View Full Version : 1890 Ladder Wagon

03-27-14, 10:08 AM
I am still waiting for the Allerton decals to arrive. However I got the go ahead from Model Expo for the next project a 1890 Ladder Wagon. I photographed and measured the existing wagon at the Wayne County Historical Society and then drew it up in CAD. This is my first experience of having a full size CAD drawing of a subject to build. I have sent the CAD file for the laser cut wood for the frame and wheels. In the meantime I made my own frame rail by wet forming 1/8" x 1/4" basswood stock.

Here is what the real one looks like.


Here is the frame rail laying on the CAD drawing.


Once the frame was constructed I decided to build the most complex components on the wagon, the fifth wheel assembly. Here is the fifth wheel with the front axle and frame attachment in place.


Here is a closeup of a technique I use in soldering in close quarters. The two short braces were formed and filed for a tight fit and clipped in place with small alligator clips. Then I removed the nut that was close to the joint and added Yellow Ochre that protects an area from being soldered. In this case I am protecting the threads and the area at the bottom with the hole. This way I can solder the braces in place for a correct fit. This was also done on the backside as well.

This shows the fifth wheel in place as well as the frame braces. Again the main brace is one piece with the center hole to attach to the fifth wheel and the "V" section formed and soldered in place.

Next I will work on the forward hitch which fits into the two parallel arms on the fifth wheel.

Ken 1gramps1

03-27-14, 11:26 AM
This is the start of another gem!

03-28-14, 03:47 PM
I MUST subscribe to the new thread of the Master.

03-28-14, 04:22 PM
Here is the front hitch setup; can be pulled by a team of men using the rope or a team of horses using a horse hitch indexed in the rings below the hitch.

The oval rings will have the pulling rope fed through them.


Here is the overall hitch facing forward.

Here it is turned with the fifth wheel.

Next I will be working on the axle bracing before getting into the upper frame stuff.

03-31-14, 01:19 PM
Working away on the axle braces and they are slow going since I have to make square nuts where needed for casting in place.

Here are the front right axle braces in place with hex nuts holding them in place and will be replaced later. Anyone have a source for 0-80 square nuts?


Here are the braces themselves the angled ones are for the front while the straight straps are for the rear axle.


Here is the rear axle with braces waiting to be attached.


Tomorrow I will be off to California for my granddaughter's baptism and visit with our daughter in Morro Bay.

04-17-14, 11:04 AM
I added the frame braces from the front axle to the rear axle that help with the beam strength. This concept of stiffing was used on early cars as well. Here you can also see the running boards for the men to stand on.


Here is the rear axle cross bracing; next I will be adding the cross bracing for the running boards. These wagons required a great deal of bracing to have enough strength to carry the loads of ladders and people.

Now back to more bracing, I will finish all the structure below the frame first and then work on the upper structure that carried the ladders.

04-17-14, 01:52 PM
Anyone have a source for 0-80 square nuts?

Can't you center drill a square rod, then inner-thread it and part a piece off on the lathe?
Just my two cents.

04-17-14, 03:32 PM

Yes you are correct; however to chuck a square rod I need a four jaw self centering chuck for my lathe which I do not own now but will in the near future.
Thanks for the thought! 1thumbup1


04-28-14, 12:21 PM
In have been busy while the site was down.

Here is a overall left side view.

Here is a left front view.


Here is the front axle turned. Keep in mind this was a wagon pulled by men. The oval shapes were hand grips to maneuver the wagon at the scene.


This shows the rope reel and the two grooves were to start the ends of the rope once they were passed through the to oval hand grips.


This shows the rope reel locking pins in place. Only enough rope was let out for the number of men to pull the wagon and then the pins were put back in place to lock the reel in place.


Now onto the metal ladder parts; I hope to have the main large ladder function with the crank handle and pulley to extend the ladder. The main ladder rested on the inclined rollers and was unloaded from the rear of the wagon while shorter one piece ladders rested on the wood cross members.

04-28-14, 01:02 PM
What is your secret in making two (or more) identical parts like the rope reel supports? They need to be exact matches because the smallest difference will show in either height or curvature, with the rope reel "hanging" in a very awkward way as a result.

