Monday, October 8, 2018

BREX 76252 Steel Refrigerator Upgrade

After having built two wood refrigerator cars I decided to build a steel one.  I chose Burlington Refrigerator Express BREX 76252 produced by Accurail for 5th Avenue Car Shops for the build. I began my search for data and photos to see how well it matched the prototype.   The best resource I found was Burlington Bulletin No. 12 published by the Burlington Route Historical Society.  I learned the Burlington Refrigerator Express (BREX)  went to an outside builder, Pacific Car & Foundry, in 1952 to have 100 cars built that were assigned to series 76250-76349.  These cars were the last ice-cooled refrigerator constructed for Burlington Refrigerator Express.  Builder’s photos of 76000 and 76250 appear on page 24 in Burlington Bulletin No. 12 (Burlington Route Historical Society, Second Quarter 1984).  I used these photos as a guide for my build and upgrade of this plastic kit, BREX 76252, purchased from 5th Avenue Car Shops  who had Accurail  produce the car using their 8300/8500 40 ft. series steel refrigerator.  The car came painted and lettered in the kit.

I began the assembly and upgrade of this car on the underbody by installing the brake components after drilling them with a #79 drill for piping  to be added later.  The kit provides plastic pins to attach the trucks and molded on pins on coupler pocket covers to attach them to coupler pockets.  I use neither.  I cut the molded on pins from the back of the coupler pocket covers and use the remaining spot to drill and tap a 2-56 hole for mounting with screws.  Next the truck bolster kingpins were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws.  Kadee #148 “whisker” couplers were installed in the coupler pockets and Accurail #150, 2-56x3/16” screws were used to attach the covers.  The Accurail trucks after slight modification, including removing the brake shoes, were installed with Athearn #99002, 2-56x1/4” round head screws.  Next the kit provided car weight was attached with Permatex adhesive sealant clear RTV Silicone which weighted the car to 4 ounces.  With these tasks complete, I glued the underbody to the car body.

Underbody ready to install in car body
(Click or tap on photos to enlarge)
 
I began the car body upgrade with the roof knowing I was unable to verify it matched the prototype.   First the apex solid molded running board was removed and discarded after the mounting pins on the back were cut off.  The cut off pins were put back into the roof holes with them extending above the running board saddles and glue applied.  When glue was set a needle nose plier was used to squeeze the inserted pins to the same thickness as the existing saddles. After squeezing, the pins were again taller than the roof saddle height and had to be cut off to proper height.  The newly formed saddles were painted Vallejo Model Air, #71.062, aluminum which matched Accurail roof color.   Once the paint was dry, a Kadee Apex running board with latitudinal running  boards, mounting pins, and extension bracket mounting tabs cut off was installed.  The Kadee modified running board had been painted the Vallejo Model Air aluminum and let dry prior to install.
 
Finished running board saddles

Modified Kadee Apex running board installed


I now turned my attention to the car body details.  The first upgrade step was to carve off all the car molded on grab irons to be later replaced with wire ones.  I followed this step by carving off all ladder rungs leaving only the ladder side rails.  If you are interested in what tools  I use for removing the molded on grab irons please go to “labels” and click on “Grab irons” and find “Grab Irons - Tools For Removing Molded On.”

Molded on grab irons and ladder rungs removed
 
I continued the car body upgrade by drilling new holes using a #79 drill to receive grab irons and ladder rungs on the sides.  The molded on rung fasteners on the molded on ladder side rails were used as a guide to drill holes next to them for wire ladder rungs.  Next I bent straight grab irons  from Tichy Train Group (Tichy), #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW)  ( see “labels” and click on “grab irons” and find “grab irons -bending grab irons”on this blog) and installed them.   After straight grab irons  install was complete, I bent the ladder rungs which are straight grab irons installed for rungs between the ladder side rails.   The molded on door handle was carved off and replaced with a wire one bent from Tichy, #1100, .010” PBW.    Finally, the molded on sill steps were cut off and A-Line, #29000 style A, metal sill steps were installed.   The middle sill steps are offset to the left of the plug door.  New straight grab irons, ladder rungs, door handle, fan, and sill steps were painted  with a mix of one part Vallejo Model Color, #70.98, Golden Yellow and two parts Polly Scale, F414191, CNW Yellow.


Side details completed
 
 
View of side details from above
 
 
Next I upgraded  the “B” end details.  As on the sides the molded grab irons and ladder rungs were carved off and replaced with Tichy, #1101, .010 diameter PBW one’s.  The solid molded apex kit brake step was scrapped.  A new brake step cut from one of the removed Kadee latitudinal running boards was installed with support brackets from Tichy set #3013.  A Sunshine Models cast retainer valve from the parts box was installed followed by a retainer line and brackets made with Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW.    Brake gear was retained with the exception of the  brake rod.  I cut a new brake rod from Tichy, #1102, .015” diameter PBW and installed it where the removed plastic one located between the retained chain and brake rod step had been.  The final detail added was the uncoupling levers that have an unusual half-round handle ( for bending details see “labels” and click on  “ uncoupling levers”).  All new added details were painted Vallejo Model Color, 70.859, Black Red, an excellent match for the Accurail used color.

New details added except uncoupling levers
 

With car body details added, I worked on the underbody details.  I was not able to find data for the prototype underbody so I upgraded the kit underbody.  I decided to use the molded brake levers and brake rod connecting them, brake levers hangers, and the nice universal slack adjuster all molded as one part called “brake gear” in the kit.  The other molded parts connected to the used parts were cut off using a nipper.  Piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy, #1101, .010” diameter PBW and  pipe from back of brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy, #1106, .0125” diameter PBW wire were installed. Next a train line using 26 gauge, .018” diameter, floral wire was installed.  The train line holes were drilled in bolsters and cross ties with a 4” drill made from .032” diameter piano wire.  A dirt collector cast from resin in my M&N Shops using a Tichy dirt collector from set #3013 for a master was now installed connecting its molded on pipe to the train line with a connecting tee made from MEK Goop.  Brake rodding, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW, was connected to brake levers.  Chain between brake cylinder and rod is A-Line #29219, 40 links per inch.  Underbody added details were painted Vallejo Model Color #70.862, Black Grey.
 


Molded underbody parts combined with new added details
 

Note M&N Shops resin cast dirt collector
 

Steel refrigerator, BREX 76252 , in my opinion, is a very good stand-in for the prototype and is now in service serving customers of the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.

BREX 76252 spotted at McGregor Coop Creamery



BREX 76252 spotted at McGregor Coop Creamery
 

BREX 76252 spotted at McGregor Coop Creamery


 
Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer






 

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