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11,000-GALLON TANK CAR:  O SCALE

MODEL RAILROAD NEWS - March 2004

Mfd. by Atlas O LLC, 378 Florence Ave., Hillside, NJ  07205

The Atlas O scale 11,000-gallon tank car is a recent addition to the Atlas O “Steam Era Classics” series. The 11,000-gallon tank car is a well done model of a specific prototype, with very accurate paint and lettering schemes.

 The first run of these cars included models painted for Gulf Oil, Hooker Chemicals, Pyrofax Bottled Gas, Shippers Car Line, Union Tank Car Line and Warren Petroleum, as well as undecorated cars with and without a dome platform. Atlas O announced another run in November 2003, with five new road names:  Shell Chemical, Sunray (Sun Oil Co.), Fuelane Corp., California Dispatch Lines, and Spencer Chemical. The cars for all of these road names, expect Warren and California Dispatch Lines, have large dome platforms that surround the dome and have a railing. The Warren and California Dispatch Lines cars have two small dome platforms on both sides of the dome. All of the paint schemes presently available are shown on the Atlas O web site at http://www.atlaso.com/welcome.htm.

 It’s interesting to note that Atlas first announced these models in N scale in April 2002, and then in HO scale in March 2003.

 The prototypes for these cars are American Car and Foundry (AC&F) insulated, high pressure tank cars with a nominal capacity of 11,000 gallons. The visible ”tank” on the prototype and the model is an outer sheet metal jacket that protects the insulation. Most of the prototypes are ICC class 105-A-300-W, where 105 indicates that the car is intended to carry dangerous commodities, the A refers to compressed gases, 300 is the test pressure for the tank, and W indicates a tank of welded construction. Photos of the Warren, Pyrofax, Union, Shell, and Spencer cars are included in Ed Kaminski’s book, American Car and Foundry Company 1988-1999 (Signature Press, 1999). Ed’s recent book, Tank Cars of the American Car and Foundry Company 1865-1955 (Signature Press 2003) has photos of the Gulf and Shippers cars.

 I have examined Atlas O models lettered for Gulf, Hooker, SHPX, Pyrofax, and Warren. The paint and lettering on these cars is very well done. The lettering is very complete and includes reporting marks, an ACF logo and trust data on the center sill, an inspection stencil on the brake reservoir, and a repack stencil on the side sill in addition to very complete lettering on the tanks.

 AC&F drawings of these cars appear in the 1948-51 and 1953 Car Builders Cyclopedias. The 1953 drawing is also in Ed Kaminski’s tank car book. The AC&F drawings are not dimensioned, but they do appear to be drawn to scale. Ed Hawkins, the editor of the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia series, has been researching these cars. Ed provided the following dimensions taken from AC&F general arrangement and tank drawings: truck centers, 27’-11”; maximum tank diameter 99.125”; insulation jacket .125” thick; width over running boars 9’-8”; height rail-to-top of running board, 3’-8.625”; height running board-to-tank railing, 4’-5.125” or 4’-5.875”, and extreme height, 14’-1” or 14’-1.5”. On the model the height rail-to-top of running board is 3’-11”, the maximum tank diameter is 95”, and the insulating jacket is 0.36” thick. All of the other dimensions on the model are within 1” or less of the prototype dimensions.

 The tank and other components of the Atlas O model are nicely done and the overall appearance of these cars is quite good. The built dates for the cars released so far range from August 1947 to November 1954. Photos indicate the AC&F used a six-section insulation jacket and mounted the brake valve and reservoir mounted on the running board until mid-1951. Photos of later cars show a five-section insulation jacket with the brake gear mounted under the tank. The only exception in the photos listed above is the Republic car, which has a six-section jacket and brake gear under the tank The Atlas O model has a six-section jacket and brake gear mounted under the tank.

 There are many separately-applied detail parts, including an AB brake system with piping, levers and brake rods, a vertical staff brake wheel, tank hold-downs, grab irons, handrails, ladders and large or small dome platforms, as per the prototypes, and placard holders. The Atlas O underframe is simplified compared with the prototype, and the Atlas O running boards are solid with a molded-in-grid pattern. The shadows of the running boards in some of the photos listed above indicate open grid running boards. The car comes with Atlas O couplers that automatically couple and uncouple with other Atlas O couplers and with Kadee brand couplers. The AAR cast steel trucks are overall wider than the prototype trucks to accommodate three-rail treads and still use the same bolster. The two-rail wheelsets on the cars reviewed here match the NMRA gauge. The treads and flanges on the Atlas O wheels are smaller (closer to scale) than conventional O-scale wheel sets, and they track reliably.

 In summary, the new Atlas O 11,000-gallon, insulated, high-pressure tank car is a well done, prototypical model with very accurate paint and lettering. It fills a gap in the list of available O scale freight cars. These cars were built during the steam-to-diesel transition era and they remained in service for many years. The two-rail models list for $64.95. The three-rail models list of $59.95 – LARRY KLINE

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