Early 50's reefers

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by HoosierDaddy, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    What types of reefers were being used in the early 50's? Were wood-sided reefers still common or had things already changed over to mechanical reefers by then? Regardless of the type, is it safe to assume that most reefers in this era were either 40 or 50 footers?

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The fifties probably sees a mix of just about everything - old wooden ice reefers (maybe in dedicated ice service), steel ice reefers, plus "new" mechanical reefers. If you want to be specific, you probably need to look up a roster for whatever road(s) you are modelling.

  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Santa Fe and PFE were experimenting with mechanical reefers in the early fifties, in fact Santa Fe converted one ice reefer to mechanical in 1948 if I remember correctly. I don't think they did more than experiment until the late fifties into the early sixties. Railroads were still running ice reefers long after the trucking industry had gone over completely to mechanical reefers.
  4. BillD53A

    BillD53A Member

    Wooden reefers were around right to the very end of the iced reefer. The industry used salt to control the temperature at which the ice melted (and therefore, the temperature inside the car). The salt-water mixture was allowed to drain through a hose at each corner of the car. This salt mixture was very corrosive to the steel cars; wood held up to it better.
    Oddly, the Athearn HO 40' reefers are models of a car that was built originally with steel sides, then rebuilt with wood sides. So the Athearn wood reefer represents a car that is NEWER than the steel car. The use of ice died out in the 60s, but wood cars were in use right to the end. I have photos somewhere of a Seaboard Air Line 50' express reefer in MOW service in Florida, in the late 1980s. Bill
  5. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    Thanks for your replies all. I'm glad that there will be a place for some wood billboard reefers on my layout. You know, a little spash of color mixed in with the red and brown does brighten up a long line of cars.

  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hate to rain on your parade, but wood reefers yes, billboard reefers no. If you like them, just use them! But billboards were outlawed some time in the 30's, somone else may provide a more accurate date. Seems someone complained about the advertising and the government agreed. Just another property right trampled upon. You could model a more rational world tho! I reserve the right to change this opinion when prersented with facts which may justify the outlawing.
  7. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Ha Gary, the Interstate Commerce Commission outlawed the billboards,saying it was an unfair rebate to the leasee of the car.
  8. HoosierDaddy

    HoosierDaddy Member

    I knew it was too good to be true. Well like you say, maybe I'll just model a rational piece of the world. It's a good thing we got rid of those billboard reefers though, it sure put a stop to advertisements. Next thing you know advertisers would have tried transmitting ads right through the airways or setting up permanant signs by the roadway to call attention to a product.:)
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Scott, thanks for that bit of info. I admit to having little knowledge of the actual circumstances of that ruling. I had read an article many many years ago but remember few specifics. I did not remember that the cars were not in fact owned by the companies whose advertising graced the sides. Not that that matters tho. If some packing house needed x amount of cars to move its products, and there were two or more lessors (sp?) available to choose from, why in the world should it be illegal if one lessor said "I'll match the other price and I'll paint the car with your logo for free". This is just negotiation. And, I would expect, outside government regulation (I believe government authority ought to be restricted to protecting its citizens rights) I would like to hear what the argument was for the car sides being outlawed. There may well be some reason I'm not aware of. An "unfair rebate" , to me, indicates someone (probably with government "connections") who did not have the volume to negotiate a similar deal who complained that he was at a disadvantage because the public would be more aware of his competitor (seeing those cars at grade crossings, this was before tv, even before radio was widely available, I think) than him. Grease the right palm, etc. A bit cynical on my part perhaps, but from other unrelated things I've read not unlikely.

    I hope I haven't steered this thread into a politcal hot potato, moderator feel free to delete and send me a scathing PM. Just interested in the history, anyone with facts please respond!

  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    why model railroading is great

    Submitted in evidence, Erie Berkshire with (Atlas) billboard reefer. I don't give a hoot!

    Attached Files:

  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    To make clearer the era being modeled, JGL turbine is shown meeting the Erie Berk. JGL had the turbines well before the UP, by the way.

    Attached Files:

  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Notice in the background of the previous photo the NYC tofc car, obviously early 1950's! Notice also unpainted rail, I wasn't aware I hadn't painted that area yet! God I hate that. Oh well. If only that was my biggest problem! But as this photo shows, I have one other potential problem solved, when nitpickers try to tell me some unit is too recent for my period, I just show them the JGL logo!

