buford's barn cars PORTFOLIO

1956-1958 International Harvester W Weathered Crawler

Finding a model based on a rare tractor you don't see everyday was a challenge I had been trying to tackle for a few weeks. When I found the W450 diesel with the GE Electrall Generator I knew this was what I had been after. As far as I can tell this is the only model with the Electrall Generator available today and, perhaps ever. If you ask me, the idea of having an engine-powered generator on board a tractor is brilliant. While information on the Electrall was not readily available, I was able to find a forum discussing this very tractor (the real one mind you) and how an owner was looking for parts. I reached out to him and ended up having a phone conversation. Russ from Kansas told me how this generator was able to power his entire home when the power went out on many occasions. Now that's a dual-purpose machine! The model you see here is based on a few fuzzy pictures Russ mailed to me. Interesting enough, the paint didn't show much chipping. It was actually dulled and dirtied. Perhaps that's because the paint was saturated with lead. Best not put your dinner on the hood Russ!


  • The entire tractor was dismantled (what a pain in the neck!) primed and treated a little differently than my typical work. I used a great deal of fading with enamel washes, powders and some sandblasting. I made sure that the "International" and "W450" logos were visible with the exception of the worn-away left side.
  • The tires had to be reworked to bring the tread down. I had to use a hydraulic press to separate the pressure fit rims and tires from the axle. The rears now show many years of use. The fronts are no different. Note that the front tires are worn more on the outside than the inside to reflect the weight imbalance when cornering. Each of the four wheels were coated with several layers of "mud." 
  • The radiator guard was originally solid on this model. I used a Bridgeport machine to very carefully drill out in between the grills and added several bent bars so it was closer to its prototypical big brother. Russ actually said that most of the bent grill guards were from pulling his tractor into the barn and hitting the tools on the wall. He forgot that the brakes started to go bad....in 1976. 
  • Vintage signage from a vast library of vintage material was used to create a "Danger," "Mobil Gas" and "For Sale" sign all loose for a variety of staging.
  • The tractors should be good and greasy! Should the owner stick to their maintenance, many areas should be dripping in goo. You'll find obvious grease marks on joints, engine components, drive gears and anything and everything that moves. This model is just the same.
  • Mud can be found on both fenders from being "kicked up" while in high gear.
  • The exhaust pipe was typically non-ferrous and oxidized rather than rusted. The gray paint was stripped off and the white metal was treated in a solution to make it appear true-to-life.

Several modifications were made to the tractor to make it more realistic:

  1. The entire tractor frame was stripped bare, polished clean, sanded then coated to make it appear cast. 
  2. The frame under the engine should have holes for mounting accessories to the front. The "holes" were just concave so I drilled each through.
  3. The seat pans almost always have holes for cooling. I drilled the solid seat appropriately using a drill press and a drill bit that made holes that were to scale.
  4. All areas that you'd expect the driver to touch, grab, rub against etc. have traces of polished metal. I've polished the seat pan, levers, foot rests, petals and areas the driver may place their feet to get to the seat.
  5. The grill was solid from the SpecCast factory. I used a Bridgeport machine and a super small bit to drill the gaps between the guards appropriately, then bend them to show front end damage. 
  6. I made an umbrella to shade the driver. The W450 prototype used for this model had one that was hand made especially to the owner's specifications. The vertical pipe and umbrella supports were made from galvanized conduit. The top cloth was a brown marine vinyl surface that had algae growth from water sitting on the surface. I matched it as closely as possible using brown tightly woven cloth and styrene rods painted with flat black enamels then coated with stone gray weathering powders.
  7. The GE Electrall Generator was very lightly sanded with 0000 steel wool which allows for easy blending of slightly moistened weathering powders, then streaked and scratched for a full effect.
  8. The exhaust was solid so I drilled it with a drill press leaving as thin a wall as possible.

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