Tanks cars restored at Monticello

By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor

I believe there is no more cost effective restoration project than a steel-bodied freight car. There’s no interior to deal with. Much of the work is cosmetic and the mechanical work tends to be pretty simple and straightforward–no engines, a/c systems or electric stuff to deal with. It turns a rusty eyesore into an attractive artifact and you can run it in a photo freight.┬áThe Cass Scenic Railroad has been turning a siding-full of old 40-foot boxcars into just such an asset.

Now the Monticello Railway Museum has fixed up a pair of classic tank cars they acquired from the Swift elevator in Champaign, where they were used for fuel storage since the 1970s. The biggest task was replacing the rotted wood blocking and running boards. Monticello CMO Kent McClure described the project in the museum’s Yella Board newsletter.

“There was much cutting, milling and drilling, and trial fittings of all the timber involved. Then they had to devise a plan to mark each timber for car and location. After all that work, the timbers were sent to Missouri Tie for treatment. One of these cars had enough original reporting mark information to return it to what it was, GATX 7297.

However, the other car had no complete, legible reporting mark. All we could find was G?TX 36105 on one truck bolster. Since both of these cars were sold to Swift to store boiler and generator fuel, we are somewhat dubious on truck parts as they could easily have been swapped out by GATX pre-sale. So, after discussions with a number of knowledgeable people, we decided to paint this unidentified car as A. E. Staley, as they had a large fleet of tank cars of this vintage and make.”