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First Look Review
HO scale
23,500 gal. Tank Car
ACF 23,500 Gallon Tank Car, ADM
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by: Sean Hadfield [ WINDYSEAN ]

Prototype History
Derived from the American Car and Foundry Company, formed in 1899, ACF Industries is, according to their website, "a premier manufacturer of new Railcars, Railcar components and Pressure Vessels. ACF Industries LLC has produced some of the finest rail transportation equipment in American History." Their corporate headquarters is in St. Charles, Missouri, and their manufacturing facility is located in Milton, Pennsylvania. They had other facilities that had closed, but now with the recent increase in oil production in North Dakota, there is a high demand for tank car production again.

This car is a modern-era 23,500 gallon insulated, coiled, non-pressurized prototype, first made in 1969, and still rolling today.

The model is well-detailed with separately applied brake gear, railings, placards, and hatch fixtures. It rolls smoothly on metal wheelsets. The plastic knuckle couplers with whisker springs are Accumate from Accurail, and the coupler boxes have screwed-on lids, so changing to any other coupler is a simple matter. The paint has a realistic dull sheen, and the logo and lettering is fine and crisp.

The detail parts are fine scale-thin plastic. The longer handrails appear to be metal, but as the photos show, longer runs can be wavy due to the thinness. That's not to say it isn't realistic though. It's definitely a really nice-looking car.

Delving deeper, the weight of the car is 4.9 ounces. The heft felt good by hand. The NMRA recommended practice RP 20.1 states that the optimum weight for rolling stock in HO Scale is 1 ounce plus 1/2 per inch of body length. In this case, at 8 inches, five ounces is recommended, so this is effectively correct.

The coupler heights both measured perfect on a Kadee #205 height gauge. As primarily an operator, this is my pet peeve, and it's reassuring to see one that falls right into conformance like this.

From Atlas' website, I learned that this model has been released previously in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2009, before the current run from January 2015. Railroads now offered, each with three separate numbers, are: ADM, Dana Railcare, Dow Chemical, Southern Pacific, and undecorated (MSRP $31.95). Of note is that the handsome ADM "Molecule logo" cars and also the Southern Pacific cars are an "alternate history paint scheme". Rest assured though, that I determined from the great rrpicturearchives dot net website that ADM used similar cars of 20,810 gallon capacity in their 21000-numbering and 25,000-27,000 gallons in their 25000-numbering series.

Atlas has once again produced realistic, detailed rolling stock that should run well on your layout. This state-of-the-art car is the culmination of their long experience in the hobby. I suspect that each release of this car is improved from the one before. If the photos appeal to you, grab $37 and run down to your local hobby provider.

Please tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.
Highs: Fantastic sharpness of detail and quality of build.
Lows: No lows for the car itself... but I'm always remembering prices from "the good old days". I won't be, say, stringing 10 of these together in a unit train for $370. The price falls in line with current, high-detail cars though.
Verdict: Definitely a well-built, attractive freight car.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 003 162
  Suggested Retail: $36.95
  PUBLISHED: Oct 29, 2015
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Sean Hadfield (windysean)

I picked up model building and HO-scale model trains from my father. I've been working at it now for more than 45 years, always learning more. Although a self-proclaimed cheapskate, I always modify or add to my builds to make them unique and special (for better or worse, ha ha).

Copyright 2020 text by Sean Hadfield [ WINDYSEAN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Looks good. I've never weathered a modern tank car but have seen some really nice work done by others. I gotta try one of these
OCT 30, 2015 - 06:47 AM
I marvel at the finesse of the printing. Definitely not the rolling stock of my youth!
OCT 31, 2015 - 08:59 AM
yes, I agree
NOV 01, 2015 - 06:40 AM

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