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Specific Item Information: Intermediate Cars, GATX (Early) #1 (3)
Model Information: Athearn first released this model in September of 2017. These new Athearn N-scale models represent 23K-capacity GATX TankTrain cars from the 486-number series (built in 1977), and 282-series (built in 1982). Based upon GATX diagrams, as well as photos and field measurements taken from prototype TankTrain cars at GATX’s West Colton repair facility, these new N-scale models faithfully replicate the prototype differences between the two different series’, including variations on the tank saddles, walkways, manways, brake rigging, and transfer piping. This tooling first model of this prototype ever in N-scale.
Features: Two GATX classes represented: 282-series and 486-series. Correct walkways, manways, and load/unload pluper series. Finely detailed walkways. Correct transfer plumbing per prototype series and end (A-end or B-end). Full underbody plumbing and rigging. Detailed, soft vinyl transfer hoses that bend as the car negotiates curves. Cars available as end unit sets and as individual intermediate units. 100-ton roller-bearing trucks with scale 36” machined metal wheels. Convenient packs of 3 makes modeling prototypical 12 unit set simple. Minimum radius: 11”. Recommended radius: 15”. 282-series era: 1977 to present. 486-series era: 1982 to present.
Prototype Description: Since the beginning of railroading in the United States, tank cars have been an essential part of the freight car fleet. From their primitive beginnings as barrels mounted to flatcars, tank cars have evolved into complex designs optimized for hauling a variety of liquids, from corn syrup to anhydrous ammonia.
While tank cars are prolific, most railroads do not own large fleets of these relatively specialized cars, preferring to make use of fleets managed by freight car companies, such as GATX. One of the larger equipment management companies, GATX can trace its history to the turn of the century, and is well-known for its large fleet of tank cars of varying designs, many of which were built in-house. One of the more distinctive designs to originate from GATX is the “TankTrain”, which made its debut in the 1970s.
The TankTrain concept was a solution to the problem of long load/unload times for unit train shipments of particular commodities, such as crude oil. A typical unit train can take significant time to load or unload, with the need for workers to attach the necessary hoses and other fittings to each individual car, coupled with the necessary time to load or unload the commodity from each car. The TankTrain was designed to significantly reduce this time. TankTrain cars are interconnected with a large-diameter, flexible hose between each car, which allows the commodity to be siphoned off at a single point at the end of a set of cars while being “pushed” at the opposite end with inert nitrogen gas. Using this method, TankTrain cars can be loaded or unloaded at a rate of approximately 3,000 gallons per minute, allowing a train of 90 cars to be loaded or unloaded in under five hours. This has the obvious benefit of increased equipment utilization, as well as reduced labor costs, and shorter dwell times at terminals.
Additionally, TankTrain cars were built in various sizes and designs to handle various commodities resulting in a wide variety of TankTrain cars roaming the nations’ rails. TankTrain cars are typically grouped into interconnected sets ranging from two to thirteen cars, the set size varying upon the car types, commodity, and shipper being served. One of the commodities routinely handled by TankTrain cars is crude oil, whose viscous nature, and tendency to be shipped in unit train quantities, lends itself well to the TankTrain concept.
The most well-known operation using TankTrain equipment was Southern Pacific railroad’s operation of these cars, on behalf of Shell Oil Company, from a loading facility in Bakersfield, California, to a refinery in Carson, California. This operation began in the early 1980s, and proved to be highly succcesful for Shell, allowing them economical transport of Kern County crude oil to their refinery. Two trainsets were operated, allowing a continuous load/empty cycle to operate between the loadout and the refinery. These trains were comprised of insulated cars with a 23k nominal capacity, grouped into sets of 12-13 cars, with a full train being around 75-78 cars (more or less, depending upon cars that may have been cut out of the individual sets for maintenance). This train proved to be a fairly high-priority operation on the Southern Pacific, mainly stemming from the need to make sure the loaded trains arrived at the refinery on time, in order to prevent production disruptions, as well as to make sure the warmed crude oil (heated as a result of the initial extraction process) does not cool and thicken inside of the car, which would slow down the unloading process.
While these cars are most closely associated with Southern Pacific, TankTrain sets comprised of these cars have been, and can be seen in operation across the country. Grand Trunk Western, for example, operated TankTrain cars from the 486-series in the Great Lakes region, hauling fuel oil, in the late 1970s. And despite construction of a pipeline that eliminated the need for Southern Pacific’s original routing of TankTrain equipment, a new TankTrain, operated by Southern Pacific successor Union Pacific along the former SP “Coast Line”, operates to this day with many of the same cars, from a loading facility in San Ardo, California, to a refinery in Carson, California.
Brand/Importer Information: Athearn's history began in 1938, when its founder-to-be, Irvin Athearn, started an elaborate O scale layout in his mother's house. After placing an ad selling the layout, and receiving much response to it, Irv decided that selling model railroads would be a good living. He sold train products out of his mother's house through most of the 1940s. After becoming a full-time retailer in 1946, Irv opened a separate facility in Hawthorne, California in 1948, and that same year he branched into HO scale models for the first time.
Athearn acquired the Globe Models product line and improved upon it, introducing a comprehensive array of locomotive, passenger and freight car models. Improvements included all-wheel drive and electrical contact. One innovation was the "Hi-Fi" drive mechanism, employing small rubber bands to transfer motion from the motor spindle to the axles. Another was the double-ended ring magnet motor, which permitted easy connection to all-wheel-drive assemblies. Athearn was also able to incorporate flywheels into double-ended drives.
The company produced a model of the Boston & Maine P4 class Pacific steam locomotive which incorporated a cast zinc alloy base and thermoplastic resin superstructure. It had a worm drive and all power pickup was through the bipolar trucks that carried the tender. This item was discontinued after the Wilson motor was no longer available, and was not redesigned for a more technologically advanced motor.
Athearn's car fleet included shorter-than-scale interpretations of passenger cars of Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad prototypes. The company also offered a variety of scale-length freight cars with sprung and equalized trucks. The cars could be obtained in simple kit form, or ready-to-run in windowed display boxes. The comprehensive scope of the product line contributed to the popularity of HO as a model railroad scale, due to the ready availability of items and their low cost.
Irv Athearn died in 1991. New owners took control in 1994, but continued to follow Athearn's commitment to high-quality products at reasonable prices. Athearn was bought in 2004 by Horizon Hobby. Athearn was then moved from its facility in Compton to a new facility in Carson, California. In mid-2009, all remaining US production was moved to China and warehousing moved to parent Horizon Hobby. Sales and product development was relocated to a smaller facility in Long Beach, California.
Read more on Wikipedia and Athearn website.
Item created by: gdm on 2017-09-16 18:50:21. Last edited by Alain LM on 2018-02-03 13:29:07
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