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General American 8,000 Gallon 1917-Design Radial Course Tank Car (HO)

Please click on the images at right for pricing, SKUs, high resolution photos, prototype photos, car number options, and to order!

Tangent Scale Models is proud to introduce our next production of General American 8,000 Gallon 1917-Design Radial Course Tank Cars. (Radial course means the tank’s steel panels overlap each other, looking like “stairsteps”). Here is a prototype photo showing the radial steel panel courses and the overlapping of the panels.


By the end of World War I, U.S. production of oil and oil-related products was sharply increasing thanks to the combination of war-related demands as well as demands from home. In order to move oil and new consumer products, tank car producers introduced new car designs. In 1917, General American Tank Car introduced a new general service 8,000 gallon non-insulated tank car that became immensely popular with bulk liquids shippers.

Built in East Chicago, IN, these cars were easily identifiable by their circumferential rivets that surrounded the tank body, with notably different heights between the courses. These “radial course” tank cars utilized steel bolster plates that rise up vertically to hold the tank in place, complete with a “web” section behind to minimize steel consumption.


At a time of fairly monochromatic box cars plying the rails, most consumable products and oil shippers proudly displayed their company markings on the tanks, as evidenced by the Cities Service Oil tank car. CSOX “Cities Service Oil (Penn)” 1937+ shipped oil from the plains states, and they distributed oil in tank cars nearly everywhere due to having an enormous distribution and retail network, which was especially strong on the east coast. These Cities Service cars were built in 1920, however this car has new lettering that was applied in 1937.

CONX “Continental Oil Lease” cars were found all over the USA with oil initially sourced from the mountain west states of NM, CO, WY, UT, ID, and MT, and in later years sourcing oil from the plains states. Destinations for the oil were far and wide around the United States, with cars photographed from California to Baltimore, MD. In later years, some of the fleet was stenciled “CONOCO.”

VENX “1964 North American Lease” is another “black lease” type car but this time from the 1960s era. This car has attractive aluminum stenciling and includes the distinctive and memorable North American logo on it.

Also, many railroads utilized older tank cars like this in MOW service, either acquired second-hand or acquired through derailment cleanup. BN MWM Water Car 1973+ 973084 is available now as our BN-painted, former Great Northern, MOW tank car for BN-era modelers. This car is painted in BN’s distinctive oxide red MOW color, a color carried over from predecessor GN. This car carries the distinctive BN stenciling and it also includes “Water Car” stenciling on the side to denote its assigned fire prevention and fighting service. This tank car is meant to be operated alongside our SP&S tank car offerings.

These cars were used for commodities beyond oil and other fuels. For example, Dunbar Molasses of New Orleans, Louisiana purchased the cars. Molasses was a common 8000 gallon tank car commodity even if it “sounds” unusual! It was a core ingredient in foodstuffs, animal feed, vinegar, citric acid, etc. While in today’s world it is hard to imagine molasses as a tank car commodity traveling by rail, remember that the combination of manufacturing and packaging practices, as well as pre-truck era, both contributed to tank cars being used for more than just oil-related commodities at that time in our nation’s history (and molasses today is still a common rail tank car commodity). General American was proud to help design custom tank cars for their many customers, including Dunbar Molasses.

Another example commodity was corn syrup and other corn-based products. Here is one of the bright Union Starch and Refining cars in service on Union Pacific in the mid-1950s, likely headed to or from Decatur IL.

Between UTLX, Union Starch and Refining, and other schemes to come in future releases, think of this as the first large-scale production tank car of consequence. The GATC 1917-design prototypes were the most prolific tank cars built during this period and were found everywhere from 1917 to roughly 1970.

Available paint schemes are listed at right, and you can click on the images to see more photos and order! Prototype images for each scheme are available there as well, mixed in with the model images.

The Tangent Scale Models GATC 1917-Design 8,000 Gallon General Service Tank Car is a highly-detailed tank car model that includes details accurate for each paint scheme, including KC- or AB-brake variations, different dome heights, with or without Cardwell draft sill springs, and different hand brakes.

Here is a closeup of the K-brake system. This brake system is applied to our Dunbar Molasses 1919+ and UTLX 1926+ cars. These are the kind of details Tangent pays attention to!


Here is a closeup of the AB-brake system. This brake system is applied to our Union Starch and Refining 1950+ and our UTLX 1958+ models. Again, these are the kind of details Tangent pays attention to, where we tooled two separate brake systems for our GATC 1917-Design tank cars!


Other visually-distinctive details for our models include the “see through” bolster section, circumferential rivets, and differing course heights.

Our RTR models include correct “true-to-life” colors and “hyper-accurate” lettering including exact fonts and lettering placement. Finally, our scale replicas operate as well as they look, equipped with free-rolling all-metal wheels and Kadee® scale couplers, meaning our models are truly ready to run.

Features for these awesome replicas include:
– Circumferential riveted tank body and riveted underframe (count ‘em, there are many!)
– Radial course tank body – note the “stairstep” appearance!
– All-new underframe for the GATC 1917-design
– “See-through” cast knee above the bolsters
– Accurate dome appliances
– Dimensionally-correct hazardous placards with accurate hole detail
– Separately applied tank handrail
– Separately applied tank strap detail
– KC- or AB- brake variations depending on the prototype car
– Inclusion of Cardwell draft sill springs depending on the prototype car, otherwise “oval” frame openings where the springs were removed
– Different hand brake appliance options depending on the prototype car
– Highly correct “true to life” colors
– “Hyper-Accurate” lettering including exact fonts and lettering placement, including lettering applied to the underframe and air reservoir
– Durable wire grab irons and coupler lift bars
– Separate air hoses
– “Near-scale” draft gear box with side detail
– Kadee® “scale-head” couplers
– CNC-machined 33” wheels in high-quality Tangent Scale Models ASF cast steel truck with spring plank and with separate brake beams
– Replacement semi-scale wheels available separately from Tangent
– Multiple road numbers for each scheme – these cars often traveled in “groups” of more than one
– Recommended age 14 years and older

Available paint schemes are listed in the box at right, and from there you can click on the images to see more photos and order! Prototype images for each scheme are available by clicking as well, mixed in with the model images.

Don’t miss out on the Tangent Scale Models General American 8,000 gallon 1917-design radial course tank car! Just like its prototype, this car will stand out on any layout situated from 1917 to 1970, and they went everywhere!

Please click on the images at right for pricing, SKUs, high resolution photos, prototype photos, car number options, and to order!