Re: Ancient Tank Cars

Richard Hendrickson


I have questions to ask about a certain MDC
tank car kit, though I've a good idea what the
answer will be.

I just received several M.D. McCarter prints of
UTLX tank cars that appear to have been built in
the 'teens. The shots were taken in Pensacola, FL
about 1945. Short, with tanks riding high on very
sturdy underframes, with the brake wheel mounted
facing to the side at one corner. There are ladders
going up the sideframe, about four rungs each.

1) Is this what you'd call a "Van Dyke" design?
No, it's the UTLX class X design which followed the VanDyke cars (class V)
after the Master Car Builders' Assn. ruled that tank cars had to have
center sills, rather than transmitting pulling and buffing forces through
the tank itself. The tanks on the class X cars were essentially the same
as on the Van Dykes (and BTW both class X and class V cars wre built in 6K,
8K, and 10K versions) but they had substantial center sills instead of the
bolsters and draft gear boxes being riveted directly to the tank via an
unusually heavy bottom sheet.

2) Does the MDC "Old Timer" tank car have potential
for modeling these cars, or is it the usual MDC
fantasy, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever?
The MDC tank isn't bad as a representation of the UTL 6K gal. tanks. The
problem is the underframe, which is a grossly oversize atrocity.

3) Failing that, has this type of car ever been
produced in brass, and by who?
No, only the VanDyke tanks have been done in brass (and mostly because the
narrow gauge guys wanted them, as some were converted to NG in the 1930s).
The same is true of PSC's very nice plastic kit for the VanDyke cars,
originally offered only in NG but now available as a standard gauge model
as well. There's been talk of making patterns for resin underframes to go
under the PSC or MDC tanks, but so far nothing has come of it. There's
also been talk of doing the class X cars in brass, but talk, as we know, is
cheap. There would certainly be a good market for such models, as the cars
went everywhere in the US and Canada and lasted, in some cases, through the
1960s (I have a photo of one coupled to a high-cube auto parts car!).

Shawn Beckert

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Richard H. Hendrickson
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