthmoving operations demand big machines. Not only to mine the volumes of ore and coal necessary for modern society, but to restore the land for other uses. All with an eye to cost-efficiency. The more earth that can be moved in each pass, the more productive the operator and equipment can be.

While we often think of the giant draglines and hydraulic excavators filling a continuous stream of huge dump trucks, there are a number of other earthmovers that also perform important functions, especially when the job calls for mobility or the ability to maneuver in a space too small for the big diggers. That's the time the smaller wheeled and crawler tractors really shine.

Of course, smaller is a relative term. Some of these machines weigh in at over 100 tons and are more than two stories tall.

One of these is the Caterpillar D11R Carrydozer, the top bulldozer in the Caterpillar line and second only to the Komatsu D-575A3 as the world's largest crawler dozer. Now Classic Construction Models has produced a limited-edition brass model of this magnificent machine and loaned MRN one for a close-up examination.

The Prototype
The Caterpillar D11R CD crawler dozer was designed for high-volume earthmoving applications such as mining and quarry operations and large land reclamation projects. Everything about the D11R CD is big, from its operating weight of nearly a quarter-million pounds to its 425-gallon fuel tank. With a 63-gallon capacity, the cooling system alone holds more fluid than three typical passenger-car gas tanks.

A couple of construction workers check out Classic Construction Models'
D11R Carrydozer while giving you an idea of the true size of the prototype.
Note the see-through engine covers and the delicate hydraulic control lines.

 The D11R CD stretches thirty-five feet six-inches from the leading edge of the blade to the back of the ripper. It stands fifteen-feet six-inches tall from the base of its three-foot wide treads to the top of its rollover protection system, called a ROPS in the trade.

It takes a big engine to move such a massive tractor. The D11R CD is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 2,105 cubic-inch Caterpillar 3508B diesel engine that cranks out 850 horsepower. That much horsepower doesn't translate into speed; the D11R CD can't quite hit twelve miles per hour in its top gear and when it's in first gear, it can't keep up with a brisk walk. On the other hand, just about anything you'd care to hook up to the D11R CD will find itself moving. This includes most houses and your choice of North American locomotives.

As you would expect, such a big machine can do some mighty big jobs. The blade can dig a maximum of just over thirty inches and, depending on configuration, can move up to fifty-seven cubic yards of material at a time. To give you an idea of how much that is, it's enough to fill four typical dump trucks and start on a fifth. The rear-mounted hydraulic ripper, used to break up earth and rock to facilitate their removal or to prepare former mine sites for reforestation, has a seven-foot blade with maximum pryout force of 142,390 pounds.

The Model
Based in Beaverton, Oregon, about 240 miles north of MRN's offices, Classic Construction Models is entering its sixteenth year as a manufacturer of museum-quality brass replicas of construction and earthmoving equipment. In that time, CCM has become one of the most respected names in the field.

The D11R CD can move fifty-seven cubic yards of material with each
pass making it the perfect machine for major land reclamation projects.
The CCM model captures each detail including the holes drilled in the blade.

As those of you with a brass locomotive or railcar know, it's the ultimate medium for creating a prototypically accurate replica and allows detail unobtainable in any other material. Considering the number of brass models I have been privileged to review in recent months, I was expecting a top-flight model. The CCM Caterpillar exceeded my expectations. World-class, museum-grade - call it what you will - this is an incredible model.

As CCM works very closely with the manufacturer, it comes as no surprise that the model scales out very well compared to manufacturer specifications. Most of the measurements I was able to take were within a few tenths of a scale inch of precise 1:87 scale. The major variations I found were mostly easily explained by differences in the equipment shown in the base D11R specifications and that fitted to the machine that served as the prototype for the CCM model. For example, the specs for a D11R were based on a dozer with twenty-eight-inch-wide shoes, the term for the individual links in the crawler track. The CCM model is fitted with the D11R CD's wider extreme-duty shoes, which add sixteen inches to the track width.

The only major variation I couldn't explain was the blade. The one on the model is a scale fourteen inches wider than the blades listed for the D11R CD in the Caterpillar specifications. However, as close as the model is in every other measurement, I feel sure the explanation is that, as with the shoes, the model is based on a different prototype. (Please see Author’s Postscript at the end of this article.)

Marvelous details are found everywhere you look. You start with the free-rolling tracks, functioning tensioners and positionable blade, and ripper with an adjustable shank, and then you look more closely. The hydraulic pistons work smoothly, replicating the movements of the prototype and major hydraulic lines are reproduced including the flexible control lines leading to the blade and ripper.

The super-size ripper can dig into hard-packed soil and rock to break
it up for removal or to allow for replanting after mining has ended.

As you can see from the pictures, the side engine covers are perforated, allowing you to look in at the engine and radiator fan detail. What I couldn't get in a photograph is the see-through grille. Of course, the various rails and grab irons are properly sized for the hand of a scale figure, and the cab looks ready for a miniature operator to climb in and fire up the engine.

One minor detail I like is the way Classic Construction Models does the headlights. As you can see in the picture, they look like real headlights. Realistic headlights are a difficult effect to create, requiring a parabolic surface and a mirror-like finish. It would seem to me that any model priced north of four hundred dollars should have them, but a surprising number have painted lights that don't live up to the quality of the rest of the model. That's definitely not the case here.

While this isn't a toy to toss to your four-year-old on his way to the sandbox, I was pleased to see how sturdy the CCM model really is. The joints are strong and you can position the various moveable components without fear the whole thing will come apart in your hands. As this model was on loan to us, I didn't put it through its paces, but I would think you could actually lower the blade and move some earth or break up some packed dirt with the ripper.

As is the case with most brass models, CCM's Caterpillar D11R CD is a limited edition. The run was limited to a total of four hundred pieces, divided into one hundred-fifty each of Caterpillar yellow, and a special anti-glare paint scheme, and a hundred in mine white. The base Cat yellow model retails at $409.95; the others are each ten dollars more. Our loaner was number 364 in the series, supplied in the Caterpillar yellow and flat black anti-glare paint.

If you're a fan of the big machinery of the modern era, the Classic Construction Models Caterpillar D11R Carrydozer is definitely a worthwhile investment. Whether it's parked on the shelf with your most prized locomotives or working on your layout and dwarfing everything around it (it's three scale inches taller than an AC6000CW), you will be one of a very small group of people who get to enjoy one of the most detailed heavy equipment models in HO scale.

Author’s Postscript:
When I wrote the above review, I mentioned that I didn’t have sufficient information to check the scale accuracy of the blade. After this review first appeared in print, Classic Construction Models was kind enough to let me know the prototype for the blade on their replica is a special high-capacity model Caterpillar offers only on the D11R Dozer. I hope no one takes my comments as a criticism of this outstanding model. -Bill Cawthon

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Cat 776 and 777 trucks are here!

They just came in, and we are all excited. These models look fantastic and we couldn't be more pleased. Production samples go to Cat for the final production approval and then we start shipping.

In the meantime, here are a couple images to enjoy.