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First Look Review
N scale
ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car
ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car Union Carbide Road # 400175
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car is in the Atlas Master® N series. Master® is Atlas’ premium ready-to-run model, equipped with knuckle couplers, fine detail and excellent paint and printing.

Master® N ACF 23,500 gallon tank car
Today tank cars are the second most numerous type of freight car on our rails, second only to covered hoppers. Tank cars have been around since the 1860s. The designs of today dates back to World War I, and have evolved dramatically. Open wooden casks on flat cars were enclosed; casks became metal tanks; capacities of 100’s of gallons now approach 50,000 gallons. Constructing the tank with rivets has given way to welded tanks, with the structural integrity to do away with underframes.

American Car and Foundry builds these big insulated 23,500 gallon tank cars without underframes.
    This is a model of an ACF® Industries built general-purpose, single-compartment, 23,500 gallon, insulated, coiled, non-pressurized tank car. Our model represents cars built from 1969 and still in service today. A wide variety of products can be transported in this size and type of tank car. This includes asphalt, ethanol, fuel oil, metal sodium, molten phenol, paraffin wax, tallow, urethane polyol, and vegetable oil. - Atlas<

    Type: Tank Car
    AAR Class: T: Tank Car. Tank car means any car which is used only for the transportation of liquids, liquefied gases, compressed gases, or solids that are liquefied prior to unloading. Car may be without underframe if container serving as superstructure is designed to serve as underframe. If car has underframe, it must be designed only for the carriage of one or more enclosed containers (with or without compartments) that form the superstructure and are integral parts of the car.

    AAR Type: T106
    Detail Info: Tank Cars, General Service Cars, Carbon Steel Tank (Welded or Riveted), Includes Rubber Lined.
    AAR 203,203W,211A60W1,211A100W1,211J100W1.
    ICC or DOT 103,103W,104W,111A60W1,111A100W1,111A100W3,111A100W4
    Capacity: 22,000-24,000 gal
    Plate: C
    Max Gross Weight:
    Load Limit: 210600
    Liquid Capacity: 23753
    Ext L/W/H: 55' 9" / 10' 8" / 15' 6" *

Atlas packs these models in hard plastic lid-tray jewel cases designed for protection, presentation and stacking. Inside is the rail car securely held in a form-fitted cradle, protected from scuffing by a soft plastic sheet. Atlas included no parts diagram or documentation.

This ready-to-run model is of a 23,500 gallon capacity ACF design. Atlas lists five road names in this release.


    • Separately molded brake line plumbing
    • Ultra-thin handrails
    • Tank fittings and safety placards
    • 100-ton roller-bearing trucks
    • Brake wheel chain detail
    • Accurate painting and lettering
    • Factory-installed AccuMate® magnetic knuckle couplers

Molding is to a high standard with no flash, visible ejector marks, sink spots, or burrs from removing pieces from their sprue. Raised and recessed detail is sharp.

It appears Atlas molded the tank in four pieces: top, bottom, ends. The bottom piece is the weighted portion molded with integral tank saddles and bolster supports plus a molded train line. The upper portion comprises about 5/6 of the tank and fits over the bottom. It has surface detail defining the 10 segments of the tank length. Beneath the tank is brake detail plus a filler valve and atop the tank are the filler ports and relief valve, surrounded by railed platforms.

There are gaps where the upper part seats to the lower part, and the end plugs. I did not see the end gaps until processing the magnified photos and I did not notice the tank top-bottom gap because another part distracted my eyes from the gap. That part is a rail which runs from bolster to bolster on each side, just level with the second rung of each ladder. These rails are supported on each side by four posts anchored to the tank. On the other side of the bolsters are separately attached end sill crossover walk platforms. One end is molded with the AB air brake system triple valve and reservoir. Each ends has a hazmat placard and stirrups molded to it, and both support safety rails. The model rides on a pair of plastic 100-ton roller-bearing trucks holding weathered-brown plastic wheels. Atlas equips the model with body-mounted AccuMate® knuckle couplers.

The model is 53½ scale feet long which is very close to the prototype. It weighs 1.3 ounces which is very close according to the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 1.1 ounces.

For N scale the detail is superior. Not surprising the railing and piping is not too-scale. It probably could be made so but for an increased price. It is small in diameter, all the same. The visible air brake system is respectable with both molded-on and separately applied components, including the hand brake wheel and housing, plus some piping. Absent are air hoses, angle cocks and uncoupling levers (cutbars) although these are uncommon in N scale. Basic AB brake components represented are:

• AAR Standard brake wheel and chain pulley block
• Levers & rods
• Reservoir
• Cylinder
• Control valve
• Basic piping

Separately applied safety parts include ladders, end hand rails, safety bars and rails along the bottom of the tank, placard stands for hazmat and other information on each end. The manway hatch and valves atop the tank are nicely molded and separately attached. Surrounding those are attached walkways protected with hand railing. Many of these parts are molded and machined with finesse and thus are delicate. I don’t consider it fragile though you should use care when handling this tank car – I hold it by the ladders as that gives grip and should minimize fingerprints. Removing the model from its packaging cradle was simple.

Finally the plastic trucks look good for the scale. The plastic wheels will cause more maintenance than metal ones yet metal ones would drive up the cost.

Paint, Livery and Printing
Finish of this model is excellent. The paint solidly covers the model without obscuring detail. Blue Union Carbide livery is eye-catching. Yellow and white data and stenciling enhances the visual appeal.

Just look at how legible the text is! Reporting marks and the road number for this tank car are CCBX 400175.

This new tank car includes five paint schemes along with an undecorated model:

    1. ADM (Molecule)
    2. Dana Railcare
    3. Dow Chemical
    4. Southern Pacific
    5. Union Carbide
    6. Undecorated

All are available with three different road numbers.

This is a super ready-to-run tank car. Atlas has put effort into refining this model with small and separately attached detail parts, like ladders and hand rails, and air brake equipment.

I suspect this ACF 23,500 gallon tank car will be very popular for Atlas: sharp molding, AccuMate couplers, with a superb finish and stenciling. The brown wheels look better to me than blackened metal wheels. Overall Atlas has made an impressive N scale model of a ubiquitous modern freight car. In this livery it is eye-catching. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - RailRoadModeling.net.
Wilson, Jeff. The Model Railroader’s Guide To Freight cars. Waukesha: Kalmbach Publishing Co., 2005. ISBN: 0-89024-585-1


Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Small and separately attached detail parts, like ladders and hand rails, and air brake equipment. Finish and markings of this model is excellent.
Lows: Plastic wheels.
Verdict: This is a sharp N tank car. Atlas has made an impressive model of a ubiquitous modern freight car.
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 002 080
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 10, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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