Re: Masochism: The Building of a Sunshine Standard Brands Vinegar Tank Car.

Gatwood, Elden J SAD

Thank you, Denny!

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Denny
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 11:27 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Masochism: The Building of a Sunshine Standard Brands
Vinegar Tank Car.

This kit (variously identified as kits #60.1, 60.2 [mine], and 60.3) came out
as a special "Anniversary Kit" in 2003. It created quite a stir because of
the prototype's exotic appearance, and because of the kit's pretty esoteric
complexity. It surely is a sophisticated- but not precise- kit that models a
very complex and very interesting prototype that was seemingly more
ubiquitous than might be otherwise imagined.

Several lengthy early posts by Bill Darnaby (#20484) and Ted Cullotta
(#36207) provided considerable information on the challenges that this kit
posed, and later- almost nothing- as most purchasers seemed to then put the
kits on the shelf. A more recent illustrated blog by Bill Herbert at-;t=332&p=491&hilit=vinegar+tan
-provided more recent information. All- particularly Bill's detailed help-
succeeded in keeping my mind focused on at last tacklng the kit.

Recognizing that most listers will likely push 'delete', but also recognizing
that some might find my own experiences useful for their own future tackling
of this benchmark kit, this post can be copied and stuffed into the kit box.

The kit directions are rudimentary to say the least; much is left out; and
close and continuing study of the enclosed prototype photos and web model
photos are essential.

The parts also fit together with more "slop" (Ted's term) than I have ever
previously experienced.

Nevertheless, at the very end, Bill Darnaby describes the finished model as
"Really Neat", and Ted comments that this is the type of kit that makes one
realize what a wonderful hobby model railroading really is. They are both
"right on".

Car architecture overview: It really helps to first understand the
fundamental architectural elements of this car: a long cylindrical wood-stave
tank- encircled with 37 rod bands- that is then secured on its side on an
open steel flat car between steel bulkheads . The tanks rest on transverse
bunks or saddles. Because such an unsupported wood stave tank would not
likely stand up more than a nonosecond to the vicissitudes of slack action,
etc. the tank has also been longitudinally-braced between the bulkheads by
wood timber blocking and X-braces, and supported from below by fitted wood
blocks or dunnage driven between the resting tank and the saddles. The tank
is held tight to the saddles by four encircling flat straps with rod

The kit has more parts than Carter has pills, and taking the time to identify
and separate the parts into different bags was helpful for me to get
organized. The instructions are rudimentary for such a complex and different
model, so one should be prepared for a wonderful exercise in patient
craftsmanship, keeping always in mind the very wise aphorism of "Measure
Twice, Cut Once".

The Tank Wrapper: Beware: trouble ahead. The tank wrapper is a very nicely
detailed flat casting that was rolled at Sunshine into a cylinder when still
warm. However, the resulting cylinder ex factory is commonly neither
perfectly round, square on the ends, or with seamed edges that are flat.
Required reading: Bill's and Ted's cautionary comments on the list, in this
regard. The kit instructions have meaning when they caution that the finished
tank should be 7'6"
in diameter. If it is either larger, or smaller problems large and small will
pop up later on.

To obviate the anticipated problems with the wrapper I "re-rolled" the
wrapper- a fairly easy process, as it turned out; and I avoided trimming the
seam edges, even by a fraction.

By serendipity I deduced that Martin had probably rolled the wrapper around a
standard heavy-duty mop handle armature, several of which in my house
measured an exact 0.975" in diameter- virtually a dead net fit for the
correctly-oriented wrapper edges to touch each other evenly and squarely
along their lengths. I wrapped the cast resin wrapper around the mop handle
armature forcibly adjusting it to the extent I could do so safely, and then
secured it along its length with a thousand discarded newspaper rubber bands
out of the kitchen drawer.
I then tossed into a hot water bath (from a tea kettle). I let the water
cool, bathed the wrapper/broom handle under cold water, removed the rubber
bands and- amazing- after several of these attempts- the wrapper morphed into
a true and square cylinder of proper diameter that needing no final trimming
whatsoever. Electing to not fix which ain't broke, at that moment I tacked
the edges together with ACC to close the cylinder; and once set, and armature
removed, I flooded more ACC along the seam in the interior. A very satisfying
result that FIT!

When set, I squared the cylinder tank ends on a NWSL True-Sander, and
proceeded with fitting the tank to the saddles already mounted on the car
frame. Just as on the prototype, the tank cylinder on the model has to fitted
net to the saddles with 'wood' blocks, shims, or wedges driven between the
curves of the saddles and the tank. The end saddles over the bolsters have
these blocks already cast-on, while the others do not.

To begin the fitting process, It is best to simply wrap sandpaper around the
mop handle armature and sand the principal end saddles-with- blocking to
shape, careful to not sand through the cast-on blocks.
This will still leave the tank to be cantilevered in thin air over all the
five intermediate saddles, the needed blocking obviously to be added by the
modeler out of styrene or strip wood scraps. My advice is to tape the tank
cylinder in place and fabricate/fit/cement the blocking now (I added it at
the end, and although successful, it would have been a lot less work, and
probably better modeled, if I had done it earlier).