04-28-14, 01:58 PM
Dominique, there is no secret just careful building two at the same time. For example on the front reel support brackets I cut two lengths of bar stock then bent the 90 degree bends first. The two were then cut to the same height and the round pivots were soldered in place. Then the two short lengths were then cut and soldered in place and filed to match while side by side with a piece of 1/8 diameter rod through the pivot holes. Next the top of the short bar was drilled with a 1/32" drill bit to provide a mechanical interlock with the rod. Then I turned the ends of two 1/16" rods down to 1/32" to insert into the holes on the top of the bar. Next I annealed the two turned ends of the 1/16" rods to allow for easier bending. I then bent the rod ends to the curve using needle nose pliers and soldered them in place. I then bent the rear length to match on the frame and cut off the excess.

The key is to do both at the same time with a bit of patience to get them to match.

I hope this helps.

04-28-14, 03:41 PM
I knew I am missing something: something called "patience" gringrin

Thanks Ken, clear as a whistle. I guess I am still struggling with the "translation" from kit building to brass scratch building.
Sometimes I don't see those small steps you need to be aware of when you have to break down the parts into smaller bits or actions.
But it will come ...

05-01-14, 10:40 AM
Here is a benefit of working with CAD that I have come to enjoy. The wood frame is an arc and the three ladder rollers must each align on a straight line. The result of working on the drawing was the elimination of a great deal of trial and error fitting. This fit the first time.


Here is the close up of the locking pins for the rope reel. Only so much rope was let out for the number of men pulling and then the pins were inserted so there was no excess rope. The pin would stop against the support frame.
I wonder what the calorie burn was running up a hill pulling this?

Still waiting for the laser cut parts for the ladder frame with all the holes for the rungs; so I started on the metal parts for the ladder. Here is the top rope pulley for the main ladder. The wing nut is threaded 0-80 threads.


Here is a breakdown of the pulley assembly the wood part is the top rung of the ladder. The threads are 0-80 and should be duplicated in the white metal casting.


Now back to other metal ladder parts.

05-03-14, 04:22 AM
I'm enjoying this Ken.

05-03-14, 09:36 AM
Tage, glad to hear you are enjoying; perhaps you will buy the kit when available. Dominique following is a sequence to give you an idea of making multiple parts.

Here are two ladder stops. I turned two round pieces and also formed two stops and soldered them to match each other. Now the trick was to solder them together so that the angles matched each other. I placed both on double sided carpet tape that was applied to a piece of scrap plywood.http://www.scalemotorcars.com/gallery/data/941/LW_Ladder_stops_01.jpg

Here they are soldered together. Note that I flooded the joint with excess solder once they were joined so I would have enough solder to form radii. First solder the two joints with a very hot iron while holding the round piece with a scribe so as not to move. You have to be quick because the carpet tape adhesive breaks down with heat. Move back and forth between the two assemblies until completed.

This shows them with all the excess solder filed off to form the radii. The solder withstands the 380 degrees for the vulcanized molds. The round holes the rod is through are then filed to square holes using a square needle file again with patience to make sure they maintain their alignment with each other.


Here you can see the square holes as well as the rope arm to rotate the assembly when mounted in the ladder frame. Also my 4 jaw chuck arrived and I turned the ends of the square rod that will index into the ladder frame. I used a U.S. penny for scale reference.

Here are the parts so far ready to add to the wood frame. Here the square nut and wing nut are threaded 0-80.

Now onto more ladder parts.

05-04-14, 02:05 PM
Thanks, Ken. I appreciate the effort in documenting every step in detail.
Great work as always, and enjoying every single bit of it.

05-07-14, 01:09 PM
I wouldn't mind a set of those drawings. Looks great.

05-07-14, 09:20 PM

Unfortunately I am under contract with Model Expo so I cannot share; however a set of the drawings will come with the kit when introduced in the fall.

