Pierce Ladders

By Doug Boudrow


Anybody that avidly collects Code 3 models has probably noticed the recent release of two Pierce rear mount ladder trucks from the Midwest. The first release is from Chicago, Illinois, and is lettered as the truck assigned to the Chicago Fire Academy. The second release was from Detroit, Michigan, and is lettered as Ladder Company 1. Although both models are replicas of Pierce 100's ladder trucks, many tooling changes were made to the mold to make it accurate to each city.

Both trucks have Pierce Dash six man cabs. Although the Detroit truck has a pre-piped waterway, both trucks have one hundred foot, medium duty aerial ladders. That is pretty much where the similarities end.

The Detroit truck has a longer wheelbase than the Chicago truck. This is because the Detroit truck is actually a Quint, and also has slightly larger compartments. Code 3 retooled the model to make it accurate, and there is a noticeable wheelbase difference between the two models. This means that Code 3 used an all-new chassis mold. This is not an easy tooling change.

The compartments on the Detroit truck are laid out completely different than the compartments on the Chicago truck. The most noticeable difference is the fact that the Chicago truck has a ground ladder stack on the driver's side, and full size compartments on the officer's side.  The Detroit truck has full size compartments on both sides. Also, the most forward compartment on the Detroit truck is larger than the compartment in that location on the Chicago rig. On the real Detroit truck, this is where the pump panel is located. This is the main factor that makes the wheelbase longer on the Detroit truck. In addition, the SCBA bottle compartments are in different spots on each rig. The SCBA compartment doors are also different. The Chicago truck has semi-triangular doors, while the Detroit has square doors.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Photo courtesy, Code 3 Collectibles 

The aerial ladders are different on the two rigs. The Detroit truck has a pre-piped waterway, while the Chicago truck simply has a ladder pipe mounted on a bracket inside the equipment bed, and no pre-pipe. The pre-pipe on the Detroit truck causes the entire ladder to sit higher out of the bed. This is how it is on the real apparatus. To compensate for the higher overall height, the turntable and cradle are also different than the Chicago piece.

There are also many small differences between the two trucks. The warning lights are different. This includes the light bars, the rear warning lights, and the intersection lights on the sides of the trucks. The Detroit piece has grab handles under the windows, and the Chicago truck does not. Chicago has a chrome-plated bumper, with rookie bar's and tow hooks. The Detroit truck has an all red bumper with only the siren and air-horn mounted on it. The Detroit rig has a rear water intake, and if you look closely you will notice that the intake cap has the Pierce American flag and eagle logo (Full size version pictured with models). There are also many other small changes, but it would take all day to type them.

Overall, both trucks are outstanding models, and have very intricate details. I was very impressed with both models, and they are among the favorites in my collection. Code 3 deserves a huge round of applause for the tooling changes they made to make the Detroit model an accurate replica. It shows how far they have come in the past few years. Lets hope Code 3 continues to do this in the future.

All photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

Hit Counter