Tank Cylinder Strapping: There are 37 encircling rods that bind the staves of
the tank together- all to be installed by the modeler. The model eliminates
four in the way of the principal saddles, leaving 33, and also (wisely)
ignores the fact that each rod has not one (1) but two (2) rod tighteners.
The kit models only one. The kit give rudimentary instructions on bending a
forest of enclosed 0.015" wire for the rods, but I instead opted for Bill's
great advice to 'forget the wire' and use instead 0.013" monofilament fishing
line- a sheer stroke of genius (when stretched and painted monofilament looks
like rod or wire; and it is unexcelled in it affinity for ACC). That is
exactly what I did- especially when a length of just the right fishing line
fortuitously showed up wrapped around the propellor of my antique Hacker wood
speed boat.

The rod tighteners (a sort of "turnbuckle") have correct and incorrect
orientations (not pointed out in the directions), but evident from a close
study of the photographs. Each and every one requires drilling
#78 or #79 holes into both of their ends sufficient to grab the monofilament,
an exercise in patience, preparation, and a careful setup both sparing of
these tiny parts, and one's fingers. Most of tighteners have a dimple for
drill centering, but not all. I used a very sharp steel scribe to reinforce
the dimple and/or create new ones. A number of the tighteners are "reversed".
I have no idea whether this was an accident or whether this a subtle esoteric
modeling detail that I overlooked.

The monofilament line is easily and strongly secured into these drilled holes
with ACC, and I secured one end of a measured piece of line into each of the
tightener. With the help of a small stainless radiator clamp on which to draw
a true circumference (Jeff Aley's suggestion), I marked with a pencil each
every place where the bands could NOT go- fill hatch on top, and most saddles
below- and with the help of small pieces of tape to hold each band in place
around the tank, I then secured both ends of the encircling band into the
tightener. I did NOT ACC the bands to the tank, however, leaving that to
later. This method worked quite well, and as I moved forward I was able to
install almost all the bands in one sitting. When pulling these bands tight,
not a single one pulled out.

Later, I rotated each still-loose band so that the visually-prominent
tighteners were in a pattern roughly approximating that seen on the
prototype. Continuing to use the photos as a guide I then positioned, squared
and cemented each band in the careful sequential parallel patterns seen on
the prototype, using calipers to measure in from the previously-squared ends
of the tank. I tacked each monofilament band at 90ยบ points. They remain
remarkably impervious to routine handling.

I also took the opportunity to also model the "missing" rods or bands (those
in the way of the saddles) once the tank was finally installed (with dabs of
Barge cement). I did so by drilling a #78 hole in the middle of the outer
facing seam between block and tank , ACC'd the fay end of a segment of
monofilament line in the hole, pulled each facing pair together over the top
of the tank and secured them into a tightener. With a surplus of one, there
was just enough of the tighteners in the kit to do this.

The printed directions direct that the tank drain is to be installed- but
where? Although, by exclusion I finally figured what had to be the 'drain
part', I joined Bill Darnaby in drawing a blank as to where it should
reasonably go (inasmuch as all brake gear and piping is on one side of the
center sill, and would be unlikely to have the drain course though the midst
of the heavy center sill, I would presume the the drain would exit on the
other side of the sill in some fashion- h- mmm.

There are a number of holes for securing important braces and hold downs to
be drilled where no dimples, or directions actually show the way. This was
more daunting in theory than reality, and by studying the photos, things
become pretty obvious.

Both Bill and Ted (and the kit directions!) take considerable pains to point
out the absolute necessity of drilling the holes for X band tightener rods
toward the far outboard edges on the top bulkhead end frames. They are not
kidding! If the tank that you have fabricated is over-size, the problems here
are increased. To forestall problems, I first temporarily installed the tank
into the frame and with a sharp pencil marked the outline the tank end on the
frame. Because these ends also have some pretty obvious detailing on their
outer faces that visually line up with the X band rods, there is a
overwhelming desire to "fudge" and not drill out far enough. Resist the
Important: Note also that Ted notes that these end details have a definite
orientation- not noted in the directions- and making this distinction is
cosmetically important.

I Barge-cemented some sheet lead in the tank for weight, and selected Kadee
trucks (Reboxx wheels) for added weight. I installed Accumate Proto couplers
and PSC brass air hose brackets and hoses.

I have yet to install the hand-railing, and some other pesky small details.
Painting will be Amtrak Platinum Mist, with the kit's red lettering. The real
challenge will be to effectively weather and age a model of a car of
composite construction that has more details sticking up and out than a

This is by far the most difficult kit that I have ever put together.
It took as much patience as skill, and it sopped up the same time that I
would have ordinarily devoted to building four or five more conventional
prototype models- if not more.

However the final result speaks for itself: it is a spectacular model.


Denny S. Anspach MD

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