05-08-14, 09:57 AM
A package of goodies arrived yesterday from Model Expo and one of the items was scale rope. I had trying to wrap the rope onto the reel dry and it just had too much spring in it. So I started wetting it with water, I mean really soaking it and it felt a little slimmy; there must be some kind starch in the processing of the rope itself. Anyway once soaked thoroughly it wound one much easier although at times I wish I had a third hand. Keep in mind I had to do some math to calculate the length needed which ended up at 74 inches. The ends were feed through the hand holds and then glued to the reel. Then the wrapping started to end in the right position and have the reel stops work at the correct position.

Here is a view of the rope in place.


Also in the package were the laser cut Basswood parts for the frame and ladders.

Here is the frame glued together and I will be using this frame to write the instructions. The parts were dead on and I could press fit the cross members into the assembled wagon. The main frame will be painted red.

Here are the ladder parts sanded and ready to stain. These will have a wood stain finish rather than be painted red like the frame. My research shows most of the ladders were treated with a marine varnish which makes sense given the water environment they were used in. Look at all the holes.

Now off to stain the ladder parts.

05-08-14, 01:28 PM
Amazing work!

05-11-14, 08:39 AM
While waiting for 1/8" dowels to come I have dry fitted the ladder together using 1/8" brass tube. Here is the stained and clear coated ladder sections in place with the two side rails glued to the bottom section to form a slide for the top ladder. My hope is to have a functioning ladder when done. The rope pulley will seat against the top rung shown here.

Here is the center section and shows the track formed by the side rails glued in place.
Here is the rear center section section that shows the track a little better. The two side pieces resting on the wood cross members will be a shorter ladder to reach a second story without using the large ladder.

Next I will make the balance of the parts for the ladders both wood and metal. I wood dowels from the DYI suppliers are really 7/64" an just enough variance to not work.

Also I am using water based stain and clear coat for the wood pieces for glue adhesion purposes. Solvent based stains will breakdown over time. I also stain all the parts and clear coat before assembling with glue; if you use CA it seals the wood and then when you stain you end up with light spots that are unstained.

05-11-14, 05:36 PM
Nice Work Ken, is this a horsedrawn wagon to ? any connection to the steamwagon apart from the years.

05-11-14, 08:27 PM

This wagon was pulled by men, hence no driver seat. The rope was let out for the number of men pulling and then the reel was locked in position. The men would be in the middle of the rope loop and grab the rope with each hand. Once at the site the rope was reeled up and then the hand grips in the front that the rope passes through were used to maneuver once at the fire. Somewhat of a clever design.

This would have been tough on hills I think.


05-16-14, 04:24 PM
I have been busy building ladders and ladder parts. Here is a "in progress" extended 39" ladder. Next besides a little more fussing I need to make the pulley that winds up the rope and extends the ladder. This is as high as it will go. I am still trying to sort out how the rope is rigged to release the stops. Right now the top pulley works smooth as the ladder extends.


05-17-14, 11:15 AM
WOW 1nworthy11nworthy11nworthy1

05-20-14, 10:08 AM
We now have a functioning ladder extended by using the crank handle. Here is the crank handle in place. The short rope limits the travel of the ladder stops so they engage the rung.


Here is a view showing th rope rigging parts and how the ropes are attached. The top rope goes up and through the top pulley then loops back to the crank mechanism. There will be a second rope that releases the stops to let the ladder down.

Here is a close up of the lift arms. The rings are like a universal joint for these lifting arms.

Here is a step back view of the lifting arm. The ladder would be removed from the wagon and laid on the ground. Then four or five men would man each arm and lift the ladder into position and the arms would form a tripod if necessary. These guys were strong to lift after pulling the wagon to the site.

http://www.scalemotorcars.com/gallery/data/941/LW_Lifting_arm_02.jpg Now back to finishing up more ladder parts, and the lifting system works perfect.

05-21-14, 08:50 AM
Here I have stained the lifting arms and wanted to follow up on the previous post. Here are two views of how the lifting arms worked. Of course there are many various positions for the arms but this shows them with the ladder fully extended.


Here is a different view. If you look close you can see the rope wraped around neatly of the crank mechanism. Perhaps if there are any firemen reading they can provide the offical name for these arms.


