Equipment model hobby worth ‘every extra minute’

Chuck Hoggarth, 74, has a passion for building things, and it’s evident in his intricate handcrafted wooden equipment models. Ford Motor Company employed Hoggarth for 46 years until his retirement 12 years ago. Shortly thereafter, he decided to put his extensive experience to work.

Hoggarth’s interest in equipment models started about seven years ago, when he put together a small Kenworth truck and trailer. The wooden model was only 1 foot long by 10 inches high, and according to Hoggarth, this just wasn’t big enough for him to fully enjoy. To make larger models, he took patterns from Toys and Joys in Lynden, Wash., and multiplied everything by four.

As a result, he now has a 12-foot-long-by-about-3-foot-high Kenworth truck and trailer and 10 other models including two large excavators, two dozers, a mining truck, a Hummer, an articulated tractor and a scraper. Hoggarth uses sugar pine wood — a heavy timber that contains no knots – along with polyurethane and tongue oil to build his projects. Building a model can take up to nine months, and he usually works on them in winter.

“Once I get into building them,” said Hoggarth, “I really enjoy every extra minute.

“They’re not really toys; they would be better suited as displays.”

Hoggarth’s stepdaughter, Cara Bolam, said Hoggarth has been a woodworker for many years, constructing all of his kitchen cabinets, some chairs and other furniture. In addition to working at Ford as a gas patrolman, Hoggarth also worked for five years at a plumbing and excavating business and eight years for N and W railroad. In his spare time, he helped build houses and kitchen cabinets.

When asked if she thought her stepfather would want to part with his precious projects, Bolam said she didn’t know. “I know he hasn’t sold any because it is hard to put a price on, but he probably is a little interested in selling them because he is running out of room,” she said.

Hoggarth was able to put a few of his equipment models on display at the 2004 Michigan Construction Expo in Novi. He said his high-track dozer, end loader and an excavator gained recognition at the show. “A Cat dealer wanted me to leave the high-track bulldozer at his store on display, but he couldn’t afford to buy it from me, unfortunately,” Hoggarth said.

Currently, all the model equipment is set up in Hoggarth’s house and his two-car garage. The excavators are the biggest at about 4 feet tall, and the Hummer is 7 feet long by 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. The other models are somewhat smaller.

“They’re important to me, and I don’t know if I would want to sell,” Hoggarth said. “But I know that my garage is full, so I guess I need to consider selling them.”

For more information on Hoggarth’s equipment models, you can contact him at (313) 291-1487.