Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Produce shipping boxes, Part 4

The previous post in this series presented a source of information, entitled Containers in Common Use, about the dimensions of prototype shipping boxes for all kinds of produce, from all corners of the United States. It also contained some illustrations of California boxes (you can see that post at: ).
     On the other hand, a number of vegetable types were shipped in a more upright-shaped box, including carrots and celery. The label below shows the proportions of the box end since of course the label was meant to be readable with the box in its preferred orientation. Like the tomato label in the previous post, this is a scan of an original label in my own collection.

As this label illustrates, one naturally needs to know the kinds of information about size and shape of shipping boxes that is available from the Containers in Common Use booklet cited in the previous post (see link in the first paragraph, above).
     I spoke about making stacks of shipping boxes, as would logically be present at a packing house before loading into reefers. But how about individual shipping boxes? At least for orange crates, they are available in 3-D printed form. Created by Ken Harstine, they can be purchased from Shapeways through the following link: . I bought a set of these crates, and they look very nice. When I get them painted them to represent new wood, and have added their labels, I will show the results.
     I might mention at this point that during the early 1950s (I model 1953), the changeover from wooden shipping crates and boxes, to cardboard cartons, had begun.  I want to include at least some cardboard cartons on my various shipping docks, and will the method to make them that was shown in a previous post (it is at: ).
     Finally, I have assembled some styrene boxes to look like stacks of shipping crates.  I just used 0.040-inch Novelty styrene sheet (Evergreen no. 4083). The material’s indented grooves look like the spaces between side pieces on wooden crates. The styrene box stacks were dimensioned to match the end of the stack I showed in my first post on this topic (see it at: ). The size of the box representing a stack is obviously multiples of the dimensions of individual boxes. For example, I chose to make a stack four boxes wide and three high, for the Bikini labels shown in the post just cited, and two boxes deep. I then painted the “wood” areas with Star Brand No. 11, “Natural Wood” color. Here is that stack, with the appropriate number of the labels on one end.

     I chose this smaller stack (compared to the images I originally created, of 5 x 5 stacks) to fit realistically on the platform at Phelan & Taylor in my layout town of Shumala. Even so, the relatively narrow loading dock of this model is pretty much blocked by the stacked crates (see photo below). Of course workmen loading reefers need not pass by the stack, and could take crates to load from one end of the stack, but it still might look better if the stack were only one box deep. I plan to make more Phelan & Taylor stacks that have that depth.

     It has been fun to research packing crates and their labels, choose some suitable ones for my layout locale, modify them if need be for my model packing houses, reduce to HO scale, and build box stacks on which the labels are applied. I plan to develop a number of additional labels this way, and particularize them for others of my packing houses,  and will show them in future posts.
Tony Thompson


  1. Stacked boxes look excellent but a bit too neat. If you could offset some just slightly I think it would look better. Also, would you consider slicing apart the end labels with a razor blade or Xacto knife? Once the photos are blown up it is too clear that they are on a single sheet.

  2. Good point, Dan, about offsetting a box or two, and I plant to do that in some future stacks. I do intend to try scribing the joints between labels on the stack. I entirely agree with you about what one sees when the photo is enlarged, but would just mention that this isn't what viewers see on the layout.
    Tony Thompson