News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews Tangent O scale brass tank car

Tangent O scale brass tank car

By Cody Grivno | November 28, 2023

Model is based on a General American Transportation Corp. 1928-design 6,000-gallon, three-compartment prototype

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Photo showing two O scale three-dome tank cars.
Cosden & Co. Petroleum Products and Magnolia Petroleum are two of the paint schemes on the Tangent O scale brass tank car. The model is based on the General American Transportation Corp. 1928-design 6,000-gallon, three-compartment tank car. Cody Grivno photos

Tangent Scale Models, known for its line of highly detailed N and HO scale injection-molded plastic freight cars, is now offering a General American Transportation Corp. (GATC) 1928-design 6,000-gallon, three-compartment tank car in brass. The tank cars, available in two-rail O scale (5’-0” gauge wheels) and Proto:48 (4’-8” gauge wheels), were produced by Sam Model Tech in South Korea.

The full-size 6,000-gallon, three-dome tank cars were built by GATC between 1928 and 1942. Examples could still be found in service into the 1970s.  The tank cars were given the Interstate Commerce Commission designation ICC 103, indicating they were general-purpose, non-pressure cars.

With three domes, the GATC 6,000-gallon tank car stood out when compared to the more numerous single-dome cars. Why three domes? Because the car was divided into three 2,000-gallon compartments, each with its own expansion dome. This allowed the car to carry three different grades of liquids, such as gasoline and oil.

Other products transported in the multi-compartment cars included acetates, acids, alcohol, oils (linseed, lubricating, motor, and vegetable), printing ink, sodium silicate, solvents, tallow, and varnishes.

The model

Close-up photo showing three domes on O scale tank car painted silver and black.
The domes on the tank seat tightly against the body and feature manway covers with wire handles and safety valves. The running boards have woodgrain detail.

Tangent has a well-earned reputation of producing high-quality scale models, and its O scale tank cars don’t disappoint. The rivet detail is crisp on the body and underframe. There are no gaps where the domes attach to the body.

The tops of the domes, which are the first thing most people will see on the models, feature safety valves and detailed manway covers with formed-metal handles. The middle dome also has handrails on the sides.

Details on the body include a freestanding tank handrail mounted on standoffs, factory-installed and painted wire grab irons, and metal ladders. I appreciated that the walkways had woodgrain detail, appropriate for cars of this era. Steel running boards began appearing in the mid-1940s.

Photo showing A end of O scale tank car painted silver and black.
The Tangent O scale brass tank car features wire grab irons, handrails, and uncoupling levers. The Kadee No. 740 Type E couplers are at the correct height.

The two capped outlets on the ends are for the heating coils. Steam heat from a stationary source was piped into the coils, making it easier to unload thicker commodities. The steel tank band and turnbuckle detail was also nicely rendered.

Photo showing underbody of tank car.
The tank cars feature a detailed AB brake system. The chains that run from the bottom outlet caps to the center sills are also visible in this photo.

Similar to most other tank cars, the brake system is out in the open on this GATC car. Tangent didn’t skimp on the details with the AB system, including the air line, brake rods, release rod, and retainer. The chains connecting the caps on bottom outlets to the center add to the premium feel of the models.

Paint and details

Underbody photo of O scale models showing details on freight car trucks.
The wheelsets on the Tangent O scale tank cars are factory painted a Rail Brown color. The O scale model with 5’-0” gauge wheels is at left, and the Proto:48 car with 4’-8” gauge wheels is at right.

We received two samples, an O scale model decorated for Magnolia Petroleum and a Proto:48 version lettered for Cosden & Co. Petroleum Products. The paint on both cars was smooth and evenly applied, and the printing was crisp and opaque. The lettering placement on the Magnolia Petroleum car matched a prototype image in Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Volume Two: Tank Cars (Speedwitch Media, 2008).

Both cars ride on sprung 50-ton spring-plank trucks with raised foundry data. The 33” metal wheelsets have front and rear face profile and internal ball bearings. The wheelsets, except for the treads, are painted a Rail Brown color.

The Tangent Scale Models O scale GATC 6,000-gallon, three-compartment tank cars accurately capture the lines of their full-size counterparts. Whether you’re an O scale modeler or prefer Proto:48, these models are definitely worth a look. The cars are only offered directly from the manufacturer.

Facts & features

Price: $524.95


Tangent Scale Models

P.O. Box 6514

Asheville, NC 28816

Era: 1928 to 1970s

Road names: Two-rail — Cosden & Co. Petroleum Products, General American Transportation Corp. (1958+ and 1968+ black lease schemes), and Magnolia Petroleum. Proto:48 — Celanese, Cosden & Co., General American Transportation Corp. (1958+ and 1968+ black lease schemes), Magnolia Petroleum, and Protex Industries Inc. Two to three road numbers per scheme.


  • Kadee No. 740 Type E couplers, at correct height
  • Prototype-specific brake wheel
  • Weight: O scale, 14.5 ounces; Proto:48 model, 14.2 ounces (1.5 and 1.2 ounces too heavy, respectively, per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)
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