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Tom Geiger

Down The Merry Path - How These Things Just Happen!

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Recently I commented on a thread about how the intent of a simple build got complicated, and how we simply cannot help ourselves. Then I was looking for something specific in the album for this truck and remembered my own journey down the slippery slope! So here goes..

People will ask me how I came up with some of my builds. I can say many of them look nothing like my original idea. The more you look at an in progress model, the more crazy ideas pop into your head! Back in 2008 I was  organizing my model room and found I had a bunch of the 50 Ford pickup kit. I enjoy this kit and had already finished one, so I grabbed a spare plastic tub and started a parts box specifically if this kit. I dumped about five open kits in here for starters. 

That gave me the freedom to cut some up! Having a bunch of these allowed me to play and worse come to worse I could toss the results without guilt.


I had just successfully sectioned a 34 Ford sedan and got the bug to try it on a pickup. In short order I accomplished the above work. And that’s the part I cut out up front.


Here’s how it looked side by side with a stock body. Satisfied that I scratched that itch, I celebrated my success and promptly put it away. I had no plans for a build. 



Fast forward four years to 2012, I got the bug to build a rat pickup, no doubt some influence from the message boards. I found a bed from an AMT 29 Ford kit and then shortened the chassis accordingly.

You can see my yellow and dark red 50 Ford in the background. Again, something I wanted for a simple build. This was a $5 started kit someone started. The chassis was completely built, the interior finished, the body parts painted yellow but missing the body. I knew I couldn’t match the yellow so I went for a two tone. All I needed to do was assemble it! Then it went sideways.. and it wound up being my Jitney bus! 


Anyway, this was the result. I was happy enough, and the build once again got side lined. I didn’t have a plan on how to section the nose.


Then this photo jumped out at me!  I didn’t need the front fenders at all. An AHA moment!  This truck was for sale and I actually considered buying it! Probably should’ve. 


With this photo as inspiration, I started carving. I saw the kit head lights were in the right position so I left them attached to the newly sectioned grille. In playing with the hood, I couldn’t get it to sit in place, and it completely hid the engine. I took inspiration from early 50s Dodge pickups that had a center spine and opened sideways on either side. I had hoods to spare so again I went for that experiment. Once I saw this look, I abandoned the plan for opening side panels and went for this unique look,  using the hoods center crease as the defining accent.  That allowed me full view of the engine and I could permanently glue all this in place.



That’s when I noticed the trend of putting 1950s rear fenders on rat rods. Another twist in the build! This was not my first attempt. My first try was 59 Chevy, but I couldn’t narrow the back of it enough. I already had the tail lights touching and the body was into the fenders! I also had a Ranchero parts box and a body I had already hacked the A pillars off for another project. This one worked to my liking. I didn’t use the Ranchero floor in the end, I had a  ribbed Evergreen sheet that was easier to work.  Funny thing, there were guys who have seen the finished model and thought I used a box from the 1/32 scale Ranchero, but nope, it’s a narrowed and sectioned 1/25 scale one!


Then came the roof hack! Someone said the roof looked two tall with the sectioned body set down into the frame rails. So I cut the top off with intent of chopping it. Again I had bodies to spare so I was thinking I’d make up any missing length by using two roofs.  Then we got another twist to the plan!  I liked the body topless! It made the overall truck look all that much lower. So I went with it!



So we went topless! It did take me a few kit cabs to get the interior section to line up with the outside. And now I could detail out the interior vs having it viewed through chopped windows.  I went with the custom console from the AMT 57 Ford.  If I was doing this project again I’d look at narrowing the back of the cab to be more in line with the Falcon bed. And I’d even go for a lower windshield.

All the lowering of the body made typical seats sit way too high. I again parked the project for a few years. In 2019 someone on a board was using the Rat Roaster buckets on a project so I dug out mine.. perfect! That gave me the ambition to finish the project. 


Once the plan was finalized, it was easy to complete the model. I painted everything and did final assembly. Interior got photo etch seat belts, a VW parking brake and I drilled some cup holders into the console to break up the wide expanse of flat. Clear steering wheel came from an old Riviera kit. 



It’s interesting how much smaller the rat truck is next to the stock 50 Ford pickup 


The rat rod was in the same box as the Jitney, and I got inspired to finish that one. Once I finished it, I looked at the rat still in the box and figured I needed to finish that too. So both made their way to my shelf. It was a triumphant moment when I threw out the empty box!

The whole purpose of this post is to illustrate how a project develops over time.  Folks will ask me how I came up with a specific model, and I just wanted to show that it often doesn’t happen all at once. There are also those stop points where I don’t see the next step or how to overcome a dead end. 

Over time, my exposure to different builds at shows and on boards will spark ideas or totally change a project. Often long sitting projects get new enthusiasm when someone posts a good idea.  I also like to take a lot of photos as I build because I see new possibilities when I see the model in a photo. I like posting these because people will add new ideas that can make the model better. All part of the process! 

I hope this post will encourage people to start new builds, not knowing where they will end up! Do not fear going down that merry path to over complications, it can become a fun and rewarding adventure!


Edited by Tom Geiger

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Great looking truck. I'm with you on this basic kit, it's great. I like how you created this and it evolved over time. I remember your other two pick ups. They are all very different yet come from the same basic kit. Looking forward to seeing what comes next. 

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Great "message" in that Tom.   I know how a project can creep from the original idea you have.   And I really like the end results you come up with.  Love how you smoothed out the Falcon bed then went back and rusted the seams.  Just outstanding project to look at and see all that's going on with it.   And finally, just proof that you should save everything, even if it seems like you can't use it again.  You can make something, just might have to think "out of the box" so to speak.  

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Tom....while this style of hot rod is not my cup of tea, I SALUTE you on 1) your creativity  2) your continued persistence to move the project forward 3) your weathering and "patina" skills, and 4) your presentation above along with the step by step photos you took. 

This is a totally inspiring post and I think the resulting model is terrific.  I also really appreciate the photos at the end with the comparisons of factory stock pickups.  

I'd have to say this is probably my favorite model you've ever built to this date.  Congrats my friend!!!   TIM 

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Certainly is very different.   Nice job  Interesting, you said you threw out the empty box, so people actually do that?  I guess I need to begin doing that too.

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2 hours ago, Peter Lombardo said:

Certainly is very different.   Nice job  Interesting, you said you threw out the empty box, so people actually do that?  I guess I need to begin doing that too.

THat is a celebration to me!   Throwing the box out means that all the extras are stored somewhere and the project is DONE!  Unless it's a really cool box or I need a box to replace one that may be falling apart.  Otherwise boxes overtake my life.  Same with shipping boxes.  I am bad to save every box mailed to me so I can mail something out in it.  Never mind I have USPS provided boxes and some bought boxes.   

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I think it has something to do with that kit. I built one years ago with no fenders. Everything I did made me want to do another modification to it. First it was doing a Z'd frame. Then it was shorten the bed. Then it chop the top and on and on. To top it off, years later, I blew it apart and repainted everything but the engine! But, I was finally happy with it. I call it going down a rabbit hole.  

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