The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Joe Enriquez

Added to museum: 6/11/06

1/87 model trucks in high detail

Joe Enriquez works with some of the tiny parts he makes to super-detail his truck models. (Click on photo for larger image.)

By day he operates the big rigs, for fun he models them in 1/87 scale.


Some of the equipment Joe runs on the jobó a JD 450 Long Reach Shear. (Click each photo for a larger image.)

Like Augie Hiscano and many other modelers who started out building kits, Joe Enriquez has taken his skills to new levels with each model. He likes working with plastic as a material, but on his latest work only a few parts available commercially are used, and even those are tweaked to add or bring out more detail. 1/87 or HO scale is a popular size, and a lot of parts and vehicles are available commercially; however, Joe prefers to scratch build models of unique equipment not available on the store shelves. His day job helps him get the details right to make his models look totally authentic. We decided to feature him here because of the unusual nature of his subjectólarge commercial vehicles in a tiny sizeóand his intimate familiarity with the full size versions as an equipment operator himself. It must be quite a change of pace to come home from a day of operating extremely large, noisy and powerful equipment and sit down to do such tiny, delicate work. Here in his own words his how he got started and how he works.

1/87 Truck modeling

by Joe Enriquez

I guess I have always been someone who enjoys recreating things that interest me in the world of miniature. If not in model form I would do it with pencils on paper at a very young age. My interest in trucks, trains, heavy equipment and the like started as far back as I can remember.

I started building models when I was very young and of course they were all the great 1/25 scale trucks that were being made by AMT and Ertl in the 70ís. I probably built nearly every one that was available. I also recognized my weaknesses in construction methods and slowly bettered each project I did. Thankfully, my Mother never seemed to mind all the big truck models that started to accumulate .

Model railroads also always fascinated me, and I started to collect trains and accessories. I soon discovered the HO scale, or 1/87, trucks that were available. My first two pieces were made by Wiking and were an orange cabover dump and the other was a grey conventional dumper. I knew they were foreign makes but they were very detailed for their small size, I was hooked. That was probably around 1977.

After a hiatus from modeling due to high school, friends, girls, parties and such I got back into the world of 1/87 trucks around 1987. There wasnít much available, but I enjoyed building kits from Lee Town, Ivers Engineering and a few others. I was always looking for more modern trucks and trailers although none seemed to be available. I also seemed to be getting more into the detail and "prototypicalness" if you will, of the models I built. I started adding scratch built details to the available kits. After some different trial and failure with materials I soon discovered the wonders of Evergreen styrene. It came in a multitude of shapes and sizes and glued and cut extremely easily. I was now doing things my way and started to build the trailers and parts that werenít available commercially.

At the time I was sharing an apartment with a good buddy that I grew up with and had very limited modeling area to work with. I used to use a small oak pullout  work surface on an old child size desk. I would sit on the edge of my bed and work for hours. To be honest some of my biggest scratch built trailers were made on that 1' x 2' area. I always thought I was kind of alone in my hobby with maybe a few people across the country that just enjoyed the 1/87 trucks and not so much the trains because of limited space. I soon discovered I was wrong. Iím not sure how I came across the 1/87 Vehicle Club but quickly signed on as a member. They had a great magazine going but with the advent of the Internet they have dropped the magazine and have concentrated on a terrific website at

The organization would have an annual meet and convention in different parts of the country. They came to NJ twice and also to Allentown , PA. I was fortunate to be able to attend those three shows and had both of my large scratch built trailers come away as winners in their class. It was an honor to win and was enjoyable meeting the modelers that were a part of the club and whose models Iíd admire on the siteís photo gallery pages.

