Early 50's reefers

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

  1. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Thank you Stix, a most logical reason after all!
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not sure if this is entirely correct. I think the private named reefers-Armour, Swift, Hormel, etc. were privately owned or leased by the variuos meat companies. The ruling on billboard reefers was that you could not put any advertising on the side of a car that was different than the product hauled in the car. The various meat company reefers were used with the company names and logos right through the fifties and even into the sixties. In fact, they continued to make 36' ice reefers long after the railroads switched to 40 foot cars because the loading docks at the meat companies were set up for 36 foot long cars. What were outlawed were things like "Baby Ruth" advertisements on reefers because Baby Ruth candy bars were not hauled in the reefers. From 1900 or perhaps earlier until the late 20's or early 30's you would find all manner of products from candy to soap to beer advertised on the side of reefers.
  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Interesting history here! For the general discussion, I will admit to being a billboard reefer "ho"... I model PRR 1940-1949, but absolutely run billboard reefers. Yes, I know, not prototypical. This is one on which I'm giving the big ho-hum to prototypical... Anyhow, I'm in the process of building up a "beer reefer" train... 5 cars and growing with 3 "under watch" on Ebay currently.
  4. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Russ - I think you're not on the right track here. :)

    First, putting the owner's name on the reefer was not outlawed, it was the size - Swift used to use huge S W I F T letters that were like 6'+ in size, covering the entire side of the car. The ICC ruled that lettering had to be 12" high or less for a car to be used in interchange service from 1937 on. (Of course ICC could only regulate interstate commerce like interchanging of railcars - if you owned say a logging railroad and your cars never left your own rail lines you could letter them however you wanted to.)

    Second, I'm not aware of any instances of railroads selling advertising space on their freight cars !! If a reefer said "Baby Ruth" on it, it was owned or (much more likely) leased to the candy company, either for hauling the finished candy or hauling...well I don't know, sugar or corn syrup or something. Usually companies leased the cars from a leasing company like U.R.T. but sometimes they leased them from the railroads - which is why you will sometimes see pics of old cars with a railroad name and reporting marks on it but with a private company name on the car also.

    They weren't called "billboard reefers" because the railroads sold the advertising space on the sides like a outdoor billboard-sign company would, but because the lettering was HUGE and very eye-catching like on an advertising billboard.

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