Tanker Project


Building a 1/64th Scale Tanker Truck

by Eric M. Alias (REDMAC)

March 2004

This project is pretty simple as far as customs go, and it’s a great introduction to what it is to build a 1/64 scale truck. There’s a little grinding, a little filing, a little bodywork, and a little work with adhesives. When finished, you’ll have a unique tanker not unlike those used for bulk fuel delivery, food-grade transport, or agricultural chemical application. In another project, Part 2, we’ll make a pup trailer to go along with this unit.


Items Needed

Diecast:  DCP International 9100i (other chassis may be used – slight modifications may be required).

                 Tonka Farm toys ‘Got Milk’ Truck or similar model

Materials Needed: Super Glue, Hobby Knife, 2 part epoxy or equivalent, Screwdriver,

                                      Rotary Tool,Paint of choice


Remove the 2 rear screws from the bottom of the Tonka truck to get the tank loose. Near the rear of the tank, there is a white mushroomed plastic part – grind or cut it away so the tank will come apart into two pieces. There are two screws underneath the tractor holding the cab on – the first one is slightly recessed. Unscrew both to remove the cab. Store the cab away in a safe, clean area for a bit.


The fifth wheel plate has ‘ears’ on either side. Gently pry out on one side to pull the ‘ear’ over the pin it rests on. Once you have one loose, the plate should fall off. Don’t worry if it breaks – we’ll not be using it in this project, but it might be handy to keep around for future customs if it happens to come off in one piece. Inspect the area underneath where the plate was mounted, as we’ll want to grind or file this surface flat.


There are several different was to remove the metal we need to from the frame. A hand file can be used, as well as a rotary tool. Myself, I use a rotary tool with a grinding wheel. Go slowly, and take little bits at a time. The idea is to make the surface flat with the top of the frame so our tank will mount flush against it. It’s not necessary to remove the rear axles and tires if you’re careful while working. But if you’d like to do so, pry gently on the hub of the wheel from the inside with a flat bladed screwdriver. I do not advise trying to remove the axle, because it sometimes results in breaking the plastic wheels.

Regardless, this is the most difficult and time intensive part of the project. Go slow and be careful – it’s all down hill from here. When it’s done, your frame should look about like the picture above.

Don’t worry if there are some imperfections – they’ll just give us room for the epoxy to bond on down the road. In reality, there’s no reason to paint this over, as it will be hidden when we mount the tank, but if you’d like to touch the frame up, most any flat black paint will be a good match.

Depending on the method you used to do the grinding, it’s likely that your rig is rather a mess, covered with metal shavings. A dry modeler’s paintbrush works well to brush it clean, as will a ‘blower nozzle’ from an air compressor if you happen to have one available.

After you’ve cleaned the chassis and done any touchup painting you desire, re-mount the cab using the factory supplied screws. At this point, we also need to remove the chrome ‘deck-plate’ behind the cab which crosses over the frame rails. Pry it loose using a hobby knife.


For the tank to mount on the tractor frame, we need to do a bit of modification. If you look at the underside of the lower portion of the tank, there are two studs from the screw holes, and two tabs of plastic that need to be removed, so the base of this part is flat. A sharp hobby knife or rotary tool with cutoff wheel works well for the process – just try not to remove too much plastic


Once the excess plastic is removed from the screw mounts and tabs, the tank should look about like this. There are two more cuts to make – we need to expand the wheel wells by removing the plastic in front of the existing cutout for the wheels.


Cut away the plastic in front of the existing wheel wheels using a rotary tool, knife, or hobby saw. Be careful to cut as straight as possible, and use a file or sandpaper to dress the cut. When complete, the fairing should look something like the picture above.


Set the lower fairing in place on the chassis. The rear of the wheel wells should almost contact the mud flaps, and the rails on the fairing should match up to the frame. Everything should fit fairly close, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Most of what is underneath the fairing will never be seen, so it doesn’t have to be too precise. We’re going to glue the tank in place using plastic epoxy, and it will take up some of the gaps, so don’t worry if it doesn’t sit exactly right. If it’s too far off – rework the fairing to help it sit a little straighter.


These painting steps are optional. If you’re satisfied with the appearance of the tank as it is, feel free to skip past this. If you decide to paint your tank, sand lightly over the imprinted text on the side to remove it, and over the rest of the tank surface to give it some ‘tooth’ for the paint to stick to. Otherwise, paint both halves of the tank using any commercially available sandable primer. Your first coat of paint will likely bring out more flaws in the bodywork on the pieces. Sand, or fill with body putty, then repaint as necessary. Make sure to use thin coats of primer, and let the paint sit for at least 24 hours before continuing past this step. This photo shows the parts as primed.


You can use any combination of paint for your rig you like – I’m just going to demonstrate one technique. For this, I start by painting the entire assembly black. Once the basecoats done, I spray on an overcoat using a satin finish clear acrylic paint, and mask off any details that I want to remain black after the topcoat for the tank is painted. After the acrylic coat & masking, my tank and lower fairing looks like this. The lower fairing is now complete – it’s ready for mounting.

One hard one trick of model building I’d like to share at this point….. After you’ve carefully taped off the areas you wish to remain black, paint over the paint with either your undercoat color or clear acrylic to ‘seal’ the edges of the tape. This will prevent paint bleed-through under the tape when we paint the top coat. The picture shows how my rig looks with the base coat complete, the areas I want to remain black taped off, and a coat of clear acrylic applied to seal the tape.


Any color of paint will work fine for the topcoat – the color the bulk of the tank will be painted. For the sake of this project, we’ll simulate a stainless or aluminum tank, using Chrome paint. The type I use is Duplicolor Spray Paint, Part #CS101-Instant Chrome. This particular paint mars easily when soft, so be careful handling it while it is still soft. This photo shows the tank with top coat applied, and the tape still covering the areas that are to remain black


This is what my truck looks like with the painting complete and the tank set in place. The last job is to put the pieces back together and mount the tank. I use two-part plastic epoxy, as it forms a strong bond, but leaves some time for small positioning. Apply a small amount to each of the four pegs on the base of the tank, and press it into position on the fairing. Apply a good stream to both of the lower frame rails on the underside of the fairing, and carefully set the tank into place on the chassis. Adjust as necessary to make sure the tank is both level and straight in relation to the chassis. Look at it from several different angles before allowing it to dry.

Once it’s dry, your project is complete – or, just started, depending on how you want to think of it. Add custom decals, DOT conspicuity striping, jewel beads for tail and running lights, whatever suits your fancy.

Just remember to have fun – that’s the most important part!


Here’s mine, with some extra decals and beads for details.


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