Sunday, April 19, 2020

General American Tank Car Line 810

After putting off the build of Southern Car & Foundry General American Tank Line  (GATX) two dome tank car, kit 2001, I decided no more putting it off.  It was time to built it.  When I started the build the car number was going to be 1638; however, I finally used number 810 to letter the car.

The prototype was built by Standard Tank Car Company (STC) using one of their standard designs.  Prior to being purchased by General American Tank Line STC built all types of tank cars and sizes between 1916 and 1928.  Many of the cars lasted into the 1960s.  Tank GATX 810 built during this time was still listed in the January 1953 Official Railway Equipment Register. The tank size in Tank Car Capacities Tariff , Freight Tariff 300-H, September 30, 1955 book lists tank A as 3,946 gallons and tank B as 3,945 gallons and each dome 200 gallons for a total of 8,303 gallons.

GATX 810 two dome tank car.  Photo source unkown.
(Click or tap on this or any photo to enlarge.)

The instructions begin by having you fit the two tank halves, upper and lower courses, and gluing them together.  You do not want to glue the courses together until you have added weights to the inside, not mentioned in the instructions.  So I set the unglued tank courses aside to allow weight to be added after couplers and trucks were installed on the frame. 

The build of the frame begins with installing Kadee #78 couplers provided in the kit into frame coupler pockets with coupler covers.  I drilled and tapped the pocket covers and pocket post for Walthers  1-72 x 1/8” flat head screws used to install the couplers.  I was glad I did as the couplers sagged in the pockets after install and I had to remove cover and install a shim cut from resin flash  to gain proper coupler height. 

Coupler install and tank band anchors installed.
(Click or tap on this or any photo to enlarge.)

Before installing trucks, the photo etched frame sections along coupler pockets, running boards, tank band anchors, timber tank pads and striker plate on the frame ( shown in "B" end photo) were installed.  The trucks in the photo of GATX 810 are Andrews.  I used Accurail #166 Andrews trucks with InterMountain semi-scale metal wheels, installed with Fastenal 1/4” screws.

Running boards, tank band anchors, timber tank pads on tank saddle
 and photo etched frame sections along coupler box installed.

Now I put the car frame with tank on a scale to find I needed  eight (8) A-Line 1/4 ounce weights to weight the car to 3.8 ounces.  I used Permatex Clear RTV Silicone adhesive sealant to secure the A-Line weights that fit very nicely into the inside of the tank.  The tank was again set aside to allow the Permatex to dry.

Eight A-Line weights fit nicely in tank body.

I decided I wanted to install AB brakes rather than the K brakes; however, nothing in the instructions to tell me how.   I was able to acquire a photo of tank car GATX 810 that I used as a guide to install the AB brake components.  The brackets for the air reservoir were cut from Evergreen #274 I-beam strip styrene with the outer flanges carved off.  On top of the same brackets a styrene platform was added for the AB valve. 

AB brake components installed.

Before moving onto the brake piping, I cut out, bent into shape, and installed the photo etched sill steps.  In addition, I installed the running board drop grab irons at this time.   And, I installed the uncoupling lever brackets using the kit provided template to position then on the end running boards.

Sill steps, drop grab irons, and uncoupling lever
brackets installed.  You can also see the striker plate installed above coupler.

Onto the brake piping details...

The brake details included the following:
- piping from air reservoir to AB valve, Tichy # 1101, .010” diameter wire (not in kit)
- pipe from brake cylinder to to AB valve, .012” brass wire
- train line, .018” floral wire (not in kit)

Brake piping and sill steps installed.
In addition, note timber tank pads installed on tank saddles.

Now the tank halves with Permatex dry were glued together, tank drains on tank added, and tank glued to frame.  Back to work on the brake and other frame details...

- brake lever hangers, laid out with template in kit, .012” brass wire, installed
-brake levers made from Evergreen strip styrene, brake cylinder lever #8108, 1 x 8” and floating lever #8106, 1 x 6” (not in kit)
- brake rods, .012” brass wire with Tichy turnbuckles or MEK Goop clevises
- chain, A-Line 29219, Black 40 links per inch (not in kit)
- universal slack adjuster (not in kit)
- tank drains on frame, the modern brake cylinder back, Tichy set#3013, sanded smooth to enable mounting upside down 
- end straps, photo etched brass (not in kit) , bent using resin end straps in kit as pattern and installed.  The “B” end strap acts as the brake shaft step when installed.

Under body details added.
 Note the end straps on frame ends above coupler boxes.

Next the tank bands (straps) were installed.  Styrene strips .010” x .040” are cut 2 15/16” long for tank bands to which resin “bolt castings” are glued to be used to slide into the tank anchors installed on the frame.  I told myself no way can I get the resin bolt casting inserted into the anchors without breaking them.  Therefore,  I made my own bolt castings.  I drilled a #79 hole 1/16” from the end of each cut strap, inserted and glued a Tichy #1101, .010” diameter wire bent with a tiny right angle to insert into the drilled hole and long enough allow a 1/4” section extending from the strap end.  If you have brass wire use that rather than the phosphor bronze wire as it will  be easier to bend after it is inserted into the fragile resin tank anchors on the frame.  I added MEK Goop over the wire to seal the wire inside when dried.

