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Santa Fe Tank Cars
Here are some ATSF tank car models I've upgraded - scroll down to check them out.
ATSF Tk-O 98060
ATSF Tk-S 98627
This model is based on the ready-to-run American Limited Models car.
To model a prototype car I photographed years ago, I added gray mid-bands to the pre-decorated orange
bands, and "New Lub Oil" home-made decals. I also weathered the car using artist's oils and powdered chalks.
I made the gray mid-bands by spraying gray paint onto blank clear decal paper. I cut out the bands to size and applied like normal decals.
I made the "New Lub Oil" markings using MS Visio for the artwork, then printing onto blank clear decal paper. The printed artwork was
over-sprayed with a light coat of gloss to fix the inkjet printer ink in place (otherwise, the ink just washes away when the decal is put into water).
For the weathering, I first sprayed the car with Testors dullcote. I mixed artist's oils - some white and some black - with mineral spirits to
create a very diluted light gray wash. This was streaked downward over the entire car and allowed to dry. This method was applied two or
three times until the desired base-coat streakage was achieved.
For the "bleeding" effect under the big white Santa Fe logo, I dabbed tiny dots of white artist's oil paint along the base of the letters using a
toothpick. I loaded a flat-tipped brush with some mineral spirits and swiped it downward *once* from where the white dabs were placed on
the lettering. I then cleaned the brush in more mineral spirits to remove any remnant of the white paint - otherwise, it just smears everywhere
if a second swipe is applied to further enhance the bleeding effect. So swipe, clean, swipe, clean, etc. until the desired effect is achieved.
For the "road dust glommed into the spilled oil" effect, I first wetted the area with mineral spirits and then carefully dusted powdered chalks
where I wanted the dirt to be. Once it dried, I used a thinned weathered black paint to add some fresher oil streaks mixed with the dirt.
The whole car got a spray of dullcote to lock everything in.
This is an Athearn car that I reworked the top equipment and re-decorated.
Though not exactly correct, it's a decent stand-in for a Santa Fe Tk-S tank car.
To get the right look for this car, I removed the smaller dome (a remnant is still visible to the right of the large dome) and added a small
scratch-built valve adjacent to the large dome. The manway area was airbrushed a medium gray and masked off for the black airbrushing.
After much internal debate, I chose to not modify the handrail profile to avoid the risk of wrecking the walkways and railing supports.
The scratch-built valve was shaped from styrene rod. A hole was
drilled through and a bit of brass wire installed for the cross-piece.
I made the gray panels by spraying light gray paint onto blank clear decal paper, followed by a light coat of
gloss. These were cut to size and applied like normal decals. The black lettering is a custom decal made
using MS Visio for artwork, printing onto blank clear decal paper, and lightly overspraying with gloss.
Right: The prototype.
My model is based on this
photo of ATSF 98019 that I took
in Stockton, CA in the 1980's.
Right: The prototype.
Down-on shots like this
are invaluable for modeling!
Here the top equipment
arrangement is visible, which
I tried to replicate on my model.

I believe this photo was
taken at the big cut west
of Cajon summit.