SC&F Tank Car

Denny Anspach <danspach@...>

Well, Mike inquires, and yes, as we speak, I am on the verge of finishing the frame of the single dome tank. In my experience with cast resin car kits, this is a most sophisticated and complete kit, one of the best I have yet dealt with. Jon Cagle: you are a fine model builder, and this kit production certainly cements this opinion.

The resin castings have the sharpness and clarity that one usually associates with good styrene moldings- and there are some fine special styrene moldings to boot. Richard Hendrickson in enclosed notes opines that the kit is best for experienced model builders, and it probably is, but- so far I have encountered nothing that patient deliberate skill cannot overcome.

Inasmuch as the frame, with all of its appurtenances, multitudinous details, brake gear, saddles, anchors, trucks, wheels, etc. will be out in full view, meticulous attention to detailing is required, and the kit provides most of the means to do so.

Observations to date:

1) Just as God intended, the very narrow long shanks of Kadee #78 semi-scale couplers fully reside within the walls of the ends of the center sill with a pretty ingeneous installation (I do not know whether or not the centersill is actually scale width, but if not, it certainly has to be close). With couplers and striker plates installed, it looks great, especially after the magnetic glad hands have been cut off flush (:-)).

The price paid for this is that the coupler can have only very limited swing through the narrow striker plate opening, further limited by the unusually long, and fully recessed #78 shank. There is a centering spring, but its efforts seem to be ineffectual, and I am not certain that it could not be left out. This limitation of coupler swing does not bother me at all, but it may create potential operational problems for others.

2) The directions suggest that the coupler covers be glued on. I have never trusted glued covers, and I have a lot of miserable experience over the years that underlies this mistrust. Instead, I tapped a 00-90 hole through the coupler posts and the covers (there is a dimple on the post to assist you), and then countersunk the cover by hand with the tip of a larger drill so that a 00-90 1/8" flat head screw could settle down with the head absolutely flush. When I ACC'd some etched brass strips along the lower lips of the sill ends, I had to be careful to not accidentally glue them to the coupler cover. The couplers are now fully removable.

3) With the coupler shanks fully recessed, the head right up to the striker plate, a full prototypical striker-to-striker distance of c. 33" is achieved, only a few inches beyond the prototype 29-31" standard. Because of how the #78 head is shaped, I do not believe a closer distance could be achieved. The cumulative effect of a train of fine cars coupled with prototype distances between can be, and is magical.

3) No trucks are specified. Taking a clue from the single prototype photo, I chose on-hand Accurail Andrews trucks, with Reboxx 1.025" semi scale wheels. This length gives an excellent balance between fine rollability and minimal end play (the latter an especially important issue with the coupler arrangement outlined above). Single truck 0.015" red washers bring the couplers to ideal height. That the Accurail truck is reported to be dead-on accurate as to all major dimensions seems to make it a good choice.

4) I will be finishing up frame details in the next day or so, but I have already been looking at the tank, primarily to determine weight- because once the tank is closed up, there will be no place for any added weight. Weight is not addressed in the instructions. However, I weighed everything and the assembled tank car (as is with trucks, etc. ) promises to weigh in at c. 1.8oz, far below the 3.5oz. target for a car of this length in the the NMRA RPs. I will be looking through my cache of spent uranium to remedy the problem, fastening any added weight to the interior of the tank with Barge Cement.

The instructions are very complete, and included are an unusually large array of very helpful photos of the car under construction. A minor disappointment: only one photo of the prototype car.


Denny S. Anspach MD

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