Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Union Refrigerator Transit Line 95503 leased to M&St.L

With the McGregor Co-op Creamery in Northfield, Minn. on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company needing more refrigerators cars for shipping products I wanted to add a few more reefers to the fleet.  In the to build cabinet no resin reefer kits, only three Branchline Trains and several Accurail kits available.  Of the three Branchline Trains kits I picked Union Refrigerator Transit Lines (URTX) 95503, kit #1220, purchased at the local hobby shop in 2004.  I had purchased the car because it had the Minneapolis & St. Louis herald showing the car was leased to the M&St.L.

Prototype URTX 95503 was a 40 -foot, 2 inch refrigerator built in 1925 by American Car & Foundry with wood side and ends.  The car had steel underframe with fishbelly center sill.  The car was assigned to series 95000 to 95599 with Association Of American Railroads Class designating letters “RS”.  The cars were painted yellow orange with red ends and roof and black underbody.  A color  photo of car URTX 4975 showing this paint scheme can be found in Refrigerator Car Color Guide by Gene Green (Morning Sun Books, Inc. 2005).

URTX 95503,  Author collection.
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

I began the build with the underbody.  First the cross bearers and cross ties were inserted into the center sill sides to create the underframe.  Next, the kit train line pieces were replaced with a train line made with .018” floral wire.  The coupler pockets were cut off with a Xacto knife handle with a #18 blade.  Coupler pads and bolster center plates were drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws. Kadee #262 narrow gearboxes with Kadee #148 whisker couplers were installed with Fastenal 3/16” screws. Kit trucks, ARA cast steel with spring plank, with InterMountain 33” metal wheel installed, were installed with Fastenal 1/4” screws.  Kadee #208 .015” thick fiber washers were installed to obtain proper coupler height. The car was weighted to 3.8 ounces with tire weights and the underbody was installed into the car body.

Couplers, trucks and train line installed.

Rather than finishing the underbody I applied the kit ladders to the sides and ends.  On the roof I installed the hatch boxes for type A (standard type), the  longitudinal running board and end support brackets and the roof brake shaft bracket.  After installing the running board support bracket  on the “B” end I installed a Sunshine Models resin retainer valve from the parts box. The install of the roof brake shaft bracket and retainer valve at this time allowed me to easily identify the “B” during the remainder of the build.

Ladders and retainer valve installed.

Hatch boxes and brake shaft roof bracket installed.

Next I installed the end sills in the kit and grab irons I bent from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) on the ends and sides.  I used a #79 drill to cleanup manufacture drilled holes prior to install.  On the ends I installed eye blots I bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW for the top mounted uncoupling levers.

B end with grab irons and eye bolts
for uncoupling levers installed.

After installing the grab iron on the sides, I installed A-Line #29000, style A, sill steps in  holes drilled with a #76 drill.  I added the door latch to complete side details.

Grab irons and sill steps installed.

Grab irons, sill steps painted and door latch unpainted installed.

Back to the roof to install style A (standard type) roof hatches and hatch latches.   To complete roof work, roof corner grab irons I bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW with Yarmouth Model Works eye bolts without shoulder for corner supports were installed.

Hatch covers and roof grab irons installed.

Onto the remaining  “B” end details.   A retainer line and brackets, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW were installed.  I used a #80 drill bit to drill the holes for the retainer line brackets.  The kit brake shaft, .015” wire, with kit brake wheel was installed.  To finish the “B” end work, uncoupling levers and brackets were bent from Tichy #1101, .010" diameter PBW.

Retainer valve, retainer line and uncoupling lever installed.

Now back to finish the underbody work.  Tichy AB brake components, Tichy set #3013 (not in kit) were installed.  A sill step cut off some plastic car used for a mounting bracket for the air reservoir.  A Sunshine Models resin mounting bracket from the parts box was used for the brake cylinder.  Tichy mounting brackets in set #3013 were used for the control valve.  The remaining underbody added details are the following:

- brake levers were cut from Evergreen strip styrene:
- #8108 1” x 8” for the brake cylinder lever and #8106, 1” x 6” for the floating lever
- piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW
- pipe from brake cylinder to control valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
- brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
- brake rod clevises, MEK Goop (plastic melted in MEK)
- chain, A-Line black 40 links per inch
- dirt collector, Tichy, #3013-6

Under body details installed.

Refrigerator URTLX 95503 was ready for the paint.  All added parts were hand painted  including the trucks.  I painted some of the parts after install prior to moving on to another build step. The underbody and added parts were painted Vallejo Model Color Black Grey 70.862.  The ends and roof added parts I painted Vallejo Model Color Burnt Red 70.814.  Vallejo Burnt Red is a new color I just found at the local hobby shop.  On the sides I used a mix of 50% Model Color Light Orange 70.911 and 50% Model Color Flat Yellow 70.957.

Underbody with added details hand painted.

All details added were hand painted.

The black and white herald on this model is not correct because it does not have the red in the herald that it should.  Half the black rectangle with “The Peoria Gateway” if divided in half to form two right triangles should have the right triangle on the right red rather than black.  Currently, no decals of the herald size on this car are available.  Therefore, I hand painted the right triangle black portion Vallejo Model Color Flat Red 70.957.

M&St.L herald enlarged from photo
provided by Doug Harding.

Red portion of herald hand painted Vallejo Flat Red.

Once I hand painted the herald,  the carbody was sprayed Vallejo Matt Varnish, 70.520, to protect the car during handling and to provide a weathering base.

URTX 95503 ready for service.

I weathered UTRX 95503 with Pan Pastels as follows:  Paynes Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on roof and lightly on sides and Burnt Sienna Shade 740.3 on sides only.  Pan Pastels were applied with makeup brushes and sponges.  A cotton swab was used to blend applied Pan Pastels on sides.

URTX 95503 weathered with Pan Pastels.

URTX 95503 weathered with Pan Pastels.

After a car card was prepared, URTX refrigerator 95503 was put in service on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  It joined the  Union Refrigerator Transit Lines refrigerator car fleet leased to the Milwaukee, Soo Line and the Green Bay & Western on the railroad.

URTX 95503 being loaded at McGregor Co-op Creamery
in Northfield, Minn.

URTX 95503 being loaded at McGregor Co-op Creamery
in Northfield, Minn.

A  “Thank You” to Douglas Harding for photo to help with build of this car and for permission to use in this blog post.  In addition, a “Thank You” to Doug Harding for his help and information regarding correct herald correction.

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Lester Breuer