MODELING: Building a GATC Type-22 Tank Car 2.0

In my first posting on this build, I showed a completed bolster/saddle pattern that I was hoping to have cast in urethane.  To my surprise a friend in SoCal did a 3D design of the bolster and printed four parts on a Form 2 SLA printer.  This is a state-of-art printer that is less than an arm and leg.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to get these parts made.

The photo above is what the raw part looks like after printing and washing.  You do have some minor cleanup to do before you can use the resin casting.

Here is the printed part cleaned up and primed.  I test fitted it to the centersill.  Notice the rivet heads on the casting.  I didn’t put these on my pattern.  Nice touch.  The details can been seen in the following photos sent to my by Frank Hodina, Resin Car Works.

The photo shown above was also courtesy of Frank Hodina.

I started work on the underframe trying to prepare it for the installation of the bolsters.  The running boards are supported by an extension of the bolster, the centersill and four inch channels that run under the centersill and up to the position of the running board.

The milled channel used for the running board support came from a hobby shop near Kings Cross Station in London.  I have noticed that Albion Alloys makes a similar channel.   I added the Protocraft bolster insert.  This part was retaped for 2.0mm screw.  I will be adding Protocraft couplers and a striker plate for the draft gear.

I want to thank Warren and Frank for their valuable assistance on this project.




MODELING: Building a GATC Type-22 Tank Car 1.0

My post of June 8 talking about building a Type-17 single compartment tank car.   Shortly after posting the story a kit manufacturer sent me an email with copies of GATC drawings.  As part of his text he explained that the prototype I picked wasn’t really a Type-17 car but the next iteration of the design.   GATC didn’t identify it with a “Type” nomenclature.  The contributor has adopted the Type-22 nomenclature to make it a bit easier to identify the subject.

The drawings were a real great contribution to my project.  However, it did mean that I would have to redo the frame completely and replace the dome with a larger diameter version.  Not the end of the world but it does slow the process down a bit.

The bolster/ saddle is different from the one I built.  Different enough that I would not be able to live with it.  The other significant finding was that I built the original frame short by around nine inches.  That is a show stopper in my mind.  Besides the running board would not look right on the car ends.

So I built up a new centersill from two lengths of Evergreen 1/4″ channel.  I cut 1/4″ square blocks and drilled them to take Protocraft bolster inserts.  I retreaded them for the 2mm screws used on Protocraft trucks.   I installed .030″ Tichy rivets to simulate draft gear attachment points.

The Protocraft bolster parts are shown above.

The bolster casting also forms the tank saddle.  I made this pattern from .030″ styrene sheet with .015″ reinforcements in the openings.  The “ear” sticking out on the left side is the polling pocket.  The part is notched on the right side to interface with the channel.

So at this time I will break the build and send the bolster part off to the foundry to get some resin castings.




MODELING: Katy Boxcar and Misc

Photo by Bruce Blalock

Here is a beautiful single sheathed boxcar built by Jim Zwernemann from styrene.  It looks like the kit I mastered for Southern Car & Foundry but it is different.  For one, the Katy built these cars in their shop reusing old refrigrator car “fishbelly” underframes.  It does present a unique profile when viewed from the side.  As with all of Jim’s models, the finish and in particular his weathering is impressive. The model was a prize winner at the 2018 March Meet in the Chicago.

Photo by Bruce Blalock

The decals are from Protocraft and the end appears to be from the SC&F kit.   Of course like all Zwernemann models, it is equipped with Proto48 trucks.

The model was photographed by Bruce Blalock who is a longtime friend of Jim.

The above drawing was prepared by A.T. Kott for Pacific Limited many years ago.  It illustrates the underframe used by the Dennison shops to build this series of single sheathed cars.

Lee Turner

I am not sure if you know what Lee looks like.  He sent this photo recently taken of his new h

airdo.  According his email his wife did the honors.

The hair style was in honor of a friend had just obtained a NYC Mohawk 4-8-2. So Lee likes the style so much he is now planning on changing his name to Studebaker Silver Hawk.









TYPE-17 Tank Car Project

Every now and then, information surfaces that points out a few major bad assumption that were made in designing a new model.  Since I lacked any real information I had made an assumption about the dome width as being 48″ inside diameter.  Well, it is actualy 54″.  I also had the wrong frame length being short by about a foot.  So, I am back at the bench building a new frame and dome.   A fellow modeler sent me information on the prototype General American car.  He elaborated on the fact that this Union Oil car was a transition design between the Type-17 and the later Type-30  The Type-17 had a tank composed of radial plates.


This is a prime example of a Type-17  which has been produced by Tangent Scale Models in HO.

It was suggested that I use the convention of calling the design I am building a Type-20.  I don’t think GATC used this term but I am confortable with Type-20.

I will resume my build shortly and would like to thank the gentleman who supplied the information.



NEWS: Announcement about Grandt Line and San Juan Car Company

The new owners of Grandt Line and San Juan Car Company posted a comment the other day on this blog.  I have copied it over to create a post on this important information.


