Sunday, February 14, 2021

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 11) - More Research into Fuel Oil Dealers

In my early posts (SP Jawbone Branch - Part 3), I mentioned that I planned for SP Company fuel oil shipments up the branch for the SPNG at Owenyo, Laws, and Keeler, plus I suspected fuel oil was also needed for the processing plant at Bartlett.  However in the last week or two, more information's been coming to light.

Balboa Mk-5, SP 3259 laying over on the wye at Owenyo next to the future site of the SP company oil tanks. - Jason Hill, Feb 13, 2021.

Several of the reference photos show engines laying over next to the oil tank.  Some of the notes mention that the SPNG engines were used to heat oil and power the pump house to move the oil over to the SPNG engines.  Some other research indicates that various types of oil fuels were transferred from the SG to the NG.  I'm still working out where exactly this was done.

Lone Pine, North to left, depot at left. at the right are four properties in question. - Fairchild Aerial Survey 1944.

The aerial photos of Lone Pine from Fairchild Aerial Survey shows that look very similar to what the bulk fuel dealers in Bakersfield look like (West Bakersfield - Part 1 - Laying Out Industries).  Last week I talked with Jim Sommerskier and he mentioned the following Drawing of Laws, which is found on the Owens Valley History page.  This shows four oil dealers; 
  • Union Oil of California - (Earlier Associated Oil)
  • Standard Oil
  • Richfield Oil
  • Shell Oil of California

I highly suspect that Lone Pine, the largest settlement in the area and with the railroad depot a couple miles east of the town, had the same four brands of bulk dealers.  While six miles to the north and on the (unpopulated) east side of the valley, Owenyo was the other half of the show, but mostly only for dealing with the materials and commodities needing to be trans-loaded from the SG to the NG or visa versa.

So what does this mean for Owenyo, as I do not have room for Lone Pine?  Well, the industries at Laws had to get their fuel through the interchange at Owenyo!  I'm still trying to nail down the research on exactly where in Owenyo this transfer from the SG tank cars to the NG cars would have happened.

The Natural Soda Products's soda ash drying facility needed fuel oil until 1952 when it closed.  Photos show at least 5 SPNG tank cars spotted at the processing plants, with an average capacity of about 3500 gallons per NG car.  This works out to 1-2 SG tank cars of fuel oil per spot for this operation alone.  The SPNG also used fuel oil to power their operations with oil tanks at Laws, Owenyo, and Keeler.

Cars for the Fuel Oil Traffic

Let's look at what models are available to use for this type of service.  I should mention that I have a small pile of tank cars in my fleet, so let's just start with what I have available to serve the Jawbone's newly found customers...

Standard Oil (UTLX cars)

General American Tank

Certainly one of the best models on the market of late for a UTLX tank car is the Tangent General Aemerican Type-17 8k gallon tank car. 

Certainly one of the more colorful UTLX tankcar schemes - Tangent GA Type-17 10k tank car.

I am very happy to have picked up a couple of these Hercules Powder Co. cars which operated in and out of the plant at Giant, north of Oakland and would have operated in over-head movements on Tehachapi Pass.  This Hercules car will find its intended home at LMRC once I do a little finishing work and weathering on it.  However, for the Jawbone Branch doesn't really need this particular 'Billboard' paint Hercules scheme cars,... but let's look at what else I already have in the closet!

UTLX 72176, a GA Type-17 8k gallon car by Tangent.

 In later 2022, I was able to snag one of the 3rd run of 8k GA Type-17 cars in the standard UTLX leasing scheme, so this would be one of the cars that could show up on the Jawbone Branch at Lone Pine or Little Lake.

UTLX Standard X-series Tank Cars

Probably the best representative model for the UTLX fleet are the X-3 class of tank cars, which so far are only available in resin.  Unfortunately, I've not picked any of them up, so I'm leaving them out of this post.  I believe I started kitbashing a P2K 8k gallon car to stand-in for an X-3 about 20 years ago.  I may find it deeper in the closet one of these days!

I did start kitbashing a 6.5k gallon UTLX X-series tank car, so I'll show that.  One of the key spotting features found on the UTLX X-series cars is the wooden platform at the ends of the car, which filled in the area to the tank head.

UTLX 8302, a 6.5k gallon MDC/Tichy kitbash

Already on my work bench for several years is this model.  UTLX's unique style of the majority of their tank car fleet means that the only way to model those cars is with resin kits or kitbashing.

