Friday, January 20, 2023

Union Tank Line Type X Tank Car Parts from Shapeways

San Diego, California, December 4, 1954, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

I have been intending to create this post for a long, long time. That time is finally now. For as long as I can remember, Model Die Casting (MDC; now part of the Athearn universe) has offered a ~6,000 gallon "old-time" tank car. The rivets are too diminutive and there are some in places where they shouldn't be, but that is pales in comparison to the big chunk of white metal that doubles as the underframe and running boards. An enterprising seller on Shapeways decided to rectify that major shortcoming. The seller, Austin Rail Products, offers 3D printed underframe and running boards to turn the model into a quite passable UTLX Type X tank car (for those looking for more information about UTLX and its fleet, the "bible" authored by Steve Hile is currently being reprinted with an estimated availability date in early February.)

Excepting the other shortcomings of the MDC kit as well as the aftermarket detail offerings to rectify them, the focus here is on the two parts. The underframe is well-rendered an is a perfect fit to the bottom sheet of the tank. It will be a simple matter to glue it in place at the tank saddles and the tank anchor. There are some 3D printing artifacts, but in all honesty, they are not aggregious and the underframe is a place where they will not detract in a measurable way. In terms of the underframe itself, it is an excellent rendition of the Type X underframe, with bolster castings capturing the open shape of the prototype. The one major obstacle to overcome is equipping the car with a coupler. The part is not designed with a specific HO scale coupler offering in mind (at least I cannot ascertain this) so I will need to devise a creative solution to add couplers.

Like the underframe, the running boards are a perfect fit to the tank sheets. The creator obviously spent time to ensure that they would be a "drop fit" addition. The supports ("brackets") are well-detailed and fit against the tank sheets perfectly. Being running boards, there is little else to say!

As the scope of this model is more than just a simple swap of a few parts, I will develop several posts to highlight details on the prototype and how to replicate them in HO scale, using commercially available parts as well as some scratchbuilding and/or modification. I look forward to this journey!

1 comment:

  1. I did one of these a few years ago. The coupler I used is the #4. Not much swing but the car is so short there is no problem even though the knuckle is S scale. It has been operating on the Central of Minnesota for several years, no sweat


Comments always welcome!