3M-Copley 8K Acid Tankcars
Posted on the Society website is the story I wrote on the most interesting Minnesota Mining (3M) plant at Copley, Ohio. The initial 3M operation centered around a silica sand deposit which was mined and pulverized, then colorized to become roofing granules for asphalt based composition shingles. The bagged granules were shipped by rail, often in a "rag tag" fleet of 3M private cars.
In the 1940's, a second plant was added at Copley to manufacturer oleum (sulfuric acid). Inbound raw sulfur, delivered by rail in gondolas, was converted to acid which was shipped out by rail in tank cars. Both plants are worth modeling. The 3M acid and roofing granule operations generated substantial rail business for the AC&Y from 1937 through the late 1980's when 3M closed the plant complex due to EPA issues. The complex is still active under the name PVS Chemicals, though sulfuric acid is now shipped inbound by rail and trucked to customers throughout NE Ohio.
Following WWII, General American, a railcar manufacturer, met the needs of specialized shippers like 3M by producing "specific service" cars such as 8,000 gallon acid tank cars. GATX also had switched production from riveted underframes and tanks to a new welded underframe and tank design. The GATX plant in Sharon, PA manufactured at least three different post-war versions of 8K all-welded acid tank cars, prototypes produced between 1949 and 1960. Acid service tank cars provided safe transportation for industrial chemicals such as hydrochloric (muriatic), hydrofluoric, phosphoric and sulfuric acids. Posted are two photos showing 8,000-gallon acid tank cars in the GATX 60000-series leased by 3M. The cars show to have been built 4-1948. The photos are not dated, but are believed to be circa 1949-1950. It is not known how many GATX cars were leased or for how long, but the 3M sulfuric acid operation at Copley was still active into the 1980's.
Tangent Scale Models has just released an outstanding HO scale model of a GATX 8K acid tank car, replicating the prototype design cars built in 1949. The rubber lined acid tank cars were externally distinctive... taller and narrower than previous general purpose tank cars of that era and with a smaller 1% dome and no bottom tank outlets. With help from David Lehlbach of Tangent Models, we concluded the circa 1947-48 GATX prototype version leased by 3M is nearly identical to the 1949 Tangent model. The notable difference are tie down straps running diagonally across the tank from the frame in the 1947-48 version. Modelers can easily add this feature to backdate the Tangent car using 1"x2" strip styrene or simply letter the Tangent undecorated black car without adding the straps. GATX apparently favored a simple reporting mark scheme due to the oleum acid quickly eroded the paint (see photos), a nice modeling feature. I hope to model the 3M-Copley complex including the sulfuric acid operation and, of course, add several Tangent acid tank cars to the scene.
Information about all the cars in this first run from Tangent, browse their website at: https://www.tangentscalemodels.com/ .