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1956 Great Dane Reefer

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With my latest Kenworth complete, it is time to build a trailer for it. For this I will be scratch building a 1956 Great Dane reefer. After looking at the available kits, none of them had the right riven detail or panel lines of this vintage of trailer, so I decided it would be just as much work to scratch build one than to modify a kit.


I started with sheets of .020" thick styrene, laying down strips of MicroScale rivets. I then cut the sheets into strips and used .040" round rod to great the ribs of the sides of the trailer.





The real trailer that I am using as inspiration was originally purchased new by Alterman Transport Lines of Miami, FL. It was originally a 30ft trailer, but Alterman had it extended to 34ft at some point by adding 4ft to the front of the trailer. My Grandfather bout it in the spring of 1964 and extended it further by adding an additional 4ft to the rear of the trailer. Early Great Danes had a seam running along the length of the trailer midway up the side.






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PVC pipe cut into quarters will work as the 24" radius front corners. A vent door was cut into the driver's side top corner. A riveted on patch was added to the passenger's side where something (perhaps a low hanging branch) had previously damaged the trailer.



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The real trailer had a model C Thermo King reefer unit, the first commercial reefer unit sold. I had purchased a resin version of the unit to use, but I was not completely happy with it. I decided to use it as a guide to create my own. After some weathering, here is the end result.






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Fantastic work! The reefer unit looks brilliant, must have taken an age to do. I'm amazed at people's ingenuity on these jobs, like using plumbing pipe for the corners! As I follow my wife around shops I do find myself looking at everything and wondering if I could use things on my models. First class stuff this though, and such a personal project. 

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Archer rivet decals are really great.  They stand out just enough after painting to look real.  I've used them before on a truck that had a riveted body.  I think the best ones to use are the O scale rivets.  They make HO scale also but they are so small it doesn't make sense to try and use them.  Great work!  Outstanding attention to detail!

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Thanks everyone! I used a spare tandem from a "Big Rigs" trailer that I had kicking around. I changed out the brake chambers to some more realistic ones that I had made.



I was able to get some grey paint on the trailer. I also added some wood to the inside of the vent doors. I used balsa wood that I painted with layers of thinned down Tamiya brown and black paints.





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Time to add some character to the sides. I masked off the front and rear 4ft and hand cut letters to mask along each side of the trailer. After this I sprayed a light filter of Tamiya "smoke". This gives the appearance of ghost letters from days past as well as newer panels where the trailer had been extended in the front and rear.








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Almost done, I made some batteries for the reefer unit, along with a thermometer for the front of the trailer.




The rear of the trailer was completed with CMT lights and reflectors. The offset door cams that Great Dane used during the 50's always drove me nuts (I like symmetry), but I went with it for authenticity. I painted on some chips on the steel parts, then added some rust colors and a black wash.



For wheels I used Dayton wheels from an AMT Diamond Reo kit with some oil resin hubs added. Tires are from an AMT Tyrone Malone Papa truck kit.






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