Fatjack's - Diesel Smoke & Dreams

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What makes a model built by Fatjack’s LargeCars special?

  • Custom models from Fatjack’s LargeCars are much more than simply gluing on a bunch of stuff. Each truck is truly hand-crafted one at a time. Most are built-up beginning with a bare frame.
  • Meticulous attention to detail is given to every aspect of construction of the model, and accuracy in the detailing is of utmost importance.
  • My primary goal is quality workmanship, not how fast I can build a model.
  • There is no production line in my shop. While at times I do use certain commercial components, most of the components are not mass produced, but rather fabricated by hand as the model is built. Labor intensive, yes, but the end result is a very unique model.
  • I like “big hoods” that look cool; hence, my models reflect this personal interest. However, looking good doesn’t mean hanging on every conceivable gadget known to mankind, but rather a machine that is tidy. Like good looking real trucks, my models have that tidy look.
  • I often quote what an owner-operator told me many years ago, “If you don’t look good when you go—there’s no point in going!” And so it is with my models.
  • Among the many custom diecast trucks available today, only a select few are in an elite class of their own, and a model built by Fatjack’s LargeCars is definitely in this class. In fact, a model built by Fatjack’s would be considered one of the leaders in this elite class.
  • Regardless what the primary scale is that one collects, a model built by Fatjack’s will earn a prominent place in that collection.



  • My custom fuel tanks are all fabricated by hand, and literally have no vertical or horizontal seams. The straps are genuine stainless steel, hand-polished to a chrome-like finish, and hand-fitted to each fuel tank.


  • I extend frames on the models very similar to the way we used to extend frames on real trucks, by sleeving the frame. On the model the existing frame is sleeved with new brass channel frame stock. After clamping the new frame channels in place, crossmembers are soldered in place. The modified frame is as strong as or stronger than the original frame!


  • Look closely at my stacks; they scale out very close to 7” in diameter, not the common 8” (or larger) that you see on most custom diecast trucks. While many working show trucks indeed have oversize stacks, the most common sizes are still 6” or 7” in diameter. But more importantly, the 7” diameter stacks simply look right on the model without over powering it.
  • I begin with raw tube stock, have an exact 45-degree angle milled at the top, and after the tube is cut to final length, it’s polished out to a true chrome-like finish. I use thick-wall tube, which has outstanding polishing characteristics, but it can’t be bent for curved stacks. This may be considered a downside to some, but the trade-off is the outstanding appearance of the model.
  • As a final touch of class, the inside of the stacks at the tips are painted flat black.


  • The stock chrome bumpers on Tonkin Replicas models are outstanding and offer much to the model in terms of appearance. My custom “Cool Blades” give the model that special look that only highly polished genuine stainless steel can provide. My new bumpers are not glued to the existing stock bumper. A new backplate with mounting pins is made that properly positions the new bumper allowing the hood to freely tilt.


  • I make several different types of deck plates, or frame covers as some refer to them. My premier deck plates are of course polished stainless steel. I also make real diamond grid deck plates, using etched brass stock.
  • I also overlay some of the headache racks and drom decks with diamond grid material, which makes for an outstanding looking model.


  • All paint work at Fatjack’s is First Class. I don’t simply mask off stuff and shoot some paint. For example, to paint the fenders, the grill and all lights are removed. The fenders are then sanded, chemically cleaned, and primed before applying the final color.
  • Approximately 50% of the paints I use are polyurethane-base automotive paints. Even when I use other paints, they are cleared with a polyurethane automotive clear coat.


  • All stainless steel is fabricated and hand-polished in my shop—period. Most of the stainless that I purchase is raw (un-polished), but even when I bring in pre-polished stainless steel, it is re-polished before going on the model. My stainless steel is not just shiny, it’s a true mirror finish.
  • I DO NOT use aluminum foil or similar stick-on foil materials to represent chrome or stainless steel—not ever!

