The very last class of refrigerator cars rebuilt by Pacific Fruit Express was Class R-30/40-24. It was all built during 1947–48. The 2610 cars in the class were rebuilt mostly from older R-30-13 and R-40-4 cars. (That's why the term “R-30/40:” cars kept their old underframes, repaired as needed.) Their car numbers ranged from 65921 to 68532. Rebuilding ended with this class primarily because all the rebuildable cars of the old R-30-12, -13 and -14, and R-40-2 and -4, had been already been rebuilt.
There was also an adverse ruling by the Internal Revenue Service, which reduced the financial attractions of rebuilding, which doubtless mattered, but with practically no more cars to rebuild, the process stopped, as related in the PFE book (Pacific Fruit Express, 2nd edition, A.W. Thompson, R.J. Church and B.H. Jones, Signature Press, Berkeley and Wilton, CA, 2000).
The 60000-series rebuilds, more than 8000 cars, had received steel superstructure frames but all were wood sheathed, a less expensive sheathing than steel sheet. Extensive details of the history and photos of this rebuilding can be found in the PFE book. One of the interesting features of the -24 class is that the cars were
rebuilt with plywood sides, as is well depicted in the photo below (photographer, location and date unknown; Jay Williams collection). If you click to enlarge, you can see the plywood seams.
The car has a reweigh date of September 1952 at Tucson, likely when it was repainted into the 1952 paint scheme shown.
PFE recognized that plywood sheathing would be far less labor-intensive to apply, and they hoped the same would be true for maintenance. Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be true, and by the mid-1950s, failure at the seams and edges of plywood sheets led to replacement, using long-standard and dependable sheathing of tongue-and-groove boards.
But I model 1953, so I should have the -24 cars mostly in plywood. In previous years these were straightforward to model. There was once a Sunshine Models kit for plywood cars of this class, as well as a kit from Stan Rydarowicz.
I failed to acquire either of these kits, primarily because I already had a set of parts to build such a car (more on that below). The parts had been sent to me by Frank Hodina, who made the PFE reefer patterns for Sunshine; I believe the gift was in recognition of the help I had provided with PFE prototype information. That was back in the early 1990s.
Before continuing, I should observe that one can approximate the plywood appearance with an Athearn steel reefer, by shaving off the rivet rows at the edge of side sheets, and carefully preserving the raised line that Athearn used to indicate sheet edges. If one does this, the door hinges have to be replaced with a “long strap” type as PFE used on wood sides (see prototype photo above). I showed my model made this way in an earlier post (see it here: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2016/05/that-bad-decal-project-part-2.html ).
There are several shortcomings to this model, one of which is that the prototype -24 side sheets were not five equal-width sheets, as on the steel car, but four full-width sheets and a narrower sheet at each end, about two feet wide.That is visible in the photo of PFE 67046 at the top of the present post.
For the Hodina parts, I mentioned in a previous post that I had thought through how I might best assemble these parts (you can see that post at: https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/07/keeping-those-projects-on-track.html ). I thought further about this after examining these parts, and decided that I would do the as-rebuilt paint scheme on my model.
One reason, though you can’t see it in the parts bag in the photo below, is that the model fan shaft and door hinges are molded in black plastic, so adding them after painting the side orange will obviate the need to do that fussy painting. I will, however, still have to hand-paint the door latching bar. The roof that you see here is styrene, but all the other major car parts are resin.
Note that I have already attached the bolsters and center sill to the floor, and had to make shims (white styrene, right at the center sill) for the bolster ends to locate properly.
I mentioned that I want to eventually decorate this car for the paint scheme in use when it was rebuilt. That is shown below, in a Charles Wales photo of PFE 65966, taken at Washington D.C. on April 3, 1948, shortly after it had been rebuilt in February of 1948. (This photo is from the Richard Hendrickson collection.)
The plan here is to pre-paint the undetailed sides (as you see them above) with PFE orange, and the ends boxcar red, before joining them together at the corners, so that no masking will be needed. Once joined, details can be added to the basic “box” of the car body..
The model I am building isn’t really a kit, more of set of parts, with some additions, such as grab irons, ladders and brake gear to be supplied by the builder, but I will refer to it as a kit nevertheless. Work on this kit is continuing, and I will report on progress as it happens. I haven’t built a resin kit for a house car for a few years, so it will be fun to get back into the process.