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First Look Review
HO scale
11,000 Gallon Tank Car
11,000 Gallon Tank Car Superior Propane
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Atlas HO 11,000 Gallon Tank Car is a model in their Master Line range of products. This is model 20 003 746, Superior Propane No. 55172. Atlas' model is based on the ACF ICC-105A welded insulated tank car. This run of 11,000 gallon tank cars feature new paint schemes & road numbers.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars first took the rails in the 1930s. Over the next decade their numbers increased markedly.

Today tank cars are the second most numerous type 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 100s 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. Tank car history includes a diversity of design, lading, size, rosters and fleets, and livery. Tank car history fills books and websites, too extensive for this review.
    Propane or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is both a naturally occurring product and a by-product of the refining process. During the 1940s, the petroleum industry began marketing LPG as a cleaner and more efficient fuel than the existing coal and oil. Transporting LPG requires specially designed high-pressure tank cars. During the early 40s the only ACF tank car that qualified was the 10,500 gallon high-pressure tank car. After the war, ACF set out to design a whole new car for the emerging industry. As a result the 11,000 gallon tank car was introduced by ACF in 1947. Many thousands were built up through the mid-1950s.

    The Atlas model faithfully reproduces this late steam/early diesel era tank car in two versions (with and without platform rails). The cars with top platform rails were used where there was no elevated loading/unloading facility. The cars without the top platform rails were often specified for customers that had access to elevated loading and unloading facilities.
    - Atlas

Let's knock around this tank car.

The Model
Atlas' HO 11,000 Gallon Tank Car is a plastic and metal model. It is packed in a vacuformed form-fitted cradle that is held in an end-opening carton with a cellophane window. The cradle is a top-bottom affair that snaps together. Atlas also uses separate inserts to protect the trucks, and additionally protects the model with a flexible plastic sheet.

American Car & Foundry designed 11,000 gallon tank cars. This Atlas model is based on cars ACF built between 1947 to 1951 with riveted ends and six welded sections (tank bottom sheets and upper tank body halves bolted together) per tank. Some time in 1952 ACF improved the design with only five segments per tank. Atlas' has six sections. Those ACF cars featured a variety of air brake system configurations, different styles of platforms, and other setups.

The model is predominately made of injection-molded styrene and other plastics, plus metal components. Molding is high quality with no visible flash, seam lines, visible ejection marks, or sink marks. Atlas lists the features as:
    Finely molded handrails
    Tank fittings and safety placards
    50-ton friction-bearing trucks with AccuMate® couplers
    Accurate painting and lettering
    Platform where appropriate

AccuMate® couplers are factory-installed. It looks like the tank is made with more than one part, fitted together along the lateral bolt flange.

From top down, a single dome is surrounded by a platform. It is mounted in a frame with the hand rails. Corners have bracket and bolt detail. Atlas must have other railing configurations for the dome platforms because the tread plate has several holes drilled into it. Plastic ladders curve down to the running boards.

The tank rests upon molded tank saddles. Separately applied tank retaining rods attach the tank to the frame. The frame features fine bolt and rivet detail. Placard holder are set on the ends and sides.

Under the frame is a well rendered air brake system with a triple valve, reservoir, cylinder, actuator arm and levers, brake rods and piping. Completing the AB system is a National Brake Company five-spiral spoke hand brake wheel. The brake gear looks good as it hangs down enough to see the parts from track level. Atlas did not include cut levers nor air hoses, although those are not difficult to find and attach if one wishes to enhance the otherwise good detail.

Atlas attached wire hand grabs and rails around the car. They fit into molded rackets with bolt and rivet detail.

All of that superstructure rides upon molded plastic 50-ton friction-bearing trucks mounting metal wheels. Those sideframes look pretty good although a bit plain. The wheels are blackened and they look good with a dark dull sheen.

Even within the "Three-Foot Rule" this model looks good.

Performance and Dimensions
This model is RTR (Ready-To-Run). The wheels are in gauge and the couplers do not sag. They are of proper height according to my Kadee coupler gauge. The tank car weighs 3.5 ounces - light compared to NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight recommended weight of 3.8 oz. It is 39 1/2 scale feet from sill grab to sill grab and 42 feet from coupler to coupler.

The metal wheels rolled smoothly through an Atlas code 83 No. 6 switch and a Peco code 80 single-slip switch.

Paint and Livery
Today's standard of finish is very high and Atlas keeps that bar raised high. Once again I find incredible just how legible the fine, crisp printing is! Dimensional data, road names and numbers, service markings - you can read it all: built 4/57; tested 4-17-63.

This tank car is marked for Superior Propane with their eye-catching yellow and black livery. Seven companies and an undercoated versions with and without platforms are available.
    Gas-Oil Products (Gray/Red/Black)
    Gem Automatic Gas Co. (Black/White)
    Jefferson Chemical (Silver/Blue/Black)
    Propane Gas Service (PGSX) (Black/White)
    Pyrofax Gas (Black/White)
    Superior Propane (Yellow/Red/Black)
    Union Tank Car (UTLX) (Black/Yellow)

Each has two road numbers (listed on the Atlas site).

Atlas' 11,000 Gallon Tank Car is a good looking model. It scales out well and runs beautifully. It features quality molding and surface detail, plus wire grabs.

Paint and lettering is excellent.

This model is a good 11,000 gallon ACF tank car although it is not quite a 100% accurate model for all road names. There are no air hoses nor cut levers. However, modelers can add those without much effort and overall the model captures the look of an 11,000 gallon tank car. Modelers of the Transition Era should appreciate this model.

I recommend this model.

Please remember to tell Atlas and retailers that you saw this tank car here - on RailRoad Modeling.
Highs: Sharp molding, metal wheels and grabs and safety railing, knuckle couplers. Excellent paint and lettering.
Lows: Not quite a 100% accurate model for all road names. No air hoses nor cut levers.
Verdict: Overall the model captures the look of an 11,000 gallon tank car. Modelers of the Transition Era should appreciate this model.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 003 746
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 08, 2017
  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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