It's History and Progress 

The completed Dream Truck2 project was the subject of a major "construction" article in Car Modeler 2002 and in a "status" article in Car Modeler 2003.  Since that time, work has continued and I'm happy to report that just about the last of the machined items have emerged from Cody Grayland's mysterium. The bodywork is just about finished (still having a bit of trouble fitting the pesky hammered brass doors and I've decided to open up the entire bed top with a double-hinged metal cover), and all that's left is the task of assembling the entire model before any painting, plating or upholstery work can start – I want to make sure that everything fits before finishes are applied. In the meantime, we're pleased to feature the work of Lee Owen who has built his own interpretation of DreamTruck2. Go here to learn about Lee's work, and read through a narrative in his own words!

Profound thanks to Bob Wick (photo etch work), Cody Grayland (machined parts), Vince Putt/Len Geisler/Greg Reed (electrical engineering for working lights/remote control-IR features), Stephen Jansen/Dave Berry (chrome plating on brass parts) and Roger Yu (display artifacts) for their great work!

Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

The Dream Truck2 project was the subject of a full design and build up articles in the pages ofCar Modeler magazine, a Kalmbach publication. In this shot, the model is placed in front of the wonderful Jairus Watson color illustration. The first version of the truck used colors reminiscent of the paint job on the Dream Truck built by Spence Murray in 1958 – just before it was wrecked in the Kansas wreck. 

Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

Here is a better look at the Watson illustration. Jairus is one of the best of the "modern" illustrators – in addition to his splendid design skills.

Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

When I attended the 1997 Birmingham NNL, I asked Kirk Bell, then editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast and Car Modeler magazines, if his staff would prepare this display card that I patterned after the "final" 1958 Rod and Custom Dream Truck presentation sign. My sincere thanks to Kirk and his great staff.

Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

My design included very substantial channeling and sectioning. The comparison here is with the very high quality Danbury Mint model. Though the height has been greatly reduced, even the first version of the Dream Truck2 could be easily driven – my design retained full suspension travel. 

Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

Here is another comparison shot between the Danbury model and the Dream Truck2. This shot portrays one of my strong criticisms of the first version of my model – the "bed" was too long. Still, check out the height reduction! 

Pat Covert photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

The Dream Truck2 is parked next to Jeff Wolfe's incredible '52 Chevy Pickup. It was a honor for Jeff to agree to let a few "joint" shots to be taken at the 1997 Birmingham NNL show. I think that I succeeded in maintaining the basic design elements of the original truck – the shape of the cab, the raised hood, the strong horizontal line on top of the bed, and the "pontoon" front fenders.

Pat Covert photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

From another angle, the design differences (and similarities) can be seen. Hard to imagine they started out as the same model, eh? 

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  Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

You know, the original chassis was absurd. I cut down a '62 Chevy passenger car frame, added a few desultory lengthwise reinforcements, and then installed a full-race dual quad 409 Chevy engine. What was up with that? In late August of 1997, I received a wonderful (and very funny) joint call from John Slivoski and Ken Walkley – for almost an hour, they strongly critiqued my mechanical decisions, with John enjoying a lot of mirth when he asked me why in the world I would install a drag-race equipped 409 Chevy V8? Well, the three of us had a great time and I was suitably chastised. At that point, I made the decision to tear down the Dream Truck2 and redesign and refinish the entire model! The new version of the Dream Truck2 is dedicated to John Slivoski, a dear friend, who passed away a few years ago. 

dream truck
Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

The first thing I did was strip off all the old paint. As the Car Modeler articled detailed, I had a lot of trouble with the 4 step candy/pearl lime gold paint. Now, with a new version of the model underway, I could do it right, without magazine deadlines breathing down my neck! The model was stripped by vigorous sanding. The next thing was to shorten the bed: I removed about 1/8" from both before and after the center line of the rear wheelwell opening: That shortening occurred before the paint removal.  

 dream truck
Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives

With the bed pieces rejoined (using a brass pin and dowel technique), I glued the bed to the cab to eliminate the inevitable fit problems when the body was placed on the new frame. In this shot, the first two primer coats have been thoroughly sanded to locate bodywork problems. Note that the hood has still not been stripped of paint.  

