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The Dromedary: 1953 Kenworth COE

February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

The American Highway Safety Administration defines a dromedary (“drom”) as a “box, deck, or plate mounted behind the cab and forward of the fifth wheel on the chassis of the power unit of a tractor/semi trailer combination”. Swedish truckers often refer to their drom area as a “rucksack” while New Zealand’s truckers describe theirs as a “hungry tray”. Examples of drom tractors can be found in areas as diverse as Austraila, Sweden, Canada, and the USA but the concept is thought to have originated on the West Coast of the United States in 1950. In that era operators hauling semi-trailers built to the dimensions of the day, favored the idea that the overall length laws allowed bigger outfits than they were using. The answer, in some operations, was to install a drom box. This enabled companies to stick with existing trailers but to haul additional freight aboard their long wheelbase tractors. Basically in the States it was a means to haul more revenue-earning freight while staying with standard length trailers and comply with local laws regulating over the road weight laws on highways.

The Model

I’m not a “gear head” modeler but I began to collect diecast tractor trailers some years back. They were produced by the First Gear company and featured older American truck styles and “fallen flag” freight companies. The one truck style they never offered was a dromedary, a very common “rig” in the American West. I took a 1953 Kenworth COE (cab over engine) as a starting point. Brass channel was used to lengthen the frame: the saddle tanks, toolboxes and sanders were built from Evergreen plastic. The box was built using Evergreen sheet plastic, covered with bare metal foil and classification lights were added. The cab was stripped, primed, and repainted gloss red. It was finished with lettering decals made on my computer.

10 additional images. Click to enlarge

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15 responses to The Dromedary: 1953 Kenworth COE

  1. A beautiful job, Mike, but way too much work, although the results were worth it !

  2. Mike,
    Excellent and a true example of your stunning craftsmanship. If this was photographed in a proper setting it would look real.

  3. Great-lookin’ build, Mike. Well done!

  4. Nice job Mike, makes me want to go out and buy a Yorkie Bar and fire up the C.B. radio.
    Your skills in building are very evident here, loverly finish.
    Well done Mike.

  5. This is seriously impressive modelling, Mike, using all your skill and imagination to the full.

  6. Very well done & attractive model. If it started as a First Gear die cast is it 1/28th scale?
    Here in the Midwest a conventional cab chassis that carried a 110″? sleeper that was called a drom box.
    They have all the fixin’s of home.

  7. A off beat informative article with a professional build. Neat Kenworth that looks very modern and contemporary for its time.

    Two thumbs up and “I like it “

  8. Really nice work, your skills and talent are really cooking on this one. Frank’s right that posed properly outside, you could pass it off as real.

    I used to hate coming around a curve to find one of these monsters on the road ahead of me. 🙂

  9. Mike, you build some really stunning models and this is no exception! You need to figure out a way to add sound effects to your post so we can hear a good and loud horn blast!

  10. Mike, what a beautiful model, and what an informative story to go with it. You are the complete modeler, able to tackle anything! Is Associated Transport one of the ‘fallen flag” companies? Just curious, but would a fully loaded dromedary setup like this be as safe as a standard cab and trailer, with fewer wheels to support the weight? Thanks so much for posting.

    • Rob
      thanks for the kind words. Yes, Associated is a “fallen flag” trucking company. I believe it was forcibly merged with another freight trucking firm. Many companies in the trucking business would merge (or buy out) another company in a different area to increase it’s routes and thus more profits. The small local trucker firms were gobbled up by larger firms until there are a few giant freight companies left in the USA.

    • Rob
      in answer to your second question: the more axels and the corresponding wheels the better the weight distribution. I’m sure you’ve seen mega-movers, trailers with 144 wheels carrying an entire building to a new location. The drom was conceived to meet individual western states’ restrictions on the amount of weight a bridge, overpass or highway section can tolerate. Tandem trailer rigs, pulled by a conventional tractor might not meet weight and length regulations in some states but the drom got around the restrictions.

  11. Wow. I hunted with the head of AT and his son as a kid. Sorry to have lost track of them as they’d be thrilled to see your work. Great looking model!

  12. wow i have one almost exact down to the sanders it was done by don mills models its a global van lines that started out as a first gear truck what a beautiful job u both did both should be in a museum

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