Re: Standard Oil Lettering On UTLX Tank Cars

Norm Buckhart

My information came from reading Albert Carr’s “John D. Rockefeller’s Secret Weapon” published by McGraw-Hill (1962)  This book is available today at Amazon books and is the most informative narrative on both the UTLX and Standard Oil I have ever seen. Anyone interested in this subject would find this book comprehensive, informative and fascinating.  Rockefeller literally built Standard Oil by controlling crude oil shipments to refineries in tank cars and controlling the construction of tank cars themselves within the entire tank car construction industry. After reading this book and understanding what I was seeing in this one of a kind photo I couldn’t help but create a decal set for it.

norm buckhart, protocraft decals

On Jan 28, 2017, at 1:20 PM, Dave Parker spottab@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:


I'll answer your question first:  that is the only UTLX car that I have seen with "Standard Oil Company" lettering.

As to the rest of the Protocraft narrative -- hmmm.  It seems to imply that the majority of crude oil found its way to the refineries in tank cars.  Even in the 1920s there was a fairly extensive pipe-line network in several regions, and a great deal of crude traveled by boat.  I would say that transport by rail was the exception, not the rule.

Second, the 31000 series of X-3s was ordered in 1917 (so Steve Hile tells me).  Maybe it was not built until March of 1919, but that seems late to me.  Regardless, the break-up of Standard Oil occurred in 1911, so the trust-busting was long since done when this car was built.  Thus the "Standard Oil" on the side refers to one of the "baby" standards, not the original parent company.  I'd guess Indiana, because they marketed in a very large area as "Standard" (as opposed to SOCONY, Esso, etc.), but that's a guess.

Last, Steve and I kicked this white versus yellow lettering question around a few months back, without resolution.  The evidence strikes me as apocryphal at best, no matter which way one argues it.  And I would not assume that the paint job shown in that photo is original (i.e., as built).  The metal-framed holders for the safety placards came later.  Tony Thompson says about 1933 on his blog, which seems reasonable.  I do have one UTLX builder's photo from 1927 that shows them, but nothing earlier.  I can't read the pressure-test dates on this car, but my best guess is that it's a late 1920s or early 1930s photo.

With best regards,

Dave Parker
Riverside, CA


On Saturday, January 28, 2017 10:42 AM, "thecitrusbelt@... [STMFC]" <STMFC@...> wrote:

I found this partial tank car photo on the Protocraft website:
The website stated "Union Tank Car virtually held a monopoly of the transportation of crude oil to the refinery, a fact held negatively by the public in general and the Congress at large. Because all the UTLX stock was privately held by all the members of Standard’s board of directors, there was no direct connection with UTLX and Standard Oil, effectively frustrating any antitrust undertaking. A highly unusual example of Standard Oil Company painted on a tank car is seen in this photograph. Although no documentation is known, it is generally thought that UTLX lettering was changed from white to yellow in the early to mid-1920’s. This car, built in 1919, was painted all black with all white lettering. By the 1930’s, this car would be repainted with yellow lettering and the Standard Oil Company name painted out."
Is there any more background to the statement, "A highly unusual example of Standard Oil Company painted on a tank car is seen in this photograph."? Was such Standard Oil lettering all that rare?
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA

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