The UTLX 8302 is an MDC "old time" 6.5k tank with Tichy Train Group ACF tank car frame and 54" dome installed.  The tank has been changed from radial rivets to longitudinal sheet construction with Archer Rivets.  I still have some finish detailing to do on it one of these days, but I do like having some of the smaller tank cars which were very common in the 1940s and 1950s.

AC&F Tank Cars

UTLX 60350, a 10k gallon ACF Type-21 Proto2000 kit.

One of my small flock of Proto2000 tank car kits, is this 10k gallon version of the ACF Type-21.  It will also be an option for my Standard Oil needs.  UTLX did have some ACF and GA cars in their mostly proprietary fleet of cars from absorbed companies, however they were certainly fewer in number.

Union Oil of California - (Union 76)

UOCX 8006 starting from an unbuilt Proto2000 kit.

My Union Oil of California (UOCX) needs will be nicely filled by a couple of Proto2000 kits from the early 2000s.  Tony Thompson wrote several great blogs on building a Union Oil of California fuel distributor and tank cars.

Modeling a Bulk Oil Dealer (Part 1) - Tony Thompson blog post

Modeling Union Oil Dealer (Part 2) - Tony Thompson blog post

Adding a Union Oil Tankcar - Tony Thompson blog post on modeling UOCX tankcars.

Richfield Oil

Richfield - ROX - RedCaboose welded ACF-style 10k gallon tank car, New 1949.

This ROX car will be a nice model to run for diesel and fuel oil.  Given the 1949 build date, I'll probably be keeping these all-welded cars pretty clean.

Shell Oil of California

Shell Oil of California - SCCX - Another Proto2000 8k gallon ACF Type-21 tankcar kit

The Shell Oil cars often promote themselves with the herald, as shown above.  Several in a clip from a passing freight train at Walong during a wild flower excursion are sparkling clean.  Perhaps I need to de-weather the SCCX 1477 some!

In Closing

These new discoveries for me certainly has the chance to add at least 4 cars per week.  This is of course, depending on how much gasoline and other products the bulk fuel dealers of the Owens Valley need.

SP 4627 works a string of tank cars in the SP "70's Yard", some possibly heading to Lone Pine and Owenyo. - LMRC 1950's TT/TO session Jan 4, 1953.

Realistically, Laws/Bishop might not have needed a huge number of SG tank cars worth of petroleum products in a week, maybe each company sent a partially loaded SG car or maybe one car was only sent every two or three weeks.

Remember, each 8k SG car would need at least two 3500 gallon NG cars to carry the same load!  Perhaps a weekly car to Lone Pine was partly unloaded and the remaining <3500 gallons sent to Owenyo to be trans-loaded to Laws.

Tangent's stock photo of one of their GA 3-compartment tank cars, painted for GATX lease service.

Another option, which I'll need to look into with the ORERs is multi-compartment cars.  I know UTLX had 3-compartment cars.  I'd have to look if UOCX and ROX had them.  I believe Shell did have them, but not sure who the builder for those cars might be.  The traffic to Lone Pine and Laws would probably have been good examples of assignments which could have used 3-compartment cars with different fuels in each one.

The dates for the high point of NG rail served oil import was around 1929-1935.  After that the improvements in roads in the northern end of the Owens Valley allowed more shipments by truck.  This probably is what happened to the four commercial companies probably shifted away from the rail service.  Also with the closure of the Natural Soda Products plant in 1952, only five NG oil tank cars remained (SPNG 350, 351, 352, 353, 354).  In 1955 the SP consolidated the NG's operations to servicing the engines at Owenyo, further reducing the oil car fleet to only 352, with 350 being converted for water service.

So with the dates for the winding down of the SPNG fuel oil operations.  I may just invoke the time warp rule to keep it going.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 2) - Researching and Changing of the Plan

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 3) - Consists and More Bartlett Research

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 4) - Freight Car Roster

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 5) - Pulling the Trigger (Buying the materials for the benchwork)

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 6) - Q&A Continuing Design Tweaks - Working out the logistics for the staging yards other details.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 7) - Film & Construction Begins - Historic movie film clip of Owenyo Local and starting construction of the layout.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 8) - Little Lake Grows - More research materials have surfaced for my modeling of Little Lake.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 9) - Layout Material Changes - Shifting to MDF for the roadbed and moving the foam to secondary scenery uses.

SP Jawbone Branch (Part 10) - Track Plan Details of Owenyo - A deeper dive into the buildings and track arrangements.

Freight Symbols Over Tehachapi - Part 4 - SP Locals - Tehachapi Pass's SP Local Freights, several of which work out of Mojave.

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