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AMT Kenworth/Challenger transit mixer

Build review of the 1/25 scale cement mixer kit with perfectly fitting decals
Aaron and Tim take a look at the sprues of AMT's Kenworth/Challenge Transit Mixer

⬅️ Watch the unboxing video here!
Typical of its origins in the 1970s, AMT’s Kenworth/Challenge transit mixer comes with a lot of operating features. I’ll be honest and say I’m not a fan of these kinds of things, because plastic hinges tend to break, clearances are oversized, and effort must be made to ensure operating features actually operate. On my build, some of the operating features…well, don’t. I tried, though.

There’s a lot of plastic in this kit — 469 parts — with the bulk of them molded in white. Four sprues of chrome-plated parts plus one each of clear, transparent red, and transparent yellow round out the contents. Options abound, including different wheel configurations and hydraulic pump locations.

Although generally well-molded, the parts have prominent mold lines requiring removal both before and during assembly. Unfortunately, this malady affects the chrome parts especially hard, complicating cleanup and touchup when the plating chips during removal.

The parts fit together pretty well once the mold lines were removed, and the joins squared up.

Built out of the box with all those chrome items, the result would be a mighty glitzy Kenworth, suitable for a presentation model. Inspired by the March 2021 FSM with the cover headline “Get Real,” I modeled my kit as a brute that works for a living. Dust, dirt, grime, grease, and mud are common on the kind of construction sites mixers inhabit.

I painted my model with Tamiya acrylics except for the air horns and exhausts, which I airbrushed with Alclad II lacquers. I opted for the kit’s wide “floater” front tires to help prevent it from getting mired at muddy construction sites.

The turbocharged Cummins 6-cylinder diesel engine and its assorted systems make a model in itself. The chassis with its bridge-truss construction plus gearboxes, driveshafts, axles, and such was another major subassembly. I recommend painting the chassis frame parts before gluing them in place for ease of painting. Some areas are almost impossible to reach with an airbrush once the frame is together.

The cab windows are thin and clear except for small molding pips which need to be removed and polished out. The rear window and windshield panes are surface mount, but the side windows and right-side door safety window fit into wells. The cab interior looks super when finished, but since the windows are all molded closed, not much can be seen once it’s installed.

The instruction sheet provided a conundrum for me. On the plus side, it lists the names of parts in addition to the numbers. For a neophyte gearhead like me, that was a big help in getting to know the subject. On the other hand, the positioning of parts is somewhat vague, and there are no part numbers on the part trees. So, when the instructions specified a part number, I had to refer to the parts diagram on the bottom of the box, search for tiny numbers, then find the corresponding tree in the box. As parts were used and the trees became sparse, this took on the properties of a scavenger hunt, and I spent a lot of time looking rather than building.

No paint brands are listed in the color callouts. The mixer assemblies are specified to be painted white, the engine block tan, and the cab interior is specified as a choice of five particular colors. The terms BC and CC refer to “body color” and “chassis color” and are left up to the builder. The instruction sheet notes that the internet can be used for color references.

The decal sheet provides two versions of markings for one transit mixer from John R. Fuels in Detroit, the scheme on the box top. A second illustration on the side of the box top shows a yellow-and-red scheme but decals for it are not included. The glossy decals worked well, fit the model nicely, but didn’t respond very well to setting solution and solvents.

This project was both fun and a challenge. Never having built a truck kit, much less one with this many parts, I spent more than 50 hours on construction. That doesn’t include the hours I spent searching part numbers on a small, hard-to-read legend on the box bottom and then chasing down the right part.

My recommendation, therefore, depends on one’s background. An auto enthusiast would be much more familiar with components and a nice model could be made by the average modeler. For a neophyte like me, I’d recommend the kit to more experienced builders.

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