I find many rail cars rather repetitive with little difference other than color or railroad name.  Most tankers, gondolas, boxcars, flatcars and passenger cars are mostly similar.  Lionel and others have been good at producing fictional variations to make them more interesting for us model railroad fans like the giraffe and aquarium cars.  I think locomotives, tenders and cabooses have more individuality.  I enjoy the variations of this type of railroad equipment.

Tenders are some of my favorite type of cars.  The November 2001 CTT has a good article on Postwar Tenders to show the different tenders and charts to show which tender usually went with which engines.  Usually the larger engines look better with larger tenders and would need larger tenders as they use more fuel.

Lionel made a great number of coal tenders of the New York Central type from 1946 to 1952 and were used on 671, 2020, 2025, 2026, 2035 locos for examples.  They were 7 3/8 inches long.  This tender is tied for my “most number of tenders” in my collection. coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 008



Many locos had large (8 1/8 inch long) streamlined tenders made from Pennsylvania streamlined style tenders and some had water scoops on the bottom and 6 wheel trucks like the one below.  They were used from 1950 to 1968 for larger locos like 2046, 773, 2056, 671, 2065 and many more.Coal tenders 1 2019-09-01 003



Small (7 1/8 inches long) streamlined tenders were made from 1954 to 1966 for a great many middle sized locos like 1062, 242, 2018, 2037 and many more.  This is the other tender tied for my “most number of tenders” in my collection.  I had so many I painted several to match painted Lionel 242 plastic bodied 2-4-2 engines. Coal tenders 1 2019-09-01 020



Small slope backed tenders were made from 1946 to 1958 and use mostly on switcher and small engines like 244, 1060 235, 1061, 1625, 1656 and more.  They were 5 ¾ inches long. Coal tenders 1 2019-09-01 014



A typical square freight type tender (7 3/8 inches long) was made from 1953 to 1965 and was used on 233, 2018, 2029, 2037, 2055, 2016 and many others. coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 009



A small tender was made for the General 4-4-0 engines from 195 to 1962. It was 5 ¼ inches long. coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 006


I left out the sheet metal tenders (6 inches long) also called “coffin tenders” for reasons obvious from their appearance.  They were based on prewar 1936 tenders.  They were produced from 1946 to 1952.

I think most larger, longer locomotives (such as 671, 681, 773, 2020, 2046, 2065 etc.) look better matched with the larger Pennsylvania streamlined style tender even though many also came with the New York style tenders.



Almost all these tenders Lionel made were coal tenders.  There were a few fuel oil tenders that  were modified from the small streamlined tender, with the top coal load being replaced with a smooth top and hatches to represent a fuel oil tender.

coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 012


Some of these fuel oil tenders were made for sale in cheaper sets and had a noise maker on the bottom that rolled on the center rail and made a low rattle noise.  That is it hanging down in the middle of the car.  These rollers can be pried out and the side pieces cut off to make a presentable fuel oil tender.  They are very light and need some added weight to allow better pulling of a few cars.

 coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 015

coal tenders 4 2019-01-12 017



I recently got interested in fuel oil tenders when I converted an enclosed cab engine into a cab forward engine and realized a coal tender would not work.  I made a coupling on the front of the engine to hook up the fuel oil tender.



Fuel oil tenders also create a need for a fuel oil storage tanks near the tender coaling stations so the fuel oil tenders can be filled also.  Fuel oil tenders were used in parts of the country in the where coal was not plentiful in the postwar era but do not get as much attention as the eastern part and coal country were more often modeled.  Coaling stations and coal loading and unloading and coal mining are more interesting operations than fuel oil operations also.

Fuel oil tenders also open up the use of a second flue oil tender after the first one next to the locomotive.  This can be done on real railroads to extend the range of the train as only fuel lines need to be added to connect the two fuel oil tenders to the engine.  On a model fuel oil tender, the front truck should be changed out with one that has coupling on it while retaining the coupling for use of tender also with an engine.


Post Script:  See a following post dated 9-21-2019 for How to build Homemade Vanderbilt coal tenders.




