Several years ago I purchased an Athearn Tank Car, kit 1574, lettered for the Atchison, Topeka And Santa Fe (A.T.S. F.) with number 100801. I made the purchase thinking I had seen a photo of the car in a Car Builders’ Cyclopedia. I was happy when I found photos of A.T.S.F. tank car 100800, series 100800-100899, Class ICC-103, 16,200 gallons tank car, built by General American Transportation Corporation in the 1940 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia ( Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp., 1940) on page 319. The photos also appear in Train Shed Cyclopedia NO. 12, Tank Cars 1922-1943 ( Newton K. Gregg, 1973).
And, I was not happy because I was aware of the problems with the Athearn tank car such as dome too short and all tank rivets not correct. The problems are described in a two part article “Tank Car Basics” by Tony Thompson in Model Railroad Hobbyist, Part 1 in February 2016 and Part 2 in March 2016. Knowing the problems, my first thought was to put it on my sale table in my railroad area; however, I finally decided to build it to test some ideas I had and use it as a reasonable looking stand in.
On the under body I cut off the coupler pocket covers from the underframe. I drilled and tapped the coupler pockets and covers for 2-56 screws. I installed Kadee #148 couplers with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws. Next, I cut off the air reservoir and moved it to the Santa Fe transverse position as can be seen in the above photos. The brake cylinder, control valve and brake levers were left as molded. I added the piping, Tichy Train Group (Tichy) .010” phosphor bronze wire (PBW) from the air reservoir to the control valve and brake rods Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter phosphor bronze wire. The brake cylinder rod chain is A-Line 40 links per inch.
Next, I needed to correct some of the tank problems. The major problem the 12” dome height. Tony Thompson increased the dome height for some SP tank cars using a portion of another Athearn tank car dome. I felt casting a dome might be easier. I found the Varney, later Life-Like, to have the proper dome height and made a mold of the Varney dome and cast a resin dome.
I cut the dome off the tank car with a Xacto fine tooth razor saw and installed the new 24 inch dome. The dome could easily be sanded to a get a 22 inch or less dome height. I liked the result and having a mold I can duplicate the dome for other Athearn tank cars. Yes, the manway is too large and hinges too tall on the Varney dome. You can remove these and replace them with parts of proper size from Tichy #3007, Tank Car Detail Set.
I had already removed the handrails and molded on stanchions on the tank. I did not have Precision Scale #32110, brass or 32110-1, plastic stanchions or Tichy plastic stanchions in the Tank Car Detail Set in inventory. Not having any of the three preferred stanchions, I used Precision Scale #374, 3.5 mm long stanchions which I did have and bent them upward with a needle nose pliers. A last resort method that would work if necessary in the future.
For the handrails, rather than using brass or PBW as on other tank cars I have built, I wanted to try flora wire. I threaded .018” floral wire through the stanchion holes on each side and joined them inside the stanchion mounted on the tank end. I quickly found the floral wire I like to use for a train line is a poor choice for the handrails as too soft allowing it to bend easily. Lesson learned.
Other changes on the tank car included removing one of the two rivet rows on the tank next to the dome via scraping and sanding. Next, I carved off molded on grab irons and replaced them with grab irons I bent from Tichy #1101 .010” PBW. I installed a Kadee Ajax brake wheel to replace the kit one. Plastic ladders from a Roundhouse Products Model Die Casting Inc. 50 ft. tank car kit shortened to fit were used rather than the metal kit ladders.
Double sill steps with angle brace were added next. I cut off the molded on sill steps. I bent a sill step from Detail Associates #2524 .010” x .030” flat brass bar stock and attached them to the car. Next, I cut strips .030” wide with a Xuron 9180 scissor like cutter ( in my opinion a wonderful tool for cutting thin sheet brass) to create the step in the double step sill and the side angle brace from .005” sheet brass. A cut strip was used to bend the double step with a needle nose pliers and glued into the previously installed sill step. A sill step angle brace attached to the sill step at the middle and the end sill was also cut from a strip and installed. The sill step with angle brace fabrication went well using super glue rather than soldering as I have always done in the past.
I still needed to add uncoupling levers. An uncoupling lever bracket was made with a styrene angle, cut from Plastruct #9501, 3/64" styrene angle, glued to the double sill step with the angle facing outward and drilled with #79 drill to make a hole into which a Detail Associates #2206, eye bolt was installed. An uncoupling lever bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” PBW was installed using the made bracket and gluing the end in a hole drilled in the bottom of the couple pocket cover.
The final details to be installed were the diamond metal shaped placard boards in the kit and forged flanges for the tank head (the round item at the top of the tank on the end).
The car parts not already hand painted with Vallejo Black 70.950 were now painted. Once dry a coat of Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 was applied to get a match sheen on car and decal application on ends.
Decals for ends were made with Clover House Railroad Roman Alphabet Condensed Bold White #9600-11 dry transfers applied to decal paper and coated with MicroScale Liquid Decal Film. The decals were applied with MicroScale Micro Sol. When decals were dry, the car body was sprayed with Vallejo Matt Varnish 70.580 to protect dry transfers and decals during handling and for weathering.
|End decals with reporting marks and numbers applied.|
I weathered the tank car with Pan Pastels and makeup brushes using the following colors: Payne’s Grey Extra Dark 840.1 and Burnt Sienna 740.5.
Once I had the tank car weathered I printed a car card and placed A.T.S.F. 100801 in service. I took a photo of it sitting at Meyer Oil in Northfield, Minn. served by Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving Today, Shaping Tomorrow.”
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