Re: GATX fleet breakdown?

Tangent Scale Models



Thanks to Dave Parker for sharing his research from Railway Age tabulations and subsequent analysis on the likely GATC production numbers for the first years of General American production, including the subject cars here, the 1917-Design tanks.  (Bruce, the German American name was dropped in 1916).


I too have done my own research on this, and built my own business case for spending lots of money tooling the 1917-tanks.  Spoiler alert for Bruce Smith (and Tony Thompson who seemed to resoundingly agree):  they are not “minority cars.”  If you will indulge a “dumb manufacturer” (but one who does his homework) to weigh in, please read on. 


First let’s look at the numbers.  Here is the raw data of GATC tank car builds, by production year, compiled from Dave Parker’s 1917-1921 data and the stated production numbers in Epstein’s “A History of General American Transportation Corporation.”  Also included is a key element, which is the body type.


Now when those numbers are aggregated, you can see the breakdowns by body type:


So you might say, you see!  The 1917-design is only 25% - there are more numerous GATC builds!  Yes, that is true from a raw numbers standpoint, but let’s peel that onion a bit more, and look at how many carbodies were built by GATC for each frame design:


So is the 1917-Design a “minority car?”  A few comments:

  1. GATC produced 9,079 1917-design cars.  That is a huge number of tank cars in the context of cars produced at that time. 
  2. No other tank car touched those total production numbers at that time.
  3. Most of those are 8,000 and 10,000 non-insulated cars.

But what about the “Type 30s!”  Conversely, the 1928-Design cars (dubbed “Type 30”) were produced in larger numbers at 43%, or 15,570 cars at least, possibly a few more in 1945 and 1928.  But consider this.  By 1928, based on market demand for specialized service tank cars, GATC had introduced many tank car size and type options.  As the table above states, I count at least 30 different body types sitting on 1928-design underframes (of varying lengths just to add to the complexity).  Yes, the 8,000 and 10,000 non-insulated cars were significant cars, but there were many other significant cars as well, and in multiple body configurations:

  1. Non insulated tanks: at least 6 different single compartment sizes ranging from 4000 to 16000 gallons, and like X-3 tanks, there were multiple designs for the same gallonages
  2. Non insulated tanks: at least 7 multiple compartment designs
  3. Insulated, non-pressurized tanks: at least 7 insulated designs, including the beloved “wine” tank cars in at least 4 different sizes
  4. Insulated pressurized tanks: at least 3 designs
  5. Many miscellaneous designs (acid, etc.)

This is the closest analysis we will get to figuring out whether the 1917-design tank is a minority car.  I think it is very clear it is not, since 2 car types dominated the total production of 9,079 cars. The “Type 30” 1928-design is spread out amongst many different designs, not just the 8,000 and 10,000 gallon non-insulated, non-pressurized car types.  So 15,570 total production is heavily diluted by car type.


And speaking of diluted, how many were built per year?  This table will assess that:


The 1917-design had ~DOUBLE the production pace of the “Type 30” 1928-design.  Yes, the 1928-design had to contend with the depression, as well as the corresponding turmoil of demand for oil and similar products, but they also had to contend with “tooling” changes for the different tank car types they were constructing.


Is the 1917-design a minority car?  I think the GATC 1917-design is probably a DRAW with the 1928-design “Type 30” - at best.


Bruce, next time just say you wished Tangent would have done the "Type 30."  Don't despair though, both will be in the Tangent product line. 


David Lehlbach

Tangent Scale Models


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