Chuck has lived in Michigan all his life. Born in 1931, he is now 83 years old. He worked at Ford Motor Company for 46 years and retired in 1994. He has worked with wood for the past 30 years but started building large wooden models of construction equipment only about 7 or 8 years ago. He gained his woodworking experience building cabinets for himself and others and has added several thousand dollars worth of oak to his own home in the form of cabinets, trim and stair railings. He also owned a backhoe for about 5 years in the 1970’s and did some plumbing jobs with it. This spurred his interest in heavy equipment.
He did not build the models to sell and still owns the entire collection himself; however, the collection now takes up a lot of space in his home. The garage shop houses five of the projects while one resides in the living room, one in the family room and three in the bedrooms. When asked if he ever plans to sell any of the projects he now laughs and says, “I have to do something with them, I’m running out of room.”
How the hobby came about
After Chuck retired from Ford, he started looking for something challenging to make. He found plans for a number of heavy equipment projects available from a company called Toys ‘N Joys in Lynden, Washington and purchased the plans for a bulldozer and a Kenworth truck. They were only about 12″ long when completed, which didn’t seem to do justice to the massive machines. He decided that his projects needed to be bigger in order to be both more of a challenge to build and to give the proper impression when viewed. From then on he scaled all the dimensions on the plans up in size by a factor of four, resulting in finished models that are really impressive. He displayed some of his models at at a local show at Heritage Park in Taylor, Michigan on Father’s Day in 2003 and then at a construction show at the Novi, Michigan Expo Center in 2005 where they attracted quite a bit of attention. “Everyone did a double take when they walked by them,” he said. In 2006 he displayed all the models on his front lawn on Father’s day and had neighbors and strangers stopping for photos. The local NBC TV station even sent a cameraman out and did a news story on his work.
Building the big wooden models
Chuck Hoggarth has so far handcrafted eleven large wooden models of construction equipment. Each is made from sugar pine wood that is free from knots. A single model can take up to eight or nine months to build. The largest are a 12′ long by 3′ high Kenworth truck and trailer and a Hummer that is 4′ high by 4′ wide and 7′ long. He has also built two large excavators, a high track dozer, a mining truck, an articulated tractor, an end-loader, a bulldozer, a scraper and is now working on a fishing trolling boat that will eventually be displayed floating in his swimming pool. He would also like to build a model of a backhoe similar to the one he drove many years ago. The moving parts of the models actually function and the tracks and wheels turn. Chuck had considered motorizing some of the functions but decided to keep everything moveable by hand to keep all the parts in wood.
The models are left in their natural wood rather than painting them so the beauty of the wood itself is maintained. They are given a clear finish of tung oil and finally a tough coat of clear polyethylene to protect them. To build the parts, Chuck’s garage contains all the basic carpenter’s hand tools plus a table saw, band saw, lathe, eight different routers and more. When he finds he needs a special tool for a job says, “If I need anything else, I go out and buy it.”
This giant Hummer model looks like Chuck could almost climb in and drive it away. It is 7 feet long and 4 feet high. Some wood pieces are stained dark for contrast.
A tracked excavator sits on Chuck’s front lawn. The models pivot, extend and function like the real thing. The tracks also work.
A giant mining truck looks a little more impressive when the model is “super-sized.”.
A very large model bulldozer is parked in front of Ford, making the car look small.
A scraper sits in Chuck’s shop with some of his woodworking equipment in the background..
A massive Kenworth tows a lowboy trailer hauling an excavator. Measuring twelve feet from front to back this makes a pretty impressive display parked on his front lawn.
Chuck stands behind an articulated front end loading tractor.
Chuck poses with a model of an excavator with the Lo-Boy trailer and a bulldozer in the background.