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- Diecast Restoration
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The Tri-ang Junior truck range was very diverse and many versions of the same truck chassis cab was produced, the range was released in 1958 with seven different bodies and was produced until 1968.
My first one came via Ebay, it came in bits and partly stripped, here is the picture from the original Ebay listing showing the Tri-ang Junior crane truck, this is a very collectable toy in good condition and have seen one other on Ebay for £120.00, for a fraction of the price I will have a restored example for my own collection.
It was a risk but looked almost complete, the hook was missing along with the original cab head board so took a chance on it.
To me, restoration is not always restoring to original specification as tooling used on the toys and models are very rarely available, but getting near to the original is better than not at all, besides it’s for me not a purest collector.
In some cases you need to be inventive and creative to make parts or see uses in other materials to finish your project, such is the case with this Triang Junior crane truck, here I will go through the processes I use to get a good finished truck at the end of it.
Here it is in the paint shop, re-assembled for this picture and to see if it all fits ok.
The chrome grill is in great condition but not perfect, the bonnet clip however should be chrome and just rusty, the remainder is all as expected including new decals good wheels, axle’s and even the end caps are all here.
The stripping is not up to my standards but it has given me the original colours I will need.
The crane arm was yellow and have matched that .
The chassis/cab was white, although now cream, Tri-ang used a bright white, the truck bed has signs of red so will match those colours too.
The Triang decals are waterslide and I will copy the artwork before I use them giving me the option of making more.
The first task will be stripping the metalwork properly and dismantling the cranes arm ready for paint.
The chassis and cab still has paint inside, now I’m not being fussy but as this is old paint and don’t know the type used, re-painting over old paint could react with the new paint so it all has to come off, the cab and chassis ideally should be separated for this and is fixed as follows;
At the front are two tabs bent over, these need straightening out with a small screwdriver as seen below.
The back of the cab however has been spot welded.
This is why I say ideally it should be removed, if your not confident with doing this then don’t, you could wreck your truck.
I used to work in a car bodyshop and the time honoured method of removing panels that have been spot welded is to drill them out, this is what I am going to do, looking at the picture above you can see the spot welds are in no way centre of the tabs so I will be using a smaller drill followed by hammer and chisel to break the weld.
The metal is strong stuff but will bend if not supported correctly so be careful, once parted I straightened the tabs, I’m not worried about the drill holes as these will go once welded back together, the dismantling process is to remove all the paint and will be welded back together before the re-paint.
For stripping diecast I usually use caustic soda, there isn’t much it won’t remove from metal, but as it’s a big truck and old paint decided to use paint stripper, an hour later, nothing, not even a blister.
So back the the trusty caustic soda and ten minutes later you can see the water has gone creamy white, a sign the paint is dissolving.
Stripping the paint is done with caustic soda, and have been using this method now with great results but I have to give out a few warnings here as it can also be very dangerous.
1, NEVER add water to caustic soda, ALWAYS add the soda to the water slowly.
2, ALWAYS wear good gloves and goggles, caustic soda WILL burn you if splashes come into contact with skin and eyes.
3, NEVER add more than recommended, as the reaction will explode caustic water everywhere, I know I did this by mistake by adding all of it at once.
Start by putting your casting into a suitable container then add boiling water, just enough to cover the casting.
I also hook bent welding rods around the castings so I can retrieve them from the mixture once done or a hooked rod to fish it out NEVER put your hand in the mixture even once it has stopped bubbling.
Something this size will need about 4 tablespoons full, sprinkle it in slowly and leave for as long as you want although 25 minutes should be more than enough.
After leaving for 25 minutes I fished it out with a bent welding rod and put it into a bucket of clean cold water, this will neutralise the caustic soda and can then be handled, once dried off with a rag this is what we have, one spotlessly clean cab.
You may be able to see a few small rust tracks still visable, these will be treated with an oxidising solution to prevent future rusting.
Once the chassis was stripped and cleaned and the cab and chassis were welded back together, a good few coats of primer was applied.
Although some will say you should use white primer for a white finish, I have used a high build primer which only comes in grey, in spray cans, this will show up any deep scratches or marks I may want to fill before painting, remember I didn’t strip most of this, straight away marks in the roof showed up and a few dings in the side, with high build primer you can sand out deep marks and re-coat as many times as you like, this avoids any unnecessary filling.
In the mean time, I have found someone on Ebay selling the grill and bonnet strip in chrome and brand new, so have ordered a set.
