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First Look Review
HO scale
30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car
30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car, > Procor 97617
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car
Series: Ready To Roll
Roadname: Procor
MFG No. : 97617

Athearn models this Ready To Roll HO tank car after the 30,000 gallon Union Tank Car Company (UTLX) prototype. It features separately-applied brake detail, fine handrails, tank fittings, safety placards and metal safety bars, and McHenry® couplers.

UTLX 30,000 Gallon Tank Car
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 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.

UTLX builds these big 30,000 gallon tank cars without underframes. There are no internal liners for these ethanol carriers.
    For years railroads have hauled ethyl alcohol, or ethanol as it is better known. Ethanol is made mostly from corn and is used as an additive to oxygenate gasoline thus reducing pollution. It is also being used in a mostly raw form as an alternative to gasoline. Most of this usage is in the Midwest states like Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Indiana where there is a
    plentiful supply of corn.

    In 2004 it was mandated by the federal government that ethanol be used to replace MBTE as an additive to oxygenate all gasoline in the state of California. Since California is not a corn producing state the ethanol has to be shipped in from states with large corn crops and ethanol plants. This ethanol traffic boomed in 2004 as several million gallons were needed by refineries in the Los Angeles harbor area alone, with an additional 800 million gallons needed in the entire state.

    To meet growing demand for new tank cars, UTLX Manufacturing has been expanding production capacity with a manufacturing facility in Alexandria, Louisiana. UTLX #205400 is the first car in the initial run from the new plant. The 30,000-gallon car is sized to stage the greatest number of cars at the producer's loading rack and still meet the 263,000-pound gross rail load limit. The Funnel-Flow(R) design facilitates complete bottom unloading.*

Interesting links to the history of tank cars and how one is built are at the end of this review.

Ready To Roll 30,000-gallon Ethanol Tank Car
Athearn keeps today’s prototypes on today’s model railroads. This model boasts these key features :

    • Fully assembled and ready for your layout
    • Photo-etched end platforms
    • Factory installed wire grab irons
    • Scaled from the manufacturer's drawings
    • 3 individual road numbers not available separately
    • Weighted for optimum performance
    • Machined RP25 profile metal wheels
    • Equipped with McHenry AAR upper/lower shelf knuckle couplers per prototype practice

Athearn securely packages this model in a plastic cradle formed to the model’s shape. It is easy to remove the model from the cradle – a great comfort considering the number of fine separately applied parts. Further protection is a fitted clear plastic top that holds the model in the cradle. The cradle snugly slips inside a cardboard box that opens via end tabs, with a celluloid window on the front. Included is a parts diagram.

Classification of this prototype is:

    Type: Tank Car
    AAR Class: T: Tank 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: B
    Max Gross Weight: 286000
    Load Limit: 214000
    Liquid Capacity: 23545
    Ext L/W/H: 55' 5" / 10' 8" / 15' 1"

It is molded and assembled to a high standard. One tank end has a slight gap between it and the tank body. The thin plastic or metal pipes and railings around the model are not warped or bowed. If they are not true HO scale then it is very close. What does the model offer? Scale ladders and stirrups, safety bars and railings, equally fine and separately applied air brake detail, and a crisp hand brake wheel. Placard stands for hazmat and other information are on each end and side. The manway hatches and valves atop the tank are nicely molded. As is the entire model: no flash, no sink holes, no ejector marks, and no seam lines. The 100-ton roller-bearing trucks have good detail and the wheel sets are blackened – albeit shiny - metal. They roll happily over code 83 track.

You may notice the model looks warped. This is distortion of the small model under close-up photography.

The body and chassis assembly is made up of at least 55 parts:
• Tank
• End sills, A & B end
• Tank saddles
• End walkways
• Wire grab irons
• Side rails
• Air brake set
• Ladders
• Etched metal platforms
• Safety valves, nozzle, manway
• Railings and stanchions

An individual manway hatch is attached to the top, as are photo-etched running boards. Ladders and grab irons are separately applied. As is the train line. The pieces are very fine, perhaps true scale thickness. The model rides on a pair of 100-ton trucks holding blackened metal wheels. Athearn equips the model with body-mounted McHenry knuckle couplers.