05-29-14, 08:24 AM
I have been busy making small items and still have to make many more square bolts and nuts as masters for casting. Here is an example of the "Hook" from the term Hook and Ladder Wagon. First I sawed the perimeter of the hook shape then I used a blue marker on both sides to use as reference as I hand filed the cutting edge on both sides. This helps in using reflective light to get an accurate cut edge. Then I sawed a notch to receive the hook in the end of a round bar and turned the shank to the correct size and taper.


Here are the two parts soldered together and using Staybrite solder filed for the final shaping. A hole was drilled in the end of the wood dowel to recive the hook.


Here are the cleats that are at the bottom of the main ladder that dug into the ground to keep the ladder from slipping. Here is where my new four jaw lathe chuck was used to turn square stock to make nuts and bolts. Many of these will be soldered in place on the masters for casting like these are. Each bolt is indexed into a hole using a turned shaft that sticks through the part and is soldered on the backside and then the excess shaft is cut off.


Here are the two models side by side for comparision. As you can see the ladder wagon is a great companion for the Allerton Steam Pumper. Look under the main ladder and you can see the second one floor ladder. The main frame will be painted red which is unpainted in this picture.


Here is another view looking down. The length of the ladder wagon as it sits here is 26.5 inches long.


Now to finish up a bunch of square nuts and bolts as masters for casting. I will then photograph many details for reference while writing the assembly instructions until I get back the cast parts for the production proof. Then dissassemble and clean up any parts that need it and send off for casting. I am still amazed that men pulled this wagon to the scene of the fire back then.

05-29-14, 10:50 AM
That was back when men were tough and fire knew better then to mess with them...that's my story and I'm stickin to it!

06-04-14, 02:12 PM
Just finished up making the simulated square bolts on my new 4 jaw chuck. Here are some of the bolts both square and round headed. The nuts will be photoetched.


Here is a view of the froward half showing the rope pulley and ladders in place.

Here is the rear half of the wagon showing the lift arms in the clips.

Here is another front view.


Now to disassemble, clean up the brass parts and ship them for casting.

06-06-14, 10:39 AM
Sorry I have missed the progress on this project. This site is not easy to use and I just stumbled across "recent" photos on the home page and finally found this project. It looks great. Love the photos of the ladder deployed against the wall - brings back memories of the 45' one I used to have to wrestle with - thankfully only in practice like I told you previously - never had to use it at a fire as that rig went into reserve within a year of my joining the dept.

This will make a great model - can't wait to show this to the other reetired guys at our next breakfast.

Take care,

06-10-14, 08:10 PM
Thanks and yes it is going to be a great kit to compliment the Allerton. The ladder was fun to build and especially to get it to work.
I am sure some builders will have fun with it. Just plugging away on the final drawings and few little details.


07-09-14, 10:58 PM
Finally back on line after a move to Morro Bay, California. We packed up after our house sold in Wooster, Ohio and headed west for a five day leisurly drive across this great land including a visit to the Grand Canyon. That is one big hole in the ground! Arrived in Morro Bay to find that our new house was flipped in 10 days by our wonderful daughter and son-in-law. Popcorn ceiling scrapped flat and painted, new bamboo wood flooring throughout living room, dinning room and kitchen. All bedrooms with new carpeting and the garage studio floor expoy painted and last but not least a small stack of bills. The moving was not without pitfalls; the moving company Atlas split our household goods into two loads with 2/3's arriving on time; however the rest with all my shop, computer monitor and dinning table etc...has yet to arrive and we are told perhaps this Saturday. I have rigged one of my TV's to be my computer monitor to finally get online.

We bought the house here sight unseen through our daughter and Skype; she walked through the house with her laptop. Well the house has more than exceeded our expectations with a beautiful pastoral scene out our bedroom window with five layers of rolling hills off in the distance. We were greeted at our back fence by two stallions that walk/run the pasture. In front of the house we have a panoramic view of house tops (we are at the top of a hill) top off with an ocean view that we are told we will be able to see whales sounding.

