Wednesday, April 10, 2024

General American Transportation Tank Car GATX 2477

 After building several box cars again I wanted a change.   When looking at my inventory I decided I would build one of the resin kits.  Sunshine Models, resin kit 87.2, a General American Transportation Corporation (GATX) Type 30, 8,000 gallon tank car was selected for my build.  The kit came with  a color photo and decals to letter a GATX 8,000 Tank Car leased to the Hercules Powder Company.   Since I already have a Tangent and Life-Like Proto 2000 tank car with Hercules Powder Company lettering in the car fleet of the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, I decided the lettering would be changed to a simplified GATX lettering scheme.

GATX 11144 Type 30 Tank Car
Sunshine Models in kit 87.2
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

The prototype Type 30 design was introduced in the late 1920s and used for builds into the 1940s.  The Sunshine Models Preview sheet for the Type 30 Tank Cars kits stated, “the design featured a 26’ 8 1/2” distance over truck centers and 36’ 8 1/2” over striker.  Various tanks from 8,000 to 12,500 gallons were applied to the underframe.

The visual characteristic of the Type 30 design was a fame with a more open appearance.   There was no side sill from the bolster to the end sill and only a modest end sill.  The frame featured massive bolsters that bore the weight of the tank and included a poling pocket in the end.”  One type of truck these cars used was similar to the ARA cast side frame design. 

A photo of a Type 30 Tank Car numbered 1928, in series 1800 - 2899, can be found in the 1931 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Company, 1931).  A photo of the same car is in Train Shed Cyclopedia Tank Cars 1922-1943 No. 12 (Newton K. Gregg/Publisher, 1973).  And, photos of Type 30 tank cars can be found in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual Volume two: Tank Cars, (Speedwitch Media, 2006, 2007, 2008).

GATX Type 30 Tank Car 1928
1931 Car Builders' Cyclopedia

The build began with the assembly of the underframe.  Bolsters, rivet plates on the bottom of center sill, “V” shaped angle iron crossties and modest end sills were installed.  Cast coupler pockets on frame were cut off with UMM-USA saw (razor blade with fine saw teeth).  Coupler pocket pads and bolster center plates were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #262 narrow coupler boxes with Kadee #148 couplers inserted were installed with Fastenal 2-56 - 3/16” screws.  Trucks with InterMountain 33” semi-scale .088 metal wheels sets inserted were installed with Fasten 2-56 - 1/4” screws.  

Underframe underside view.

The bottom rivet plates were installed on the center sill.  The walkway (running board) was glued to pads on end of bolsters.  The walkway was not cast large enough and as a result did not sit on the pads at ends of the bolsters as shown in instruction sheet.   I had to cut it apart on the ends to fit and glue it on pads of bolster ends as in instructions photos position.  The gap created on the ends was filled with scrap styrene and MEK Goop (MEK with plastic melted in it).  Wood tank saddles (cast in resin) were installed on top of the bolsters at the center sill.

Underframe top view.

Next a train line, Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1114, .020 phosphor bronze wire (PBW) was installed in two pieces.   Brake components, Cal-Scale brake cylinder (kit)  and air reservoir (kit) were installed.  A resin mount for the bake cylinder (kit) was used and half a “V” shaped angle iron crosstie was used for the air reservoir mount.  I replaced the kit AB valve with a resin Sunshine Models one from my spare parts box that was glued to underside of the walkway (running board).

Brake components and train line installed.

At this time with the tank halves put together, NOT glued.  The tank drain was cut off and set aside.  The square tank saddles from the lower half were carved off.  Sand paper was wrapped around the tank and run through tank saddles to seat the tank and the center tank anchor touches the center sill.

Underframe sanded to seat the tank.

Now the tank halves were taken apart to enlarge the opening in the top half of the plastic tank for the cast dome.   In my opinion, this step of the build was the most difficult.  I did not do this step with a hobby knife as suggested.   I mounted the top half of the tank upside down in a “V” block and drilled through the very thick heavy flash (called molding lead in instructions) with a 1/2 twist drill mounted in a shop drill press (not a hobby drill press) after having found and marked the center.  Then I continued to enlarge the dome hole to the proper size to fit the cast dome with a burr bit mounted in my shop drill press.  I was not able to get a perfect hole to fit the cast dome.   So with the dome installed protruding 18” from  the top of the tank, it was glued from the inside with gel CA.  The minor imperfections in the hole around the tank were filled with MEK Goop.   After the MEK set around the dome, the rivet line collar (cast in resin in the kit) was installed later around the dome.

