First Look Review
N scale
30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car
30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car, ADMX 29246
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

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30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car
Series: Ready To Roll
Roadname: ADMX 29246
MFG No. : 24353

Athearn models this Ready To Roll N tank car after the 30,000 gallon Union Tank Car Company (UTLX) prototype. It features separately-applied brake detail, finely molded handrails, tank fittings, safety placards and metal safety bars, and McHenry® knuckle-spring couplers.

UTLX 30,000 Gallon Tank Car
Today tank cars are the second most numerous type on our rails, second only to covered hoppers. Tank cars have been around since the 1860s. The designs of today dates back to World War I, and have evolved dramatically. Open wooden casks on flat cars were enclosed; casks became metal tanks; capacities now approach 50,000 gallons. Constructing the tank with rivets has given way to welded tanks, with the structural integrity to do away with underframes.

UTLX builds these big 30,000 gallon tank cars without underframes. There are no internal liners for these ethanol carriers.
    For years railroads have hauled ethyl alcohol, or ethanol as it is better known. Ethanol is made mostly from corn and is used as an additive to oxygenate gasoline thus reducing pollution. It is also being used in a mostly raw form as an alternative to gasoline. Most of this usage is in the Midwest states like Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Indiana where there is a
    plentiful supply of corn.

    In 2004 it was mandated by the federal government that ethanol be used to replace MBTE as an additive to oxygenate all gasoline in the state of California. Since California is not a corn producing state the ethanol has to be shipped in from states with large corn crops and ethanol plants. This ethanol traffic boomed in 2004 as several million gallons were needed by refineries in the Los Angeles harbor area alone, with an additional 800 million gallons needed in the entire state.

    To meet growing demand for new tank cars, UTLX Manufacturing has been expanding production capacity with a manufacturing facility in Alexandria, Louisiana. UTLX #205400 is the first car in the initial run from the new plant. The 30,000-gallon car is sized to stage the greatest number of cars at the producer's loading rack and still meet the 263,000-pound gross rail load limit. The Funnel-Flow(R) design facilitates complete bottom unloading.*


Type: Tank Car
AAR Class: T: Tank Car. Tank car means any car which is used only for the transportation of liquids, liquefied gases, compressed gases, or solids that are liquefied prior to unloading. Car may be without underframe if container serving as superstructure is designed to serve as underframe. If car has underframe, it must be designed only for the carriage of one or more enclosed containers (with or without compartments) that form the superstructure and are integral parts of the car.
AAR Type: T108
Detail Info: Tank Cars, General Service Cars, Carbon Steel Tank (Welded or Riveted), Includes Rubber Lined.
AAR 203,203W,211A60W1,211A100W1,211J100W1.
ICC or DOT 103,103W,104W,111A60W1,111A100W1,111A100W3,111A100W4, Capacity: 28,000-31,000 gal
Plate: C
Max Gross Weight: 263000
Load Limit: 196100
Liquid Capacity: 30143
Ext L/W/H: 59' 6" / 10' 8" / 15' 6"

Ready To Roll N scale 30,000-gallon Ethanol Tank Car
Athearn keeps today’s prototypes on today’s model railroads. This model boasts these key features :

    • Fully assembled and ready for your layout
    • Code-55 compatible wheel sets
    • Factory installed wire grab irons
    • Scaled from the manufacturer's drawings
    • Weighted
    • Machined metal wheels
    • Equipped with McHenry knuckle couplers

Athearn securely packages this model in a plastic cradle formed to the model’s shape. It is easy to remove the model from the cradle – a great comfort considering the number of fine separately applied parts. Further protection is a fitted clear plastic top that holds the model in the cradle. The cradle snugly fits inside a hard plastic box with a lid. The lid is secured by three tabs and acts as a protecting case or a display case, molded for easy stacking. It does not include any parts diagram or documentation.

However, the model arrive with one wheel popped out of its truck. I had to unscrew the truck from the car to pop the axle back into it. Not uncommon with N scale rolling stock.

This model is molded and assembled to a high standard. It does have some burrs from nipping parts off the parts sprue although I honestly did not notice these until examining the close-up photos.

Thin plastic or metal pipes and railings surround the model. However, some at the top are warped or bowed. They are not true N scale yet they are very close. To make them thinner would increase the delicacy of the model and tank-up the price.

