Re: Tank car ratio?

Ian Cranstone

On 2015-06-30, at 4:10 AM, stanrail@... [STMFC] wrote:

Can anyone help with a rough ratio of tank cars in plain black to those in other colors and also with large ‘Billboard’ lettering? I have been buying and building mostly plain-Jane black cars with just reporting marks and only a few brighter cars as that’s what seems to turn up in photos. I’m aware that location will be a factor and maybe the tendency of photographers to take pictures of colourful cars rather then the plainer ones (Been there, done that). My interest is the early 1950’s in the south east.

I've just been compiling fleet numbers from the 1955 Tank Car Capacities volume.  Although this volume doesn't offer any information about colours, at that time there were about 185,000 tank cars in service.  Of that total, a little over 47,000 - or roughly 25% - were Union Tank Line cars, which as far as I know only appeared in black.  Add to that  the 52,000 cars reported by General American - about 30% of the total fleet - and although they did have some more colourful lessee schemes, I believe they were mostly black as well.  And in case you're wondering, Shippers Car Line came in a distant third with 12,000 cars.

So this suggests that for every four tank cars in service at that time, 1 was a UTLX car, and 1 was a GATX car, and that they were most likely black.

Ian Cranstone
Osgoode, Ontario, Canada

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