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The Mack “Hoover Dam ” Dump Truck and Marion Steam Shovel, 1931

I’m not really a truck or car modeler, but once in a while I like to build something different. I’ve always been a fan of construction equipment, especially older, cable operated excavators. There’s not much in the way of steam shovel kits (outside of HO 1:87 scale) so I figured I’d take a run at an early excavator in 1:43 scale. I based the excavator on a 1920’s design, the type used to shovel rock during the building of the Hoover Dam.

At the same time I decided to finish a 1:43 scale Mack dump truck also used in the dam’s construction. Someone gave me a diecast Mack hood/radiator assembly, I’m not sure of it’s manufacture. I cut the roof off, removed the wind screen and built a drivers seat as well as an interior. The dump body and front fenders were scratch built from plastic as were the lifting pistons.The head lights, chassis, axels, and tires came out of my scrap box. The side platform and railing was scratchbuilt from brass. Referred to as the “crow’s nest”, the driver would stand on the platform and use hand controls mounted on the steering wheel to raise and empty the dump body. The actual Mack trucks used on the project were refered to as “rock” trucks and were developed especially for the huge project. Strictly off road, these vehicles were the largest trucks in the world at the time and moved over five million cubic yards of stone from the work site.

The steam shovel’s “cabin” and frame work was built from Evergreen plastic sheets.The crawler assembly and crawler treads were cast from resin. The interior contains a scratchbuilt boiler, coal bunker, steam engine, and water tank. But typical of my other models I failed to photograph any of the interior detail before the roof was glued in place. The “dipper” and shovel were found at a model train show and modified with steam piping detail, hand grabs, release chain, among other improvements. I used Testors paint to finish the model. A few of my fellow models have commented the models would look better “weathered” and banged up. I agree that construction equipment models lend themselves to rust and grime but for now they remain factory fresh. But a diorama would be a possibility…

12 additional images. Click to enlarge.

9 responses to The Mack “Hoover Dam ” Dump Truck and Marion Steam Shovel, 1931

  1. Great work Mike. I think you should have a 1/43rd scale pit for them to be in. You should post a scale reference picture. Lookers might not know just how small this scale is.
    Like the bulldog hood ornament.

  2. Really good, imaginative modelling, Mike, but just how big are they? I know that in real life they are huge machines, but, in 1/43 how do they measure up?

  3. Good job Mike really great models. Reminds me of a time when all excavators were “Steam Shovels” ans every truck was a “Mack”

  4. Now that’s scratch building to the max. Not my subject, but I do appreciate good passionate work. This is well done in a small scale. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sorry for not seeing these earlier Mike! Those are really awesome! Being an amateur operator of heavy equipment (I’ve told my family that if they need daycare for me just put me in the cabin of an excavator and they can come back at day’s end and they will still have to pull me out of it 🙂 ).

    I must however point out that the do need some weathering, it doesn’t have to be excessive, just showing some use and wear-and-tear!

    Best regards


    • Hi Magnus

      Don’t apologize, no one else saw these either, based on the few comments they got. I guess if ain’t got wings it’s not worth a look….

      I too like old heavy equipment, mainly crawlers, nothing compares with a D-9 doing any type of work!

      As to weathering, you’re correct, they would look better with some grime on them. I’ll “dirty them up” at some point, but it will be when I put them in a diorama.

      Thanks for your kind words, they’re always appreciated!

  6. Mike,
    Let me add my belated congratulation on a truly magnificent build. I am really impressed with what you have done with these very tiny models. Your modeling skills are top notch.
    We were in LV recently and drove down to Hoover dam just to see the new bridge. On the day we drove there the rain came down the hardest I have ever experienced. Flash flooding in the whole area. Again, I am truly impressed.

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