Anyway once my shop arrives and is back in working order I will be back to the ladder wagon. For those that wish my new email it is kenforan@charter.net


07-13-14, 05:35 PM
The new place sounds great. Looks like you got more than you anticipated - the view must be terrific.
I finally got the chance to use the Yellow Ochre when soldering up a sailboat's mast/boom gooseneck. I was altering an old AJ Fisher piece and the fit for the boom pin was sloppy and the piece needed to be reinforced. Before reading your book and finding out about the use of the Yellow Ochre as an anti-flux I would have had to drill out the hole for the boom pin but by coating the boom pin with the Yellow Ochre I was able to use the pin to size the hole - the solder flowed everyplace it needed to go to reinforce the part and when it cooled I just pulled the pin out and had a nice fit. What a time saver.
Hope the shop arrives soon and you get back in operation - I have missed updates on the ladder wagon.

07-14-14, 01:18 PM
Glad to hear about your success with the use of yellow ochre, it is a great process that seems to have been kept secret or just lost with the lack of new silversmiths in the education arena. My wife shared this with me and she has a BFA. degree in Sivlersmithing and taught it for ten years.
The balance of our stuff arrived Saturday morning so we spent the entire day trying to fit 10 lbs of stuff into a 3lb. bag. The workdesks and benches are in place and equipment plugged in and working. Now the next couple of days will be like Christmas opening boxes to find out what is inside.

Yes the views are spectacular, Friday afternoon the whales put on a great show out front. With binoculars we watched from our living room their sounding and jumping; one even rolled in the water with a fin straight up in the air as if waving.

Now back to sorting out the goods.


09-07-14, 12:27 PM

I have been busy completeing the plan drawings for the Ladder Wagon in between house renovation projects. I am also learning the new area here in Morro Bay, California and have finally located a hobby shop in Atascadero about 20 miles away. Mostly targeting RC planes and cars; but has supplies, tools and a great paint selection. Rumor has it that the ALLerton may be released in October.

09-08-14, 10:43 AM
Good to see you back to work on the ladder wagon - probably a nice break from the renovations and getting settled in.

09-08-14, 06:02 PM
Kurt, you are correct on that; breaks for the eyes are needed drawing in CAD and zooming in and out constantly. It looks like the next project is going to be a horse drawn hearse.

09-11-14, 04:31 PM
The cast parts have finally arrived. Here are bags of assorted parts. At a glance they look great even though some of the bracing pieces are bent up which is caused by removal from the mold they are easily straighened out as needed.
Now to start the "proof of Production" model using all production parts from the kit.


09-12-14, 10:15 AM
Great to see you back Ken. Looking forward to the build.

09-13-14, 04:40 PM
Daniel, great to be back after a cross the country move, new computer setups and setting the new studio with proper lighting and and electrical outlets.
Here is an image of the front axle and fifth wheel assembly. The red frame is wood along with the axle brace; the cast metal parts are painted satin black.


Here it is up on wheels for the first time with all the cast parts fitting perfectly.


A side view of the front half. Now back to finishing parts and writing the assembly instructions.


09-16-14, 04:38 PM
NICE! This looks like it will be another super kit. The cast parts appear to have held up good compared to the masters. Makes a very nice model so far. I hope the ladder comes out as well - all the laser cutting char can be an issue.

09-17-14, 09:58 PM
Yes the parts are holding up; however there are some of the normal issues with this type of casting process, minor voids, offset parting lines and some surface texture and thin parts being bent. All are easily corrected with files and sanding sticks. Here is a good example of the quality of most of the parts. These are 0-80 threads on the pulley yoke.

I am still plugging away on the assembly instructions and have also to do an individual parts drawing. Already starting to think about the next project.

09-18-14, 10:44 AM
Very good quality of casting when the threads are reproduced so well. What's the next project?

09-18-14, 06:25 PM
Kurt, he is a sneak preview, I still have to do the ropes for the man pull and ladder. Then finish all the instructions and one parts drawing.



09-19-14, 03:06 PM
The next project will be a horse drawn hearse similiar to this.


09-19-14, 05:50 PM
Okayie. With a smelly stiff in a casket, cool, I have seen some very decorated hearses of Kings and selebs.

09-20-14, 04:38 PM
The build is now done with all the production parts; this is what the kit will look like. Now to work on the assembly instructions.