With the dome installed in tank upper half set for assembly, the car was weighted with stick on tire weights installed in the inside of the lower tank half and the tank halves were glued together.  The tank was positioned on the underframe being careful to center tank and gel CA used to attach it to underframe at center mount and ends.

Tank done installed on tank.

The tank was almost ready for adding details.   The molded on tank bands had to be carved off to allow install of etched tank bands.  The kit instructions tell you to create two tank bands of the brass strap, Tichy turnbuckles and wire provided in the kit providing no photos or additional instructions on how to do it.   I cut a 1/4” wire from supplied wire and glued it into one end of a turnbuckle.  I drilled a hole in the bolster and glued the wire with turnbuckle to the bolster.   Rather than use the kit brass strap for the tank band,  I used left over tank bands from a Sunshine X-3 tank car kit which had fine cut ends that were inserted into the turnbuckle and glued.  I could only use one fine cut end of the tank band glued into turnbuckle on one side of tank due to length around tank.  On the other side I had to cut the tank band to length and create the fine section to go into the turnbuckle.  I made the fine end section with a Xuron  #9180 etched parts cutter.

Tank Band with fine end to fit into turnbuckle.

With the tank bands installed the remaining details were installed as follows:

  • Grab irons on walkway ends, tank ends and dome, Tichy #1101, .010 PBW.
  • Grab irons on tank ends and dome formed with wire bending Xuron pliers.
  • Grab iron unused holes on tank sides filled with MEK Goop.
  • Dome platform brackets and platform provided in kit installed.
  • Handrail brackets/stanchions in kit installed on tank sides and ends.
  • Handrail stanchions, brass Precision Scale, for sides different from those on ends.
  • Handrail stanchions holes drilled out with #76 drill to receive .019 brass wire handrails.
  • Handrails Detail Associates #2506, .019 brass wire.
  • Ladders in kit installed.
  • Brake vertical shaft cut from Tichy .015 PBW
  • Brake wheel from parts box like kit brake wheel lost during build.
  • Placard boards in kit installed.
  • Uncoupling levers, bent from Tichy #1106, .0125 PBW
  • Uncoupling lever brackets, Detail Associates #2206, eye bolts in kit

Tank details installed.

Tank details installed.

To fabricate handrails, Detail Associates .019 brass wire was inserted into stanchions on sides with enough wire extended beyond tank side to be bent around tank end with a Xuron #498 wire bending plier and cut to length to fit into the handrail stanchion on the ends.

Handrails bent around tank end and cut to
enter into side of end tank stanchion.

After the above details were installed the sill steps were made.   The kit instructions stated to use kit provided A-Line #29000 sill steps and add a step bent from bass strap/strip in kit.   I chose to make the sill steps using Yarmouth Model Works etched double sill steps I folded and installed.   Once installed the two side braces were cut from Details Associates 10 x 30  flat bar stock and installed.  The Yarmouth Model Works Type 30 double sill step would be the best choice; however, I did not have any in parts inventory.

Sill step installed.

Sill steps installed.

With tank detail finished, the underframe details were installed as follows:

  • brake levers, Cal-Scale in kit
  • Brake lever hangers, grab iron in kit
  • Piping air reservoir to AB Valve, Tichy #1101, .010 PBW
  • Pipe back of brake cylinder to AB Valve, Tichy #1106, .0125 PBW
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125 PBW
  • Brake rod clevises, formed with MEK Goop
  • Brake rod with chain bracket, scrap black styrene
  • Brake rod chain, A-Line #29219 black 40 links per inch
  • Dirt collector, Tichy AB brake set #3013
  • Dirt collector pipe tee into train line, created with MEK Goop
  • Tank drain, resin in kit (one removed earlier from tank bottom)

Underframe details installed.

