With several Union Tank Car Company, UTLX, 10,000 gallon X-3 tank cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, I wanted a "squat" 8,000 gallon X-3 to join them. Therefore, I pulled Sunshine Models Union Tank Car Company, kit 62.2, from inventory for this build.
The prototype, an uninsulated tank mostly used to haul oil, was one of four designs built for UTLX by American Car And Foundry assigned to series 17000 - 17799. The 32’ 2” frame X-3 carried an 8,000 gallon tank. The tank was a shortened 10,000 gallon tank; therefore, the name “squat” tank. A special feature of the X-3 tank car was the length of the underframe being longer than the tank which created a space between the tank and end sill that was used for a wood platform. Another feature of most X-3s was the dome platform only on the left side of the car. The X-3 tank cars generally rode on a four spring package, planked, cast side frame trucks.
|Photo from Sunshine Models tank car kit instructions|
(Click or tap on this or nay photo to enlarge)
|Photo from Sunshine Models tank car kit instructions|
|A short "squat" 8,000 gallons X-3 compared to|
a 10,000 gallon X-3
My first step was to determine the number I wanted for the tank car. I looked at the decal sheet which had a long row of numbers among which I found three possible numbers I could use. I looked up each number in a book titled Tank Car Capacities Tariff , Freight Tariff 300-H, effective September 30, 1955. This book shows the capacity of the shell and dome in gallons and in many cases special features for all tank cars in revenue service in the United States, Canada and Mexico. I decided I would use number 17441.
The build began with the underframe the tank sits on. I drilled and tapped the coupler pockets and bolster center plates for 2-56 screws. Kadee #148 couplers were installed in the coupler pockets with Fastenal 2-56 x 3/16” screws. Accurail AAR cast steel trucks into which InterMountain 33” metal wheels were installed were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1.4” screws. Kadee #208, .015” fiber washers were installed to gain proper coupler height determined with a Kadee coupler height gauge.
|Trucks and couplers installed.|
Following kit instructions, various parts including corner platforms between end sill and bolsters, corner triangular plates on top and bottom, bolster cover plates on top of the underframe, ratchet plate with pawl and ratchet and retainer valve, were installed. Next the running boards and small styrene supports were installed. The tank was weighted to 3.8 ounces using A-Line 1/2 ounce and other weights and installed. Next tank dome with dome details as manhole cover and safety valves followed.
Next the photo etched tank bands, one of the most difficult parts of the build, were installed following kit instructions with one exception. I did not use the incorrect tank diagram in the kit instructions or the corrected diagram in a correction sheet provided by Sunshine Models to mark the position of the tank bands as, in my opinion, it would not locate them on the tank to match their location on the prototype. Instead, I used prototype photos to locate the bands on the tank. At this point in the build I would like to have continued with handrail install; however, I was still waiting for Precision Scale handrail stanchions to arrive so I began the underbody work.
The cross bearers were installed first followed by the brake components. I used a Tichy Train Group (Tichy) air reservoir and brake cylinder from set #3013 to replace the kit parts ( I believe Cal-Scale) due to their smaller size. In my opinion, the smaller size match proportions in prototype photos better. Brake levers, kit, brake lever hangers, kit grab irons, installation followed. A train line using .018” flora wire and brake rods made from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) and chain, kit, were installed.
|Underframe details installed. Left cross bearer|
installed per incorrect instructions.
|Underframe with corrected cross bearer location|
per corrected instructions.
Still no Precision Scale handrail stanchions in the mailbox so I went back to working on tank details. Grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter brass wire were installed. The dome platform was installed on brackets made from .005” sheet brass. I installed the photo etched sill steps in the kit; however, I quickly determined they were too delicate for an operating railroad so replaced them with sill steps bent from Detail Associates #2524, .010” x .030” flat bar stock.
As soon as handrail stanchions, Precision Scale #32110, arrived in the mail I installed them. I drilled out the stanchions with a #79 drill followed with a #76 drill. On the tank I marked the location of the holes for the handrail stanchions with a pencil. I used a map pin to make a dimple to mark and provide a drill starting location for a #76 drill held in the chuck of a 8050 Dremel Tool. Once the holes were drilled the Precision Scale side and end stanchions were installed. To allow the glue additional time to dry before installing the handrails I installed the brake staff, Tichy #1102, .015" diameter PBW, and brake wheel provided in kit. Defect card holders provided in the kit were also installed.
|Handrail stanchions, brake shaft with brake wheel and|
defect car holders (on sill next to sill step) installed.
Handrails, Details Associates #2506, .019” diameter brass wire were installed. The bending of the handrails for the ends was done with a BeadSmith wire bending pliers and jig in the kit. I made one handrail for each side of the tank joining the ends of the two handrails in the handrail stanchions on the tank car ends. I made the handrails by bending the end portion in the jig, sliding the straight portion thru the opening in the side handrail stanchions until the curved portion bent in the jig reached the end of the tank car and then bending the other end by sight with the BeadSmith wire bending pliers. After installing the handrails, a ladder cut from brass ladder stock with rungs filed thinner was installed. There were resin cast ladders in the kit; however, due to their easy breakage I never use them.
Only install of uncoupling levers was left to complete the build. I first made uncoupling levers mounting brackets with styrene from the bits box and and eye bolts bent from wire in bits box. Uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW were installed.
|Uncoupling levers installed. Also note replaced sill step.|
Another build finished except for paint and decals. I wiped the car with a cotton swab dipped in 91% alcohol to remove any grime from the build. Off to the paint booth where I sprayed the tank car with Vallejo Model Color Black 70.95. After the black was dry I sprayed the car with Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to provide a decal base.
|Car out of paint shop after Gloss sprayed.|
|Decals applied .|
|Car is taped for spraying with Vallejo Matt Varnish|
|Car sprayed with Vallejo Matt Varnish and ready for weathering.|
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 UTLX 17441 in service. I took a photo of it sitting at Chestnut Street Yard engine facility in Minneapolis , Minn. of the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving Today, Shaping Tomorrow.”
I want to say, “Thank You” to George Toman and Peter Hall for being willing to reduce their stash of Precision Scale handrail stanchions. Without their help this project could not have been completed. Again, “Thank You” George and Peter. And, I say, "Thank You" to Bill Welch for permission to use his photo of the prototype used in the kit instructions.
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