What does the model offer? Scaled ladders and stirrups, safety bars and railings and stanchions, air brake detail with some separate pieces, and a crisp hand brake wheel. Placard stands for hazmat and other information are on each end and side. The manway hatches and valves atop the tank are nicely molded. As is the entire model: no flash, no sink holes, no ejector marks, minor seam lines. The 100-ton roller-bearing trucks have good detail and the wheel sets are blackened – albeit shiny - metal. They roll happily over code 55 track.

You may notice the model looks warped. This is distortion of the small model under close-up photography.

The body and chassis assembly is made up of at least 30 parts:
    • Tank
    • End sills, A & B end
    • Tank saddles
    • End walkways
    • Wire grab irons
    • Side rails
    • Air brake set
    • Ladders
    • Safety valves, nozzle, manway
    • Railings and stanchions

Individual manway and loading hatches are attached to the top, as are molded running boards. Ladders are separately applied. As is the train line. The pieces are very fine, approaching scale thickness. The model rides on a pair of 100-ton trucks holding blackened metal wheels. Athearn equips the model with truck-mounted McHenry knuckle couplers. These are not the AAR upper/lower shelf types which Athearn did use on their HO model of this tank car.

Test Track
The model length is exact end sill to sill, and almost 63 feet long coupler to coupler. The weight must be inside the car body; the model weighs 1.2 ounces, almost exactly spot-on the NMRA RP.20 ideal.

When you see all the detail on this model you should keep in mind that this model is Athearn’s Ready To Roll series, not their flagship Genesis series - the degree of detail is close. It bears no relation to the previous generation of model freight cars - very little molded detail is used.

Athearn detailed this tank with over 25 separate nicely molded and wire parts. Separately attached nozzles crown the roof. Surrounding them are platforms and railing.

The simplified AB brake system features a separately applied:
    • AAR Standard brake wheel
    • Brakewheel housing
    • Reservoir
    • Triple valve & piping
    • Train line

Supporting all of that are Athearn plastic 100-ton roller bearing trucks with blackened metal wheels. The side frame detail is respectable although the wheels still have a shine under the blackening.

Hazmat placards are coded.

Finally, many of these parts, molded and machined with such finesse, are delicate. I don’t consider it fragile though you should use care when handling this tank car. Again, it was not problem removing the model from its packaging cradle.

Finish and Markings
The finish of this model is excellent. The paint is smooth and opaque. Archer Daniels Midland livery is a bit more exciting than usual because they use a logo with color, reproduced on this model; red hazmat signs and black and white stenciling livens it up. The link Click here for additional images for this review at the end of this review will take you to several shots of the real life ADMX 29246. They show the prototype both with and without the logo as well as yellow reflector tape, and in both matte and glossy paint.

Athearn N Ready To Roll currently offers UTLX 30,000-gallon tank cars in more than 5 roadnames plus an undecorated model:

    1. Archer Daniels Midland
    2. Department of Defense
    3. General American Transportation
    4. Procor
    5. Undecorated
    6. Union Tank Car

Several uncategorized roadnames have also been released including TILX, MPC and Zahori, to name a few. Each roadname comes with multiple road numbers.

Data stencils and reporting marks are sharply printed, most are legible. Some of the data is too small for me to read without magnification. Each hazmat placard is labeled with ‘1987:’ D.O.T. Placard, alcohol. It looks like I could read more if I use a magnifier!

You can easily read the car was built in December 1988; 2 IN HF COMP SHOES equip the brakes. Beautiful!

Roll on!
This model ain’t grandpa’s N scale and certainly impresses me. It is a well detailed, sharply painted model with separate ladders and other detail pieces. Today factory applied knuckle couplers have become the standard and this model follows suite.

The shiny wheels may be a drawback. Railing atop the tank are somewhat bowed.

Athearn N 30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car is an amazing N model. One or more of these will certainly add to your modern N scale railroad. Happily recommended!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here -


*. Athearn View ARI General Service Tank Car.pdf

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Knuckle couplers, metal wheels, fine plastic and wire pipes and railing. Amazing printing.
Lows: Blackened metal wheels are shiny. Railing atop the tank are somewhat bowed.
Verdict: Athearn N 30,000 Gallon Ethanol Tank Car is an amazing N model. One or more will certainly add to your modern N scale railroad.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 24353
  Suggested Retail: $24.98
  Related Link: 30K Gal. Tank Car series
  PUBLISHED: Oct 30, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Athearn!
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 Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. 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.


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