PART 2: LIONEL Type-21 Tank Car

I am back to working on models in my shop.  My first project is the upgrading of the Lionel Type-21 tank car.    After looking at the basic model, decided to toss the underframe and strip the tank as well. So lets get started with the project.

tank inprocess

The focus of this installment is shown above.  The frame is basically complete less details.  The tank was stripped of most plastic grab irons.  I popped off the end with some effort.  All of the weight needs to go inside the tank.  The tank was stripped using 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA).  I am removing the tank bands using a scraper tool.  My intention is to redo the handrails with scale wire and to replace the railing brackets with brass castings from Wiseman Model Services.

AC&F Type-x

The above drawing is from a Car Builders Cyclopedia.   The basic drawing was scaled to 1/4″ and turns out that the 8,000 gallon version is shown.  Below is the end view showing important details of the tank saddle, end sill and bolster details.

ACF Type-21 endx

The basic frame is composed of two 1/4″ Evergreen channels that run full length to the striker plates.   If you use Kadee couplers, you will have to chop the frame to fit their oversized draft gear.   The frame is assembled using 1/4″ square styrene which forms the mounting point for the trucks.   I made mine too long and as a result it extends beyond the top cover plate of the frame.   The cover plate is .010″ styrene cut to fit.  My plan is to use Archer 7/8″ rivet decals to detail all of the surfaces.  I suspect this will be quicker than drilling and inserting Tichy rivets.

tank frame

The next step is to form the bolsters using a baseplate of .020″.  Remember to notch the ends as shown.

tank bolster base

This photo shows how the bolster diaphragms are formed using .020″ x .250″ strip stock that has been shaped and notched to fit into the channel.   I reinforced the diaphragm with some square stock.

tank bolster diaphram

The photo below is the frame cover plate that is mounted on top and centered.  The circles define an opening needed to allow the tank drain to go through.   The opening is not centered but offset to one end.

tank frame cover

The next step is to fabricate the end frames.  The end beam is made from 3/16″ Evergreen channel.  Make sure cut out the coupler notch and drill for the grab irons.  It is much easier to do this while the parts are flat.   The side channels need to be drilled for grab irons.  I used .156″ channel for the side frames.   Assemble to parts using a simple jig to keep the parts at 90 degrees.  I reinforced the joint with a piece of .060″ angle stock.

tank end frame assy

At this point, you should have the basic parts for the frame.

tank frame compy

The running boards come next.  I used .040″ thick styrene for the boards.   The end running board is 9″ wide and the side are 12″. Mount the end running boards to the end frames first.     The picture below shows the assembly process used to add the running boards.   The side board length is critical so make sure you have the right length before doing this assembly work.

tank rb frame

When you are done with this step you will have the basic frame components ready for assembly.

tank basic frame

Part 3 will continue the build with detailing of the frame and more work on the tank.  The photo below was provided by the late Richard Hendrickson and shows a typical Type 21 car.  This happens to be a 10,000 gallon but the frame is identical.



7 thoughts on “PART 2: LIONEL Type-21 Tank Car

  1. Gene,

    Always great to read a “blog” update. As a new-comer to P:48 it is interesting to find out about all the different manufacturers cars that can be considered for adaptation to P:48. Looking forward to learning more about this build on your blog.

    Later, Dave Sarther

  2. Gene,
    Great blog update. Presentation of prototype info and modelling techniques in the manner of your blog is clearly superior to the material in currently printed magazines.
    The drawings clearly indicate that Jack Work’s notes (previous comments in Part 1) referred to a 10,00 gallon Type 21 car.
    Two questions,
    1. Are you or any of the blog followers aware of a 10k Type 21 car available in 1:48 scale?
    2. Is it possible to upload a photograph to your blog comments?


    • Bill
      Type-21 AC&F have not been done in 1:48 with the sole exception of the Lionel 8,000 gallon car. It would have to be a scratchbuilding effort.

      You can send me the image and I will post it.

      Glad you like the concept of a blog on building things.


  3. Hi Gene
    I am finding your blog truly inspirational, to the point where it has decided me in favour of P48 – seeing your account of building the tank car made me realise that a) It is not difficult to scratchbuild almost any car I want, and b) It is easier in P48 because you can build it exactly like the plans show i.e. no compromises to avoid over-sized flanges etc. Fortunately, because I am only just starting out, I don’t have any problems with trying to change wheels on a fleet of cars or re-lay any track.

    Also, I want to say thank you for taking the time to post drawings of the tank car, because U.S. railroad prototype information is a bit hard to come by where I live unless it is posted on the ‘net.

    Whangarei, NZ.

    • Paul
      Thank you for your comments. The tank car build is fairly easy. I did discover a few things that need improving. As a result, there will be an addendum published shortly showing the revised design.
      Publishing plans in the public domain is not a problem. It is essential data along with a visualization of how to model the project.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s