Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My new column on PFE in Model Railroad Hobbyist

My regular column in the on-line magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist or MRH has just come out in the September issue. This is Part One of a two-part series, aimed at a modelers’ viewpoint on Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) operations. There is, of course, an entire book about PFE, of which I was principal author (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd edition, A.W. Thompson, R.J. Church and B.H. Jones, Signature Press, 2000, still in print). But the book has no explicit modeling content, even though it contains a lot of information that modelers need for realistic operation and for accurate freight cars. The column has the purpose of bringing the book’s information together in one place, oriented to modeling needs. It contains little information not in the book, just organizes and presents it differently. One slight difference is that not all of its 17 photos are in the PFE book.
     As always, you can download the September issue of MRH for free at: http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/magazine/mrh-2013-09-sep . My column in that issue does not have separate page numbers (like everything now in MRH), and is most conveniently accessed from the Contents page.
     Here is one of the photos which didn’t make it into the MRH column (a PFE photo). It shows the ITP or Ice Transfer Plant of PFE at Hood River, Oregon. It was a ten-carlength ice deck, about two-thirds of which is visible here, with a modest ice storage house behind the deck. You can also see ice unloading platforms, one under the deck at the ice house, the other at far left, though most ice was provided by the adjacent facility of the Hood River Apple Growers Association. Even a size of ten cars makes a pretty long deck in model form, but this is a quite small deck on the prototype. Modelers generally have to compromise on rather small ice decks, by PFE standards.

     The column was originally written as a single, larger text, but the press of other material for September’s MRH caused it to be split into two parts, a perfectly reasonable editorial decision, though perhaps less convenient for readers. Part Two, originally just the second half of my writing, is about modeling PFE cars in HO scale. 
     Readers of this blog will recognize that I have done a lot of PFE car modeling, along with a lot of thinking about how best to do so. Some of the cars which will be shown in Part Two in MRH next month have already been described in prior posts in this blog; others have not, and were photographed specifically for the column. Some of the thinking behind choices of models and paint schemes likewise has not appeared in the blog.
     The MRH column, and the comments in this post, are focused on PFE, though many aspects and practices of PFE were common throughout the business of perishable shipping by rail in the days of ice refrigeration, including ART, MDT, FGE, SFRD and others. I just know PFE the most thoroughly and completely, so have restricted myself to it.
Tony Thompson

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