Monday, July 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Oil Tanks

If you recall, I was debating whether or not a circa 1969 industrial control room would be air conditioned. I now tend to think fans would be used for cooling. However, this Coke Oven is located where winter is cold, so an oil heater would be in order. I knew for sure a heating oil tank was somewhere in my collection of bitz, but after 15 minutes of searching it remained hidden. "How hard could it be to scratchbuild an oil tank?" Not hard exactly, but.................well, I'll let the photos do the talking.


Below is a  shot of the finished tank. It came out pretty well, but the more I looked at it the more something didn't seem right. How big is that tank? I got my HO scale ruler, and sure enough, the tank is about two feet high. I built the oil tank for the kid's table! Oh well, it will fit an N-scale scene, so it's not a total loss.


 So, begin again. This time I measured first and cut two tubes that would give a tank about a scale 6' wide by 5' tall. The machinists blocks hold them square while the glue sets.

To fill the gap between the tubes, a .060 x .060 strip was glued in, followed by two .030 x.030 strips.

Some slightly over-size strips of .040 styrene were glued on the ends. (Love those brass clamps.)

Using my smallest chisel blade, I removed the peaks of the three strips, leaving a flat surface.

With files and sandpaper, the ends are brought flush with the tubes. It is a little hard to see, but I glued a .010 x .125 strip over the cleared space in the above photo.

These two stips will form the concrete base of the tank. This step is easier if both strips are filed as one unit. Take the way oversizeed strips and glue them together with small dabs of gel glue. Don't use liquid cement as it will wick all the way through the joint, bonding it completely.

A few minutes with knife and file and you have a custom-fit base. Notice I'm using Squadron's Green Putty to fill in the sides of the tank. On the original tank I wrapped the sides with thin styrene. It was difficult to do, so I opted for the putty.

Trim off the ends to final size, and the base pieces fall right apart.

Wet sanding with 320 grit paper brings the sides and ends flush. Time to glue on the bases.

The containment pad to corral any errant oil. Just .040 styrene wrapped in quarter-round with a .060 x .060 curb.

The tank in its final position. A brass wire supply line with a Plastruct valve and N-scale brake wheel almost complete the model.

The two tanks side-by-side. Awww, father and son.

Completed model with the fill-pipe.

"Tis a far, far better tank I make than I have ever made before."

A fun evening project. Hope you enjoyed it. Don


  1. Hi Don,

    Nice work on modelling the tank, as usual.
    I like the way you take pictures, step by step.

  2. Thanks Neelix, sometimes I think I need a third hand to get the steps photographed properly. Actually, what I need is a camera with a hand-held remote. Anyone know of a moderately-priced remote camera with good macro capability?