Thursday, September 4, 2014

Going Crazy Over Tank Cars

Tank cars used on Murray Bay Sub were rare by the 80s. Personnaly, I only remember seing kaolin tank cars, but that was in the later part of 1980s. However, there's is photo evidence they were in the area in the early 80s.

Among commodities, many acids and other chemicals were needed. Nowadays, they move by truck but back then, it was by tank car.

For the layout, I didn't want a large tank car fleet, only a few regulars. When I built one of my several ill-fated "home layout", I bought 4 Tichy 10,000 gallons tank cars. Started to assemble them then let them rot in their boxes, unfinished... until the summer vacation. I had also a few Black Cat decals including CIL, CN (service cars) and a CGTX set.

Building the cars was straighforward but time consuming. I seriously hate building tank cars. I have very painful memories of my P2K Canadian Petroleum Tank Line cars. My only "mistake" was to install the old type of brake gear instead of a newer AB brake. Making the modification when the cars were already built seemed to me a kind of heresy. First of all, rebuilding a credible piping arrangement would be a challenge in itself... maybe a future challenge, but not now.

When completely assembled, cars were painted with my trusty Krylon flat black spray can. Then, I airbrushed two layers of Future to get a nice glossy finish for decalling. This really made my life easier. I also built a support to paint cars. I've seen this in an old MR magazine from the 70s. I used a plank of plywood and 2 supports made out of copper wire salvaged when I upgraded my house few years ago.

Black Cat decals are extremely thin, thus fragile, but they works great and "disappear" when set in place. Great product! During the decalling process, a few white spots appeared because of a reaction between isopropyl alcohol I use to wet the model and Future. Don't panic. Solvaset took care of it and the final coating with a generous spray of Future made everything disappear.

At that point, the model was dullcoted and I airbrushed a light coat of greyish paint over the model to fade the paint and get an older look. Most 10,000 tank cars still running in the 80s were nearing their retirement from revenue service. I was particularly generous with the CIL car which represent a car that was leased to CIL but brought back to regular CGTX fleet in the later years. To represent that, I didn't use the C.I.L.X. reporting marks, but replaced them with appropriate C.G.T.X. marks taken from Ian Cranstone's Canadian Freight Car's website. I carefully choose a car without known photographs to make sure I won't be accused of unprototypicalness from rivet counters!

I'll now need equip them with metal wheels, Kadee couplers and weather them a little bit with oil paints, washes and pastel chalk, then and hazard placard.

I also bought recently two Intermountain 10,000 gallons tank cars lettered to CGTX. The paint scheme is older and would require some tweeking to make them look better (removing the "Canadian General Transit Company" lettering and leaving only the reporting marks). I'm not sure about doing this since I think 2 Tichy tank cars are enough.

I'm also looking for an Athearn Dow of Canada chemical tank car. Hope to find one since this kind of car was a regular at Limoilou yard.

Finally, I also found out 4 old new stock Atlas kaolin tank car in sealed boxes in a shop in Florida. The website looked like it was last updated in 1997, the price was also from the late 90s and... they were available. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found factory installed horn-hook couplers!!!! Wow, call that nostalgia! For a moment, I thought I was Éric Gagnon from Trackside Treasure! Only the J.M. Huber, my favourite one, was not available, but I couldn't pass on this offer. If needed, I can always repaint of them. Cars I got are two Freeport, one Thiele and one Englehard.

What I like about a small layout with a well-defined focus is that you know exactly what and how many you need in terms of freight cars.

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