Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Pacific Fruit Express 46702, PFE Class R-40-20

 As previous PFE InterMountain kits, my last InterMountain Pacific Fruit Express Refrigerator (PFE) steel car (kit 45509-12) needed rework as out of the box a “foobie.” The steel car was lettered for a PFE Refrigerator, class R-40-20 with number 46706, incorrect for this class.  The rest of the paint scheme was correct except for the missing lettering that could be added with decals.  The paint scheme had a single herald on each side correct for a PFE class R-40-20.  Other markings contained the units of “LBS”, “FT,” and “IN” (removed in 1947) were correct for a PFE steel class R-40-20 car built in 1945.  The UP herald with Overland banner on the right side (removed in 1942) could be replaced; however, I wanted one car with this older UP herald.

Once again I reviewed information regarding the numbers and classes of steel cars, service history, photos of sides, ends and roof in Pacific Fruit Express, Second Edition (Signature Press, May, 2003).  Paint and lettering schemes over the years for PFE are summarized in the Appendix.  In addition, I reviewed Pacific Fruit Express painting & lettering drawings and photos for the various PFE refrigerator classes in the book Southern Pacific Freight Car Painting and Lettering Guide including  PFE by Dick Harley and Anthony W. Thompson (Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society, 2016).

My first step was to install a resin Murphy Panel roof and 4/4 resin ends both cast in the M&N Car Shops.  Before gluing the roof to the car body, the car was weighted to 3.8 oz. with tire weights.  A correct plastic Murphy Panel roof in the kit was used for a master to make a roof rubber mold.  Rather than use the plastic Murphy roof on this car I wanted to use a cast roof I made to see if it would work.  After some sanding and fitting of the resin cast roof, it did work.  I now know I can use the mold to make Murphy Panel roofs to replace incorrect diagonal panel roofs on some InterMountain PFE Refrigerator cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.

Murphy Panel roof master and resin casting.
(Click or tap on any image to enlarger)

Resin cast 4/4 ends and roof installed.

I decided to spray the roof and ends and put the  PFE refrigerator car in the box to finish in the future.  After taping the sides, the car roof and ends were sprayed Vallejo Model Color Black Red #70.859.  When the paint was dry, rather than put it in the box for a future build I continued working on the car.

I removed the number “6” in the numbers of this PFE class R-40-20 reefer to allow a correct number to be applied later.  I used a nylon scratch brush, 91% isopropyl alcohol and Walthers Solvet Set to to remove the numbers.  After removing the “6” in the car number, I began work on the car body changes to have PFE 46706 become PFE 46702, one of two cars built by Consolidated Steel in 1945.

Car number with "6" removed.

The roof work was next.  A Kadee #2001 Apex running board was installed on the roof.  Grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter phosphor bronze wire (PBW) were installed with Yarmouth Model Works eye bolts without shoulder for a corner leg.

             Apex running board installed on
       spray painted resin Murphy Panel roof.

On the cast resin ends Grandt Line, # 5124 were installed as the end kit ladders not in box.  The missing ladders must have been used on a another freight car.  After the ladders, placard boards, sill grab irons bent from Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW and Kadee end bracket grab irons were installed.  On the “B” end the following parts were installed:

  • Brake step (platform) cut from Kadee latitudinal Apex running board with support brackets cut from Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene installed.
  • Kit brake housing with chain installed.
  • Brake rod, Tichy #1102, .015” diameter PBW installed between chain and bell crank.
  • Adjax brake wheel in kit installed.
  • Resin retainer valve from parts box installed.
  • Retainer line and brackets Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW installed.
  • Eye bolts were installed in the portion of uncoupling lever brackets cast on the poling pockets to 
  • Uncoupling levers, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW installed.

"B" end with details installed.  Note the 
back part of uncoupling lever bracket 
cast as part of poling pocket.

Back to work on the sides to make changes needed there.  First, the kit ladders were installed.  Placard boards were installed.  Grab irons were removed and replaced with Kadee #2251, bracket grab irons located per prototype photos.  Sill step under door and fans were removed since fans were not added until 1950.  New sill steps, A-Line #29000, style A, were installed.

Side details completed.

With the car body changes made I upgraded the underbody.  I cut off the plastic piping and brake rods and installed the brake components after drilling them for piping.

Kit brake components installed.

On the bolsters the molded on center plate (washer) was removed to lower car to have the Kadee  No. 5 couplers installed  in Kadee No. 5 coupler boxes to gain proper height.  New brake piping and brake rods added as follows:

  • Brake levers, resin levers from parts drawer
  • Brake lever hangers, bent from .010” phosphor bronze wire PBW.
  • Train line, .018” diameter floral wire
  • Universal slack adjuster from parts drawer
  • Piping from air reservoir to AB valve, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.
  • Pipe from brake cylinder to AB valve, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW.
  • Dirt collector,  Tichy AB set #3013
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125“ diameter installed.
  • Chain on brake rod attached to brake cylinder lever, A-Line #29219, black 40 links per inch

Under body ready for painting.

With the under body done, the underbody was sprayed Vallejo Model Color Black #70.950.  After taping the sides, the car roof and ends were again sprayed again with Vallejo Model Color Black Red #70.859.  Once the car roof and ends were dry the car body was sprayed Model Master Gloss Clear Acryl #4638, for decal base.

Under body sprayed black.
Note a dirt collector was added prior to painting.

After clear coat was dry, Microscale decals, PFE set 87-414, were used to apply the number “2” to replace the removed number “6” in car number.  The set also was used to add other data as: Max l.L. and Max CU in dimensional data near the ladders, stage icing, bunkers (upper left corner), ownership stencil  (above “A” end truck), repack data stencil rectangles  (above right truck) and safety data (under the bracket grab irons) to match prototype photos.  

Microscale decals applied to the sides.

I had a difficult time reading the white end numbers in the decal set so I used Clover House dry transfers on blank decal paper to make my own.  The end numbers are larger than the ones in the decal set; however, easier to read for train crews.  I also did not replace the UP herald with the Overland banner on the right side removed in July 1942.  To set the decals Microscale Micro Set (blue bottle) and Micro Sol (red bottle) were used.

Decals I made for ends.

When all decals were dry, I sprayed the car body Vallejo Gloss Varnish, 70.510 to better hide decals edges.  Once dry I sprayed the car body Vallejo Matt Varnish, 70.520 to protect the decals during future handling.  And, after Matt Varnish was dry, a light weathering ( PFE washed their Reefers) with Pan Pastels Burnt Sienna Shade #740.3 and Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 to fade lettering.

Car body weathered with Pan Pastels.

Car body weathered with Pan Pastels.

Pacific Fruit Express refrigerator car 46701 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made,  the final step to put the cars in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

PFE Reefers 46702 and 46701
 sitting at Food Producers

PFE Reefers 46702 and 46701
 sitting 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 sign your comment with your name if you choose to leave one.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer



  1. Nice roof casting. Going into the detail parts business?

    Jim Bernier

    1. No. No. No. Just make a few parts for myself to use.