Bridgton Tank Cars

26-08-2016: this topic has been substantially revised and re-organised with additional pictures and content. We have also removed errors and information previously posted which could not be corroborated from original and contemporary sources. No further changes are planned for the moment.

Note that the models and the “classic history” date from the 1970’s and 1980’s, and they should be judged accordingly.

It should not be surprising if more recent research shows up discrepancies.

16-01-2016: Rick Uskert has revealed a previously unknown contemporary reliable eyewitness statement of the colour of the first Bridgton oil tank in 1908 here and a different official number here. Terry Smith found a reference that building work on the oil tank farm in Bridgton started in 1901, which may infer that the first tank car appeared earlier than previously suggested.

Until further notice, any references to the prototypes should be considered as subject to confirmation. However for simplicity and consistency with the models produced the text below refers to the “classic” history of these cars.


The Bridgton line was the only Maine Two Footer to actually run tank cars.



The picture above shows models of the larger #14/#21 tank on the left coupled to the smaller #22 tank on the right.

The “classically understood” story is that there were two tanks, of different sizes, ages and construction. The first tank was larger, being five feet in diameter and was constructed from sheets rolled to a ring and then joined end to end. It has prominent circumferential rows of rivets and short staggered longitudinal seams (also riveted). The ends of this tank were dished (convex). This tank was mounted on 30 foot flat cars, initially on 21 from its arrival around 1903-5 until 1921, and from then on flat car 14.


The un-mounted tank #14/21 lying around in the Portland Yard.


Showing the circumferential and axial rows of rivets.


Showing the dished/convex end.

The “classically understood” story continues;- in the early 1920’s, the Bridgton line acquired an extra tank to cope with increasing fuel shipments. This smaller tank was four feet six inches in diameter, consisting of plates rolled across their length and joined longitudinally, thereby having no circumferential rows of rivets except where the tank ends were joined. The ends of this tank were flat. It was mounted on 28 foot flat car #22. Both prototype tanks survived the scrapping of the Bridgton line and were transferred to Edaville and then Portland.


The smaller #22 tank was used at Edaville for weed control and featured in the freight trains run on the “Rail Fan Fayre” days. Note the flat end.


This picture taken at Portland shows some of the piping added for weed control and the longitudinal rows of rivets.


Close up of the dome and ladder at Portland.

The “classically understood” story said this about the paint colours;- Bridgton Tank Cars were Flat;- car box red with natural wood decking and white lettering, Tank;- at first painted black with white lettering, and white ends with black lettering. Later the tanks were off-white to gray with black lettering. By the end of the railroad the tanks had no lettering.

B&SR tank car color.

25-08-2016: this section has been updated.

Walter Orloff wrote;- In the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette Sept/Oct 1979 edition Peter Barney did an article on Painting Two-Foot Gauge Cars. One interesting point Barney says B&H tank Cars were “Tank” Flat car box red with natural wood decking. Tank “At first painted black with white lettering, and white ends with black lettering. Later tanks were off-white to gray with black lettering. By the end of the railroad the tanks had no lettering.”

Then in 2003 Gary Kohler posted to the On2 Yahoo! group;-

The B&SR tank cars were never painted black!  The earliest known photo (1905) clearly shows gray or silver tank on a standard flat car (the B&SR used Princes Brown (Red Oxide my guess)).  All later photos, including about a half a dozen color images clearly show silver/gray tanks with the SOCONY in black.  The Moody photo in question(*) that has caused everyone to jump on the “black” band wagon was taken in shadow and appears black due to all the rust! Color photos taken the same year show silver/gray tanks.  

This particular statement has led to a number of threads over the years on the Maine On2 Yahoo! group seeking confirmation or corroborative evidence to no avail. It is suggested that any interested parties review the threads starting with messages #14341, #14311 & #9626 and draw their own conclusions.

(*) Editor’s note: this is believed to be the picture reproduced in Jones, Two Feet to the Lakes as the top picture on page 231. Note that the picture at the bottom of page 118 is believed to have been taken at the same time.

When the latest question “what colours should I paint my tankcar?” was last posed to the Yahoo! group in 2015, the most informed reply was written by Bob Schlechter and is copied here;- 

“Bob Schlechter on Bridgton Tank Car Colours

I studied the potential colors of the B&SR RR tank cars #21 and 22. In later years they were likely repainted silver/aluminum or black (Edaville) at some date. Early photos in their prime (B&SR/B&HR) is not silver but likely the Standard Oil light warm gray.

See photo bottom of page 234 in Jones’ “Two Feet to the Lakes”. Those tank cars are not silver or black and lettering isn’t black either but likely Standard Oil’s blue.”

The latest research this year (2016) has shown that;-

1/. the Bridgton Line frequently re-painted its rolling stock (one suggestion is annually) and that the line was also partial to buying “end of season” bargains with additional tinting colours. Discovering such practises may help to explain the differences observed in the various hues of grey captured by the contemporary black and white photography.

