Sunday, December 29, 2019

Shell Chemical Tank Cars - colors?

Toronto, Ontario, Jim Parker photo
Shell Chemical (as well as Shell Oil) had a West Coast facility based in Martinez, California. The area around the Carquinez Strait was a hub of petrochemical businesses and still has a large number of operations. I have an interest in modeling a couple Shell Chemical cars, including one in the scheme shown on these two cars. However, not having any color photos, I would be guessing at the scheme. I can discern (or imagine?) a difference in the hue of the reporting marks and other stencils contrasted with the "SHELL CHEMICAL" lettering. It seems likely that the name is red while the other lettering is black. The color of the tank is the other question. It appears to be gray or silver/aluminum. I am hopeful that someone can offer some definitive information, but my best source so far is the photo of a Strombecker kit produced in 1948 (see bottom). The tank wrapper in the kit has a gray tank with black stenciling and red company name. Given the kit's contemporaneous manufacture with the existence of the prototype, it seems highly plausible that the producers of the kit were basing the scheme on primary source material, meaning they might have actually viewed the scheme in question or had gathered material directly from Shell or GATC to aid in accuracy. In the absence of other information, the Strombecker model is my best resource.

Note that the two cars are both General American designs. The car shown at top, SCMX 840, is a GATC "Type 30" design, of 8,103 gallon capacity, built in November, 1936. SCMX 2061, below, is an interesting car. The insulated, pressurized ICC 105A 300W tank was built in May, 1943 and is in service hauling Anhydrous Ammonia. It had a capacity of 11,161 gallons. The frame is a GATC postwar design and was likely married to the tank in September, 1950, assuming that occurred when the car was last reweighed in September, 1950.

Pittsburg, California, October 26, 1952, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo


  1. Ted,

    Having just read this blog post earlier this week, I remembered it when I came across the color picture in this pdf:

    Hope that helps!


    1. Adam- Thank you! That confirms it. Great article on LPG "farms" too, which will be useful. Thank you!


Comments always welcome!