    Attached Files:

  13. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I think the fourm can survive some discussion of this historical topic! :) Any one with information please feel free to contribute. Love the JGL logo by the way!
  14. JFile

    JFile New Member

    Damn Al Gore

    Difficult to find anything specific concerning the outlaw of the "billboard reefers". Most sites list: "1933 - Billboard reefers are outlawed as a violation of anti-trust laws. By 1938, they are virtually gone.", though I am unable to find any evidence that such a case existed. If only Al Gore had been born circa 1910, he would have had the internet invented and there would be a plethora of information available on this (now my topic title makes sense, doesn't it?).
  15. theBear

    theBear Member

    Now ya just had to go and make this thread political, it is a well known fact that Al invented the the mechanical reefer, however rumor is that he didn't inhale. Something about axle grease [​IMG] . Now what's this here internet thingy [​IMG] ?

    If there is a lawyer in the group with access to WestLaw a quick search might shed some light on the issue.
  16. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    So this might be related to an Anti Trust decision? There is an essay I read discussing the anti trust laws which I found both enlightening and humerous. "The world of antitrust is reminiscent of Alice's Wonderland, everything seemingly is, yet apparently isn't, simultaniously" The article goes on to discuss various industries which were early victims of antitrust laws, one of which was the railroads. The portion regarding the railroads is very interesting but difficult to relate without writing a long essay myself! A short version: Railroads developed in the east, in stiff competition. By the 1860's, the gvt wanted to tie California to the east via railroad. But there wasn't sufficient traffic to entice the eastern roads to build west. So the gvt offered land for each mile of track laid. This drew opportunists, not railroad builders. When the roads were built, the roads had total monopolies, since they owned all the surrounding land. They proceeded to charge outragious fares, calculated to keep the farmers in seed stock, no more. A great outcry about the failure of free trade ensued, resulting ultimately in the antitrust laws. (I've skipped a lot here!) No one ever questioned the role of the govt in the bringing about of this situation. But obviously, the roads would never have been built, and the monoplies would never have existed without gvt interference. Now for the most interesting fact: this article was written in 1961, and the author was: Alan Greenspan! He wrote then for the repeal of antitrust laws, or at least in favor of making them a bit more concrete(as written, the govt can pretty much convict anyone they want of something) I wonder what he thinks of this topic now?

    Back to reefers, I would really like to see if anyone can find specific info on this court decision.

    And thanks Ralph! That logo will be on Alco Century units, which the JGL designed for Alco in the early 50's!

  17. theBear

    theBear Member


    It could also be related to a government agency controlling the railroads decision and not a court decision, the effect would be the same as far as the railroads would be concerned.

    I no longer have access to any of the for a fee legal search services, I haven't for many years now.

    When I did a Google search I got too many hits to wade through. I looked a number of them but found nothing, search was too general and really would have worked far better inside the legal record arena.

    The fact that a gov provided an incentive for the "railroads" to expand west does not mean that the gov wanted the mess that resulted, it also doesn't mean that the gov was responsible for what other independent folk did.

    Poor Adam must have a massive headache over all things his decendents have done [​IMG]. Now having said that the mods are free to edit this post if they so choose.
  18. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Actually Dave, I'm sure you are right in that it was an agency decision, not a court case. A bit of sloppiness on my part. I'm just wondering what facts were considered in the decision making process. Seems unlikely we'll find out, I too have no desire to wade through all the returns!

    And I'm sure the gvt didn't want the ensueing mess, nor had considered it would likely happen. They simply wanted to secure the entire California area for the US! The point of the article was that it was free trade, or Capitalism, which took the fault, when it was gvt interference to free trade that created the opportunity.

    I've gotten to far away from the topic now, I enjoy this type conversation but know it's not appropriate for the Gauge, if you'd like to discuss it further, why not PM me?
  19. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    dup post, sorry!
  20. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    The ICC ruling on billboard reefers was done for the benefit of the railroads. What was happening was let's say Hormel told a railroad they needed six empty reefers at their plant tomorrow. Next day six reefers would arrive - lettered "ARMOUR" in huge letters, because they were the first available meat reefers the railroad had on the property. Hormel refuses to ship their products in the cars, essentially don't want to pay their money for a rolling advertisement for their competitor !! So the railroad has to try to find six more reefers Hormel will accept.

    Eventually the ICC said, OK you can only letter a car with letters x" high etc. so the name isn't as prominent - and shippers can't refuse cars based on what the car's lettering is, as long as the car will serve the purpose they have to use it.

    BTW in in the 20''s - 30's many (most??) new cars (boxcars, reefers, hoppers etc.) were built entirely of steel but due to wartime shortages went back to woodsides in WW2 (steel being needed for tanks, planes etc.) so in the fifties there would still be quite a few cars similar to the Athearn woodside car still around from the war years.

    I believe the last iced reefer to run in the US was about 1973.

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