We happy to announce the acquisition and merger of Grandt Line Products, The San Juan Car Co., San Juan Decals, American Limited Models and The Leadville Shops. The new company is called The San Juan Model Co.
At the request of the Grandt family the “Grandt Line” name has been retired. The extensive catalog of former Grandt Line products is being merged with the On3, O Scale and P:48 products offered by The San Juan Car Co.
This new combined catalog of products will be available this fall directly from The San Juan Model Co. web site as well as from our current distributors.
The extensive line of high quality screen printed water slide decals produced in house by San Juan Decals will be augmented by the dozens of decal sets offered by The Leadville Shops. This growing catalog of decals will also available directly from The San Juan Model Co. web site. In addition, San Juan Decals will continue to offer custom design and screen printing of the highest quality water slide decals.
American Limited Models will continue to offer high quality imported HO scale RTR models as well as other new RTR models in other scales.
Best Regards,
Doug Junda and Bob Stears


MODELING: Building a GATC Type-17 Tank Car 1.0

Here is a project high on my “bucket list”. A tank car this has some interesting features. The prototype was a General American Tank Car (GATC). The major tank car builders evolved designs during the steam era. Tank car designs evolved with changes in the method of tank construction and frame design. GATC developed the Type-17 around the time of World War I. The frame was composed of two 12″ channels riveted together with steel plates to create a box structure. To this cast steel tank saddle/bolster were riveted to hold the tank and become the connection to the trucks.

The photo shown above is an example of Type-17 design with a later tank design.

The picture shown above shows the bolster casting with it’s poling pockets and support for the running boards. The picture from Tangent Scale Models with used with permission of David Lehlbach The subject of this build is a specific series of 10,000 gallon tank car leased to Union Oil Company. The cars were built in 1922 by GATC.

The picture shown below was from the Arnold Menke collection. It is dated 1938 with no location specified.

I have always liked this 10,000 gallon single compartment car. It has an unusual underframe when compared to the often-modeled AC&F Type-21 or Type-27. In the world of 1/48 modeling, the AC&F designs are about the only design available.  General American, Standard Tank Car or Union Tank Car have not been modeled much.  The tank features a three horizontal course construction. The tank has a smaller diameter dome (48″) that is 2’9″ high.

You can see the general shape in these two photos. I found a picture on the Tangent Scale Models that shows the bolster really well.  The second picture is of an ex-SP&S 10,000 gallon Type-17.  Rick Leach took the picture a number of years ago.


The model is largely built from styrene. The tank is from a Red Caboose kit.  I bought a couple bodies from Bill McClung when he was shutting down the business.  The tank body has a cast-on dome that is too large in diameter so I elected to remove that section of the body.

The gray section was salvaged from a spare body.  It was spliced into the upper section and reinforced with some .040″ sheet.

The frame is made up of two lengths of Evergreen 1/4″ channel.  I used some 1/4″ x 1/8″ strip for hold together the channels.  The top of the centersill is “plated” with rivet impressed .010″ sheet.  The brass screw is for mounting the coupler. You can see the the bolster assemble installed on the centersill.

The end view shows the basic structure of the bolster and tank saddle.  I built the parts from photos and a little guessing.   I am not sure how accurate it is but I can live with it.

Well, that is enough for tonight.  Next time I will start detailing the tank and dome.


MODELING: Build a Caboose Ladder

The fabrication of caboose ladders is a key step in building your model.  Rather than backing away from the build or compromise the appearance of the model with the wrong ladder style, you can do it yourself.  Fabrication can be done with the minimal of fuss with a few fixtures and careful drilling.  The caboose shown above has a challenging design with the curved top and attachment to the end railings.   Forming the curved top section is a feasible using a simple jig.

The first step is to drill for the rung location on the stiles.  I then bent the bottom mounting tabs to rest on the end railing.  I made a simple multi-function fixture to facilitate fabrication of the stiles.  The rung locations are marked with lines that are perpendicular to the stile lines.

I added guides made from styrene strips to hold the brass in place.  The next step is to form the curve at the top of the stile. The brass is .010″ x .040″ half-hard material.  I turned a plastic rod to the inner diameter of the top.  The idea is that will serve as a bending surface for the strip.  Bending brass strips will curl if you try to curve it around the plastic post.   I found that placing a screwdriver blade on the strip as I draw the brass around the post will produce a nice radius without distortion of the metal.

Many years ago Mainline Modeler had an article on building a brass caboose written by a Japanese model maker.  He described forming the curve around metal post using two washers to keep the brass from twisting.

Assembly of the ladder goes smoothly with a simple fixture that holds the stiles and has reference lines for alignment of the rungs.   At this point, the rungs will be soldered in place.

The assembly shown above still needs to be cleaned up prior to installation.  The process is very straight forward.  It can be done without a precision drill press.  A simple pin vise and sharp drills will work just fine.

Thanks for taking a look.





MODELING: Lee Turner Strikes Again!

Lee is a creative and resourceful modeler that has been generous to share his technique with  this blog.   I sure have learned a huge amount over the last several years.  Hopefully, you have taken away a few techniques that Lee has shared.

How many of you remember Frank Ellison?  He wrote a number of a profound article that shaped much of the hobby we enjoy today.  Model Railroader published much of the tales of Delta Lines and Frank’s creation of a functioning railroad.  One of the industries on the Delta Lines was a packing house called Richmond Packing in the town of Raymondale. Lee created a meat reefer lettered for Richmond Packing as a tribute to Frank Ellison.  The model is a modified Atlas import. The lettering style reflects the post-1938 ban on billboard advertising schemes. By the way, the model is a keeper.  Lee will add this model to his roster.

This pair of of Sacramento Northern F-3 units reflect the work of several modelers.   Mike Mangini built these locomotives from P&D Hobbies kits.   Mike painted the SN silver and orange colors matched to actual EMD paint chips (Dan Pantera loaned them to Mike).  The lettering was designed and printed by Gary Schrader.

It turns out that Mike used to watch these units going through Stockton while he attending the University of the Pacific.   John Ford suggested that Mike contact Lee to age the showroom new look.  Now the units have a “well used” look.

Love that Western Pacific/ Sacramento Northern paint scheme.  As a long-time resident of Cali, I have observed the orange and silver locomotives many time and sure miss them.  Now all we see are the darn yellow things.

Take care,