Scratchbuilt: 1930 Autocar wrecker truck from Zis5 truck kit

“814Pennman” Rich does a lot of scratchbuilding and kitbashing, and this is one of his subjects, built to honor a late friend.


Zis5 truck kit, and scratchbuilt into a 1930 Autocar wrecker truck.

All metal “looking” parts on back (hoist) are wood, not metal… I used the truck cab & chassis & wheels kit parts only not the truck box. I removed the front doors, and I made all (metal-looking) back tow truck mechanism from basswood stripwood.

I am sending you a link to a diorama I built to honor two of the world’s finest modelers that passed away. Chester Fesmire (USA) and Frederic’ Testard (France), both were members of my railroad line forums, in the USA.

Although this is not one of my normal step-by-step shows, I will be posting them in more detail on the Kitmaker site for all to see. In the following thread link, first up is a tow truck I fashioned using a Russian Zis5 truck kit in HO scale. I incorporated the finished tow truck into my tribute diorama for the fallen friends (modelers). On a side note,

Chester Fesmire built similar vehicle models from this same truck kit, and he is the one person that inspired me to do the same with these kits. These truck kits are rare for USA patrons, but are easily attained in Europe. One past Christmas, I found six of these truck kits, and mailed them to Chester as a gift. On the return address label, I wrote that the package was from Santa! Chester knew exactly who the package was from and he acknowledged me on his blog. Can’t get away with anything !!

Should you want to see any larger pictures, let me know. I do plan on posting the whole build of this diorama from start to finish, sometime soon on Kitmaker.

Truck built to honor Chester Fesmire (

Enjoy !!



Rich, Basswood!? How did you prep it to look so much like metal?

Here are pics of Rich’s aforementioned tribute diorama. Rich, awesome scene!




Hi Fred,

Thanks for posting this for me.
To get the basswood to get it to appear like metal, first I use ink washes and Hunterline stains.
The stains by Hunterline soak well into the wood. They are made by using alcohol mixed with intense weathering powders, and I guess a secret formula, of which no one can duplicate. I really like the way they color wood when dry.

Here’s a “tip” I was shown by Chester Fesmire to enhance the wood to make it look like metal. After you achieve the wood color you are looking for, take a black graphite pencil and drag it along the edges of the wood, but lightly several times. You can slso do that for vehicle wheel rims after they have been painted and chipped in your desired color. Or anything metal for that mater, to your heart’s content.
Happy modeling.



Hi Rich,

Thanks for the technique. I will try it.

Hunterline, they sound familiar but I admit I am not familiar with them. Probably seen ads in railroad magazines. Their site is good and their bridges look great.

Thanks, F

@814pennman , the diorama photos, 5th pic from top, the red shed “dog house,” I see the wood grain on the barrel. Wood or resin barrel, what brand??

I believe that barrel is one from Fine Scale Miniatures (now Railroad Kits) and is a metal barrel.
There is a website you can find for Railroad Kits, and they currently sell these in a packet of 10.
In the following picture is a close-up of similar barrels on the top left row shown.



when I think about all the work he put into scratch building the Masters, I am in awe.