26998 26999


09-28-14, 12:45 PM
Fantastic work on the ladder wagon. The hearse should be a great model too.
Sorry for the delay in responding - I didn't notice the new page after my inquiry.

10-03-14, 02:07 PM
Kurt thanks for you compliment. I am just about wrapping up the Ladder Wagon project. This morning I finished up the Parts drawing; next will be final proofing of the assembly instructions. Files are too large to post here.

10-03-14, 06:27 PM
Kurt here is a work around to make a smaller file. This is the parts layout that will come with the kit.


10-05-14, 06:17 PM
At last it is here. This is the sell sheet on their website.

10-07-14, 09:35 AM
Nice layout. I like it when there is a full size drawing to compare parts to and match angles if wire needs to be bent or soft metal castings straightened. I see they are taking orders for the steam pumper's pending release.

10-07-14, 12:29 PM
Yes, and they also use it to add parts to for the kits; that no parts are missing. I tried to post a link to their web site but got rejected here. Goggle Model Expo and on their search plug in MS6006 and the sell page will come up.

I am almost finished with the Ladder Wagon doing last reviews on everything. Then it will be on to the hearse. I think I may have found a real one in San Luis Obispo owned and operated by a funeral home.

Have a great day!

10-21-14, 12:58 PM
I got a call from John at ME - the steam pumper was mailed to me today. Can't wait to open the box and get started. Might have some questions for you after that.

10-21-14, 01:32 PM
Great news let me know how it arrives and what condition the cast parts are. You better get the Krylon Foil paints so you are ready to go when the box arrives.

10-26-14, 11:58 AM
Just got a notice that it wasn't mailed - it's a typical back order message saying 11-06 for shipping. I will have to call John and see if there was miscommunication and the shipping people thought it was a sale kit or something. Will be getting some of the Krylon paint next trip to Home Depot or Menard's.

10-27-14, 10:17 PM
Kurt, you might have better luck finding it at a craft store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Last I heard was they are packing out production kits. They now have all that is needed on the Ladder Wagon.

I have started on the hearse doing CAD drawings. I located a 1892 hearse in San Luis Obispo; it has way too much ornamentation for a cost effective kit but I am using all the dimensions from it. Here is a front view and a detail.


11-01-14, 06:26 PM
The steam pumper arrived yesterday. All 6+ pounds of it. Got everything inventoried, put into plastic storage boxes with dividers (Plano clear boxes) and have started to read the instructions in between doing some clean up on the cast pieces as you said would be needed. Nothing major. Will get the Krylon foil paints tomorrow but the rest will be airbrushed using Badger acrylics.
A very impressive kit overall. Will have to see if I can drill out the hose couplings and the bore of the nozzles. The wrapping for the nozzles is really a nice inclusion but I think I will need to tone down the shiny appearance of the wrap material as it's kind of shiny.
I am doing a thorough read of the instructions before starting anything other than cleaning up parts. Nice photos in the instructions too. Sure glad they are doing them in color.
Take care,

11-02-14, 12:12 PM
Kurt, Glad to hear it arrived. When I get parts they are just stuffed into zip loc bags no instructions. The foil paints will really make a difference for the metallic finishes. The Satin spray will knock down the shine of the thread. I never see the actual kit when completed so I am not sure what they used. I make suggestions and supply samples but they have the final say. You should think of doing a build thread for the benefit of others.

I am getting close of completing the CAD drawings for the Hearse; this will be another fun one.

11-02-14, 02:29 PM
I found a few things in the instruction that I would like to go over with you privately. In my computer meltdown I lost your email address. If you would email me with your address I would appreciate it. My email is - k*u*r*t*at*model*ship*yard*dotcom - disregard the *'s and insert the @ and the . - hope that keeps the robo spammers at bay.

07-28-15, 03:04 PM
Hi Ken, what the scale of the hearse,?It is a big challenge, much work of sculpture to fazer.Jose

08-03-15, 01:45 PM
Jose, it will be 1/12 scale with the ornamentation being simplified with laser cutting to keep the kit cost effective.

11-06-17, 04:43 PM
Finally in production and available to purchase! Here is a link to it: