Re: tank car question

Richard Hendrickson

On Feb 26, 2009, at 4:26 AM, Ned Carey wrote:
what is the odd device on the end of this tank car?

Tim O'Connor

As Frank Fertitta observed, it's some sort of unusually large
cleanout cover with some sort of small crane arrangement to support
it when unbolted from the tank end. What Carnegie-Illinois Steel
might have been carrying in the cars that required a cleanout hole
that large I can't imagine, but it's big enough to admit a workman.
Frank's wrong in his speculation that the car was a high pressure
tank car of some sort, however, as it was listed in the ORERs as AAR
class TM, not TP. CISX 2774 was one of ten cars numbered 2772-2781
which were of 12,650 gal. capacity, unusually large for that day
(Note that the tank is visibly bigger than that on the 10,000 gal.
GATX car to the left). These ten cars were used to carry a non-
regulatory commodity, as is evident both from the stenciling on the
tank and the absence of safety valves - they had only frangible disk
vents. I'd be interested to learn from someone familiar with the
process of producing steel (Tony?) what that commodity might have
been. At any rate, They were AC&F Type 21s built in early the 1920s,
and the tank cleanouts were probably added later. The dome platforms
were homemade and were certainly added later.

Ned then observes:

It confirms what most on this list already know
a.. There was quite a variety of tank cars in size shape a detail.
b.. Most tank cars were plain black
c.. Three compartment cars are smaller, common models like athearn
are way to large. Note the three compartment car in the upper right
of the photo. It is noticeably smaller that nearby cars. I don't
recall seeing a multi compartment car next to other tank cars and
the size difference is obvious by comparison. (perhaps also a
converted car as the end domes are smaller than the middle dome.)

All true. The three compartment car appears to have been a 6,000 gal
single compartment car converted to three compartments. Such
conversions were fairly common (more often, though, on 8,000 gal.
cars), especially on GATX cars. 6 K gal. three compartment cars are
among the more obvious car types that need to be modeled in HO scale
(Micro-Trains has recent produced one in N scale). And Ned is, of
course, right that the old Athearn/AHM models are so grotesquely
oversize that they can't even be used as reasonable stand-ins for any
prototype cars.

What is the age of the photo?

Ca. 1942. Thee are a couple of GATX cars in the photo with features
(rod tank tie-downs instead of straps, full-circle dome handrails,
that weren't adopted earlier than late 1941), and all of the CISX
tank cars were gone from the ORERs by mid-1943.

a.. I see no radial course cars
b.. I see many cars that appear welded with no obvious rivet lines

There's one radial-course car way off in the distance, but certainly
they're largely absent from this photo. On the other hand, none of
the cars that are close enough for details to be made out appear to
be welded (and I've done some fiddling in Photoshop to bring up the
details as much as possible).
Interesting details
a.. The platforms on the full platform cars seem heavy. Maybe the
platforms onsome of the plastic models aren't so crude after all.
b.. My perception (Which perhaps comes from the model world) is
that full platform cars were much more common on insulated cars.
Yet I see a high percentage on non insulated cars in this photo.

Well, as noted earlier, the platforms on the cars close to the camera
were homemade, and very crude, additions. Dome platforms supplied by
the tank car builders were much more delicate.

c.. Seeing a person in close proximity to the manway, I am
surprised how small the manways were. It must have been a squeeze
to get into a car.

Yup. Fat guys would have had difficulty getting in and - worse-
getting out.

d.. On the first track to the left, take note of the second car
that has a dome showing. It has a circular grab all the way around
the dome. I haven't noticed this before and yet it is on at least a
few cars in the photo.

Standard GATC practice starting ca. 1941 but not generally adopted by
AC&F, the only other significant tank car mfr. by that date. Most of
the non-CISX cars I can identify in the photo are GATC built and
probably GATC owned. It appears that CISX had some sort of leasing/
maintenance arrangement with GATC, because in the 1930s they leased
cars from Pennsylvania-Conley, a wholly owned GATC subsidiary, and
that would account for the preponderance of GATC cars in the photo.

e.. The car to the upper right of the diesel cab has lateral
running boards around the dome. I have seen this before and
probably needs to be modeled more frequently. I can't think of a
single model available that has this. Would this have been an
option tank car builders offered for standard designs or would this
have been a trademark of a particular builder or tank car owner?

Tank car builder's may have provided those as an option, though I
can't recall seeing a builder's photo that shows them. However,
owners often added them on cars in assigned service where elevated
loading and/or unloading facilities weren't available. At any rate,
adding them on a model is very simple, if you're modeling a prototype
that had them.
f.. Perhaps most interesting of all is again the second car (with a
dome showing, 3rd car if you include the partial car in front) in
the left most row ahs an odd arrangement of rivet lines. Could this
be a 5 course car?

Yes, an arrangement unique, AFAIK, to GATC cars built in the early
war years, perhaps because larger pieces of steel weren't available.
There was a single bottom sheet, two side sheets, and two top sheets
with a rivet seam down the center as on three horizontal course cars.

Some other observations, for what they're worth.

The car whose tank end shows at the bottom of the photo was either a
Standard Tank Car Co. or Pennsylvania Tank Car Co. product, as
evidenced by the tank band location (PTC tanks were made by STC; PTC,
whose plant was next door to STC's, made only their own underframes
and smaller components like ladders and dome walkways). The next car
in the string at the left of the photo was GATX 18285, a 10K gal. car
built in 1926-'27.

All in all, as Ned says, a very interesting photo, though it would be
a mistake to over-generalize from it about tank cars as a whole.

Richard Hendrickson

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