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The History of the Sweeping Industry

Model Builder Makes Astonishingly Detailed Miniature Austin Western Model 40 Sweeper

Photo and Model Animation

by Danny Downs with Becky Downs

Danny Downs

Model builder, Danny Downs, has made a number of extremely small models in the last four decades. His latest, of a vintage Austin Western Model 40 sweeper, is exquisitely done and offers an exceptional level of detail.

Danny Downs has been building models over 40 years. He started with plastic kits that included cars, trucks, planes and ships. Most, however, have been cars and trucks. Here's information about how this model builder makes his sweeper and other models.

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite vehicle. Maybe it's a shiny new pickup, or the old car that your grandparents drove, or maybe it's a red Ferrari that you saw last week. The possibilities are endless, but there is a very good chance that it would not be a street sweeper.

However, I have long had a passion for them. Ever since I was little I have always been interested in things that most folks wouldn't give a second thought. One of those items was the first Austin Western Model 40 sweeper I saw in the 1980s. The sweeper was at Pioneer Village, a museum in Menden, NE. I immediately thought it was an interesting piece of equipment.

Small Parts Back then our city used Wayne Sweepers, which had a wide nose. The Austin Western Model 40 had a narrow nose and was just different enough to catch my attention. The museum allowed me to take dimensions and get photos to make a drawing. As I started to gather more information I learned of one in Osage City, KS and another in Salina, KS.

Back then, there were still a few of the machines around. Although it took awhile, I was able to get two different Model 40 manuals. Since then, about 10 years ago, the Austin Western in the museum at Salina was sold and cut up for scrap. Just because something is in a museum does not mean that it is safe forever!

Back parts Each model I build poses different challenges. The model 40 is no different. Especially because of the little parts in the broom assembly and the lights, I found it was interesting to build. I make each part by hand after I make a scale drawing.

When I start a model I will make 'bucks' from the drawing. A buck is a mandrel to form the copper or brass over in order to make different parts. At first the model will go fairly fast, because it doesn't take long to form the major body parts. It's when you start fitting the smaller parts all together that things will slow down. The tiny, very detailed, parts that are the hardest but they are also the most rewarding. Another challenge is to blend the copper and brass so it has a uniform theme.

I plan to make one more Austin Western sweeper, which will be a 1938 Patrol Sweeper. I have already made my drawing and the bucks for this model. At this point I'm not sure when the build process will start, though.

If you would like to see more of the models I build. You can go to my web site at
For this particular sweeper, choose the slideshow entitled "1949 Austin Western Model 40." By the way, I do not sell my models; rather, I build them just for the fun and challenge.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to know more about Danny Downs and the models he makes, we suggest you will also enjoy's previous article we did when Downs first built a scale model of an Austin Western Model 50 sweeper.

You may reach Danny Downs via email sent to

We're always on the lookout for more sweeper-oriented information we can add to the website, so keep us in mind if you find interesting information about sweeping.

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