Wednesday, June 29, 2016

PFE lettering post-WW II, Part 2

In the first post in this series, I showed an example of a mixed-up and incorrect paint scheme on a model of a PFE steel ice refrigerator car, along with some of the information needed to correct it. You can read that prior post at this link: . The primary point made in that post is that PFE paint schemes with black side hardware cannot include black-white UP medallions, and vice versa. I hope the good folks at InterMountain and elsewhere will take this on board.
     Let me provide some background to my post-World War II time frame. I chose that marker, 1945, because at that time, the PFE shops were on the threshold of one of their busiest periods in the long life of PFE, when not only was much deferred maintenance from the war years being accomplished, but over 3500 older cars were about to be rebuilt to classes R-30-21 and -24, and 5000 new steel cars of Class R-40-23 were soon to be delivered. Among other things, this meant that practically all pre-war paint and lettering would have been replaced in the 1945–1949 period, except perhaps for a few steel cars built in 1941 or earlier. I will return to this point below.
     The paint scheme introduced in June, 1946 was applied to all these new cars and many repainted older cars. It had both railroad medallions on both sides of the car, for the first time, and the UP medallion continued to be red-white-blue. The SP medallion was next to the car door on both car sides, so that the two car sides were identical. All side hardware and side sill were black. This photo shows an InterMountain model of Class R-40-10, PFE 41546, as repainted into the 1946 paint scheme.

     In the previous post, I explained about the 1948 and 1950 paint scheme changes, and won’t repeat that material. But the next change, in June 1951, was to make two quite visible changes. First, all side hardware, now including side sills and center sill steps, would be orange. Second, the SP medallion was restored to its traditional orientation, located toward the B or brake end on each side of the car. This made the two sides of the car different, as they had been from 1922 to 1946, but was a change from 1946 to 1951, during which the two sides were identical with respect to medallions. Another way to describe the 1951 scheme is that the right side of the car continued to have the SP medallion nearest the car door, but the left side had the UP medallion nearest the car door. Here’s an example, on PFE 2561, an InterMountain model of PFE Class R-40-25.

But this paint scheme cannot have lasted long. Within a few months (maybe as much as six months, depending on which document you follow), PFE made another change, to remove the periods in the reporting marks (P.F.E.), and this led to yet another variation. This car, PFE 62580, is a Red Caboose body with Terry Wegmann detail parts, built by Jim Hayes and me, representing Class R-40-19.

     Finally, in the summer of 1952, PFE followed suit to many other railroads, including Southern Pacific, and removed the 1-inch stripes above the initials and below the car number. Likely this was because the AAR recommendation to use these stripes was discontinued in 1952. From that time forward, cars looked like the InterMountain model below. This is the model of Class R-40-23, PFE 48661, shown in the previous post with an incorrect combination of paint scheme elements.

In closing this depiction of models, I should emphasize that not one of the models shown was correctly lettered as originally produced. Each has had some degree of correction. One could wish that those producing ready-to-run models would take a little more care with their products.
     Before finishing, let me remind those who have not read (or don’t particularly remember) the PFE book, that the scale of car painting done by PFE was extremely different from the average railroad. Modelers are accustomed to think of freight cars being painted when new, and then serving for years or even decades with original paint, which naturally was getting dirtier and dirtier. But that is the not the PFE case. For a single illustration, consider 1949. In that year, PFE owned 8000 new steel reefers, and had about 30,000 other reefers, 6700 of them older steel cars, and nearly all the others wood-sheathed rebuilds from the previous 15 years. There was a lot of painting going on, most frequently on wood-sheathed cars, whose paint didn’t hold up as well. In the years 1945–1952, PFE painted 45,000 cars in its shops, nearly all of them those wood cars — in other words, on average the 23,000 or so wood cars had all been painted twice in those years.
     And that painting rate was not unusual. Looking back to the end of World War II, all early paint and lettering dating from before 1930 would all have been long gone.By my modeling year, 1953, there would not have been any pre-1942 lettering, and within a few more years, all UP medallions in the fleet would be black and white; during 1953–1955, PFE painted another 22,000 cars, which is well over half the entire fleet and naturally comprised replacing the oldest paint schemes.
     And painting was not the whole story. Until about 1950, PFE shops washed large numbers of cars every year, typically around a third of the entire fleet each year. This is another reason that the age of a PFE paint scheme need not correlate with how dirty it is.
     In conclusion, let me repeat that although most of the information conveyed in this and the previous post is in the PFE book (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd edition, Thompson, Church and Jones, Signature Press, 2000), there will be much more detail in the forthcoming book from the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, entitled Southern Pacific Freight Car Painting and Lettering Guide, which includes PFE. I have written the SP part, and Dick Harley has written the PFE part. The book should be published this fall.
Tony Thompson

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these two posts. I really appreciate the detailed info, even if you just added quite a few items to my "to be done work list". Do you have any hints on removing colored medallions before putting on the black and white ones?