Although my grill is ok, this will be better and the bonnet strip is what I am really after, if you are looking for one of these click on the following link, Tri-ang Junior grill kit
After checking the shell for marks and dents I sanded the primer to show them up, here below are the worse one’s.
For this I use car body filler, only a tiny amount is needed but will approve the finish no end.
Once I’m happy with the repairs and a re-coat of primer, any minor marks are filled with car body stopper, this is a fine putty great for scratches and minor marks, especially old rust pitting marks.
Once dry, sand again this time with 500 grit wet & dry paper, again once happy with the finish re-prime at least with four good coats, with a truck this size you can then lightly sand the primer with wet & dry before the final colour is painted.
Next we can add the colours.
Firstly I do the backs and bottoms after rubbing down the primer with 500 wet & dry, get this right first then leave a few days, don’t do more than one colour at a time as overspray could taint the other, do one colour and move clear of the working room.
The top of the truck bed had about three or four coats then left for 24 hours, I then rub down with 500 wet & dry just to even up the surface, then another four coats and this is the result with a spray can, following this procedure requires no lacquer or polishing.
In the mean time my attention turned to the other small parts, although I have a new grill and bonnet clip (see above) other parts although decent need something doing to them, the axles are ok and the end caps are chrome and should clean up, the rest may need plating.
For sometime I have been using a local company for zinc plating but they are slow with small parts and expensive, so now decided to plate my own parts and on that basis have just ordered an entire zinc & nickel alloy plating kit, ok, it wasn’t cheap but they say I can get over 37000 cm of plating out of the kit before I need to replace anything, could last a while then, it’s a big capacity kit and ideal for real car and bike restorers, so you don’t need such a big kit just for model parts but my intentions are wider ranging.
The kit arrived and didn’t take long to set up, it has two gallon tanks for each process, I have done plating before so this was easy, after a few tests I plated the parts for the truck.
These are straight from the plating tank and clear passivate dipped, the plating is far brighter than this picture shows.
The white body colour has been done with a small spot repair spray gun, the main reason is I have Ford diamond white in car paint, so rather than buy extra spray cans decided to use the paint in the tin, these small spray guns are only about £20 and can be used with a small compressor, it is just as easy to use spray cans if this is your only route, again 4 coats then rub down with 500 wet & dry then another four coats, with the spray gun I reduced the coats because I can control the coverage.
The spot repair gun is on the left shown against one of my standard size spray guns.
With the white painting done I will now leave a few days and can then re-assemble the white body and grill and add the truck bed.
In the mean time I started thinking about the crane, this is stripped and primed but before I did this the pin shown in the picture on the left below was carefully removed, this is where the pulley and fitting for the hook goes, I don’t have this part and can not get one so will be making one from scratch.
Once the paint has hardened, I left it a week before this next stage, the reassembly can begin.
Firstly the wheels and axles were replaced after buffing up the chrome caps.
The new grill and bonnet clip were carefully positioned and fitted and the truck bed put in place, now after some thought I decided not to bend down the tabs for the truck bed just yet until the crane is ready for fitting, just in case I need to get underneath the bed for the rivets.
I was intending to use blind pop rivets but now considering nickle plated bifurcated rivets which means I will need to get under the bed.
Bifurcated rivets are easy to obtain and come in many sizes and finishes, the rivet is split at the bottom so when fitted can be opened up with simple tools to make an effective replacement for many older style machine fitted rivets.
Small set screws with nuts or nuts and bolts can also be used and again are available in small sizes, this maybe the route I take yet depending on access.
Next the crane, because this needs painting all the way round in one go, I have made up a simple wooden support for the crane parts and suspended from a large screw, this way I can get all around the part and spray evenly, yellow is a hard colour to get good coverage, but the more coats you do the better and more solid the finish.
With the crane parts painted, the main assembly can begin, I will leave the yellow paint a week before attempting this final stage.
With all the sub-assemblies done, you can now see all the work coming together.
The crane needs riveting to the deck but I have not got any rivets the right length so have had to order some.
The holes in the cab roof should have a head board, these can be obtained as replica’s from the Triang website but are currently out of stock, but do check if it’s what your after as since writing this the stock may of been added.
Then all that will remain is to make the crane pulley system from scratch, I have seen pictures of what should be there, and intend using a Meccano pully for this which looks about the right size, more on this when I construct it, to see how the pully system should look click here for the Triang junior trucks page.
Next time you see this truck, the decals will be on and the whole truck put together.
This page will be updated once the next stage is completed.
See also, Marx Lumar crane restoration