In-Box Review
HO scale
Trinity 17,600 Gal Tank Car
Trinity 17,600 Gallon Tank Car
  • move

by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

  • move

More than 15 years ago Atlas introduced this popular HO Trinity 17,600-gallon Corn Syrup Tank Car in their Master Line range. This review looks at a model of the eighth release since 2004. This sample is decorated as New Jersey Transit #9306, Item# 20004997. If you would like to see photos of the real NJT 9306, please click Click here for additional images for this review, at the bottom of this review.

Master Line is Atlas' premier range of model and this tank car certainly lives up to expectations. To most authentically represent a railroad's Trinity 17,600-gal. tank car, three body styles were tooled:
ADM/MCP style; Cargill style; Corn Products style.

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 of 100s of gallons 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. Tank car history includes a diversity of design, lading, size, rosters and fleets, and livery. Tank car history fills books and websites, too extensive for this review. Atlas' history of this car is:
    The 17,600 Gallon Corn Syrup Tank Car was built in large numbers by Trinity Industries between 1984 and 1998. They are commonly used in the transport of corn syrup, liquid sugar and molasses from processing facilities to bulk distribution centers. Over 7,000 cars were built and most remain in active service today.

TrinityRail Group
Trinity Industries has acquired several car builders since 1983, including Thrall, Pullman Standard, and American General. Several designs of tank cars fill their catalogue along with dozens of other freight car types.

Trinity 17,600 Gallon Tank Car Model
This tank car arrives Ready-To-Run (RTR), packed effectively in a two-piece form-fitted cradle. A soft sheet further protects the model from scuffing. That rig with registration paperwork is packed into an end-opening carton with a cellophane window.

The model is comprised of plastic and metal parts. As noted earlier, Atlas has three types of this tank car to offer, based on ADM/MCP, Cargill, or Corn Products styles. I am no expert and have read that the main spotting feature is the manway, which is either hinged and secured with bolts, or a clam-shell cover.

This model presents detail that was once only found on high-end brass models, items like brake lines. Such detail has been reproduced on this model, and instead of metal, flexible (read "less fragile") acetal plastic was used. Grab irons are metal.

I found no flash, sink marks, visible ejector circles, or other flaws common to injection molding. The model is assembled nicely and I found no glue spots. The main flaw I spotted - only under magnification - is a slight gap between the parts that make the tank. If your eyes are sharper than mine or you are inspecting it up close, you may notice the gaps, but I did not detect them until I studied my magnified photos; if I were to score this model, I would only knock off 2%.

Recall I wrote this model bears detail that was once only found on high-end brass models. First, the three separate styles of manway / platform / ladder arrangements (used as appropriate per road name). Then:
    * Metal safety bars, tank fittings and safety placards
    * Fine scale railings
    * Separately applied brake rigging
    * Separately applied manway “clamshell”-style cover (used when appropriate per road name)
    * 100-Ton Roller Bearing Trucks
    * Accurate painting and printing
    * Full stand-alone brake system details
    * Bottom outlet valve detail
    * Stand-alone heater coil pipes
    * Highly detailed body with prototypical jacket seams
    * See-through top platform grating
    * AccuMate® couplers

Those couplers are secured to the car via a coupler box. That should allow easy access should a modeler detail this model up a notch by adding double-shelf couplers, as required in real life.

From top down, a single tank access manway is surrounded by a platform. It is mounted in a frame with the hand rails. Corners have bracket and bolt detail. Plastic ladders curve down to the bottom of the tank.

The tank rests upon bolsters over the trucks. Placard holders are set on the ends and sides.

A well rendered air brake system with a triple valve, reservoir, cylinder, actuator arm and levers, brake rods and piping are attached. Completing the air brake system is a hand brake wheel. The brake gear looks good as it hangs down enough to see the parts from track level. Atlas includes cut levers and air hoses.

Atlas attached wire hand grabs and rails around the car. They fit into molded rackets with bolt and rivet detail.

All of that superstructure rides upon molded plastic 100-ton roller-bearing trucks mounting RP25 metal wheels. Those sideframes look pretty good. The wheels are blackened and they look good with a dark dull sheen.

This model looks super well within the "Three-Foot Rule."

Performance and Dimensions
This model is RTR (Ready-To-Run). The wheels are in gauge and the couplers do not sag. They are of proper height according to my Kadee coupler gauge. The model weighs 3.9 ounces - almost exact per NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight recommended weight of 3.79 oz. It is 40ft 6in scale-feet from sill to sill.

The metal wheels rolled smoothly through an Atlas code 83 No. 6 switch and a Peco code 80 single-slip switch.

Paint and Lettering
Today's standard of finish is remarkable and Atlas keeps that bar raised high. Once again I find incredible just how legible the fine, crisp printing is! Dimensional data, road names and numbers, service markings - you can read it all: built 10/79; air brakes tested 12/08.

This tank car is marked for New Jersey Transit with their solid blue "aquatrain" livery. Six companies and undercoated versions are available in this release.
    ADM (Molecule
    Cargill Foods
    NJ Transit
    Union Tank Car (Corn Products)
Each road name features four road numbers.

Atlas Master Line cars are hard to beat and this HO Trinity 17,600-gallon Corn Syrup Tank Car continues that reputation. The molding and casting is top-notch, and assembly is very good. The paint is smooth and opaque. Printing is outstanding. The fidelity of detail is very high. Running performance completely pleases. That Atlas makes different parts to better represent these cars of different designs enhances the overall accuracy.

My only complaint are the gaps between the parts that make the tank.

HO modelers of modern railroading, and those who enjoy a good tank car, should be very enthusiastic with this model. I look forward to the next release of road names.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on RailRoad Modeling.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Molding and casting is top-notch, and assembly is very good. The paint is smooth and opaque and printing is outstanding. The fidelity of detail is very high and running performance completely pleases.
Lows: A slight gap between the parts that make the tank.
Verdict: HO modelers of modern railroading, and those who enjoy a good tank car, should be very enthusiastic with this model. I look forward to the next release of road names.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 004 997
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Mar 15, 2020
  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.

View This Item  |  View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

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.


Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move