Friday, October 30, 2020

Pacific Fruit Express R-40-23’s 47269 and 47312 Upgrade

 I purchased InterMountain Railway Company (IM) ready-to-run Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) steel refrigerator cars 47269 (IM# 45501-69) and 47312 (IM# 34401-68) in 2013 from a local vendor.  The cars went into immediate service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  Recently after acquiring additional PFE InterMountain refrigerator cars I upgraded, I pulled these cars from Interchange service to receive a similar upgrade.

The numbers of both cars are correct for prototype PFE refrigerator cars in series 47203-47702, PFE class R-40-23, built in 1947 for PFE by General American.  Paint, heralds and other lettering data on the cars like the numbers is correct; however; not all lettering that should be on the cars is there. The cars have key features of the prototype including: 3/3 “improved” dreadnaught style ends first used on this car class, round-hole Morton running board and Preco fans.

Additional information regarding the steel prototype PFE R-40-23 cars as high strength steel, additional insulation, service history and photos of sides, ends and roof can be found in Pacific Fruit Express, Second Edition (Signature Press, May, 2003).  Paint and lettering schemes over the years for PFE are summarized in the Appendix.  Another fabulous overview of Pacific Fruit Express painting & lettering by Dick Harley and Anthony W. Thompson with drawings and photos for the various PFE refrigerator classes can be found in the book Southern Pacific Freight Car Painting and Lettering Guide including PFE (Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, 2016).

I began the upgrade of both cars by removing the molded non-see thru Morton running board and  brake step on the “B” end followed by cutting off the brake wheel, brake rod between the chain and bell crank and the retaining line.  I carefully opened the draft gear boxes and replaced the couplers with Kadee #148 whisker couplers.  The cars retain their kit Accurail ARA cast steel trucks (not an ASF-3 as sometimes identified) that will be replaced with Kato American Steel Foundries ASF Ride Control  A-3 trucks correct for these cars.

Morton running board removed with Plano
metal Morton replacement. 
(tap or click on this or any image to enlarge)

Car 47312 received a Plano Model Products #190, metal running board  and brake step (platform).  The running board was attached with Pacer Formula 560 canopy glue.  I broke the end support brackets while attempting to bend them to shape so I replaced them with brackets made from Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene also used to make the brake step support brackets.

Morton Plano running board attached with 
Pacer Formula 560.

Morton Plano running board after glue set.

Car 47269 received a Kadee #2005, Morton running board with brackets attached.  I only had to cut off the mounting pins on the running board and on the end brackets with a sprue nipper.  A Plano Model Products brake step (platform) from set #11332 was installed with brackets made from Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene.

Morton Kadee running board attached.

Next I replaced “B” end removed brake rod with one cut from Tichy Train Group (Tichy) #1102, .015” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW).  The removed retainer line and was replaced with one cut from Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW as were the brackets.  I used a photo in the PFE book to locate the retainer line.  A Kadee #2030, Ajax brake wheel was installed.  Uncoupling lever brackets made from Evergreen #291, .060” angle were installed followed by uncoupling levers bent from Tichy # 1101, .010” diameter PBW.

Morton brake step installed and brake rod
removed.  Retainer line to be removed.

PFE 47269 "B" end ready for paint.
Note styrene end bracket on running board.

PFE 47312 "B" end ready for paint.
Note styrene uncoupling lever bracket.

On the sides I removed the incorrectly installed grab irons with a Xacto chisel blade.  I bent wire grabs from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW and located them per side view photos in PFE book.

Wire grab irons installed in correct location.

With all detail parts upgrade done only paint and lettering had to be completed.  I hand painted the trucks with Vallejo Model Color Black Grey 70.682 and the added detail parts Vallejo Model Color Black Red, 70.859 or Black,70.950.  After the paint was dry the car was sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470 to provide a decal base.

Paint jig used to spray Vallejo Gloss Medium
and Matt Varnish coats. 

Next lettering found on the prototype cars; however, missing on these cars was added with decals.  The decal application took more time to complete than adding the details parts.  The various missing side decals: stage icing, bunkers and fans (upper left), safety - cutting torches use due to insulation (lower left under grab iron), “L” and “R” on doors and repack data (above right truck) were applied using Microscale set, PFE 87-414.  Decals were applied using Microscale Micro Set (blue bottle) and Micro Sol (red bottle).  A ownership plate cut from Evergreen .005” sheet styrene was installed in upper right corner.

Decals applied.

Left side of car.  Small letter "L" on door
easier to see.

Right side of car.  Small letter "R"on door
 easier to see.

On the ends white decals showing car features were applied.   The white dot above the “F” in PFE, to designate a car with fans, was made with a white Prisacolor, PC 938, pencil.

End decals applied.

Now the decals for the roof hatches were applied.  The stencil/decal for each hatch has the following words, “This hatch cover may be locked from the inside of car.”  Prior to decals application, the areas where the decals were applied were painted Model Master Steel to represent an unpainted roof.  A coat of Future Floor wax was applied to these areas when paint had dried to provide a gloss base for decals.  A good photo of the roof area with hatches showing this stencil can be found on page 176 in the Pacific Fruit Express Book.  I want you to be aware that the diagonal panel roof on this car is not the correct roof.  The correct roof is a Murphy rectangular roof.  The diagonal panel roof was first used on the R-40-25's.  I decided I would accept the incorrect roof for now.  Maybe another upgrade in the future?