Nowadays my modeling time seems to be very precious. With my work as a heavy equipment operator and proud member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 here in NJ, I sometimes get up very early and get home very late and tired. I also have a three year old son and wife who deserve all the free time I have as well. I find time mainly early in the mornings on weekends and some evenings. My model subjects seem to be getting more in detail so a model can now take me as ďlittleĒ as a few months easily to complete, and thatís if I stick with it and it donít end up mothballed at the side of the workbench  because I got bored with it! For my tractors Iíll use the available resin cabs and some parts made by a few of the small time 1/87 hobbyist /manufacturers out there. Iíll then scratch build most all the rest and modify and detail other available parts. For trailers , they are basically all scratch built with the exception of tires, wheels, and some detail parts. It is a very small scale and I constantly find myself redoing detail parts that tend to catapult out of the tweezers, off the bench , and lost into the great vortex that is the berber carpet. I have spent many hours over the years on my hands and knees with a flashlight, by gosh!

I use a large variety of hand tools in my hobby. I donít think I can ever have enough different kinds of sanding sticks and wands to shape the various parts I build. Iíve also learned the best tool for cutting up styrene is a 100 pack of single edge razor blades. They cut and chop real nice, are cheap, and you simply toss it in the trash when it gets a little dull. I still use the X-Acto type knives and blades for various things as well. Other than a Dremel motor tool I have always used just small hand tools. Thatís all about to change.

I recently invested in the Sherline model 4000 lathe and hope to get a milling machine as well next year. I had shop classes all through high school and dabbled on the large metal lathes but spent most of my time on the wood turners so I had a little bit of a clue to start with. I picked up Joe Martinís book Tabletop Machining a couple months before I got the lathe and thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me the extra confidence I needed.

Now, as I turn 40 and move into the power tool phase of my modeling, I hope to turn out some real cool projects. I am always my own worst critic and always find faults in what I build and try to change that on the next one. Rushing to finish something seems to always cause a problem for me so thatís something I need to work on.

In closing I would just like to say that it is an absolute honor to be a part of this Craftsmanship Museum with all of these other incredible modelers, more than mere words can describe.

Here are several examples of Joe Enriquez's work:

(Click photos for larger images.)

Dump truck, finished, painted and decaled. It is hard to get a handle on just how small and detailed these trucks actually are, because they are fully plumbed and detailed with brake lines, etc. all to scale. Near the bottom of this section is a red truck that includes a penny for size scale to give you a better feel for size.
1) A step/tool box takes shape in plastic, ready for installation on a frame.

2) A fuel tank being installed using a tweezers.

The scratch built, assembled hydraulic dump mechanism and box.
1) The tailgate with locking levers

2) Parts and pieces for the dump hopper.

A detail of the frame shows brakes, compressors, etc.

1) A fuel tank being turned in aluminum on the lathe.

2) The finished tanks in place on the frame.

1) An air horn being turned in brass on the lathe.

2) The finished horn in place on top of the cab.

1) Tires and treads being turned on the lathe.

2) A finished tire and wheel (gray--before painting) compared to the stock kit item.

Part of a flat bed trailer with scale and stock wheels underneath.
A finished Eastern Express truck.
This red Mack LTL is modeled to look as it would as it left the Allentown, PA factory in 1952 headed for the West coast.  Note the penny at the left side of the first photo to get a true appreciation of the tiny size and high level of detail of these models.
A closeup of the cab of a Kenworth W900L with the hydraulically actuated dump trailer in the towing position.
The cab and totally scratch built trailer are shown here in dumping position.
One of Joe's most recent completed project is a Talbert  AC3-25 tag trailer scratch built from styrene and wood. Again, note the penny for size reference. These vehicles are REALLY small! The diorama built for a photo background also lends a sense of realism to the shots.
The first shot with the penny will establish just how small this model Kenworth C-500B heavy oilfield tractor is. It looks great in its black and red Mammoet livery too. Joe says this was a "fun winter layoff project."
A Mack FCSW water truck sits by the side of the road next to a five and half foot tall penny, or so it would seem. Actually, the penny is real (about 3/4" tall) and the truck is in 1/87 scale. Joe did an excellent job on the weathering of the paint job, making it look like the truck has been hard at work for years. He puts a lot of effort into the photos of his projects too, making his tiny models look massive in a construction setting--until you see the penny.

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This section is sponsored by

Makers of precision miniature machine tools and accessories. Sherline tools are made in the USA.

Sherline is proud to confirm that Joe Enriquez uses Sherline tools in the production of some of his small projects.

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