The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A tale of five tank cars

An end of summer project was finishing up five tank cars, all kitbashed to varying degrees and in progress for years. I have long wanted to be able to run a good string of tank cars.

The one that has been in progress the longest is this one. The frame and tank were sent to me by Bill Johann back in 1995—I still have the little box. He included with it a print out from the November, 1994 issue of Model Railroader of an article on early ACF tank cars and a note, he saw that one of the photos was of a car of this type owned by the real Orient RY (absorbed by the ATSF in 1928) which I model but as if it existed into the 1950s. A plastic body (HO) had been donated to the SIG that was just about the right size; he sent it to me and a Selley frame to start me on the project and even scaled the plans up to OO to give me a head start. It still took a good bit of work, I had to replace the bottom part of the tank, etc, and ultimately it is a bit freelanced (I did not scratch build the high running boards), but after 14 years I got the car together finally! I will run it with other 1920s era cars.

UPDATE: Finished car here.

There is one side story with this car worth noting. I have three pair of what I thought was a heavy arch bar truck for OO by maybe Kemtron with lost wax brass side frames. Then, putting them on this car, I noticed they really looked heavy. Huge journal boxes! And the wheels are too large? Looking in Kemtron catalogs I saw no such listing and I finally realized they were, duh, On3 D&RGW 3’7” trucks. They will be on the way to eBay soon. The trucks on the car in the top photo are the modified North Yard Sn3 trucks from this post.

The next oldest pair of cars are these. The single dome car is Scale-Craft and pretty unremarkable other than I bought it on eBay unfinished and somewhat in disrepair and fixed it up. The other car started life as a three dome Tyco HO car of this type. I saw it at a show some years back and got it with the idea of making a two dome OO car out of it, which it is now, on a lengthened Selley frame with other parts. It seems to look best on S-C trucks, which I still find a bit toy-like but two dome tank cars are fairly common in toy trains but not common in reality so they kind of fit. For those curious, here is a link to a photo of a real two dome tank car.

UPDATE: The finished two dome car is here and the S-C car here.

The last pair of cars may raise a few eyebrows. They are Lionel, sort of. Some years back I purchased a pair of Lionel tank car bodies in an eBay lot with the idea of building them up for OO. The other parts needed hardly come up for sale, but I did manage to buy a frame. I finally decided to work up the rest of the parts from HO and the parts box. So the car with the Lionel frame has S-C ladders and a dome top cut off an Athearn HO car; the other car has the frame of that same Athearn car and a dome from yet another HO car. The trucks are made up from reproduction Lionel parts with late Scale-Craft (solid axle) wheelsets. The handrail stanchions are from two different scrapped locomotive boilers. Forgive me Lionel collectors. They won’t be decaled to resemble Lionel cars.

UPDATE: Final versions here and here.

Again, the model railroader side of me has wanted to run a long string of tank cars for a while, and when the decals are done I will be able to. One of the “Lionel” cars will be UTLX for sure, and most if not all of the rest Orient. The white Orient decals I use are actually Microscale HO tank car decals for the Orient, so it is about time I used them on a tank car.

No comments: