Monday, February 25, 2013

Adding a storage shed to my packing house

Some time back, I was inspired by Jim Lancaster’s layout detailing, with his completed Showcase Miniatures packing house (it is at his layout town of Highgrove). He added a reefer body and a platform extension, to serve as additional cold storage space, based on such car bodies being shown on a Sanborn map at a packing house. You can view his arrangement on one of his web pages (at this link: ); just scroll down to his Figure 5 (fifth photo) on the January 2011 page.
     I remembered that I have seen such use of reefer bodies myself, in fact at the prototype Phelan & Taylor packing house in Oceano, California. There was for years a car alongside their loading dock on the railroad side, painted aluminum (there is light gray paint under the aluminum) and probably of PFE origin. Here is my photo of how it looked in 2009, though unfortunately it was gone by my visit in 2012.

     To add such a cold storage facility to my Phelan & Taylor model packing house, I used an old Lifelike reefer body, and since it just fit in the space alongside my packing house, I could use the full length and width of the car. I made an additional loading platform, using the same 9-foot spacing and post height of the support posts as on the main structure. For materials, the long platform and facing pieces were left-over board-grooved material from the Showcase Miniatures kit of the packing house itself. Posts were 6 x 8-inch scale stripwood. A stiffener under the platform was added, with a 8 x 14-inch scale stripwood piece. Here is how the underside looks.

     The reefer body was spray painted Floquil White, like the main structure, and the roof was black, like the main structure. The body needed to sit just about a half-inch high, so I just glued some chunks of quarter-inch square balsa to the underbody. I then used 0.030-inch gray ABS sheet (from Plastruct) to form a closure for the underbody area, with corners stiffened by pieces of scale 8 x 12-inch styrene strip in the corners. This view shows the underside of the reefer body. The styrene corner support pieces are white.

     The finished platform and reefer body fit together well, as shown below.  I will locate the reefer storage shed so that its door is spaced the same distance from the right-hand freight door on the packing house, as the distance between the two packing house doors (about 40 feet).

I will weather this assembly when I weather the entire packing house.
     This has been a simple and interesting project, and adds interest (and capacity) to my packing house. It has the further advantage of reproducing something which was present at the prototype Phelan & Taylor facility in Oceano (see photo at top), which was the inspiration for the whole packing house project.
Tony Thompson

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