Vinegar tank cars, made from wood, were unusual, but not rare, cars in prototype service. Vinegar is in essence mild acetic acid, and corrosive; a steel tank car would require a lining, while wood seemed to stand up to vinegar all right. I have long wanted one, having seen a photo of one being repaired at Southern Pacific’s Sacramento General Shops.
Below is a photo from the internet of a preserved car of this type, at the John Street Roundhouse in Toronto. You can readily see many details of construction. Note that there are a substantial number of circumferential rods,
connected with cast clamping devices, holding the tank staves together, along
with tank hold-downs that are flat strapping, and that comes down to
the side sill. The heavy end bracing is also evident.
Sunshine Models, many years ago, produced a kit for such a car. Their Prototype Data Sheet or PDS #60 for these cars showed a good prototype photo, shown below with credit. This is a car owned by Standard Brands Inc., thus the reporting marks, SBIX.
The Sunshine kit was infamous for its complexity and tedious assembly, not to mention the challenge of getting all those rods to look right, with somewhat even but not exactly even spacing, lying flat on the tank.
One of the best Sunshine kit assemblies that I know of, was built by Lester Breuer; he described the process in his blog (you can read it, and appreciate the assembly difficulties, here: http://mnrailroadcab100.blogspot.com/2020/09/vinegar-tank-car-sbix-1641.html ). But it is inevitable that some parts are oversize and it is difficult to avoid glue getting onto the tank. I’m not criticizing Lester here; practically every completed versions of this kit that I have seen is rather clunky compared with this.
For these reasons, I had shied away from buying and building the Sunshine kit. But there have been brass vinegar cars too, notably a Heinz car in brass from Overland Models. Unfortunately this is a quite different-looking car than the Standard Brands car shown in the uppermost photo of the present post. Here’s a representative photo of a Heinz car (Henry Ford Museum collection), dated 1915, and you can compare it to the prototype photo above:
Accordingly, I was really thrilled to hear that North Bank Line was going to import brass models of the Standard Brands car in brass, and I signed up to receive one. These models have just been delivered, and I am delighted with mine (as far as I know, they were all sold out on arrival, though some may be available at dealers; for example, https://resourcedrails.com/products/copy-of-ho-new-brass-nbl-north-bank-line-various-roads-sbix-1605-standard-brand-vinegar-car ). Here’s an overall view of the model, and you can readily see the realistically small rods around the tank:
The lettering, often red in the 1950s for these cars, is very nicely rendered on this model, as are all the details, and here again, you can admire the tank construction; Kadee couplers and Tahoe Model Works trucks provided (thankfully, no “roll like sleds” brass trucks).
And I have to mention the nice end detailing, including crisp lettering. It may seem unusual that the gallons capacity of the car is not lettered on the end, but that is true also in the prototype photo I have. We can of course look it up in the 1955 Freight Tariff 300-H, “Showing Capacities of Tank Cars,” and we find that car SBIX 1641 had a capacity of 7965 gallons, very similar to all the 97 cars shown in this tariff entry without expansion domes, as is this car.
I look forward to lightly weathering this model and putting it into service on my layout. And congratulations to North Bank Line for an excellent product!