Bulk loadings of liquid products in rail cars are at an all-time high, with every item from sweeteners to volatile chemicals hitting the tracks. To ensure the highest level of safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a set of specifications that modern tank cars must meet to be certified. The DOT-111 tank cars for unpressurized general service are among the most common currently in service. These cars are frameless, relying on their cylindrical tanks for structural integrity. Manufactured using a minimum plate thickness of 7/16” with convex elliptical formed ends, cars in this class range up to a capacity of 34,500 U.S. gallons. They conform to Plate C clearances and are equipped with AAR Type E top and bottom shelf Janney couplers designed to prevent overriding and puncturing adjacent tanks in the event of a collision.
Atlas’ Premier series O scale modern tank car represents the smaller 10,000-gallon version of the DOT-111-type tank car. Placed in service in the 1970s, these 40’ cars have had long service lives with many still plying the rails. Our review sample represents a car used by Allied Chemical for the transportation if its Folian branded foliar liquid fertilizer. While the car was constructed in December 1972, its current decoration would have appeared after 1976 or 1977 as that is when Folian was released to retail users. The model does have an ACI label which would be phased out by 1977; however, many remained on rolling stock well into the 1980s.
The colorful, complex paint scheme has been masterfully applied with no overspray and each color opaque. The lettering is equally well applied and is correct for the era, even down to the 1974 Allied Chemical logo with the three inter-woven triangles.
Construction is predominately injection molded plastic with metal wire details. The model weighs in at 18.1 ounces and is equipped with metal wheels insulated on metal axles. All wheels were properly gauged when checked with an NMRA gauge. These are mounted in 100-ton trucks that are sprung with individual coil springs. The couplers are metal knuckle type with metal coil springs that match up and mate to Kadee O scale knuckle couplers. The model easily negotiates 30” radius curves.
The injection molded end sills replicate the DOT-111 requirements as shown in drawings on the internet and the loading domes with various vents are applied to the top of the tank, centered on the top platform. Even though the underside of the model is a bit spartan, as it is on the prototype, a molded drain valve is applied to the bottom of the tank. Grab irons are individually applied; however, as a concession to operators, the stirrup steps are molded on. While placard mounts are installed, they are not lettered as Folian is not classified as a hazardous material.
This colorful, neatly assembled, and painted model should be at home on any modern-era layout. It is nicely detailed while still robust enough for everyday operation.
Atlas Premier 40’ Modern Tank Car
Allied Chemical (Folian Fertilizer)
Item No. 3004034
Atlas Model Railroad Co.
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205