The model is 56 scale feet long, sill to sill, and almost 63 feet long coupler to coupler. Inside the body is a weight; the model weighs 4.8 ounces, exactly the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 4.8 oz.

When you see all the detail on this model you should keep in mind that this model is Athearn’s Ready To Roll series, not their flagship Genesis series - the degree of detail is almost to the same level. It bears no relation to the previous generation of model freight cars - very little molded detail is used.

Athearn detailed this tank with over 40 separate nicely molded and wire parts. Separately attached nozzles crown the roof. Surrounding them are photo-etched platforms; each crossover walk on the end sills are photo-etched, too. Hazmat placards are coded.

The simplified AB brake system features separately applied:

• AAR Standard brake wheel
• Brakewheel housing
• Reservoir
• Triple valve & piping
• Train line

While Athearn does not make a Genesis release of this tank car it appears that the only Genesis-special parts not on the Ready To Roll model are uncoupling levers, air hoses and angle cocks.

Supporting all of that are Athearn plastic 100-ton roller bearing trucks with RP-25 blackened metal wheels. The side frame detail is respectable although the wheels still have a shine under the blackening. McHenry AAR upper/lower shelf knuckle couplers are installed.

Finally, many of these parts, molded and machined with such finesse, are delicate. I don’t consider it fragile although you should use care when handling the hopper. It was not a problem removing the model from its packaging cradle.

Finish and Markings
I found a photo of the 1/1 Procor 97617 which you can view below at Click here for additional images for this review. Please examine it for the color of this car. The color is a vivid green somewhat between shamrock and jade which the photos in this review did not duplicate well.

The finish of this model is excellent. The paint is smooth and opaque. Procor's green livery is slightly more exciting than white or black tank cars. Fortunately, plenty of colorful reflective stripes and black and white stenciling livens it up. Athearn Ready To Roll currently offers UTLX 30,000-gallon tank cars in 13 roadnames plus an undecorated model:
    1. Archer Daniels Midland
    2. Chief
    3. Chief Ethanol
    4. CHS
    5. Department of Defense
    6. General American Transportation
    7. MCP
    8. NATX
    9. Procor
    10. TILX
    11. Undecorated
    12. Union Tank Car
    13. Zahori

Each roadname comes with multiple road numbers.
Data stencils and reporting marks are superbly printed, sharp and legible. Some of the data is too small for me to read without magnification. Each hazmat placard is labeled with ‘3082': D.O.T. Placard, Environmentally hazardous substance, liquid, n.o.s., Class 9. It looks like I could read the warning label near the nozzles if I used a magnifier!

You can easily read that the car was built in November 1999; 2 IN HF COMP SHOES equip the brakes; product emergency 800-number; inlet/outlet directors. Wow!

I have two nitpicky items: the photo-etch is not painted the body color. (Maybe the running boards are left unpainted on the prototype?)

Procor is a Canadian company that manages some 23,000 rail cars. Procar began in the 1940's and adopted its current name in 1962.

Test Track
This car meets NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices, with RP-25 wheels and couplers at acceptable height. It weighs 4.8 ounces which is spot-on per RP-2O.1 Car Weight.

Roll on!
This model impresses me. It is a crisp, well detailed, sharply painted model with separate ladders and other detail pieces. Today factory applied knuckle couplers have become the standard and this model follows suite.

One tank end has a slight gap between it and the tank body. The shiny wheels may be a drawback for you. The photo-etch is not painted the body color.

One or more will certainly enhance your modern HO scale railroad. Enthusiastically recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - RailRoadModeling.net.


*. Athearn



http://www.americanrailcar.com/Images/ExplodedViews/Exploded View ARI General Service Tank Car.pdf

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Crisp, well detailed sharply painted model with separate ladders and other detail pieces. Factory applied knuckle couplers.
Lows: One tank end has a slight gap between it and the tank body and the photo-etch is not painted the body color. The shiny wheels may be a drawback for you.
Verdict: This model pushes the envelope of mid-range models towards top-end models. One or more will certainly enhance your modern HO scale railroad.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 97617
  Suggested Retail: $34.98
  Related Link: RTR 30K gallon Models
  PUBLISHED: Sep 12, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Athearn!
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.


Wow, it looks like it even has the prototypical sway back shape. I'm impressed.
SEP 11, 2013 - 06:25 PM

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