Re: Athearn 62' Chemical Tank Car - Steam Era?

D. Scott Chatfield

Shawn Beckert wrote:

Take a look at this image found at George Elwood's web site:

This looks an awful lot like the Athearn 62' chemical tank car.
Gallonage is 20527, right around what the kit checks out as.
Could this be what old Irv had in mind when he produced this kit?

The car that ol' Irv BASED his "62-foot chemical tank" on is indeed the ACF
25,260g diesel fuel tanks built by ACF for CB&Q and GN in the early '60s.
I believe these two groups of fifty cars each were CB&Q 130000-130049 and
GN 100050-100099. I think BN renumbered them 974000-974099.

Now how exact Irv matched them is up for debate. Just doing rough math on
the model tells me its gallonage would be about 24,500g. That's a tad
undersized, but difficult to see. The model's extreme length appears to be
quite close to the dimensions for the GN cars in the 7/64 Register, namely
an outside length of 63'2". I have a feeling this is the length over the
strikers, since the CB&Q's listing for their fifty cars shows an outside
length of 65'2". That's probably the length over the pulling faces, which
is how we generally define "outside length" nowadays. (In the steam era
some roads gave the outside length over the strikers, not the pulling
faces. Many drawings also show it that way, but in operations we want to
know the length over the pulling faces so we know how many will fit in a
siding. Unfortunately, our models' draft gears are often a bit longer than
the prototypes, so direct comparisons do not usually work.)

I have shots of these tanks and to me they appear very close except the
tank may be a tad fatter than the model. Perhaps a 104" diameter instead
of the model's ~102". That would put the model very close to 25,260g.

There's a shot of SHPX 12989 in the '61 'Cyc. Series was 12971-12999, I
believe. Built 2/60. Roughly 20,000 gallons (per caption, can't read the
tank end). Capacity roughly 90 tons. The car looks a few feet shorter
than the Athearn model, like maybe 54 feet over the strikers. Register
doesn't give length for any of SHPX's tanks (a practice I always thought
was strange). It looks just like the SHPX 12950 tank on Elwood's site,
except it's plain black and has solid bearing trucks. SHPX 12950 appears
to have a 12/58 built date on it. Keep in mind that its silver paint is a
demo scheme, and Milton, PA is where ACF builds its tanks. So the car was
brand new when shot, and probably shot by the company photographer.

These were some of the earliest production ICC-111A-100-W1 tanks (namely,
domeless non-pressure tanks). They really can't be considered "steam era"
tanks in my opinion. The introduction of this kind of tank car, and other
90-ton freight car designs, is one big reason why Hendrickson settled on
1960 as the beginning of the "modern" era of freightcars (and therefore the
end of his interest!). I'm inclined to agree with him on the dividing

More interesting is the date of the photo - January 14, 1959. I
wouldn't have thought of this as a "steam era" car, but it fits
within our time frame - barely. Still, weren't some UP Big Boys
and a few Illinois Central engines still running at this time?

I think it would be more than a little interesting if we could put
together a serious list of who was still running steam up to 1960.
I know the IC still had a couple of Mikes in service. Can you guys
think of any other roads with active steam at this time?
Besides the IC and UP, the C&S, N&W, and GTW ran mainline steam into late
1959 and early 1960. I think GTW gets credit for the last revenue Class
One MAINLINE move behind steam, in Spring 1960, but those were passenger
moves. The IC and N&W runs were in the coal fields, so I seriously doubt a
new ICC-111 tank would have ever been seen behind any of these late Class
One steamers. The only remote possibility would be one of the late UP or
C&S runs, or one of the shortlines that ran steam late. Of course, if you
absolutely want to run modern tank cars behind steam, you can model the
Crab Orchard & Egyptian.....

(And the C&S's Climax-Leadville branch was the last Class One freight
operation behind steam, into 1962 or '63.)

Scott Chatfield

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