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Fredericksburg's Great Coors Tank Convoys will live on in collectibles market
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By RUSTY DENNEN
It was a convoy of epic proportions: Giant Coors beer tanks strapped to huge rigs crawled through the Fredericksburg area for over a month earlier this year, snarling traffic and drawing hundreds of spectators in the wee hours of the morning.
Now, just in time for the holidays, a tractor-trailer and tank are being immortalized in miniature by an Ohio company that specializes in unusual scale-model collectibles.
"The collectors that buy this stuff are fascinated by the equipment enough to want toy models sitting on their shelves," said Chuck Sword, president of Sword Precision Scale Models.
Sword has produced exact 50-to-1 scale replicas of a Peterbilt 379 tractor, a Nelson nine-axle trailer, and one of the Coors fermenting tanks.
The shipments of the tanks--70 feet long, 20 feet in diameter and weighing 78,000 pounds each--began on the night of March 5 from a staging area at Farley Vale Farm in King George County.
Until mid-April, two convoys a week headed west on State Route 3, into Fredericksburg, then Spotsylvania and Culpeper, on to U.S. 29 to Ruckersville, over the Blue Ridge on U.S. 33, to Elkton in the Shenandoah Valley. Coors plans to open its first East Coast brewery there next year.
Manufactured in Germany, the tanks were shipped to Hampton Roads last fall and barged up the Rappahannock River. Resembling rockets, they were lined up end-to-end off State Route 3.
The convoys quickly became a spectator sport along the more than 100-mile route. Entire families stood at intersections in the middle of the night to see them.
Sword found out about the Coors convoys through a client and figured that there might be enough interest among collectors to make some models.
He flew in to get pictures to go with dimensions and other specifications gleaned from Coors and the trucking companies, which have licensed the products.
"We came over the hill" in King George, "and, sure enough, it looked like the aliens had landed" where the tanks were lined up nose to tail. Several of the loaded rigs were ready go.
At first, Sword was going to reproduce only the tractor and trailer.