SERVICE LINES (air lines and electrical cable)

  • The air lines and electrical cable actually plug and unplug to the trailer, and when an air box is used on the tractor instead of a pogo stick, the service lines also plug and unplug into the air box. One needs a steady hand, good eyes, and small tweezers to plug in and unplug the service lines, but it can indeed be done! Like most other items, the air lines and electrical cable are coiled in my shop. I use a very close to scale wire that retains its shape after being coiled. Just like real coiled service lines, my miniature service lines can be stretched out, and will hold that position until compress together again. This becomes an important issue if the model is to be displayed in a turned position.
  • Another of my signature service lines package is what I refer to as “PNW” ( Pacific Northwest ) style. This is where the service lines plug into the rear of the tractor frame and couple to the underside of the trailer just ahead of the landing gear. This type of hookup gives a very tidy appearance to the truck, and is becoming more popular with truckers who don’t like the service lines hanging between the rear of the cab and the trailer.


  • Rarely do I attach anything to the model with a simple butt-joint. All detailing components are hand-fitted to the model and pinned in place.

WHY 1:53 rd SCALE?

  • Personally I’m a detail extremist. 1:53 rd Scale offers so much more, not only in terms of quantity of detailing, but also quality and accuracy of detailing than can be found in smaller scales, such as 1:64 th and 1:87 th scales. But yet, 1:53 rd is small enough that it doesn’t take up an enormous amount of display space.
  • The size of 1:53 rd Scale also places a lot of responsibility on me as a custom builder for accuracy and tidy workmanship.
  • I not only have worked around trucks my entire adult life, but I also grew around trucks. I simply cannot accept anything less than authenticity in diecast trucks; and don’t offer my customers anything less either! 1:53 rd scale serves these demands very well.
  • As a trucker, I always look at how a model sits. All too often scale model trucks simply do not sit correctly. Many times the trailer is much too high from the wheels and-or the tractor, and at times even the tractor sits too high from the ground, or the cab is too high from the wheels, etc. This is another feature where Tonkin Replicas 1:53 rd scale trucks are superior over just about all other diecast trucks. I go to great lengths to have my models “sit right” up to and including lowering the trailer and-or tractor for a truly authentic look.


  • The "Precision Series" from Tonkin Replicas offers the ultimate in accurate detailing found in diecast trucks today.  Inside and out, from top to bottom-front to rear, it's all there!
  • A custom-built truck from Fatjack’s LargeCars brings you unequaled detailing and workmanship, taking diecast trucks to new levels of excellence!
  • Go ahead, get close…The closer you get to a Fatjack’s LargeCar, the better it looks!
  • Quality built by a trucker who knows trucks.


  • Typical of scale models, the more detailing that is included, the more fragile the model becomes. Despite this inherent characteristic, I go to great lengths to be sure that all models are built to withstand the rigors of shipping.
  • We go to extreme measures packing custom trucks for safe shipping to arrive intact and undamaged, and we have an excellent reputation for our outstanding packing and safe arrival of models.
  • Admittedly, the shipping cost is somewhat high, but our extreme packaging is designed to protect your investment.
  • Please understand that after trucks are shipped, the handling of the package is out of our hands. Therefore, we are not responsible for items after they are shipped.
  • Any and all shipping claims must be taken care of with delivering carrier.
  • Insurance is included with the shipping quote.
  • Do not return items to us for shipping claims.
  • All custom trucks sold and shipped by Fatjack’s are photographically documented before shipping. This provides both documentation for any shipping claims, and also what you see in the photos is what you get. If a tractor, trailer, load, or anything else shown in the photo is not included it is clearly so stated.
  • If a model ever becomes damaged, it can be returned to Fatjack’s Service Department for repair. See my Service Department for more details. Contact us before returning any model.
  • Fatjack’s-Diesel Smoke & Dreams is an authorized dealer for Tonkin Replicas.
  • Fatjack's - Diesel Smoke & Dreams and Fatjack’s LargeCars - Hot Pipes & Cool Blades are trademark names and wholly owned entities of D.A. Bontrager Enterprises.  All Rights Reserved. 

Real trucks replicated with exquisite scale models

Fatjack’s LargeCars

Hot Pipes & Cool Blades

“Simply The Best”


Custom work at Fatjack's LargeCars doesn't mean "glueing on something." Custom work means creating a work of art by enhancing an existing model or by completely building/rebuilding the model from the frame up. Fatjack's LargeCars prides itself in accurate scale work with nothing but the finest in workmanship and appearance.

All work is done in Fatjack's LargeCars Shop by David A. Bontrager, master modeler and author of "Truck Modeler's Notebook" as well as over 200 published magazine articles teaching the skilled art of accurate scale modeling.

Click on any photo to see enlargement of custom detail explanation!!!
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Click on any photo to see enlargement !!!
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