Tank band ends.  Upper tank band end is assembled per instructions
 with resin end.  Lower tank band end is my design with wire end.

Tank band ends are inserted into the anchors on the frame.

Once the tank bands were positioned on the tank and glued here and there on tank, the bolt castings with the wire on the strap end, were inserted into the tank anchors on the frame and carefully bent upward over the anchor and cut off.  I then went back and added glue to secure tank bands on the tank.

Tank band end wire inserted into frame anchors and
wire bent back on anchor to form a hook.

Next I installed the handrails with Tichy handrail stanchions provided in the kit.  A template in the kit is used to mark the height the stanchions are to be located on the tank.  Once marked, mounting holes are drilled with a #74 drill and stanchions are installed.  There are end stanchions that are twice the size of side stanchions so you need to be sure they are used on the ends.  I installed all stanchions with CA.

Next, I bent and installed the handrails using a method I prefer over the method described in the instructions.  I make two handrails, one for each side whose ends are inserted into the stanchions mounted on the ends of the tank.  I start the handrail by making a bend in the wire on one end so the handrail has a quarter of a circle bend on the end.  The handrail straight leg is slid through side stanchions until the bent portion is the proper distance from the tank.  The quarter circle portion is cut off at the end stanchion leaving enough to be inserted into the half of the stanchion mounted on the end of the tank and a tiny amount of glue applied. Now I free hand bend the other end to a quarter circle and insert it into half of the end stanchion and add a touch of glue.  I follow by repeating the process for the other hand rail.

Handrails and stanchions installed.

The two handrails ends inserted into half of end stanchion.

With handrails in place the dome platforms were cut from one long platform in the kit; plastic Branchline grab irons were added,  and glued in place.  Brackets bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter wire were bent and installed in holes drilled under the dome platforms with a #79 drill.   Ladders were now mounted. I substituted ladders cut from Kadee #2012 ladders for the ladders in the kit. I made the hooks on the ladder tops with MEK Goop.

Dome platforms and ladders installed.

When I finished the dome platforms, I moved to the “B” end details.  I installed the brake shaft making sure it rested on the brake shaft step portion of the end strap installed earlier.  The brake wheel install followed.  Grab irons, drop type in the kit, were installed on the ends after being bent in the middle with wire bending pliers to form a slight curve.  Uncoupling levers bent from .012” brass wire were installed in brackets installed earlier.

"B" end details installed.

Final details needed to finish the build were installed.  Grab irons on domes installed.  Dome manhole covers and kit safety valves were installed; however, replaced later as incorrect for GATX 810.  Tank car GATX 810 was ready for paint and lettering.

GATX 810 ready for painting.

GATX 810 ready for painting.

First, I  washed the entire car with a makeup swab dipped in 91% alcohol.  Next the entire tank car was sprayed Vallejo Model Color Black, #70.950, thinned 50% with a custom mix of distilled water, Vallejo air brush thinner #71.161 and Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver 71.562.  After paint dried overnight, car body sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium #70.470, for decal base.  Trucks were hand painted with the same Vallejo Model Color Black used on the tank and frame.

GATX 810 ready to be sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium in
paper towel tube cut in half holder taped on a board.

Tank car sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Medium.

Under body sprayed Vallejo Black.  No Gloss Medium.

The car in the photos above has the incorrect kit safety dome valves for GATX 810.  I began the build with the car number being GATX 1638.   Since I could not find a photo of the left side showing how AB brakes were installed and I had used GATX 810 for the AB brakes location, dome platforms and ladders location I decided to change the number to GATX 810.  Therefore, after the car was painted the installed safety dome valves were cut off , turned upside down and used as one of the safety dome valves for GATX 810.  The other dome value for GATX 810 was made from a kit sprue.  In addition, the photos above have incorrect trucks.  The trucks were replace with  Andrews trucks, correct for GATX 810.  The one regret with the number change is that I had the four tank bands installed and GATX 810 only requires two; however, I was willing to live with that.

GATX 810 with new safety valves installed.

Once dry, MicroScale decals provided in the kit were soaked off in distilled water and applied to the car body where MicroScale Micro Set had been applied with a brush.   After the decal was applied in the Micro Set and positioned the edges had MicroScale Micro Sol applied.  Any excess solution was sucked away with the torn edge of a paper towel.  When decals were dry, the car body was sprayed with Vallejo Matt Varnish 70.580 to protect decals during handling and for weathering.

GATX 810 lettered and ready for weathering.

GATX 810 lettered 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.

GATX 810 weathered

GATX 810 weathered.

Once I had the tank car weathered I printed a car card and placed GATX 810 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.”

GATX  810 in general service at Meyer Oil in Northfield.

GATX 810 in general service at Meyer Oil in Northfield.

A “Thank You” to Steve Hile  for  help with this build.  Steve and I exchanged emails regarding GATX 810.  Steve said he was considering building GATX 810 rather than GATX 1638 as you only have to install two tank bands.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer


  1. Nice build! I have that kit as well(un-built). Maybe I will have the courage to tackle it once the 'rib-side fever' session of Rib Side Productions/Accurail) box cars finished.
    Have blessed time of modeling in these trying times...

    Jim Bernier

  2. Well done old friend. Really nice job with the weathering. It does not overpower the model. Certainly up to your standards. Thanks for sharing this with us.