Roof showing unpainted hatch sections
with stencils/decals.

When all decals were dry (I normally let them dry overnight) I sprayed the car body with Vallejo Matt Varnish, 70.520 to protect the decals during future handling and provide a base for weathering.  After Matt Varnish was dry, a very light weathering ( PFE washed their Reefers) with Pan Pastels Burnt Sienna #740.5.  PFE refrigerator cars 47269 and 47312 were ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for each,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

PFE upgraded reefers spotted at
Food Producers.

Upgraded PFE reefers spotted at
Food Producers.

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


Friday, October 16, 2020

Uncoupling Lever Brackets

 A common detail we add if not already present on freight cars are uncoupling levers.   To mount uncoupling levers on a freight car mounting brackets must be installed first.  A review of the “Dictionary Of Car Terms” in several Car Builders' Cyclopedias yields the following definition for an uncoupling lever bracket, “A bracket supporting the uncoupling lever on the end of the car.”  Coupler photos and diagrams including brackets for the Type E, top operated and Type E, bottom operated couplers below  are from the 1946 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia (Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, 1946).

1946 Car Builders Cyclopedia Photo
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

Type E, top mounted uncoupling lever
and brackets.

Type E, bottom mounted uncoupling lever
and brackets.

For our freight cars you can make the uncoupling lever brackets or purchase commercial ones to install uncoupling levers.  The most commonly used uncoupling lever brackets are eye bolts.  The eye bolts I have found available are bent from wire, made from plastic or photo etched.

Eye bolts I have found and purchased.

 Wire eye bolts can be bent by the modeler.  I bend eye bolts from .010” diameter or smaller brass or phosphor bronze wire with a Xuron #488, wire bending pliers.  I use a Xuron serrated needle nose pliers to close the eye and bend the eye shaft at times.  A Swiss side cutter is used to cut the fabricated eye bolt from the wire used to bend.

Eye bolts bent from Tichy Train Group #1100 .010"
diameter phosphor bronze wire.

Xuron wiring bending pliers and needle nose
and Swiss side cutter used for fabricating eye blots.

Eye bolts can be used for brackets to mount top or bottom mounted couplers.  All you have to do is drill holes with a #79 or # 78 drill and insert the eye bolts.

Type B, top mounted coupler with
eye bolt brackets.

Flat car with Type B, top mounted coupler with
eye bolt brackets.

A diagram showing a common way to install Type E bottom mounted uncoupling levers with eye bolt brackets was provided with Detail Associates #2615, uncoupling levers.  I use this install method; however, I do not use an eye blot in the draft gear (coupler box).  I bend the uncoupling lever wire on the draft gear end in a vertical position to install directly into the underside of the draft gear (coupler box). 

Uncoupling lever draft gear (coupler box) end
 mounted directly into a #79 hole drilled into
draft gear (coupler box) rather than using eye bolt.

Box car with Type E bottom operated
coupler with eye blot brackets.

Gondola with Type E bottom operated coupler
with eye bolt uncoupling lever bracket.

Eye bolts can also be used  in conjunction with resin cast or made pieces of the mounting bracket to make a complete mounting bracket.

Eye bolt combined with resin casting 
for uncoupling lever bracket.

Closer view of resin casting combined
with eye bolt for uncoupling lever barcket.

In addition, to eye bolt mounting brackets there are numerous other prototype uncoupling lever  mounting brackets.  A few examples of the prototype  type uncoupling brackets.

Ed Rethwisch Photo. 

Ed Rethwisch Photo.

Several of the other prototype type uncoupling lever brackets are commercially available or can be made.

Uncoupling lever brackets produced by
 Detail Associates, Resin Car Works and Yarmouth Model Work.

I have tried to use each type I have found and purchased on a freight car to see if I like using them.  Each type is effective.  

Uncoupling lever bracket is photo-etched
one from Yarmouth Models.

Front view of photo-etched
uncoupling lever bracket .

Cast resin mounting bracket used for
uncoupling lever mounting.

Besides using purchased uncoupling lever brackets I make one type of uncoupling lever bracket from Evergreen #291, .060” styrene angle.   The method to fabricate the styrene uncoupling lever bracket is not an original idea.  I saw this method used on a freight car in one of the many clinics I have attended and do not remember the presenter.  The photos that follow show the steps I take to make the uncoupling lever mounting bracket.

Side view of Evergreen .060" angle installed.

Front view of Evergreen .060" angle installed.

Bottom view of Evergreen .060" angle installed.

Installed angle shaped with PBL #803 Gate nippers.

Number 78 hole drilled in shaped 
uncoupling lever bracket.

Styrene uncoupling lever bracket with
uncoupling lever installed.

I hope you now have a greater appreciation for the simple uncoupling lever bracket supporting the uncoupling lever on your freight cars.   And, I hope you will make a few of the uncoupling lever brackets using styrene angle to bottom mount uncoupling levers for your freight cars.

A “Thank You” to Ed Rethwisch for the photos to help with showing prototype uncoupling lever brackets and for permission to use photos in this blog post.

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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer