MOW Tank Car Load Question

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by TomPM, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan

    I am getting ready to weather an Athearn single dome tank car. The car is letter for Baltimore & Ohio. It is numbered for maintenance of way service. My question is what kind of load would a tank car in MOW service carry? Water? Oil? Would there be more than one car in a work train?

    Here is the unweathered version of the car.

  2. Summit

    Summit Member


    You wrote: "what kind of load would a tank car in MOW service carry? Water? Oil?"

    Simple answer would be both, but the railroad would have different cars for different types of service.

    Cars in water service could be broken down into two categories:

    1. Those carrying potable water would be used for transporting drinking water to track crews stationed in places where it was otherwise not available. There were also examples (especially in the more arid parts of the west) where railroads would provide water to entire lineside communities.

    2. Those carrying non-potable water. Most of these cars were engaged in fire supression service, in which case they would be equipped with pumps, hose reals, and tool boxes for carrying fire fighting tools. In the steam era it would not be uncommon to see some of these cars stationed at places along the route to act as emergency water supplies.

    If you choose to put your car into water service be sure to put additional lettering on it specifying potable vs. non-potable water. Cars in non-potable service would have "Do Not Drink" in big letters around the car.

    Tank cars could also be used in all sorts of fuel service...they were (and are) used to transport fuel oil or diesel fuel (depending on which era you are modeling) to remote or outlying places where engines were based or where re-fueling needs existed. Tank cars could also be used for such things as storing and transportation of lubrication oils. In later years track maintenance machines could also be fueled out of tank cars.

    "Would there be more than one car in a work train?"

    Generally yes, but it depends on what task the work train is supposed to accomplish. If it is simply delivering a single tank car of water to a track crew or taking a single load of ballast to be dumped somewhere on the line then one car trains could be seen, but they were not common.

    If you are interested in learning more about the world of railroad track maintenance I would suggest the following resources:

    1. There was a book titled "Railway Maintenance Equipment" that came out in paperback two or three years ago. The book is widely available at such large chains as Ma Barnes & Pop Nobles, Borders, etc.

    2. Model Railroading Magazine (NOT Model Railroader) printed a fourteen or so part series in 1994 and 1995 that covered every aspect of railroad maintenance equipment. The series was authored by a former Penn Central roadmaster, and there is a lot of "this is how we did it on the PC" in the articles but the series presents a lot of pictures of different types of maintenance equipment from railroads big and small across the country. Articles were written about such subjects as bunk & outfit cars, cranes & wreck cleanup, rail and tie replacement, ballast removal, snow removal, and a couple other subjects.

    Hope this helps.

    Elko, NV
  3. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    Hello Tom. That car, in good condition, with pressure dome and the relief valves it appears to have, would probably be used in some kind of oil service. Does the B&O Historical Society have any info on that car number series--that's usually a good place to start checking. I have gotten similar answers from folks at the Soo Line H&TS, when I have had questions.

    Water service cars, as mentioned, are pretty clearly stencilled as such.

    Does "X" mean MOW or does it mean "company service" on the B&O? If the latter, the car could also have been used to transport fuel from, say, the Port of Baltimore to engine terminals inland. There were many refineries in Philadelphia, which is also nearby. Besides locomotive fuel, railroad tank cars were also used to transport fuel to cranes on the site of wrecks or to pile drivers and other equipment in bridge and other building scenarios. Yet another use for tank cars in petroleum service would be to collect waste or contaminated oils, both fuel and lube, from online points like shops and engine terminals and to deliver them to a centralized point for disposal or purificatiion. I hope this helps.
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    As well as fire service, they might be used in weed killing. After the demise of the steam loco, railroads found that they had to kill plants that had previously been scorched to death. The weed killer would probably have the hoses and pumps and stuff, plus a set of sprinklers -- long pipes that could be swung out to the side of the car. Might be on a separate car.
    Number of tank cars in an MOW train? Just list all the liquids you take with you camping. (No, NOT THAT!)
  5. TomPM

    TomPM Another Fried Egg Fan

    Thanks folks for the responses so far.

    The car as pictured is straight out of the blue box. I plan on weathering it. I am trying to figure out if there is anything such as decals or dry transfers I need to add before I start weathering.

    I believe the "X" means company service. There is a note of the car that says " B&O Use Only". It shows up on the picture near the the logo as a white smudge because it is so small.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I guess they began the "X" in the road number when the interchange laws became strict, and these cars don't meet the crtieria?

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