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Clinic - Kitbashing a Narrow Gauge Tank Car

Before

After

 

Tools Needed

Small Screwdriver
Pin Vise and a small bit
Razor Saw
Exacto Knife
Sand Paper
Power Sander (If possible)
 

Supplies Needed

IHC 29 Foot Tank Car
Rail Line Idler Flat
HOn3 Trucks
Couplers
Paint & Decals of your Choice
 Hand Rail Stanchions  - Precision Scale #373
Ladders - SS Ltd #4140 Roof Top Ladders
Small Solid Wire - .011 to .016 depending on the  manufacturer of the stanchions
 
We will begin with IHC's 29 foot tank car.  This car is part of IHC's Old Time Car Series.  The car sells for $7.98 but has been on sale on IHC's web page for $2.98 for over a year.
As a standard gauge car it is quite small which makes it an ideal candidate for narrow gauge operations.
As the car appears straight out of the box it leaves much to be desired. We will use only the tank portion of this car to make a narrow gauge car that will be perfect for a freelance railroad.
  
The other piece of the construction will center around the D&RGW Flat Car that is produced by Rail Line. This can be scratch built if you wish.
Assemble the flat car per the instructions. Add or leave off whatever detail you feel is necessary. Paint and letter the car with whatever colors you have picked for you pike. I do some weathering at this point…just the deck portion of the car.
Once this has been completed we begin on to modify the tank car.
 
First, remove the hand rails. These are easily removed since they just snap into the holes on the walks. Remove the stock trucks, couplers, and truss rods. The tank is made of two pieces. The top part of the tank is the biggest of the two pieces and includes the entire ends of the tank.

Click on the image for a larger picture

Using a razor saw, remove the walks from all four sides of the car. Remove the ends first by placing the saw blade against the bottom piece of the tank. The side of the tank has 8 supports. Use them as a guide for the saw blade and remove the side walks.

Click on the image for a larger picture
 
After removing the walks you will be left with the back section of the coupler pocket and the posts that the trucks mounted to. Remove the posts and the remaining pocket with the razor saw. Try to cut the them off as flush as possible.

Click on the image for a larger picture

After the walks have been removed we are ready to begin sanding on the bottom of the tank. I used a bench mounted belt sander. Any sander will work…just be careful and follow the standard safety procedures. Sand the bottom of the car until flat and you reach the actual bottom of the tank.

Click on the image for a larger picture
 
I cut 6 pieces of scale 2x6’s to build the platform. The length of the pieces should be equal to the distance between the first band on either side of the dome. Glue 3 of the pieces together to form an 18 inch wide deck. I added a small piece of strip wood on either side of the bottom for support. Next, I cut a small piece of styrene at a 45 degree angle on each end to act as a brace. Glue the deck even with the top of the tank.

Bottom Image of the deck

Brace Shape

We then drill four holes into the side of the tank (2 on each side of the ladder) for the hand rail stanchions. You want one near the ladder and one out near the end of the tank. Make sure that the holes are level. 

I use an old guitar string for the handrail. The G or B strings (011 or 016 gauge wire) work well depending on the supplier of the the stanchions. Next I mounted the ladders on each side. I cut a few steps out of one end but left the sides of the ladder. This gave me room to curl over the top of the ladder for hand rails.
Paint and letter the tank for your pike or favorite oil supplier.

Mount the tank car to the flat car. Be sure to center the tank front to back and side to side.

Mount the trucks and couplers of choice. Weather the car to suit your taste and you are ready for operation.
 
I do not have a finished car completed at this time.  This car was hurried through the last few steps in preparation for a clinic that I gave at the 2002 Lone Star Region NMRA Convention.  Once this car has been touched up and completed I will post some pictures.

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