Erector Classic Period White Truck

This time we'll look at the model I built to display at the 2001 A.C.G.H.S. Convention in Carlisle, PA. This model was part of our display, which won Second Prize in the Display competition (see photos on the News page). The model is a nearly exact duplicate of the "Fifth Avenue Bus" model from the 1928 7½ manual (see image below). The original is one of many designs in the manual that are based on the famous "White Truck" chassis. The only difference between my version and the original (aside from the signs, of course!) is its overall length.

The White Truck first appeared in an Erector manual in 1926. Gilbert based his Erector version on a pressed steel toy truck of the time, which in turn was modeled after a real truck made by the White Motor Company. To build the truck model, Gilbert introduced 17 new parts made specifically for it. These parts were included in the top-of-the-line #10 set that year. But, as was often the case with other famous Classic Period models, Gilbert also added a new set to the 1926 Erector line to feature the White truck, which he dubbed the #7½. This set, which appeared with different names throughout its 7-year run, came to be known simply as the "White Truck Set" by fans and collectors.

The 1928 version of the #7½ set is featured in this pictorial. Like many other Classic Period sets, it came packed in an attractive red and black painted wooden box with brass corners, sidegrips, and latches. The box measured in 22¾" x 10¾" x 5¾"; the parts were packed in two layers, the top layer being a black painted metal tray which had holes for attaching the parts it held.

While the #7½ set underwent changes over time, so did the White Truck model itself. More precisely, the special truck parts changed from year to year, although the basic truck design remained the same. The foundation of that design is the White Truck chassis (see manual illustrations below). Consisting of a hood, fenders, dashboard and floorboard on an open frame, the design was open to numerous interpretations. In fact, the #7½ instruction manual features no less than sixteen different variations on the White Truck, including a dump truck, delivery truck, fire truck, lumber truck, etc., all built upon the basic chassis.

The basic chassis incorporated all but one of the aforementioned special truck parts; the 1928 versions of these special parts, including the BG truck body, are shown in the photos below. The one-piece radiator and hood assembly featured a separate brass radiator cap which was attached to the top of the radiator at the factory; after 1928, the radiator cap was simply a dimple pressed into the steel. Both the radiator and the fender step pads feature the "White" logo embossed into the steel (yellow circles). Also, note the cast front axle and steering knuckles: after 1928, these parts were made from pressed steel.


The version of the 1928 White Truck that I chose to build for the convention is called the "Fifth Avenue Bus" in the manual; for my purposes I have renamed it the "Girders & Gears Tour Bus." As the illustration in the manual indicates, the original model can be built from a #10 set or from a 7½ set plus a variety of additional parts. The body of the bus is supposed to be built primarily from 6 DQ special base plates. These 12" plates were only included in a few Classic Period sets, and are hard to come by and quite expensive today. However, 10" base plates were standard in more sets, and I happened to own 6 of them, so I used these to produce a shortened version of the bus. I shortened the frame accordingly, then moved the rear axle as far back as possible to give the bus a balanced look. To accompany the bus I built a trailer using the standard truck body and a couple of additional wheels & tires. The result is shown below.

As depicted in the manual, the model is a classic double-decker bus design, and a perfect choice for my tour bus needs with its upper deck unroofed and open to the elements. The upper deck extends forward to form a roof over the driver's cab. Access to the passenger compartment on the lower deck is via a stepped platform attached to the back of the bus; a curved ladder with handrail connects this platform to the upper deck. A full-width bench that separates the cab from the passenger compartment provides seating for the bus driver. Seating for passengers is absent on the lower deck inside the cabin (presumably to simplify the model), but is present on the upper deck in the form of benches, each made from 2 K 11-hole strip brackets (see third photo from bottom).