Reference pages

Saturday, June 10, 2023

SP diesel fuel tank car: Conclusion

In the preceding post, I had gotten the one-piece handrail formed to fit the car body, and had modified the underframe with some upgrades, essentially representations of the underframe brake rigging. You can consult that post at this link:

As I mentioned at the conclusion of the previous post on this project (see link, above), I was preparing a vertical-staff handbrake. I used a Cal Scale brass brake wheel, soldered to a length of 0.020-inch brass wire, to serve as the new handbrake wheel on this model. It is shown below as installed with canopy glue. The gray material is the Tamiya putty used to fill the hole for the (incorrect) Athearn handbrake parts.

The major task remaining at this point was to attach the handrail, and install the “pipe union” tubing to unite the handrail segments (see Part 2, link in first paragraph above).  I simply placed a dab of canopy glue in each of the Athearn handrail supports on the tank, and carefully fitted my shaped brass-wire handrail to them, then cut the overlapping lengths of handrail wire to fit into the brass tubing used to suggest a pipe union.

Now the paint needed to be touched up. There were several areas where the silver paint had been disturbed or damaged, and all that was touched up first. Then the handrail was brushed with flat black.

Next I wanted to complete the underframe, so it could be attached to the tank. I used Athearn placard holders, even though they are oversize, because a scale placard attached to them looks all right. I installed Kadee #148 (the “scale head” whisker couplers) and InterMountain “semi-scale” wheelsets in the truck  frames. I think it’s essential in a tank car to have the narrower wheel treads, since the wheels are readily visible on a tank car,

The car could now be assembled. At this point, it lacks only weathering and final details like route cards. Here is the distinctive side of an SP tank car, with no ladder or dome platform, or hand grab on the dome. All three are on the other side (see photo above). You may also note that a missing handrail support on this side (compare the first photo in the previous post, link in first paragraph above) has been replaced, with a support harvested from a previous Athearn tank kitbash surplus part.

For weathering, I followed my usual acrylic wash procedures (see “Reference pages” link at the top right of this blog post). I also added route cards and a few chalk marks. 

Below you see the “ladder side” of the car. It’s now headed for the layout, where it can be part of the inbound diesel fuel shipments to the storage tank at my Shumala engine terminal. (see: ).

I have enjoyed the numerous conversions I’ve done with the plain old “Blue Box” Athearn tank car, taking advantage of its evident resemblance to the SP 12,500-gallon tank cars, and correcting details to bring it a lot closer to the prototype. (I posted a detailed description of the entire process several years ago, at:  .) This is just the latest model to be completed.

Tony Thompson

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