I’ve postponed touching on car plans for refrigerator cars and box cars for my layout, in part because I have (and need to have) so many of both types. This post addresses reefers.
The core of my reefer fleet is necessarily the cars of Pacific Fruit Express (PFE). I have already discussed my approach to the PFE part of my reefer needs, in an earlier blog post (see: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/choosing-model-car-fleet.html). This approach takes proportions of the model fleet directly from the prototype car fleet. I expanded on the era characteristics and layout needs I personally have in a follow-up post (http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2010/12/modeling-pfe-reefers-in-1953.html). Accordingly, my PFE car fleet is simply proportioned by (approximately) one model for each 1000 cars in the prototype PFE roster, thus a total of around 40 model cars. Within these 40 model cars, I am trying to achieve a close approximation of the number of cars per prototype class, again at one model per 1000. This looks like it will come close to working out.
I should also mention my post on reefer weathering, which although directed to PFE cars (http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/03/modeling-pfe-reefers-in-1953-2.html), certainly has application to other ice-cooled reefers, and realistic weathering of this kind of freight car forms an important part of my model car fleet planning.
That leaves the other railroad-owned cars, and privately owned cars. I will discuss the railroad-owned cars first. We know that SP had friendly connections with both NP and IC, both of which owned their own reefers, and these can be expected to show up to some extent in California; but the organizer of reefers to deliver to shippers was PFE, not SP. The PFE had arrangements with some other reefer owners to share cars back and forth, in each company’s off season, and these included ART, BAR, FGE, and to some extent MDT. That is why it was very interesting for me to analyze the conductor’s time book for the Salinas Subdivision of the Coast Division (reported in a previous post, at: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/02/modeling-freight-traffic-coast-line.html), since shown there is actual reefer traffic.
In that post, I described the large presence of ART cars in the particular seasons reported in the time book analyzed (it’s known that use of foreign reefers on the lines of SP and UP was very seasonal). Photos of California yards and trains do show both ART and MDT cars; and in early fall, pretty much the peak harvest season in the Far West, BAR cars were commonly seen. Conversely, there was a concerted effort on the parts of both SFRD and PFE not to load each other’s cars, but to return empties promptly to their owner. That doesn’t mean that no SFRD cars will be seen on my layout, only that any such cars will be loads headed to their destination, not empties for loading.
Now I turn to privately owned reefers, which includes leased cars as well as meat reefers. My plans for meat reefers were described earlier (http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/02/modeling-meat-reefers.html) and I wouldn’t yet add anything to that. Here’s an illustrative photo of an URTX car, at my wholesale grocer, Peerless Foods, in Ballard:
Operating detail: it’s behind the car, but the car is spotted at Door 2. A large warehouse like this often has specific door spots for particular cargo such as the meat in this case. My Peerless waybills direct switch crews which door spots to make for each particular cargo.
Other leased cars include URTX, NRC, GARX, NADX and so on, owned by produce shippers and others. Altogether, I have several cars in these leased categories, and probably won’t need more.
With my layout’s California location, a Chateau Martin wine car is almost obligatory, and I’ve restored a Laconia kit for one of these cars. The distinctive virtue of the Laconia version is an accurate “claret red” color, not the horrid deep purple of a more recent commercial model. These cars are actually AAR Class BMT (tank) cars, not reefers, but externally look like other reefers. Ordinarily they are used as insulated box cars in service, in other words not iced.
Finally, there should also be a certain number of passenger reefers, AAR Class BR. The BR cars of course include PFE cars but also express cars from others in the REA pool, including REX, GN and NRC cars, along with MILW cars which were seen in SP trains in California.
The relatively large proportion of reefers in my model car fleet of course reflects the territory I’m modeling. I will report more as details of my fleet develop further.