Bachmann tank car

A 1:22.5 scale fire-suppression tank car
Kevin Strong
Gauge 1, 1:22.5 scale fire-suppression tank car
Bachmann Industries
1400 East Erie Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19124
Price: $105

Plastic, gauge 1, 1:22.5-scale model of a single-dome tank car (#93471), lettered as Durango & Silverton Railroad’s fire-suppression car; metal wheels; metal handrails on tank. Dimensions: Length, 151/4" (over carbody); width, 41⁄8"; height, 7" (to top of dome); tank diameter, 31/2"; tank length, 14"

Pros: Well-proportioned model of a wood-frame tank car; crisp graphics
Cons: Oversize molded-in rivets on the tank; no pump or hoses modeled for fighting fires
Many railroads transferred surplus tank cars to their maintenance-of-way departments for use in work trains. These cars were frequently used to carry water for whatever purpose might arise. In Colorado, during the dry summer months, that purpose is often fighting fires. Cinders from steam locomotives can fall in dry brush and start grass fires. Both the Durango & Silverton and Cumbres & Toltec tourist railroads follow each train with a speeder to look for—and put out—these small fires. When more water is needed along remote stretches of track, the quickest way to get it there is by rail. Couple a locomotive up to the full tank car and pull it to the spot of the fire. A pump and hose carried on the car allow crews to put out the fire.

Bachmann’s single-dome tank car was one of the first freight cars added to their expanding roster of 1:22.5-scale equipment back in 1989. It’s been painted in many paint schemes in the 25 years since its introduction. This latest is based on the Durango & Silverton’s fire-suppression car. I found a photo of the D&SNG’s fire-suppression car Nº 0474, and the graphics on the model match those of the prototype nicely. The prototype is a steel-framed tank car, as is its sister car Nº 0473 Bachmann’s model is a wood-framed car.
The car is based on one that ran on the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad, which was the railroad that inspired most of Bachmann’s early large-scale models. Because of the size of the tank on this car, it fits in well with today’s larger 1:20.3-scale models as well. At that scale, the car measures 25'7" long by 7' wide. The tank, at that scale, has a capacity of 4,800 gallons.

This car is part of Bachmann’s “Big Hauler” line, which is a step below their “Spectrum” line in terms of accuracy and detail. The detail on this car, though, is pretty good—certainly rugged. Handrails on the tank are metal, while the grab irons, stirrup steps, and ladders are a flexible plastic. The “wood” flat car has molded-in grain that is believable. Rivets are coarse—measuring just under 1/8" diameter, which scales to around 21/2" in 1:22.5—definitely on the large side.

The car rides on plastic archbar trucks with Bachmann’s metal wheels. The wheels are round but have a little wobble to them because some are not perfectly square to the axle. I have Bachmann’s wheels on many of my scratchbuilt freight cars, and some of them exhibit similar “wobble.” They don’t seem to present any operational issues, so it’s not something that overly concerns me. The car comes with Bachmann’s knuckle couplers mounted to the trucks, with their centerline 3/4" above the rails, consistent with the rest of the “Big Hauler” line. The box also contains hook-and-loop couplers, which would allow the car to couple to LGB and other hook-and-loop-equipped rolling stock.

The only difference between this car and Bachmann’s other tank cars is the paint. There was no attempt to include the pumps and hoses that crews would use for fighting fires. They’re easy enough for the modeler to add, however.

That aside, this is a nice looking, well-proportioned tank car, and the graphics are cool. It works well with both 1:22.5- and 1:20.3-scale models, so would make a good addition to any MOW or special-purpose train you might run.


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