Classic Machines

The small scale contractor

Many of our on-line viewers and also our subscribers to the Contractor magazine collect scale models.

Not a lot of New Zealand retailers exist that carry a range of earthmoving diecasts but there are a few.

Unfortunately their range is often restricted to Norscot, Joal or Siku but some of the more exotic types are only available by special order, not particularly useful if you would like to see what you’re buying first.

Also, there are those of you who do inhabit the cyber world and import items off Ebay and similar but again don’t like to part with your cash without seeing what you are getting.

This little informal column is designed to give you a bit better insight into what you could be spending your hard-earned dollars on to expand your collections.

In this first issue we’re going to take a look at one of the workhorses of the motor scraper industry, the Caterpillar 631, and see what is available in 1:50 scale.

There are three models of the Cat 631 that have been issed in 1:50 scale, the 631D, 631E and 631K.

All are exceptionally good representations of their respective subjects and all fall into the collectors class of model.

In fact, the three are so well detailed you can display them straight out of the box without any form of corrective modification.

Firstly, the 631D.

The Black Rat Caterpillar 631D in all it’s glory. Fleet no.92 sports a ROPS cab with external airconditioner and a very high amount of extremely fragile detail. It is by far the heaviest of the three models reviewed and has no plastic parts.
Cat 631D cushion hitch detail with the hitch in the ‘ride’ position.
Nothing missing on this model, even the aircon on the cab roof has water supply hoses. Black Rat did a fantastic job with this model.

It is a stunning model, highly accurate, and is all-working including the cushion hitch.

The author’s model has a ROPS cab with external air conditioner and the cab door opens to reveal a complete interior including the transmission hold and diff lock pedals on the floor.     It is all-metal apart from the windows & hoses and is quite heavy.

The version shown represents a machine that has been through the Cat rebuild facility and sports the new paint scheme & logos (all 631D’s were originally painted the older, brighter Cat yellow).

With all this quality combined with the fact that it is a limited run model comes expense and you will be lucky to find an example under NZ$1400.

If scrapers are your thing (and they are certainly mine!) you need one of these in your fleet.

The Cat 631E

CCM’s Cat 631E is quite an imposing model even if the boarding step is slightly over-scale. The cab interior has been very well detailed right down to the colour. In case you’re wondering what the white stripes are across the planetary hubs on these machine, they are so the foreman can see if any of his operators are spinning their tyres. This practice of painting a white stripe is very common in the USA.

Manufactured by Classic Construction Models (CCM), this is another limited run model, 750 being made.

Hitch area of the CCM Cat 631E immediately reveals less detail than on the Black Rat model. The cushion hitch is in the ‘ride’ position.

Unlike the Black Rat model, it has only ever been issued the once and is likely to remain so.

It is another beautiful example of the model makes art and is all-working, including the cushion hitch.

Detailing in the hitch area is not as complete as in the Black Rat model but that does not detract from the model.

Featuring an opening engine compartment which reveals the Cat 3408 V8 engine and an opening cab door, tinterior is painted the correct shade of Cat light brown which they were so fond of in the 1980s.

The tyres are quite impressive with their toned down finish, E3 tread pattern and Goodyear logos.

As there were only 750 made, if you see one it is worth acquiring.

Original issue price was US$250 but these days they go for around US$700 – $800.

Newest 631, the 631K

Caterpillars current production version of the 631, the 631K is well represented by CCM’s 1:50 model. Fleet no.259 has the optional scraper spillguard and a full set of metal handrails. Biggest disappointment of this model were the tyres which have little to no sidewall detail yet have excellent tread surfaces.
Fully detailed hitch area on CCM’s 631K makes up for what they left off their previous 631E. This is a very busy area as can be seen.
Cushion hitch is in the ‘load’ position

Also manufactured by CCM, the 631K was released this year, again in a limited run of only 550 models.

Like the other two models listed it is fully functional including the cushion hitch.

Cab door and engine compartment both open to reveal their respective interiors, the cab being particularly impressive.

CCM upped the detail on this model especially around the hitch and hydraulic hoses.

This is a very impressive model of a current-production Cat scraper and the model itself is still available through CCM at $US270 plus postage but stocks are getting low. When they’re gone, as per CCM policy there will be no more.

So there you have it – next time we’ll take a look at push tractors to load these beasts.








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