Monday, October 26, 2020

Modeling highway trucks, Part 9: another tank

I have posted a whole series of descriptions of my efforts to model highway trucks in HO scale, as part of the scenery on my layout. Many of these are the old cast-metal Ulrich models, not because they are great models, but because they suit my 1953 modeling year. {You can find these posts by using the search box at right, with the search term “modeling highway trucks.”) One of those posts was about creating a tank trailer for Signal Oil (read that post at: ). 

I wanted to make more of these highway tank trailers, and for a time regularly watched eBay and other sites for a reasonably priced example. The problem is that Ulrich produced the tank trailer for some years decorated for Cities Service, with raised lettering and emblem cast onto the tank. Here’s a box photo. The lettering in white on the tank is the raised part.

The Mack cab-over tractor makes a nice change too, though the Cities Service company was really not suitable for my West Coast modeling locale. But finally, failing to find another Ulrich tank without the raised lettering, as I had been able to do when I made the trailer that became Signal Oil, I gave up and acquired one of these Cities Service trailers.

“How bad could it be,” I asked myself, “just file off the raised lettering.” Well, I found out. The white metal Ulrich casting isn’t too hard a metal, but soon you are filing on an almost flat surface. It was a long and tedious process, but finally I did get the lettering removed and the tank surface smooth. 

I then sprayed on a coat of light gray, partly as a “witness coat,” which would show up any flaws in my file work, and partly as a primer coat for subsequent paint. The trailer looked pretty good and only required a little touch-up, so I added a final coat of medium gray.

To letter the tank, I once again turned to the fine products of Graphics on Demand. This is a source I have really valued for truck graphics (you can visit them at: ). As with all my highway trucks, I like to select suitable regional truck owners. In the case of an oil company, there were certainly a variety of West Coast companies to choose from, like Signal Oil, that I chose for the trailer I have already done. 

This new trailer I decided to letter for Standard Oil of California, a major retailer, marketing under the “Chevron” name (today the corporate name is even changed to “Chevron,” but in my modeling era, the company was still called Standard). I also have a Standard bulk oil dealer in my layout town of Ballard.

Having purchased Chevron lettering from Graphics on Demand, I applied the lettering to the trailer. These are not water-slide decals, as we are accustomed to use for model railroading, but are a vinyl adhesive peel-and-stick product. This sounds inferior, but certainly is not. They are glossy and stick down well, and when given a coat of flat finish, look quite good.

The finished tank trailer is shown below on the layout behind an Ulrich Kenworth tractor. It’s just passing another Ulrich tractor-trailer, powered by the Mack COE, with an original Ulrich Illinois-California (ICX) trailer, on busy Pismo Dunes Road in east Shumala.

Another semi-trailer I have lettered with Graphics on Demand is a trailer for Lucky Lager beer. A familiar “Western” beer of the 1950s in California, it seemed like a good choice for a passing truck. Here the trailer is from Classic Metal Works, but this 32-foot “Aerovan” trailer, as CMW produces it, is odd in having only a single rear axle. I replaced that axle with a double-axle bogie from an Athearn trailer, as I showed in an earlier post (it can be found at: ). Here is the the trailer, with its side delivery door.

In this photo at my layout town of Santa Rosalia, the rig is on Willow Lake Road, just crossing the SP’s Santa Rosalia branch, which ends here at the ocean. The depot is at left. In the distance is the usual marine fog bank out over the Pacific.

I continue to enjoy researching and modeling highway trucks that are appropriate for my era and locale, and no doubt will find opportuinties to do more of them in the future.

Tony Thompson

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