~1902 Oil Tank

I found this great illustration of an oil tank used for locomotives. The book is titled “How oil is used for fuel on locomotives: Supplement to The Science of Railways”, Published in 1903. 1 There is a crude drawing on page 14 showing a pair of the tanks at the servicing facility .. but the “Grand Prize” is on page 15 where we have an engineering drawing quite suitable for using to model the tank. I find it really fascinating .. as it sits on technological line separating the 19th and 20th century engineering.

I have no idea when the tank was really constructed. The book was Copyright 1902-1903 so I just ‘plugged in’ the 1902 date.

Page 14 Drawing

The book talks about how oil could come into general use.

Later on it says “In the practical operation of railways, after the oil has been taken from the earth it is necessary to store it in reservoirs from which it is conveyed to supply or deliver tanks; an illustration showing this kind of tanks used and their location in relation to the water supply is shown.” On page 14 there is a crude drawing of what is labeled a “Oil and Water Station”. While the drawing is indeed quite crude there are a lot of clues to the placement of these oil tanks and some of the associated construction. The arrangement of the access platform is interesting.

Page 15 Drawing

What I found remarkable is the drawing on page 15. I found this sometime right after I had started to experiment with Sketchup. There was more then enough information in the drawing to reproduce the tank in 3D.

I’m not sure just why this tank appeals to me so much. It is crude .. yes .. but has a sort of beauty (if you think that an oil tank can be beautiful. Ha.)

Like I said earlier, the book was published in 1903. I just gave the tank a date of 1902. That is just a WAG but it has to have been built somewhere around that date I think – perhaps a few years earlier. The tank could be built as new if someone were modeling rail in the 1900’s. For my own layout which exists in the late 1930’s it could be still in use of course but not .. new. It could also be modeled as abandoned. In any case it would make for a nice model.


  1. How oil is used for fuel on locomotives: Supplement to The Science of Railways, Pub 1903[]