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Painting & Detailing a Fire Truck

Why settle for this...

When you can have this?

Here is a fire truck that I bought off of eBay.  It came as a kit where I had to paint it and attach the wheels and molded hoses for the side and bed of the vehicle.

I started off by painting the entire fire truck red.  Once that dried, I used painters tape to mask off the bottom portion and spray painted the top white.  Usually you start off with the lighter color and mask that off, but it would've been hard to accurately mask off the top portion.  I used a couple of toothpicks with sticky tack so I could hold it without spraying my fingers.

I mounted the wheels and hoses to a strip of plastic using sticky tack and spray painted those black.


Next I felt the urge to paint chrome trim around the bottom and the control area towards the front of the truck.  I also painted the wheels chome.  Model Master makes a paint called "Chrome" and it looks just like it has been chrome plated.

Left side

Right side




Wheels and Hoses

After looking at several picture online, I decided that I liked the look of the fire trucks that had a some sort of strip or design along the side.  I decided to go with a simple stripe.  I used painters tape to mask off the fire truck so that only a strip on each side was showing.  Then I gave it a shot with white spray paint.

Time for some hoses!  The hoses were ok, but didn't have much of a rounded appearance and didn't really look to scale.

I used left over shrink tubing to make the side hoses.  The shrink tubing was 1mm and had a shrink ratio of 1:2 meaning that after I heat it, it will be half the size, or .5mm.  I used a lighter to heat it.  It works fine, but make sure not to catch the tubing on fire!  You could also use the rubber insulation from a wire by stripping it off.


I painted a little Model Master "Steel" around the ends of the tubes to represent the metal fitting for the hoses.

I didn't just want to glue them right onto the fire truck because then the top hose would just look like it was floating above the other.  I decided to cut a small strip of styrene and painted it Steel.  Since a piece this small doesn't have enough surface area to be glued to the truck alone, I decided to put caulk all over that side and the two hoses held the strip firmly in place.

While the hoses on the side of the fire truck are supposed to be round, the hoses in the bed in the back are supposed to lie flat.  I wanted to be able to show that there was more than one row of hoses so I had to get creative.  I ended up using Microsoft Paint and made a few strips of yellow and a few strips of an off-white color.  Then I used the line tool to create lines.  I did a few different examples and spaced the line differently and would use which one I liked best.  Then I printed it out and it was time to fold.

I first cut the yellow paper hoses to the width I wanted.  Then I folded them until I got a height I felt was good.  Next I used a toothpick to place a small amount of caulk between the folds, pressed it all together, and removed any glue that squeezed out.

I repeated the process for the smaller off-white hoses.  Instead of cutting it to the very thin width I desired, I cut it and folded it wider than what I wanted.  It would have been very hard to fold it if it were that tiny.  Instead, I glued it and let it dry first and then used an X-Acto knife to cut off the size that I wanted.

When I was all done I cut a small strip of styrene and painted it "Steel" a Model Master color.  I glued the bottom hose to the truck, followed by the steel platform, and lastly, the top hose.

Here's a picture of all of the hoses glued in place

Here's a picture from the other side wit the hoses in the middle painted flat black.

The kit also came with a tiny metal ladder to go on the opposite side of the hoses.  I didn't want to just glue it directly to the fire truck as that would cause glue to go everywhere and would really mess up the final appearance.  I decided that I would cut "T" shape mounts out of styrene that I would then pass through the ladder's rungs and glue those to the side of the truck so that the "T" portion would be holding the ladder onto the truck.

Finally it was time to glue the wheels on.  To this I set the fire truck on a strip of styrene that was on a hard surface.  I wound up using 2 strips to get the body of the truck to a good height so I could fit the wheels in the wheel wells.  I used a little CA (AKA crazy) glue to glue each wheel on.

I do not recommend gluing wheels on any vehicle by placing it on its side or holding it in the air.  You want to make sure that all of the wheels will be making contact with the surface at the same time so they must all be the same height.  If you don't you'll wind up with a vehicle that teeters when you touch it.  Not to mention it won't look great when one wheel doesn't hit the ground.

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