2/. Rick Uskert discovered a reliable eye witness statement that the oil tank was painted red in 1908. See Rick Uskert’s “Simply Red.” Click here to view on another page.

3/. Rick Uskert also discovered that the B&SR recorded the tank car number as #22 for the period from 1914 to 1918, whereas the “classical story” would suggest that the number should be #21. See Rick Uskert’s “Equipment Register.” Click here to view on another page.

This topic and the debates that it generated caused Bill Kerr to comment a few years ago “It is as with most things, publish, and new information will come to light contradicting your research. The listing is not meant as negative reflection on the great work Peter, Gary and others have done for the Maine Two Footers. 


07-08-2016: Note this table is still a work in progress – suggestions for updates and changes welcomed!

B&SR Tank Car Models

Large tank

SRE Epoxy model, cast by Bill Clouser using the “Custom Cast” process. One piece tank and dome plus separate cradle with brass details (relief valve, handrails, ladder, bridle etc). Flatcar available separately. Introduced 1972. Model reviewed by MRC June 1974, with corrected photographs July 1974.
LeeTown Sold as an assembled brass tank, complete with all fittings attached. Reputedly produced to the same diameter as the small tank. Introduced 1971
Portland Products Photoetched brass wrapper (PP part # 707) plus all fittings to complete tank. Illustrated in catalogue as rolled round.
SRCS Limited Run #14 All brass construction tank, dome and tank parts from Portland Products, with standard SRCS 30 foot B&SR flat car. Limited edition kit (50 units) introduced 1981.

Small Tank

LeeTown Sold as an assembled brass tank, complete with all fittings attached. Introduced 1971
Portland Products Photoetched brass wrapper (PP part # 706) plus all fittings to complete tank. Illustrated in catalogue as rolled round. Also appears to have been supplied as a completely assembled tank with a flat car kit
SRCS Limited Run #22 All brass construction tank, dome and tank parts from Portland Products, with standard SRCS 28 foot B&SR flat car. Limited edition kit (50 units) introduced 1981.


Bridgton On2 Tank Car models offered commercially (added 05-08-2015, pictures added 13-08-2015, updated 07 thru 25-08-2016)


A Sandy River Car Shops kit for tankcar #22 showing the rolled tank car body and instructions and the SRE model of tankcar #14/#21.

SRCS Tank Cars #14 & #22


SRCS offered models of both B&SR tank cars as limited run kits (50 units each). The kits were first advertised in the July/August 1981 edition of the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette.




Several views showing the typical SRCS flat car pile of sticks with fittings in a poly bag plus the Portland Products rolled tank etchings, dome and an end.

SRE Tank Car #14/#21 


SRE advert from the November 1972 edition of Finelines magazine showing the variations available for the large tank (car).

The tank was an epoxy resin casting produced by Bill Clouser using his “Customcast” process, and included the dome, with a separate casting for the cradle. Details such as the filler cap, relief valve, handrail supports, ladder were investment cast brass. Handrails, bridle and grab irons were brass wire. As shown in the advert above, the tank was available separately or with a cast 30 foot flat car body. The model was introduced around 1972/73 and was reviewed in Railroad Model Craftsman June 1974 edition with corrected photographs in the July 1974 edition.


Parts of the tank only kit, taken from the instruction sheet.


The SRE model of tankcar #14/#21.





Picture of a finished model in the SRE instructions – note the colour scheme.


LeeTown Model Service Tanks


LeeTown Model Service announced their Bridgton Tank models (note completed tanks only) with this advert in the September 1971 edition of Finelines magazine. Component parts had been advertised during the preceding year as they became available.

Note that the phrase “a new process etched tank” in the above advert is believed to refer to the basic tank body being a brass tube that was etched in the round. It is also believed that LeeTown used the same sized brass tube for both the smaller #22 tank and the larger #14 tank, resulting in the #14 tank appearing undersized.


This model of B&SR/B&HR tank #22 was acquired second-hand from Wes Ewell via Bob Werner of The Hobby Barn. Wes has stated that he received this model as part payment for drawings and catalog illustrations that he did for Lee Snover of LeeTown around 1970. Given that date, the flat car that the tank is mounted on would have been scratch built.


This model of B&SR/B&HR tank #21/#14 consists of a Leetown etched “in the round” brass tube tank, (obtained as raw etched brass tube from Bob Werner of the Hobbybarn) which was expanded to the correct diameter and finished off with Portland Products tank ends, dome, safety valve, necklace, ladder and handrail supports. It was mounted on a flat car built from an SRCS 30 foot B&SR flatcar kit with a scratch built cradle and straps.

Click here to visit the Portland Products parts posting. The tank car parts are shown on the 9th page down.



Written by Terry Smith 5-July-2013, updated 09-April-2015 with model sections, 3-11-2015, 7-08-2016, 15-08-2016,18-08-2016, 22-08-2016 and 22-11-2016.