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Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives 

One of the other changes was to "pancake" the hood in order to remove the sharply-angled hood line just forward of the leading door line. I made the horizontal cut parallel to the character line on the door.  

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Mike Barlow photo, 1997/Mark S. Gustavson Photo Archives  

With the lower section of the hood removed from the upper part, the lower piece was glued to the body/front fender assembly. I used instant adhesive, with accelerator, only since the joint is strong and it won't "shrink." Once the adhesive has set up, I grind out a slight "reveal" along the joint and then fill that with Evercoat -brand "Eurosoft" catalyzed spot putty (available in any auto body store).   

The frame from the Revell 1964 Apache pickup truck was used to basically determine how the body would sit. The plastic frame was fit to the underbody; it's shape was modified by adding here and deleting plastic there, until the basic shape was determined. The wheelbase, too, was shortened. Here, the kit wheels and tires are mocked up to determine what changes need to be made to the body. Later, this frame was basically used as the template for a scratchbuilt brass frame as covered in my article in the 2002 issue of Car Modeler.

The bed has been joined to the cab, the hood has been reshaped, a fresh brass firewall has been fitted, the wheel wells re-radiused, and an extended and shortened front grille opening has been fashioned. With the body placed on the makeshift plastic frame, I was able to modify the body so that realistic ramp angles could be achieved. Initially, I thought that a Chevy 283 would be fit, but that was just too easy! I had other ideas in mind!

One of the key objectives this time around is to introduce some realistic detailing, not possible to add during the rigors of a magazine publishing deadline. Below the model is a photo etched brass panel, with stress ribs and drain holes, drawn by master designer Bob Wick and rendered by photetch guru Fred Hultberg.

Installed, the photo etched underbody panel, when finished and painted, will add a lot of realism to the project. The stress rib panel is original and not based on the factory '50 Chevy pickup.

I hired Cody Grayland to machine more than a hundred specially-created parts for theDream Truck2. In this case, the 'flattened' from grille opening, with the locating fixture that I designed now installed, just above the beautiful horizontal grille bars and turn light bezels that Cody machined. With the locating fixture in place, Cody and I could determine the dimensions of the grille work so that we could figure out how everything went together before the model is painted.

Note here the brass 'receiver' into which the parts shown in the preceding photo will fit. The right side of the bed, that I hammered from .020 brass, will hinge along the center spine, up and over the quick release gas fill mechanism.

The dash is completely scratch built. Note the photo etched brass gauge fascia into which will fit a series of Grayland-machined vintage-style Stewart Warner gauge bezels fit with Bob Wick designed first-gen SW gauge fascias. All the gauges, like the glove box on the right, headlight and taillights, and dome list, will be actually lite using micro-miniature light bulbs hooked up to a Joel Dirnberger-designed regulated power supply.


The original hood wasn't very strong and it repeatedly broke during the original construction and during the rebuilding process. So, I decided to scratchbuild a new hood from .025 brass sheet. For information on how to hammer brass channel, check out my article in Car Modeler 2001.

The rear grille shape was also modified by the placement of an incut for the license plate. Neither the incut for the front or rear grille shells will interfere with the horizontal grille work (lots of careful measurements!).

Authentic drip rails needed to be added, so I carefully shaped some right-angle brass strips from Special Shapes Company (recently acquired by K&S), and then attached the same to the body.  In this view, the small amount of filler has been sanded and is ready for primer.

No kit wheels and brake detail would suffice, so I hired Cody Grayland to machine these parts to my specification. The two-part wheels (to permit installation inside the 'rigid" aftermarket tires from The Modelhaus) bit the Buick-style finned brake drums (note that only one if fully detailed because the left front wheel will be removable) as well as the hub covers and knock-offs. These wheels are available in resin from Custom Styling Studio.

More in-progress photos here...

Another major change was the fabrication and installation of license plate housings. If real, this Truck would be driven and that means that it must be fully legal. The basic shape was made from .020 brass sheet, and then installed using instant adhesive. Of course, I'll install a flat brass panel on the back of the incut so that a license plate can be mounted. Look, also, how I've made the upper and lower grille incuts parallel to one another.