Thursday, March 5, 2020

Adding a Union Oil tank car

I have had in my car fleet two Proto2000 tank cars, lettered for Union Oil Company, for some years, and these routinely serve the Union Oil dealer in my layout town of Ballard. They are both conventional 8000-gallon tanks, which is fine, but I wanted to add some variety. I decided to make some decals for additional cars.
     The photo below of UOCX 10345 is an good, clear illustration of Union’s lettering in the 1930s, but was taken at a sufficient angle as to make it difficult to square up. Moreover, the lettering shown did get simplified in later years (this is a photo from the Arnold Menke collection).

This is a 10,000-gallon car, thus numbered in the 10000 number series; Union’s 8000-gallon cars were numbered in the 8000 series.
     Another photo of one of Union’s 10,000-gallon cars is shown below (a Chet McCoid photo from the Bob’s Photo collection, taken at Mexicali, B.C. on January 15, 1955). It not only shows later lettering, but is almost a dead-on side view. I used this image to create most of my decal lettering. Note that the word “CALIFORNIA” under “LOS ANGELES,” seen in the photo above, has been omitted.

It appears from a range of photographs that Union Oil at some periods used aluminum lettering, at other times clearly white lettering. But when weathered, the distinction may be moot.
     Both the cars shown above are un-insulated cars, part of Union’s series numbered 10000–10370 (about 100 cars in that series in 1953). The underframes of both cars exhibit their General American-built heritage. But Union also rostered 75 or so insulated cars, AAR class TMI, in the 10379–10543 series. An example is shown below (Wilbur C. Whittaker photo, taken on November 19, 1938 at Santa Rosa, California), UOCX 10389. As it happens, this car is an AC&F product. You can also see that the lettering to the right of the dome is obscured by spillage.

This particular car is in asphalt service, though many of the Union TMI cars were not. Incidentally, by the time I model, 1953, the Union Oil fleet of tank cars had been sold to and operated by General American, though the cars at that time retained their original UOCX numbers, and are so listed in issues of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER).
          An avenue to model such cars is the AC&F Type 21 insulated tank car sold ready-to-run (RTR) by Walthers from time to time (originally a Proto2000 model). This is a good representation of an older Class ICC 104 tank car, with relatively short, stubby tanks like UOCX 10389 above (for more on such cars, see my column in Model Railroad Hobbyist, MRH, in the issue for February 2016; you can download this or any issue for free at their website, ). I used one of these cars and simply painted the entire car glossy black, then applied my decal lettering.
     My sheet of decal lettering was printed by Richard Brennan of TT West, and it was a simple matter to apply these in the usual way. Here is the model, UOCX 10396, as lettered.

     I decided to weather the car to a somewhat gray color to reflect a few years since it had been painted. This is commonplace for tank cars; many photos suggest that long times occurred between repainting. Here is the completed model, spotted on the layout.

     I am glad to have another Union Oil car to deliver to my layout’s on-line Union dealer, and also to have a different paint scheme from the 8000-gallon cars I already had from Proto2000. And it’s an insulated car, another difference. Perhaps an overdue project, but one I’m happy to complete.
Tony Thompson

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