California's Railroad to the U.S. 1861 - 1996

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Model Train Help EBook

Southern Pacific
Fuel Tender
SP 700

proto photo of fuel tender SP 700 proto photo of fuel tender SP 700
© Ken Perry © Dave Henry
proto photo of fuel tender SP 700 proto photo of fuel tender SP 700
© Robert Funk © Tony Johnson

My attention was first drawn to this tankcar conversion when I bought the 1988 SP Motive Power Pictorial. Pages 44 and 45 contain a short history of SP 700, and 3 black and white photo's.

This was SP's first and only foray into the tankcar Fuel Tender concept, although the TEBU's act as Fuel tenders.

proto photo of the connections between locomotives that ran with the fuel tender

SP 700 was not successful, and the five modified GP40-2's (SSW 7250, SSW 7634, SSW 7636, SSW 7649 and SP 7668) that ran with SP 700 were placed back into the freight pool.

One reason I recall reading somewhere; was that the price of SP's diesel fuel did not vary much if at all, wherever they purchased it, whereas, BN's price varied substantially enough, as to make the fuel tender economically viable to buy at the cheapest place and carry it in fuel tenders. A 'long-range fuel tank' in effect.

Unlike other Railroads, notably BN, that ran their fuel tenders mid-consist, SP ran 700 at the rear of the loco set. The reason being, that as this was an experiment, the tankcar was not fitted with electrical cables or brake pipes, to pass MU commands to locomotives behind it.

The tankcar looks to be an ACF type, judging from the fittings, and was modified with pumps at each end to transfer fuel to the locomotives.

I built my model from a Roundhouse 50ft tankcar kit sometime around 1989. Not knowing too much at the time, I used the fittings as supplied with the kit. Floquil paint and Microscale decals from sheet 447, were used.

In a totally heretical move, I prefer to run this mid-consist. Figuring it might need extra weight for good operation between multiple loco's, I added enough lead to bring this up to the same weight as an Athearn GP40-2; approx. 10 ozs. This is one _heavy_ tankcar...

A couple of years ago, it had all the top handrails and platforms wiped out in a derailment, very likely the fact it weighed 10 ozs, contributed to the damage done.

About 6 months ago, Dave Henry submitted a heap of photo's, among them was a shot of SP 700 (in Roseville, I think). This provided the incentive to rebuild my model.

This time I used Athearn long locomotive stanchions, 20thou. brass wire and sections of boxcar roofwalk to rebuild the top platform. An Athearn 62ft tankcar (an ACF prototype), donated most of its fittings, and spares from Walthers tankcar sprues providing the shortfall. The placement of the fittings was taken from the Athearn kit, as well as photo's of tankcars with similar fittings.

I also took this opportunity to remove some of the weight, taking the model down to approx. 6 ozs. It still requires data decals and a road number, I never did get around to putting these on prior to the derailment.

Modeling References:

  • Trains magazine March 1987 page 16 - 3/4 view color photo of SP 700.
  • 1988 SP Motive Power Pictorial - Pages 44 and 45 - short history of SP 700, and 3 black and white photo's

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Sunday, 26 June 2005