Features, Shows, Truck events

Small trucks that draw a mighty big crowd

Started in a scout hall with just a handful of members in 2009, Little Big Rigs Sydney now has over 50 members – and growing.

“We’re just a bunch of enthusiasts who build and collect 1/14 scale model trucks. We went to our first show in 2010 and now travel to different events and truck shows includ- ing the Kenworth Klassic in Clarendon, Convoy for Kids Goulburn and Illawarra Convoy,” said James Sligar, who took over the group in 2019.

He says he’s been into anything radio-controlled since he was a little kid and now has 12 scale truck models, three excavators, a bulldozer, a tipper and a roller in his personal collection. “They’re all fully hydraulic as well,” he said.

Sligar’s miniature Volvo FH16 looks very much like the real-deal, as it rolls out of a teeny service station.

“You buy them as a kit from a local hobby shop or online and then build them and paint the cab. Some people modify them too. They might be 3D printed or scratch built to make it look like a lifelike truck. I know a guy Darren who has recently built a model truck, based off his cousin’s real Kenworth T909, called The President II.

“You can modify them and add stuff to them. I recently built a Volvo FH16 – it comes as a logging truck, but I’ve modified another truck kit and aftermarket tanks and bits and pieces to turn it into a Volvo FH16 prime mover.”

Lisa Dixon is heavily involved with the running of the group, with her husband Les Dixon and their son Steven being avid collectors.

An impressive Kenworth road train set-up at the Kenworth Klassic.

She’s been with Little Big Rigs Sydney since 2014. “The last few years I’ve been getting our insurances organised for events and helping to arrange the spaces we need at shows and events,” Lisa said.

“People have gotten used to us being at certain events, so we’re locked in for a few years at the Clarendon Kenworth Klassic, we’re locked in for the Fairfield Easter Fair for the next 10 years, we go to the Diesel Dirt and Turf Expo every year and the Illawarra Convoy is a definite for us every year.”

A diesel mechanic by trade, Les now serves as workshop manager at Hawk Logistics. Prior to that he was with Scott’s Refrigerated for 15 years, up until their recent closure. He says that while he’s been into trucks for quite some time, he blames Lisa for his ever-growing model truck collection!

“It was actually my wife’s fault, she told me to find a hobby about 10 years ago. I bought one model truck and it grew from there. Then I met a bloke from Little Big Rigs Sydney at an event and that’s how I got into it,” explained Les, whose model collection started with one truck and now sits at 31.

“It’s the enjoyment of actually putting them all together and the result of the finished product,” he added.

The most recent addition is a Scania he only finished in early October. “I have a couple of favourites but this latest one I just built is top of the lot at the moment. It’s a Scania that’s based off a European twin steer model, with a big float at the back of it. I did some modifications to that one so that the axle is all electronically lifted,” Les said.

This Scania set-up is the latest addition to Les Dixon’s 31-strong scale model truck collection.

According to Lisa, the group has grown through word of mouth and through people seeing the displays at events. “We still get people coming up to us and saying they’ve never seen this before. The scene is a lot bigger overseas than it is here,” she said, adding that she has big dreams for Little Big Rigs Sydney.

“Ideally we’d eventually like to get a warehouse and have that as a permanent fixture. We used to use an old industrial area in Riverstone, which was a shared space, but we couldn’t go there on certain days or at certain times, so it got to a point where we couldn’t really stay there, so that’s why we have the mobile network.

A couple of miniature Mercedes-Benz trucks at the Kenworth Klassic in Clarendon in September.

“But essentially we’d love to be able to do up a permanent warehouse where we can build bridges, have a construction site, a delivery area, a service station, farm, delivery area, like what they do overseas. We’ve approached a few trucking companies to see if there’s a space we can use and haven’t been successful yet, but that’s our end goal.”

Little Big Rigs Sydney shares its travels via its Facebook and Instagram pages. Sligar also runs a YouTube channel called RC Truckin Australia with Jimmy. It is also on Tiktok @jamessligar.

Confirmed events Little Big Rigs Sydney will be at are the Convoy for Kids Goulburn (November 11), Illawarra Convoy (November 19), Fairfield Easter Fair at Fairfield Showground (Easter long weekend 2024), Diesel Dirt and Turf Expo (April 12-14, 2024), and the Clarendon Kenworth Klassic (September 2024).

Sligar added, “We usually have at least 20 trucks at each event. These trucks have fully functioning three-speed transmission, working differentials and suspension like a real truck. There is also the option to install a light and sound kit to make it sound like a real truck.

“There are many regulars that follow our page and come along to each show, so we see them all the time – and the kids love them too.”

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