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N Scale - Micro-Trains - NSE MTL 17-171 - Tank Car, 40 Foot, Helium - NASA - 1179

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N Scale - Micro-Trains - NSE MTL 17-171 - Tank Car, 40 Foot, Helium - NASA - 1179 Copyright held by TroveStar
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Commissioned By N Scale Enthusiast
Production Type Special Run
Stock Number NSE MTL 17-171
Original Retail Price $45.50
Brand Micro-Trains
Manufacturer Roco
Body Style Roco Tank Car 40 Foot Helium
Prototype Vehicle Tank Car, 40 Foot, Helium (Details)
Road or Company Name NASA (Details)
Reporting Marks MHAX
Road or Reporting Number 1179
Paint Color(s) Silver and White
Print Color(s) Black and Red
Coupler Type MT Magne-Matic Knuckle
Coupler Mount Truck-Mount
Wheel Type Injection Molded Plastic
Wheel Profile Standard
Announcement Date 2017-06-01
Release Date 2017-07-01
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Tank Car
Model Subtype 40 Foot
Model Variety Helium
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era NA Era IV: 2nd Gen Diesel (1958 - 1978)
Scale 1/160

Specific Item Information: Glows in the dark.

Model Information: This body style was created for Atlas by Roco in the late 1960s. Atlas released a series of four cars using this tooling in 1969. Atlas never did a second production run - presumably because it did not sell that well. 26 years later, E-R models contracted with Roco to produce a second run of these cars with the same road names as the Atlas run but with three new road numbers. For some reason, E-R did not re-run the Department of Mines paint scheme.

Again, these cars disappeared from the marketplace (other than eBay) for another 20 years. In 2016, Micro-Trains mysteriously produced a new run of this tooling with a Weathered NASA paint scheme as part of their NASA car series. This was followed up by another Micro-Trains Special run in 2017 of two glow-in-the-dark cars commissioned by Fred Hoxsie of the NSE.

These cars are rather unique in both the prototype and the N Scale world. So my curiosity was piqued at how a long-deceased manufacturer (Roco) suddenly started producing cars from a presumed lost tooling. So I asked Fred Hoxsie, "Where did you get these? I thought Roco was long gone and that their older toolings from the 1960s were long-lost." Fred responded "I haven't a clue - ask Eric." So I trotted over to the Micro-Trains booth at the NSE event in Pittsburgh and asked Eric Smith himself, "Hey Eric, where did these cars come from?".

Eric explained that whomever had acquired the assets of Roco when they went belly-up was not not sure what to do with the various inventory acquired during the bankruptcy. Currently, Modelleisenbahn GmbH owns the Roco brand name, but bankruptcies can be complex, and the older Roco inventory might have ended up just about anywhere (perhaps Roco owed their lunch caterer some Euros?). Micro-Trains got in contact with whomever took ownership of this model and bought the inventory of unpainted bodies. It was one of Eric's minions who negotiated the deal and he was a little fuzzy on the details, but if I got it right, MTL acquired a pallet of these cars (but not the tooling) and will release them periodically as special and/or regular releases. I neglected to ask how many MTL acquired, so I cannot predict how many more we will see.

Prototype History:
The 13 NASA helium cars were some of the heaviest cars ever made, weighing in at 240,300 pounds empty and had a 28,000 pound load limit. Built in 1961, these cars were initially used by the BLM to transport helium from mines in Texas. Later, they found their niche servicing NASA Titan rockets and the Space Shuttle up until the last Shuttle flight in 2011.

A few cars have been repurposed for use in the Space X engine test complex outside McGregor, Texas. Eight other cars were transferred to California and are on lease tro support the Space X Falcon 9 Launch Complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Road Name History:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

From Wikipedia

The NASA Railroad operates 38 miles of track connecting the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida to a connection with the Florida East Coast Railroad. Traffic includes fuel, rocket components and other equipment switched in recent years with a trio of ex-TP&W SW1500’s. Traffic fell off considerably with the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. NASA’s fleet of liquid helium and liquid oxygen tank cars were loaned to SpaceX in Texas and California. The railroad was inactive between 2013 and 2020 but limited service has resumed as private space launch companies have begun to use the Kennedy Space Center again.

Brand/Importer Information: Micro-Trains is the brand name used by both Kadee Quality Products and Micro-Trains Line. For a history of the relationship between the brand and the two companies, please consult our Micro-Trains Collector's Guide.

Manufacturer Information:
The company was founded in 1960 by Ing. Heinz Rössler and started with a plastic Minitanks series of military vehicles. After export to the USA became successful, the model line was expanded with model trains in HO scale and the smaller N scale. TT scale was also subsequently added to the product line. The model rail product line covers many European countries including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and also the USA.

On July 15, 2005 ROCO Modellspielwaren GmbH was declared bankrupt. From July 25 the company continues as Modelleisenbahn GmbH, but still uses the Roco brand and associated logo. On October 1, 2007, distribution of the 'Minitank' product series was assigned to the German model car manufacturer Herpa.

Since February 2008 Modelleisenbahn also owns Fleischmann, which like Roco had gone bankrupt. The two companies continue as separate brands under Modelleisenbahn GmbH, while benefiting from economies of scale through joined development projects, marketing and procurement.

From Wikipedia

Commissioner Information: The N Scale Enthusiast Society (previously known as The N Scale Collector until 2011) was established by Wick Brandon, as a sole proprietorship and was a stand alone company until Wick passed away in 2000. The company has been owned by Micro Trains Line since then.

Wick was the founder of TexNRails and he established NSE right after he sold the pioneering N Scale retailer to the Herz family, and the store moved to Florida. Wick and Lea moved their family from Texas to Bakersfield California, and the entire operation was run from his home in Bakersfield. George Johnsen, the current Chairman, came on board as Associate Editor starting with the third issue of the magazine, and the growth of the organization hasn’t stopped. Wick and George did the first convention in Medford in 1993, and added staff and advisors as the organization grew. Wick held the first auction for the NSE in 1995.

The NSE mission statement reads: “This organization is dedicated to the preservation of the history of N Scale Model Railroading, and the railroads they represent.”

They do:
- Special Run Cars
- Regular Auctions of "collectable" Cars
- Annual Conventions
- Bi-Monthly Magazine

Item created by: gdm on 2017-11-13 17:37:14. Last edited by gdm on 2020-06-06 08:50:27

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