Re: PSC tank car kits

Dale Buxton

I have two friends that have actual UTLX documentation that says the frameless cars were prepared in California for narrow gauge service with 2 sets of trucks. One set standard gauge and one narrow gauge. All of them arrived in Alamosa on standard gauge trucks. Some of these cars were sent to Mexico for service on a standard gauge line for service for a breif period of time before goint on to Alamosa. In the mid thirties a few of the cars were put back on their standard gauge trucks and served in a Wyoming oil field for a single summer and then sent back to Alamosa to go back into narrow gauge service. 

So yes, there was nothing about these cars that prevented them from working in standard or narrow gauge service. And they in fact were switched back and forth between the two services a few times.

On a side note to this. According to my two sources. UTLX Prepared a group of 6500 gal. frameless tank cars for narrow gauge service in Mexico a few years before it prepared the narrow frame cars for service in Colorado. So UTLX already knew that the frameless Vandyke cars had the structural integrity work the three foot lines without a frame under them. 

Which begs the question, Why did UTLX feel the need to put the narrow frames under the first and second groups of cars and not the third?

We will probably never know the answer.

There is also documentation between UTLX and the Rio Grande that states that UTLX complained to the D&RGW that the Andrews trucks taken from the 34ft. stock cars were not substantial enough in design to ride under the frameless cars reliably. That a heavier truck was needed. UTLX went as far as to threaten legal action to this end. Eventually the D&RGW paid to have the heavier cast trucks made.

As another side note to this. The 34ft. stock cars were stored out of service on blocks for more than a year until the Andrews trucks could be returned to them.

Some interesting tales developed around the tank cars on the D&RGW narrow gauge thats for sure.

Dale B.

On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 8:37 PM Jim Spencer <trainmanjs@...> wrote:
John, thank you for the info. The kit contained a History In Brief which noted: “1,700 Vandyke class V 6,500 gallon frameless tank cars were built during the years 1908, 09, 10, 11, & 12. These cars were numbered 14300 through 15900.“ [suggesting that there were 1,600 cars built]
It goes on to say: “By 1953 only a few cars remained in service due to retirement or a law prohibiting KD brake systems in interchange service. Those cars still in service were either converted to AB brake systems or were used in local and MofW service.”
I suspect the narrow gauge kit instructions would have an accounting of the number that were converted for use on the narrow gauge Rio Grande and RGS.

Per your reference to the 5’-2” standard gauge arch bar trucks, another source is Central Valley. Those appear to be the same as you describe. However as you note, they were used on 10,000 gallon cars. 6,500 gallon cars may have used a different, presumably smaller capacity standard gauge truck.

Interestingly, I also have some Central Valley narrow gauge arch bar trucks. The side frame castings are identical to their standard gauge side frames. All they did was use a different bolster and smaller diameter wheels!

On Feb 29, 2020, at 7:13 PM, john.stutz@... wrote:


In the 1906 Car builder's Dictionary (CBD), reprinted circa 1980 by Glenwood and available online, figure 88 (photo) and figures 489-91 (drawings) depict the 10,000 gallon version of the Van Dyke frame-less tank car. . This shows a 5' 2" WB archbar truck with inside hung brakes. the bottom bar is level and the top bar slopes down to the axle box tops. The same drawing with some extra detail appeared in The Railroad Gzaette, Vol XXXV, No 10, p164 & 165, on March 6 1903.

The illustrated truck's side frame is very like the old Central Valley HOn3 truck. Of current offerings, the Tahoe Model Works #211 arch bar truck is probably the closest available match. But note that the Kadee Bettendorf T-section truck is very similar to the version illustrated in the 1906 CBD, figures 1356-60, which was placed on the market circa 1903.

Regarding NG/SG differences, the narrow gauge Van Dyke (Gramps) cars were just obsolescent standard gauge 6500 gallon tank cars. The main differences were substitution of NG trucks with lowered center plate to lower the couplers 8", new NG spaced side bearing pads welded to the bolsters, and slightly rearranged brake rigging to clear the wheels. The White Pass also operated 5 Van Dyes, 3 of the standard small 6500 gallon version and 2 that had 3 compartments. They bought bare tanks, but built their own trucks, and also lowered the running boards about a foot.

John Stutz

On February 20, 2020 at 2:04 PM Jim Spencer <trainmanjs@...> wrote:

I have built a dozen or more of the PSC HOn3 kits and have one of the standard gauge unbuilt kits.  I could see no difference whatsoever between the two. My standard gauge kit came with set of plastic wheels, but no side frames.  The instructions recommend an Athearn truck or a Kadee 500 series truck, which is a cast steel Bettendorf design that came much later than when the cars were built in about 1909. 

I suspect the 1909 cars were  delivered with standard gauge arch bar trucks, possibly later converted to Andrews designs.  But I have no photos, general arrangement drawings, or folio drawings to confirm.  I suspect that screwing on a standard gauge truck will raise the car height to the standard gauge coupler height.  But again, I have no confirming information.


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