Reference pages

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SP tank car decals

The artwork I created and had printed to do my models of SP tank cars is now being produced as HO scale decals by Jerry Glow Custom Decals (Jerry’s site is at at: ). Examples of these SP tank car models were shown in an earlier post (at: ), and here’s the same photo shown earlier:

     This decal set is available in both black and white. Both sets are necessary to do SP’s distinctive aluminum-end-stripe tank cars, assigned to diesel fuel service, because both black and white lettering was on those cars. The sets can also be used for plain black cars in general service, and for both all-silver fuel cars (not pictured), and yellow gasoline cars. Each set has enough material to do multiple cars.
     Here is the summary comment I provided to Jerry to circulate with the decals. There is also a lettering drawing provided; it is shown below the text.

     “This drawing shows one version of SP tank car lettering. It contains details for the scheme with a 41-inch high aluminum stripe on the car ends, and the legends DIESEL FUEL OIL SERVICE on both sides and ends. All lettering is white except for black lettering on the aluminum stripe.
     “The text block headed INSTRUCTIONS TO SHIPPERS was placed at the location on the tank indicated by Note 7 on the drawing.
     “Cars in general service were the same as this, omitting the end stripe and the legends about DIESEL FUEL OIL SERVICE.
     “All-silver SP tanks were assigned to diesel fuel service also and were lettered the same as this diagram, except the entire tank was painted the same color, no end stripe, so all tank lettering was black.
     “From 1928 until the 1950s, SP also rostered a hundred or so yellow tank cars for gasoline service (the color was Colonial Yellow, the same color as SP depots). This diagram shows placement of all lettering (black) on such tanks, except that instead of DIESEL FUEL OIL SERVICE, the cars were lettered on the sides FOR GASOLINE SERVICE.
     “The diagram shows the road name, SOUTHERN PACIFIC, spelled out. This kind of spelled-out name was introduced in 1946. Prior to that time, initials only (without periods) were used as the reporting mark. In 1952, stripes above and below the road name were removed, as this diagram shows. All these variations are possible with this decal set, using both black and white letters.
     “Detail point: every car had a slightly different volume, which is why each car had to be tested and the exact number lettered on the car end, and why the decal set has a whole bunch of numbers near 12,500 gallons (all taken from actual SP tank car photos). The car test data blocks, for the right end of the car, are taken from SP photos also and from different eras. As with so many things, prototype photos are the best guide to specifics.
     “For photos and more information, see Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Volume 5: Hopper, Covered Hopper and Tank Cars, by Anthony W. Thompson, Signature Press, 2008.”

     The drawing referred to is part of the SP drawing shown on page 326 of my book, and it shows sizes and locations of all lettering.

This should be a useful tool for those wanting to do SP tank cars of various paint schemes, in the transition era.
     The one scheme not possible with my original decal set was the liquid sugar scheme with the large white diamond on the dome, surrounding a black letter “S.” I have used the Microscale decal set MC-4044 for this diamond-S, but Jerry Glow will try to include the equivalent in the new decal set he will sell. The Microscale set also does include the lettering for these cars, common in the 1950s though uncommon in later years, which stated “FOR LIQUID SUGAR LOADING ONLY.”
      For all these specifics, my book on SP tank cars, cited above, is a good source of the photos which must be the ultimate authority for any lettering decisions.
Tony Thompson


  1. Mr. Thompson,

    First, thank you for creating and maintaining these informative posts!

    Second--I'm sorry to say it appears Gerald/Jerry Glow has gone out of business. Readers who, like me, ended up here via google search for SP tank-car information may want to know and (unlike me) thereby avoid sending off $6.75 for the decal set referenced in the post above.

    Thirdly -- do you have any recommendations for another source for similar SP tank car decals? I've found nothing for the 12,000 Gal. cars anywhere, and can think of no one better than you to turn to for guidance.

    Fourth -- regardless, thanks again!

  2. Yes, Mr. Glow is out of business. I understand that Don TIchy, of TIchy Train Group, has purchased all of the Jerry Glow artwork and intends to release many of the decal sets in the future. But when I go to the Tichy web site, which is at , I don't recognize any of the available decal sets as being Jerry's products. So I guess I have to recommend complaining directly to Tichy, which may move things ahead and might even get you some information on schedule.
    Tony Thompson