Friday, March 26, 2021

Home Road Refrigerator M&N 9299

Just as on a prototype railroad the adding of cars to the fleet to serve customers is necessary.  The same is true on an operating model railroad.  On my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Freight Car Roster I have a small number of refrigerator cars.  I found that at times the call for a home road refrigerator car could not be filled.  Therefore, time to add another refrigerator to the fleet to fill the need.

Two of the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad
 Comapny refrigerator cars in McGregor Yard in Northfield.
(click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

To add a refrigerator car to the home road fleet I chose a Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) refrigerator car, kit RC-4101-12, for the build.  The kit, obtained from a friend, was missing parts including underframe parts, bolsters, running board, trucks and couplers.

I began the build by assembling the car and the conversion by removing the PFE lettering from the car with a scratch brush and cotton swab dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol.  The lettering proved difficult to remove resulting in paint removal from the car body that would have to be touched up.  I initially left an extra nine in the car number that I removed later to better match the number series on the current roster.  And, I forgot to remove the PFE class lettering that I also removed later.  I used a mix of Vallejo Model Air/MicroMark Reefer Yellow #29028X2, 2 parts and Model Color Bright Orange 70.851, 1 part for a close match to the orange and a mix of Vallejo Model Color Mahogany Brown 70.846, 50% and Cavalry Brown 70.982, 50% for a match to the red.

Lettering and herald removed.

End lettering removed.

With the lettering removed I began working on the underframe.  From the parts box, I installed a Train-Miniature (TM) underframe on which I had cut off the coupler boxes.  I also cut the bolsters free of the center sill to allow them to be installed separately.  I drilled and tapped the coupler box pads for 2-56 screws.  I installed Kadee No. 5 coupler boxes with No. 5 couplers installed in them with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4” screws.  Accurail ARA cast steel with spring plank trucks were installed with InterMountain 33” metal wheels.  Trucks were installed with Fastenal 2-56 x 1/4” screws.

Train-Miniature underframe installed.

After looking at the installed underframe for a time I felt I could improve on the looks to better match a prototype underframe.  I removed the Train-Miniature center sill with frame members attached and began reworking it.  The cross ties were made by turning over the underframe and cutting along the existing cross tie center section to remove the outer flange.   Next, the same cuts were made on the the cross bearers to remove material to narrow them as the cross ties.  The underframe was reinstalled; however, more work needed.

Scrap Evergreen .060” inch styrene was cut to form a right triangle for the cross bear center section and glued to cross bearer portion that had been left with the right angle next to the center sill.  A triangle shaped rivet plate was cut from Evergreen .005” sheet styrene.  Rivets were added to the rivet plate with a RB Productions, RB-T009, riveting tool.  After rivets were added, the rivet plate was glued to the top of the right triangle cross bearer center section previously installed.  I now felt I had acceptable cross bearers.  Brake components, air reservoir (kit), brake cylinder and control valve Tichy Train Group (Tichy) set #3013 were installed next.  I did not like the way I mounted the control valve so later I moved it onto a new bracket between the side sill and stringer.

TM underframe reworked.  On right cross bearer
rivet plate left off to show center of cross bearer.

Control valve moved and underframe painted.

I did not want the ends of the cross bearers and cross ties showing on car sides so I installed Evergreen #143 .040” x .060” strip styrene to the existing side sill on each side to make a wider side sill as other reefers had.

Styrene side sill added to the car.


Next following kit instructions, ladders, ice hatch plugs, ice hatches, a Funaro & