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Pacific Fruit Express R-40-26 Part III

Part III was supposed to have more on the construction of my PFE R-40-26, but since part II, Tony Thompson has written an unprecedented three consecutive blog entries about this car. You can find them here:

Tony’s raised a few questions I thought I’d answer, the best I can, at least. Tony has researched the PFE fleet far more than anyone else I’ve talked to. His book, Pacific Fruit Express, co-authored with Robert J. Church and Bruce H. Jones, remains the definative work on the Pacific Fruit Express and it’s fleet of Refridgerator cars. He’s the dean of PFE (and SP freight car) modeling. I’m only a humble student.

Tony does a splendid job giving the background of the paint scheme as it transitioned from the color Union Pacific shield version to the black and white herald on this car. He points out that the one side of the Accurail car is painted correctly, but  that he hasn’t seen the other side to comment if Accurail had correctly flipped the logos. On this car, the SP logo should be on the B-end (or Brakewheel end) of the car, and the UP logo should be on the A end of the car.

As I showed in Part I, the logos are properly reversed. If you can live with the much darker Reefer Orange paint, you’re set!

Tony then notes that the car lacks the one-inch black stripe above and below the reporting marks.

The use of these stripes would be discontinued by PFE in the spring of 1952, about the time construction of R-40-26 cars was completed.

Actually, in the PFE book, it’s mentioned that the AAR discontinued the requirement for the stripes above and below the reporting marks in March 1952. In the first installment, Tony presented this photograph of PFE 8027, built 8-51:

And in a much earlier post about the PFE fleet of 1953 in general, Tony had presented this photo of PFE 9036, built 3-52:

I’m going to make an educated guess and say these photos are of fairly new cars, and are not repaints.  Why? The weight data shows NEW, and not a reweigh, which would have been required within 30 months on a new car built in the 1949-1962 era (see Reweigh Dates on Freight Cars by Tony Thompson, a corrected version of the article which appeard in the April 2011 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman (RMC), pages 72 and 73. Steel cars in this era had a planned repaint cycle of roughly 10 years, so it would be very rare for a car to be repainted before it’s first reweigh date. But, as they say, accidents happen, and so do repaints!

These photos show that the stripe was in fact included on some cars, but by 3-52, when PFE 9036 was painted, the stripe was already omitted. PFE was very quick to eliminate those stripes (and the cost to paint them)! The Accurail car is lettered with a higher number, and with a later build date, so again, if you can get past the too dark Reefer Orange paint, the car’s lettering is very accurate. I would feel safe ommitting the stripe on any R-40-26 numbered 9036 and higher (that is, 9036 – 10000). That’s not just a few cars at the end of production – that’s roughly 1/3rd the fleet, and that’s assuming the “worst case,” that 9036 was the first to have the stripes ommitted!

There are some other changes that I find interesting, though. 8027 has a fan control box below the side sill. PFE 9036 does not. PFE 9036 has a defect card holder near the (fake!) PRECO ventilator pillow block (Tony calls this a “Fan Plate,” but the Mechanical Engineer side of my brain fights this). Since I only had the first photo, of PFE 9036, to work from, I’m going to model my first R-40-26 as one of  the later cars. I will probably do an earlier car later, and will model from the photo of PFE 8027, and include the black stripes and fan cotrol box.

The last question Tony raises concerns the roof walk . The kit’s roof walk is a very nice cast Apex brand, with the slotted pattern. Not quite as nicely detailed as, say, the Tichy running boards, but nice. Tony says that most R-40-26s had Morton brand, with  the round hole pattern. Plano to the rescue! Although marketed as being for the Intermountain R-40-23, I think the Plano roofwalks are suitable for all the R-40-x 40′ PFE Reefers. They not only have the Apex and Morton pattern available, but the diamond shaped Gypsum brand.

Back to modeling in Part IV – soon!

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