Monday, December 18, 2023

Modeling a Celanese tank car, Part 3

In the previous post, I showed the first steps in converting an Athearn insulated tank car model to resemble one of Celanese Corporation’s many tank cars that were ICC type 103 or 104 insulated cars. In that post, I showed a prototype photo of such a car, GATX 77414. If you wish to look at that post, it can be found at this link: .

In that previous post, I had replaced the Athearn valve bonnet with a Detail Associates dome molding, and was ready to deal with the details of the new dome, and prepare for addition of a new dome platform. Here’s a repeat of the final photo in the previous post.

At this point I considered painting the central area of the car, including the dome, with the cream or ivory color used on many Celanese cars. I’ll repeat one of the prototype photos shown earlier (specifically, in my introductory post on this topic, which is here: ). The photo is from the Richard Hendrickson collection, and was taken at Southern Pacific’s Taylor Yard in Los Angeles. The center color area around the dome is evident, as is the fact that handrail and ladder are black.

(Incidentally, note the very dirty top surface of the lumber load in the foreground, presumably the result of some kind  of pollution that landed on the load; but how many modelers have reproduced this look?)

My original painting plan was to build and attach the new dome platform, then mask the body that you see in the photo at the top of this post, and paint that entire area. But it occurred to me that it might not be so easy to get a good paint coverage underneath a dome platform. The idea that then occurred is that I could paint the body area, then later paint the platform separately before installing it. 

Here’s a photo of that step. The handrail and ladder also got painted ivory, but that won’t remain. The ladder will be replaced by one that reaches from the running board to the dome platform, and the handrails will be brush-painted black (compare the prototype photo). The perspective make it look like the ivory band is not equal on both sides of the dome, but in fact it is.

My next step in continuing modeling this car was to add features to the dome top. The Detail Associates dome I used has the two safety valves and manway cover, but needs an air inlet valve and an eduction valve cover. I made the former from a piece of rod on my workbench, and turned the valve cover from 1/8-inch styrene rod. I have described these kinds of parts in my article in Railroad Model Craftsman, Vol. 80, issue for January 2012, page 61.

These features, and the dome grab irons, will be painted when I paint the dome platform.

Work on the underframe is also in progress. As I usually do, I added brake rods to the Athearn underframe, because on a tank car, they are visible from above. I sometimes also add piping to the reservoir and valve, but that piping is far less obvious from above than the brake rods, so I usually omit that.

Most Celanese cars like this had dome platforms, some did not, but I wanted to use the Yarmouth Model Works dome platform kit on this model, which is a full platform, to resemble the prototype photo above. (See my post about how I addressed building this kit at: .) I will be able to follow the same procedure on the present project as I did in that post.

I’ll return to the building and placement of the dome platform, underframe completion, and other issues of finishing, in a future post.

Tony Thompson

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