Re: Hooker Orange Tank car

Ed Hawkins

On Nov 21, 2016, at 3:08 PM, Paul Catapano pc66ot@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:

Can anyone tell me when the Hooker Chemical Co. began painting their tank cars Orange?

I can verify with ACF paint specifications that “orange” was used on HOKX tank cars dating back to at least July 1933 (ACF lot no. 1291), except that the paint color was specified as "U.T.L. Red” or “Pliolite Red.” I’m not sure what U.T.L. stood for, but “Pliolite” was a paint formulation name. "U.T.L. Red" was applied on two orders for 3 tank cars built in 1933-1934. HOKX tank cars built by ACF from 1936 through 1941 used Pliolite Red. Despite the “Red” paint color, I’m reasonably sure it was actually orange, but if anyone can prove otherwise I’m glad to recant this assumption.

Even earlier than 1933, several ACF builder photos show the likelihood of orange and black 3,000 gal. chlorine tank cars built in 1926-1927 and one order of 6,000 gal. chlorine tank cars built in 1928, however, these cars predate the ACF paint specifications that start in 1931. Some of these photos can be seen on the Barriger National Railroad Library web site via flikr at:

This site was originally posted by Mark Hemphill on Jan. 8, 2016, and the number of photos has grown since then. Photos of these 1920s Hooker tank cars can be found under lot numbers 9, 19, 60, 66, 366, and 638. ACF built 40 additional 3,000 A.R.A. Class V tank cars (HOKX 301-340) in 1923-1924, however, I have not seen photos of them. Perhaps they are in the Barriger Library Collection.

Some of these 1920s photos can easily be misinterpreted regarding how the cars were painted, which occurred with the original BLI catalogue. This may have been because of the type of film used in which the “orange” and black tended to show little contrast between the two colors. Close inspection reveals the center band was black with the balance of the top portion of the jacket likely being orange (i.e., U.T.L. Red). Lots 9, 19, and 368 show the top portion of the heads painted orange and the bottom portion black. For lots 60, 66, and 366 it’s difficult to tell due to the color contrast.

For the later HOKX cars built starting in 1933, except for the black center band, the orange was used on the top portion of the tank (or jacket, if insulated) and the heads. The balance of the tank or jacket was black as well as the underframe & trucks. 

Four orders totaling 13 cars built in 1934-1936 (615, 618-619, 626-629, 638-643), 6,000 gal., ICC-105A, chlorine tank cars received aluminum stencils while ICC-103B/103BW acid tank cars built from 1937 through 1941 all in the 216-226 series had white stencils. An ACF builder photo of HOKX 219 built 12-39 is shown on the first page of the Barriger site.

Other Hooker Tank cars built by ACF were similarly painted in 1950 and later based on photographs, however, ACF paint specs for these cars are not available.
Ed Hawkins

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