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After building a small fleet of custom helium cars last year, I was on the lookout for a new tanker car project for this year. I stumbled upon some photographs of interesting 6-domed tank cars that were used to transport bulk quantities of wine from California vineyards to bottling plants both east and west. Each car could carry up to 6 different types of table wines in independent 1000-gallon partitions.

According to this article that I found on wine tankers, the 6-domed cars were built by two different leasing companies and had some slight differences, particularly in the placement of the one-way vents on the domes and some detail on the frames. I designed my car to adhere to the AC&F standard frame since I had better reference photos, but I added extra mounting holes so that the tanks could be converted to the GATX design. It took several evenings' work in Fusion 360 to design all the parts.

01 6 dome wine tankcar overlay onto model

My new resin printer lets me make round parts with a great deal more detail than FDM. The first attempt was a learning experience that required a bit of filing and shimming, but after taking notes and making adjustments, the second batch of tanks came out just right. I have discovered that since the UV cured resin is harder than my usual ABS plastic, tapping mounting holes for machine screws is preferable to using self-tapping hardware.

02 prototyping resin tank sections

The completed prototype combines the best features of both technologies. The frame, running boards and trim were printed with my conventional FDM equipment for strength and flexibility while the tank assemblies were printed with rivet level detail with the new resin printer.

03 test fitting car components

Here's a view of all of the parts of the car immediately after painting. I also made up my own decal sheet with waterslide paper and a little graphics design. I decided to go with the "Roma Wine" marks since I found a photo of a New York Central train including one of these cars.

04 custom decals and painted parts

After painting and decaling the tank sections, I was ready to begin assembly. The silver ring piece you see here is a concealed support for the two tank halves.

05 painted and decaled tanks

I happened to have these MTH roller bearing freight trucks lying about the parts bins, so into the frame assembly they went.

06 mounting mth roller bearing trucks

Here's a view of the car under assembly. I had to add little shims under the tanks to get the screw for the trucks to fit-- I have printed a relief into the bottom of the tank on the latest version to address this. The handrails tab into the sides of the tank and clip into the ladders for a sturdy but tidy-looking assembly.

07 assembly of car handrails

After gluing on some resin-printed release valves and clearcoating the whole assembly, the wine car is ready for the track!

08 whole car on track

The new car looks and runs quite nicely with an assortment of standard tankers. You can see the hood of my custom-built RX500 industrial switcher on the inner line-- I did a writeup on that engine a couple of weeks ago.

09 whole car on track second view

Hope you enjoyed reading! I am already partway through my next freight car project, which I will hopefully be ready to report out on sometime next month.


Images (9)
  • 01 6 dome wine tankcar overlay onto model
  • 02 prototyping resin tank sections
  • 03 test fitting car components
  • 04 custom decals and painted parts
  • 05 painted and decaled tanks
  • 06 mounting mth roller bearing trucks
  • 07 assembly of car handrails
  • 08 whole car on track
  • 09 whole car on track second view
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@coach joe posted:

Another fine build Ken.  Thanks for sharing it with us.

I appreciate the kind words Joe. There will be more projects in the future so stay tuned!

That's slick as can be, shows the potential for 3D printing!

Thanks John! The older FDM technology is still very useful for large and sturdy parts, but the resin printer is a very powerful tool for fine detailed parts. It's like having a hammer for framing nails and a screwdriver for tiny screws.

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