Review by Bob Brown/photos by the author
Berkshire Valley Models latest O scale wagon kit sells for $29.95 and assembles into a hook and ladder fire wagon. Wagons like these once hauled the ladders to fires along with long hooked poles used to pull apart burning material.
The instructions warn that this is a “delicate” kit and I agree. It takes some care to assemble. The front and rear spring assemblies consist of white metal castings that have to be glued together with cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA). The front spring assembly fits on a cast white metal fifth wheel. The wheels are also white metal.
The frame and superstructure are laser-cut wood and frail. You do have to bend six bucket hooks and four wires to hold running boards for the fireman to ride on. Templates are provided for bending these parts and holes are laser cut into the frame for these wires so no drilling is necessary. I assembled my spring assemblies and sprayed them, then sprayed the body and the wheels. Once I had the wheels on the axles, I added the spring assemblies to the frame.
I did have trouble with the six water buckets. The instructions say to drill two holes in dimples in the upper edges of each bucket. Then use the template provided to bend wire handles for the bucket handles. This was beyond my skills, so I bent a U-shaped wire for each bucket, filled a bucket with CA and stuck the wire handle down into the CA. Crude, but it seemed to work.
The ladders are laser-cut wood including the rungs. A neat jig is provided for either 24- or 21-inch wide ladders and they assembled easily. White metal hooks are provided to CA to the ends of wires to make the hooks in the “Hook and Ladder Wagon.” The instructions were clear, and I used them and the photos to assemble my wagon.
I am pleased with my hook and ladder wagon and hope Berkshire brings out kits for more horse-drawn fire equipment. Even if you are more modern, one of these wagons might be in back of your fire house for use in a parade.
Berkshire Valley Models
438 Morgan Woods Dr.
Fenton, MO, 63026