The History of the GATC Welded Tank Car
Until World War Two, tank cars were typically built using the complex and time consuming method of riveting. One of the advancements to come out of the war effort however was new and improved welding technology. This revelation allowed manufacturers such as General American to retool their facilities to produce smooth-sided cars with better durability and a more efficient construction process.
Designated as the TK-N and TK-O series, the first examples of new welded cars were delivered to the Santa Fe Railroad between 1949 and 1953. These were built specifically for fuel transportation to cater to the ATSF’s growing diesel roster. Examples of near-identical cars were also delivered to the Northern Pacific and Spokane, Portland, and Seattle.
Much of the fleet was overhauled in the 1970s, and remarkably, many of these cars remained in MOW service into the 1990s. Some still survive today.
The American Limited GATC Welded Tank Car
While American Limited is no stranger to the model railroad market, the GATC Welded Tank Car represents only their second foray into complete models. Don’t let this discourage you however! Much like their previous Trinity Covered Hopper release, the GATC Welded Tank Car is about as detailed of a model as you can get!
For the Santa Fe examples, both as-delivered and post-rebuild types have been produced. The Northern Pacific & SP&S examples have additionally been completed in their original configurations.
While purchased to house diesel fuel, the cars ultimately found many other uses throughout their lives. Each designation received its own paint scheme, and all variations of these have been replicated in this release. These include cars with their original diesel fuel markings, as well as cars designated for gasoline service. Rebuilt cars can additionally be purchased with diesel fuel oil transport markings, solvent, reclaimed diesel fuel, or journal oil markings.
The detail differences found on the rebuilt cars are perhaps our favorite aspect of these models. Not only have all paint schemes been reproduced, but the as-delivered and rebuilt cars feature many unique and differing components. Original cars feature bodyside railings and prototypical 70-Ton ASF A-3 Ride Control trucks, while the rebuilt cars feature only the attachment points for the railings (which were removed following regulation changes) and more modern roller bearing trucks. Certain cars additionally feature an etched wrap-around walkway.
Era types and other variables aside, all models display high levels of detail across the board. The dome hatches feature sharply molded components and separately applied railings, the underbodies feature all brake components and piping, and all cars feature period-correct hazardous material placards. More mundane (but equally important) details such as railings, brake wheels, and grab irons can also be found.
For operation, the cars are equipped with knuckle couplers, and demonstrate excellent free-rolling thanks to their RP25 metal wheels. Look closely, and you’ll notice that the bearings actually turn!