The build of General American Tank Line (GATX) was finished enabling its move to the paint shop.  Before moving the car to the paint shop I reviewed the the new and used GATX decal sets  I had on hand to choose a number for the car.   I had already decided to use a simplified GATX lettering scheme without lettering for a leased customer.   Choosing the number proved not to be an easy task.  And, finding a photo of a GATX Tank with a simplified paint scheme difficult.

The only photo I could find of a Type 30 tank car with a simple GATX lettering scheme was GATX 1928.  I looked the number up in January 1953 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER), a reproduction (National Model Railroad Association, 1996).  I found number  1928 was assigned by GATX to series 1800 to 2899.   I had to hope most tank cars in this series were a Type 30.  After review of the numbers in the used and and new decal sets I had on hand,  I knew car number 2477 could be used for a car number.  I checked United States, Canadian And Mexican Railroads Freight Tariff 300-H, effective September 30, 1955 (a reproduction).  Here I found  GATX 2477 was a good number with a shell gallon capacity of 8059 and dome gallon capacity of 265.  

Having decided on a number 2477 it was off to the paint shop for paint and lettering.  In the paint shop the car body was cleaned with makeup cotton swabs dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol and mounted on paint stand for painting and couplers taped with blue painters tape.

Before the car color was applied, GATX tank car was airbrushed with Vallejo Surface Primer Black 70.602 for a primer coat.   While the primer coat was drying the trucks were hand painted Vallejo Model Air Black Grey RLM66, 71.055.  When the car body was dry and still installed on the paint stand with couplers taped with blue painters tape, the tank car was airbrushed with Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950.  Once the paint coat was dry, I airbrushed car body with Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to provide a decal base.

Tank Car airbrushed with Vallejo Surface Primer.


Tank Car airbrushed with Vallejo Gloss Medium.

Tank Car airbrushed with Vallejo Gloss Medium.

Tank Car airbrushed with Vallejo Gloss Medium.

After drying overnight, decals were applied.  Decals  I used were from used and new GATX tank car decal sets.  The reporting marks, number and tank data came from a used GATX decal set from a prior kit , the CAPY and  LT WT from a new North American Tank  Car Champ HT-184 decal set.  I did not have enough 7s for the end numbers in the GATX used set.  I found and used matching 7s from a Grace tank car set.  I had reporting marks; however, not numbers to add reporting marks and number to the underframe as on the prototype.  I used photos of GATX Tank Car 1928 and photos received as a guide to apply decals.

Decals 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.  Again when dry, car body was airbrushed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish, 70.510,  to better hide edges of decals and protect decals during handling.  Again when dry, the car body was airbrushed with Model Master Acryl Flat Clear, #4636, to protect decals and provide a flat finish for weathering when applied.

Decals applied.

Decals applied.


One more step before putting GATX Tank 2477 in service was to weather the car with Pan Pastels.  Pan Pastels Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1  was applied  lightly on the roof, car body and again over safety appliances on car body with a makeup brush.   For the rust on tank bands and rivet lines Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 was applied with a micro brush.   And, Netural Grey 820.5 was lightly applied with a micro brush to the walkways, especially the edges.

GATX 2477 weathered.

GATX 2477 weathered.

General American Tank Car GATX 2477 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for GATX 2477, the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

GATX 2477 spotted at Meyer Oil in Northfield, Minn.

GATX 2477 spotted at Meyer Oil in Northfield, Minn.

GATX 2477 spotted at Meyer Oil in Northfield, Minn.

GATX 2477 spotted at Meyer Oil in Northfield, Minn.

I want to say, “Thank You” to David Thompson who did find a photo of a Type 30  8,000 gallon Tank Car numbered 12509.   A future project will be to renumber GATX 2477 with this number.  A “Thank You” to Nelson Moyer for a photo of GATX 24218, a 8,000 gallon Tank Car with a simply GATX lettering scheme that has an open frame and bolster design used by Standard Tank Car with a tank manufactured by Pennsylvania Tank Car as has two safety valves located on opposite sides of the dome.   A “Thank You “ to Steve Hile for a photo of GATX 8787, a 10,000 gallon Type 30 tank car with a simply GATX lettering scheme.

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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer


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