Photos (10)
Original Post
Choo Choo Charlie posted:

Fuel oil tenders also open up the use of a second flue oil tender after the first one next to the locomotive.  This can be done on real railroads to extend the range of the train as only fuel lines need to be added to connect the two fuel oil tenders to the engine. 




The prototype railroads never used the auxiliary tender for Bunker C fuel oil. 

The auxiliary tenders were only used for water.


Hi Charlie,

Great topic.  I love tenders and cabooses.  I've been thinking about building an auxiliary  water tender.  The store bought items are few and expensive.  I found a cheap scout tender for a start.  I think I want 6 wheel trucks from something like a crane car.  Any ideas for a filler hatch?

I have a collection of tenders but usually leave it on the track and switch out the engine. Like the older big ones with a nice looking coal load but do have some of the shorter ones. The real railroads did a lot of switching tenders around too. Have one slope back, several with scoops, and  a few with 6 wheel trucks. No oil tenders and I would like a Vanderbilt someday.

I remember reading somewhere that Lionel/Fundimensions/MPC modified the short streamlined tender in order to use colors other than black. The engineered a plug in the mold to replace to coal load. In the early 70s, they produced a very successful train set with a colorful two-tone green painted green steam engine, as well as two-toned "Blue Streak" engine. There were other colorful engine tender combinations. When Lionel went back to black engines and tenders, they just left the plug in. I doubt many young railroaders noticed.

The Passaic, Raritan, Neshaminy, Delaware and Lehigh Railroad was formed in 1996 out of bits of used track found at train shows. It's main commodities include plastic pipes, dowels that look like logs, toy farm and construction equipment, and plastic formed to look like piles of coal. For some unknown reason, it also hauls a large number of cars which are completely empty.

Choo Choo Charlie posted:

Steamer   (Dave)

Thanks.  You have encouraged me to make a Vanderbilt Tender.  I have junk tenders so some PVC is needed.  I am putting it on my "to do list".


and be sure to post pictures when you start!





Saving Tinplate One Piece at a Time

tcox009 posted:

The GTEL turbines of the Union Pacific used auxiliary tenders with bunker c fuel oil

Totally different application as they are not steam locomotives and the original single unit turbines had a limited fuel supply onboard. 

The "Big Blow" turbines carried no bunker C supply in the A (cab) or B (turbine) units.   The A units carried diesel fuel for the hostling diesel and for starting the turbine in the B unit. 

Also, in all turbine applications, except for double ended #50, the UP used ONE tender for fuel, not multiples.


Dave, below is my post on how I made two Vanderbilt coal tenders posted in other topics also.

Homemade Longer Vanderbilt Tender

Got around to making a second longer Vanderbilt Coal Tender, marked up as a Rock Island.  It is identical to the shorter Vanderbilt Coal Tender except it is 1 inch longer.  IMG_0941


I cut up an old coal tender with the band saw.IMG_0867


Added 1 inch to the side bottom rails from the plastic from the not needed part of the CT and added pieces of tin to strengthen with J B Weld.



A bottom was made from a piece of sheet metal roofing bending the folds in a wood working 4 x 10 inch Columbia vise.



The water tank section was made from part of a 2 inch dia. mailing tube and decking and reinforcing was make from popsicle sticks.  Dark red sealing was from 60 year old model airplane dope.



The crack between the coal pile and water tank was filled in with balsa wood.  A pair of six wheel Williams trucks, one with a coupling, were purchased years ago at a train show just for a large Vanderbilt coal tender.  The tank domed back is from a hair spay can bottom, ground off with a grinder.  See the back up light and hand grab ready for the ladder to come.



A back up light and ladder (made from N gauge track with every other tie cut out) and hand hold were added to give more detail.  The first shorter Vanderbilt CT also got new ladder and hand hold.  The CT was painted with Krylon semi gloss black spray can paint.



Decals were applied and sealed with clear spray paint.  The 50 year old decals had to be sprayed with clear before applying as they disintegrated in the  water.



The new longer  Vanderbilt Coal tender is only one inch longer than the first one and the same length of the large Lionel 6 wheel CT sold with longer engines.  The big boy CT sure makes the shorter one look stubbier.  The longer CT and the longer Lionel 2065 will not quit fit on my turntable so the get to stay on the layout cruising.




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