I’ve recently transcribed a fascinating conductor’s time book for part of the Coast Line, for 1948 to 1952. This conductor must have usually worked in some other job, as he seems only to have been called for haulers in peak season (with a few exceptions). He worked out of Watsonville Junction and mostly ran haulers to and from Salinas. These were naturally reefers in most cases, but he also handled trains of loaded and empty cars of sugar beets destined to and from Spreckels.
I decided to analyze the reefer reporting marks contained in the book. There are altogether 1102 refrigerator cars listed. Not surprisingly, 839, or 76%, were PFE cars. Much more surprising, at least to me, was that 122 cars, or 11%, were ART cars. I knew PFE used ART cars in peak seasons, but would not have thought the proportion was this large. Next largest contingent was 41 MDT cars, or 3.7% (plus 8 cars from MDT subsidiary NRC), followed by 30 FGEX cars (2.7%), 13 NWX cars (1.2%), and 12 WFEX cars (1%).
Also represented were a few cars each from BAR, BREX, NADX, NP, REX, SFRD, URTX, and WRX. The total of all these cars with minority reporting marks was 42, or about 4%. The two express cars from REX were an interesting point, as were a couple of heavily-insulated or frozen food cars from PFE and FHIX.
There is no way, using these data from largely peak-season trains, to infer what year-round traffic was like, but the occasional train this conductor worked which was out of peak season did show nearly all PFE cars, and the two BAR cars seen were also in those “low-season” trains.
Thus it seems likely that the proportion of foreign or non-PFE cars shown in the above results is a maximum for traffic year-round. Nevertheless, it’s evident that my main need for empty reefers to be loaded, beyond the obvious predominance of PFE, will be for ART and MDT cars, with a few FGEX and WFEX cars and maybe a NWX car. Incidentally, the data just discussed cannot indicate the proportion of reporting marks among loaded inbound reefers to this area, as almost none of the refrigerator cars in the time book are shown in that category.
I also want to study these time-book data to see if the presence of individual PFE car classes is representative of the overall PFE fleet. (See my post on a model car fleet, at http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/choosing-model-car-fleet.html) I also want to look at box cars in the data, to see whether they bear some relation to the Gilbert-Nelson hypothesis.