Introducing our newest blog series, “Models & Mods” was created to spotlight the modifications done to our models at home by collectors. We had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Chaput from Alberta, Canada about a project that he completed early this summer, a Cat® 385C L with a true-to-scale 18’1” stick, modified counterweight, and functioning quick coupler.
Let’s take a look at his model and the work that went into making this a reality.
- Did you start with an existing model or build from scratch? If an existing model, which one?
I built this model using the 385 that I had in my collection for a few years already. I had a few ideas in mind for it when I started, including a medium stick and a rock bucket, but went for this longer set-up instead.
- Why did you choose this model to modify?
I moved to Alberta in 2013 to work for a large water and sewer outfit out of Edmonton. I started as a laborer and eventually made my way up as an operator, which was my goal in the first place. As the company uses a 385 or a 390 as a digging hoe for each of their underground crews, I decided to turn my 385 into the one that worked on my crew at the time, as unit #157 was the first 385 I ever ran.
- Can you walk us through the process of building these modified components? Material used, tooling required, any challenges you had, etc.?
Building the model was fairly easy for me, as I had already built quite a few models before. I couldn’t wish for better access to the real machine than I had for this model, however.
I started by taking all the measurements and pictures needed, especially the bucket and coupler, and simply went from there. I usually scale down a picture and use a few copies as templates to cut the pieces I use.
The stick, coupler and bucket are all made of Plastruct styrene sheets of different sizes ranging from 0.5 to 1.5mm. I usually use rather simple tools like a box cutter, a metal ruler, and a few files. The paint is simply a Caterpillar rattle can bought from Finning International.
My biggest challenge was the quick coupler and the shape of the top of bucket, where the ears are mounted. Lots of trial and error, and a lot of wasted pieces!
The counterweight was rounded off to match the real machine, as the model uses a more square version which we only had on our 390’s. I took the counterweight off and had a friend mold a few pewter spares so I could keep the original piece untouched. I then ground it down and added plastic strips to replicate it.
- How long did this project take you?
The project spread over 3 years, with an almost 2-year hiatus. I think I have around 30 hours into it. I just like to take my time… A lot.
- Do you have any advice for other collectors looking to modify a model?
Research and documentation is key. Take pictures, find a machine and measure it, you never have too many references for a model. Also, don’t be afraid to build a part 2 or 3 times, sometimes it really is worth the time spent.
- What project do you have in mind next (or are currently working on)?
My project right now is to replicate the lineup of equipment used by my crew in 2013. Now that the mainline hoe is done, I need to work on the 365B I was running and stretch her out a little bit, just like I have done with the 385. We also had a WA450 Komatsu, a D7R XR (which a friend of mine is currently working on in the US), a Deere 710G and a Cat 973C.
- Any suggestions for CCM on which model to make next?
There are 2 models I would really love to see from CCM. The first one would be a 657E, because I find they are some of the most impressive machines to watch fly down a haul road. We always had a bunch working around us on the dirt crews and I could never go tired of seeing those monsters blow by. Second, I would like to see a 973C LGP with counterweights and a straight bucket with teeth. This one was the first track loader I learned on and the only piece missing from my line up!
We would like to extend a big thanks to Anthony Chaput for being the first collector featured in our new series, “Models & Mods”. We have to say that we are extremely impressed with the quality of work put into this modification and look forward to see what he has planned for the future!
Have you been working on modifications to one of your CCM models? Send in your answers to these questions, along with pictures of your model, via Facebook message and you might be the next collector featured in our new series.