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NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 6:13 am
by NCNG#7
Hi all,
while finishing up a couple of FMW 26' Boxcars I am doing some research for a future project.

I have some "Classic Miniatures"-kits on the shelve which build up into "Standard Oil Co." tank cars that did service for a while on the NCNG. My idea is building them as close to the prototype as possible, but for this I have to change the following hardware of the kit.

-Truss rod washers ( The prototype ones have a very unique shape, and are quite large in diameter)
-Stirups ( are fastened to the side sill with only 1 bolt/leg) larger quantity is needed to provide 10pcs. per car.
-Handrail brackets (want to replace them with sturdier more protoypical cast brass ones)
-Grab Irons (PSC offers a variety from 12" to 26" long, but measured in the assembly drawing they should be around 18", which I do not know if it is correct)

Checking out various sources for detailing parts did not bring up any doubtless useable parts. Are any of them available at all?
I am afraid not, so I did some designing on CAD to have them finaly cast in brass. This was done based on measuring on the sparse pictures and estimation by eye. It would be really great proofing this with historical data.
At least, not long ago, there was a discussion on one ot the yahoo-groups about correct size of grab Irons (maybe about stirups too), but unfortunately I can not find it anymore.

I am in good mood that some of the experts in this forum have some information about the parts mentioned above or also just about general car building practice in California what may be helpfull as well.

I will greatly appreciate!

In case the development of those hardware parts gets to a state where they may get cast, I will glady share the CAD-data for further use by interested fellow modelers.

Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:17 pm
by Andrew Brandon
I am not sure if you can find the correct large diameter washer in a retail casting. I want to say Russ Simpson made them long ago, but I cannot find my catalog to verify. The other washers you should be able to assemble from Grandt line (#3008 includes a truss rod washer that might be useful), and Doug MacLeod's parts (N-33 and of course T-10 is the truck used under the cars). I need to check my Prescision Scale Parts and see if I can find the hand rail bracket part #.

The stirrups you'll have to make yourself from brass stock, I do not believe there is a suitable brass casting available for them.

Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 7:04 am
by NCNG#7
thank you very much for the effort looking for possible sources for the detail parts. I would have never looked for Russ Simpson parts, because I was in the believe he was mainly in logging equipment (Mich-Cal, Westside Lbr.)
But I checked Wiseman Model Service and found white metal castings for 18"grab irons. Obviously my guess of 18" wide grab irons was not that far off. I spoted some other interesting parts too, so I will place an order and see what they are all about. He has also brass castings for handrail brackets fitting UTLX tank cars, but they look too long to me.

Meanwhile I also checked the parts from Grandt and MacLeod which you suggested as possible substitute. In a way, it is incredible how many different types ( some of them look pretty close ) of truss rod washers are available, but THE particular one not. I really wonder where these washers came from, since it is the first time (for me) I see them used on a car.
At this point it looks to me, I will end up designing and building the parts to the very specific prototype by myself. This is not that bad, since I have access to pro 3D-CAD to have them printed in plastic for direct use on the model or as a pattern for brass castings. This will surely be the case for the stirups and the handrail brackets for strength reason.

In view of this, my focus is on adusting the appearence of the parts in relation to the other parts of the model. In this matter, do you think it is likely that the ens sills where 12" high? This would give me a clue to the Diameter of the truss rod washers.

Obviously I had good luck and managed to upload some pics of the CAD designed parts. Some of the rod like extensions on them will be used to attach them to a "casting-tree".
What do you think about them?

Wish you a very enjoyable weekend


Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:54 pm
by Andrew Brandon
I talked to Herman Darr today and he had the following dimensions to share:

End sill: 11" tall, the N-C-O (builder of the flat under the car) commonly used 6"x11" timber for end sills.
Side sill: 8" tall (same reason as above).
Truss Rod Washer: 9" diameter

Herman indicated these dimensions were common across N-C-O flats (he and Tom Armstrong spent some time measuring bodies) and he pointed out that SPNG Gondola #339 is built with the same size lumber. The truss rod washer is a common N-C-O casting used on many flats and stock cars built by the road.

Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:43 am
by NCNG#7
Thank you Andrew for asking Herman and foreward the info to me.

I will put them in the X104-folder and check the wood parts of the kits for correct dimensions by next occasion.

Great to see that my guess of 12" tall end sill was not that far off. Also the guessed diameter of the truss rod washers of 81/2" was just a close miss. It would not have spoiled the apperence too bad, but I will correct it right away.

I will also add the descent of this cars to my notes. So far I just knew they came from Battle Mountain to the NCNG, but I am not that much expert to determine them as N-C-O built cars.


Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:42 pm
by NCNG#7
Meanwhile I found some time to do further work on the tank car project. By this occasion I checked the size of the wooden parts in the kit. They are slightly larger than Herman and Tom's measurements on the prototype, but this could be corrected by sanding them down. Or replacing them with more precisely cut strip wood right away.
At the same time, I studied the few pictures once again and discovered several details that may have an influence on the models.
Obviously there has a major rebuilding of the wooden parts taken place using the tank and some of the hardware of the original car. I do not know when and where this happened. Out of the following comparison evolved some questions.

Pictures of X104/X105 while at Battle Mountain show the wooden parts of the car painted in a bright (silver?) color as the tank, stake pockets on the side sills, 1 stirup at each end and the decking ( in pretty rotten condition ) covering the end beams.
Other pictures taken on the NCNG show the same cars in dark color (box car red?) with silver tank, no stake pockets anymore (also no mounting holes), 2 stirups but only 1 grab iron at each end, (most uncommon to me) 1 stirup about half length of the car on the opposite side of the ladder on the tank and the decking in best condition ending at the inside edge and being flush with the top of the end beam.
Were those cars rebuilt maintaining the the overall dimensions, lumber size etc. of the original N-C-O design or may be to NCNG specs. , incl. moving the end beam slightly upward to the position described above?
What size and what is the name of the shape (with stepped side edges) of lumber that was used for the new decking? ( The “new” decking looks to me thicker than the original one )
What was the meaning of the rather unique arrangement of stirups and grab irons?
I am sorry for bugging you again, but I hope having put together all required information soon to start construction instead of asking silly questions.


Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:12 pm
by Andrew Brandon
I am sorry for the delay in responding, it's been an extremely busy month. :shock:

I talked to Herman today and he informed me that the tank cars were all rebuilt over time during the 1930s. During these rebuilds the end sill was moved up into the position seen in the photos but the dimensions remained the same. The extra stirrups were apparently for the different hand rail positioned on the tank, and the end stirrups for the platform. The center stirrup I cannot explain yet. I wonder if they were positioned that way for loading/unloading purposes. The decking used on the car is shiplap.

The tanks were apparently repainted by Standard Oil themselves, but the car body was handled by the NCNG. In some photos you can see the small lettering noting the tank was last tested in Battle Mountain, NV. Originally the frame and tank were aluminum in color. As rebuilt by the NCNG, the frame would have been the typical red used by the NCNG with the tank still aluminum color. What I find amusing is the mismatch of stencils they had to use to make S.O.C.O on the side of the car. If you notice, the "C" is the standard shape used in NCNG car lettering, while the "O" is actually the numeral "0" and the "S" appears to be freehand.

Re: NCNG Tank Cars X104/X105

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:33 am
by NCNG#7
Do not worry about that, I could not spend that much time in that matter either.
At least I could send a request for a quotation to a casting company about the hardware unique to these cars.

Thank you very much for talking to Herman about my observations. With the information provided by you, I assume the decking must have been 1 3/4" or 2" thick. Next I will be looking for a supplier for shiplap shaped stripwood.

Too bad you could not find an explanation for the positioning of the center stirup. The most confusing fact on it is to me that it is located on the opposite side of the ladder to the filler hatch on the tank dome. Otherwise it would make more sense to me.
Talking about unloading of these cars - how was this done? There is nothing like a drainpipe visible.

The rather "bumpy" stencils on the side sill are really funny. (I did not notice that yet) Obviously, the Grass Valley paint shop had only stencils for N, C, and G's besides of 0-9 numbers on hand.
That will be a neat little detail to be replicated on the models.