Tangent GATX 8000 Gal. Acid Tank Cars

A few weeks before the holidays, I ordered and received a pair of 8000 gal. acid tank cars from Tim at Action Hobbies in Kingsville.  These cars are by Tangent Scale Models and, like the rest of their product line, are very nicely detailed and finished.  I dare you to click on the link to Tangent’s web site and not be overcome by the urge to buy at least one model.

Models like these are expensive, by any measure, but one of the benefits of building a small layout is that I can put more resources into each model.  The paint scheme on the two cars I bought represents cars from a GATX lease fleet.  You may have noticed them in a photo from my December 29, 2014 post celebrating the installation of an NCE DCC system on my home layout.  Here is a shot of GATX 24941, off-spot at International Paper (on my layout, of course).


A keen eye will reveal that the car in the photo above is lettered for a pool of cars assigned to haul phosphoric acid, a food additive that provides tanginess.  As they stand, these models are out of place at a paper plant.  By default, my plan is to cycle these cars into the consist of trains TF-2/FT-1, COJ-32, or any of the CASO trains once I build the North Tonawanda yard across from the paper plant.  However, I’m exploring another possibility.

According to my limited understanding of the paper making process, sulphuric acid is used to manage Ph levels of the digested pulp as it passes through the washer and thickening machines.  It’s also used to make chlorine dioxide to bleach fine paper products to a brilliant white.  I’ll definitely need some sulphuric acid tank cars for my paper plant at Tonawanda Island.

Sulphuric acid is very dense, and is therefore moved in tank cars of relatively small volume, by modern standards.  At 8000 gallons, the prototype for these spectacular models by Tangent are approximately the right size to have been in pool of cars assigned to haul sulphuric acid.  I’ll have to do some research and reach out to my friends who are more knowledgeable about the details of freight car useage to figure this out.  The best-case scenario would have me undertaking some minor relettering to repurpose these two models.  I’m hoping that will be the case, but if not, these cars are fine addition to the various through trains that will be modelled in the next phase of the layout.


N8 Caboose Project update

When Colin asked me in a recent post whether I had finished this project, I realized I hadn’t written an update.  For some background on this project, check out this post from March. This was a fairly straightforward upgrade of an older but still very nice kit.  I used Kadee trucks, some wire details underneath, paint and Microscale decals, and just a quick once-over with the Pan Pastels to get a start on the weathering.  It needs some more attention to the weathering and a few more detail parts, but for now, I’d be happy to run Penn Central N8 cabin 23298 in its current state. IMG_0879For those of you less inclined to build and paint your own, Bowser has announced that they are adding this model to their “Executive” line of products.  Presumably, this means they will be improving some aspects of the model and selling it ready-to-run.  I wasn’t interested in building another N8 caboose, but I might buy one of these “Executive” models if they’ve improved the trucks and offer it in the more common Penn Central scheme without the horizontal stripe.

Tune-up, Tear-out

I spent part of Thanksgiving Day tuning up the turnouts that I spiked into place last weekend.  Those of you following along know that I’ve been building the skeletons of my turnouts on a Fast Tracks assembly jig and then spiking them into place on ties that I glued down in advance using Fast Tracks templates.

Six turnouts are now securely spiked in and working well.  One more is already working well with only the minimum spikes holding it in place, but the turnout leading into the coal track was giving me grief.  It was showing signs of having issues last week when I first put it place, but I was convinced that I could sort it out once I came back to it with more time.

After fussing with it for about an hour, I decided to cut my losses.  I pulled all the spikes and put the skeleton back into the assembly jig where I immediately saw the source of the problem.  Somehow, I soldered the turnout together with a very slight twist.  I unsoldered about half of the joints and carefully inspected the individual pieces.  One point rail needed a very slight correction to its curve, and I discovered a very slight bow in some of the ties.  I tossed the four ties that looked looked suspicious and made up replacements.

With the skeleton back in place on the ties, I was displeased with all of the spike holes, including all the extras that I drove in an attempt to fix the turnout while it was in place.  I decided to rip out the ties and build this turnout on Fast Tracks Twist Ties.

IMG_0872The glue is drying on the coal track switch, but it’s already clearly apparent to me that a Fast Tracks turnout built on Twist Ties is more attractive and precise than anything I can build free-hand.  That includes building the turnout on ties that I placed according to the  the Fast Tracks templates.  The turnouts at the paper plant are in place now, and they seem to be working well, but I think I’ll use turnouts built on Twist Ties for the rest of the layout.

More Spiking

I’ve been spiking rail on my layout, and I’m experimenting with Proto:87 spikes.  These things are tiny but hold the rail surprisingly well.

I was asked about the tools I use for spiking, so this post gives a quick outline.  Because the question asked specifically about spiking tools, we’ll take the obvious things like files and soldering iron as given.

IMG_0868The black handled tool in the above image is a simple but small pair of serrated needle nose pliers.  That one is a junky generic tool, but it has served me well for such light duty. The serrated pliers are good for those times when a (regular) spike is being stubborn.  I’ll hold the head of the spike in the serrations and press down in increments equal to the teeth of the serrations.

The other three tools are by Xuron, and if I could afford it, I’d buy every tool they make.  Good stuff, Xuron is.  The first Xuron tool is a vertical rail cutter.  Its use should be obvious.  Next is a flat nose pliers, which works well with the Proto spikes. I place about 1/3 of the spike into the the corner of the tip of the pliers, place the spike right up against the base of the rail, and drive it about halfway into the tie.  I adjust my purchase on the spike and then drive it home. When I’m finished, I place the pliers over the rail and seat both spikes at once, then give them a little squeeze to be sure they’re snug. and last is a spiking tool.

The tool on the far right is an archetypal spiking tool, essential for driving the likes of Micro Engineering and Walthers spikes.  No surprises there.

One last word about the Proto spikes.  Today I tried a method whereby I lined up the rail using an NMRA gauge and then pinned the rail with Walthers spikes between the ties.  Afterward, I went back and inserted the Proto spikes, again using a gauge as I worked down the rail.  I found I was having too much difficulty manipulating the tiny Proto spikes in the pliers while trying to hold the rail in place and gauge it.  I can do that with regular spikes, but not with Proto’s microscopic slivers. Here’s a photo showing the near rail already spiked with Proto spikes and the far rail pinned in place, ready for Proto spikes.

IMG_0869 Anyhow, I’ve spiked about 70% of the rail at the paper plant.  Can’t wait to hook up the bus wires and run something!