~ Latest Update March 28, 2014 ~

~ The U.T.L.X. "Narrow Framed" Oil Tank Car ~

A short history by Bill Horkey

Discovery of oil in the Farmington, N.M. area in 1923 created a need for more tank cars on the D&RGW narrow Gauge.

The Union Tank Lines filled this need by converting some of their small, 6,000 gallon standard gauge cars that had been constructed back in 1907 - 1908.

This conversion was accomplished by fabricating new frames that were wider than the original beam type frame. These wider frames allowed the tank to be mounted lower, plus they afforded the narrow gauge trucks additional swing.

New 4'6" wheelbase Archbar Type Trucks were also constructed, these same receiving 26" wheelsets. New brake rigging was also specified along with Westinghouse K-1 brake cylinders and Session draft gear.

Of the 34 cars known to have been converted to narrow gauge, between 1924 - 1930, 10 had no heaters, and 20 had either Type "E" or Type "W" heaters. These heaters were nothing more than a coil of tubing lying in the bottom of the tank through which steam was injected, its purpose being to heat the thick crude oil to aid flow during the unloading process.

The first cars began service on August 16, 1924 with a trip from Farmington to Montrose, Colorado where their contents were transferred to standard gauge cars. The standard gauge cars then were shipped to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The narrow framed cars found continued employment in the Farmington - Montrose haul up until the famed Ames mud slide on the R.G.S., with as many as 25 loads moving in a single week. It was about that same time that the Continental Oil Co. refinery was built in Farmington.

These cars also saw service hauling crude from the Gramps oilfield west of Chama to the refinery at Alamosa, Colorado.

During the late 1930's - early '40's period, 10 of these cars were leased to the Pennsylvania-Conley Tank Lines who in turn leased them to the Texas Oil Company (Texaco). These were lettered C.Y.C.X. and numbered 60 - 69.

In the late 1940's - early '50's ten cars were leased to the Continental Oil Co. (CONOCO) but these were never renumbered or re-lettered.

Speaking of numbering, the U.T.L.X. tanks carried three different sets of numbers during their lifetime. From 1924 to March of 1947 they carried numbers in the 12,000 and 13,000 series. From 1947 to 1956 they were renumbered 88,000-88,131. After 1956 they were renumbered 11,000-11,033.

During the late '40's - early '50's a number of the cars were placarded and assigned to "ROAD OIL SERVICE", hauling oil for highway surfacing.

The narrow framed tanks began leaving the roster with the sale of two cars to the D&RGW for conversion to Water Service behind rotarys OM and OV. These cars still survive in Chama today. When the Gramps traffic began to wind down in the early '60's, these cars became surplus and were sold to the Floyd Reed Co. at La Jara Colorado. Floyd sold 16 of the cars to the WP&Y in 1962, scrapping the remainder in 1963.

On the WP&Y, the survivors received Cast Steel Trucks and were renumbered 50-65. Their service ended in the early '80's when the WP&Y closed down its freight operations.

This might have been the end of them had it not been for the efforts of the "Friends of the C&TS", the Colorado Railway Museum, and many other interested parties. Through their monumental efforts, 8 cars were returned to Colorado in 1992, so that today you can see examples at the Colorado Railway Museum, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and best of all, in restored condition at the Chama, New Mexico yards of the C&TS!

Bill Horky - July 9, 1995

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