HOW TO MODIFY AN ARISTO-CRAFT TANK CAR
FROM 1:29 TO 1:32
BY GARY RAYMOND
TANK CARS HAVE always been among my favorites. At present the only available 1:32 scale tank car is a brass model by Precision Scale Company. Although it is a beautifully detailed car it is very expensive. When ARISTO-CRAFT released its tank car in 1:29 scale, I decided to see whether I could modify it for One Scale. It turned out to be a reasonably easy project because the major dimensions are close to those of many tank cars of the same period. The car comes in either petroleum or chemical versions (the chemical car has a platform around the dome) with appropriate road names. I chose to modify the Sinclair petroleum car.
First remove the trucks and brake wheel. We will not use them. I substituted Model Die Casting Bettendorf trucks and my own One Scale wheelsets. You must also remove the truck coupler tongue. I used a table saw, but a razor saw would also work well. Add two shims to one truck bolster as in Figure 1. That truck will sit under the car body stabilizers. You should paint the truck parts and wheels before assembly.
Next, separate the tank and frame by removing the hold-down straps. They fasten to the frame with Phillips head screws. Be careful to avoid twisting the straps; they're fragile. You can pull apart the tank and the frame because they are a press-fit. Then remove the ladders from the tank. They also press on.
Now mount the couplers. In order for them to sit at the correct height, you must remove a small section of each end sill, then add a shim to the underside of each end of the frame. Figure 2 shows how. The shims should be 1 x 3/4 x 7/64 inch. Polyzap does a good job of gluing the shims.
Then cut a section out of each end sill 3/4-inch wide and flush with the shim. My table saw made the job quick and easy; it will take more time if you do it by hand. Figure 3 illustrates what to do.
Put the assembled Kadee couplers in position with the draft gear box flange against the outside of the end sill. Drill two holes with a 7/64-inch bit and countersink the bolt head side (the top of the frame). Fasten the draft gear boxes with 4-40 x 5/8-inch flat head bolts. If you are unable to find 5/8-inch bolts, use 1 inch bolts and cut off the excess after you install the nuts.
DETAILS AND PAINT
I replaced the ARISTO-CRAFT brake wheel with one from MDC. Cut off the stem of the MDC part and, in its place, drill a 1/16-inch deep hole using a 1/16-inch bit. I used Polyzap to attach the brake wheel and stem to the frame.
Actually painting the tank itself is unnecessary, but the brass handrails, end steps, and grab irons should be the same color as the tank. Fortunately, Floquil Southern Green is very close to ARISTO-CRAFT's Sinclair Green. Paint both sides of each ladder before reattaching it to the tank. It is easiest to paint the brass parts in place.
Floquil Engine Black is a good match for the grab irons on the frame, the brake stem, coupler bolt heads and nuts, coupler shims, and truck bolster shims. When the paint dries, reassemble the tank to the frame and replace the hold down straps.
Attach the trucks to the frame. Be sure the truck with the shims goes on the end with the stabilizers. Check the coupler trip pin clearance. It should be 1/8-inch, between the bottom of the trip pin and the top of the rail head.
Now is the time to complete any weathering.
And there you have it. A very attractive car modified to 1:32 scale and right at home with your other 3/8-inch scale cars.
ARISTO-CRAFT tank car
Kadee #1 scale 820 couplers, 1 bag
Gary Raymond #1 scale Metal Wheels, 2 bags
Gary Raymond Metal Wheels 1/16-inch washer set, 1 bag
Plastruct 1/16 x 7/16 x 7/16 inch strip, 2 each for bolster
Plastruct 7/64 x 1 x 3/4 inch strip, 2 each for couplers
4-40 x 5/8-inch flat head bolts and nuts, 4 each
MDC Bettendorf trucks, less couplers and wheels, 1 bag
MDC boxcar brake wheel, 1 each
Razor saw or table saw
Small slotted screw driver
Small Phillips screw driver
Electric drill and 7/64- and 1/16-inch bits
Small flat file
Paint, pastel chalks, and Testor's Dullcote if weathering