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First Look Review
N scale
ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car
Trainman ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car Southern Rail Associates No.23935
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car
Series: Trainman
Roadname and number: Southern Rail Associates 23935
Item: 50 001 125

This N scale ACF 23,500 gallon tank car is in the Atlas Trainman series. Trainman is Atlas’ basic ready-to-run model yet are factory equipped with knuckle couplers and feature excellent paint and printing.

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: B
    Max Gross Weight:
    Load Limit: 189800
    Liquid Capacity: 23547
    Ext L/W/H: 52' 11" / 10' 8" / 15' 1" *

Inspection track
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 six roadnames in their catalogue.


    • 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. However, the hand wheel is damaged. 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 of 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. Honestly I did not notice the tank top-bottom gap until I looked for it as another part distracted my eyes from the gap, and I did not see the end gaps until processing the magnified photos.

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 1.2 ounces which is very close according to the NMRA RP.20 ideal of 1.1 oz.

Quite a few for the scale. Not surprising railing and piping, while small, is not too-scale. It probably could be made so but for an increased price. The visible air brake system is respectable with both molded-on and separately applied components, including the hand brake wheel and housing and some piping. Atlas Trainman is a compromise between detail and economy; 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 are the 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 is textured and opaque. It seems that the tank is painted a very dark gray which contrasts lighter than the black shiny plastic of the trucks. Southern Rail Associates livery is not very exciting. A yellow data sign and the white stenciling livens it up. Just look at how legible the text is! This tank car reporting marks and road number are SRAX 23935. Reporting marks are printed on a glossy black mimicking re-stenciling.

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

    1. Ennar Latex
    2. Exxon
    3. Invista
    4. J&J Railcar Leasing
    5. Southern Rail Associates
    6. Undecorated

All are available with four different road numbers.

This is a sharp appearing model RTR 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 model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in N for a good price. 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. Damaged hand wheel.
Verdict: This is a sharp appearing model RTR tank car. Atlas has made an impressive model of a ubiquitous modern freight car in N for a good price.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 50 001 125
  Suggested Retail: $24.95
  Related Link: Atlas N ACF® 23,500 Gallon Tank Car
  PUBLISHED: Oct 10, 2013
  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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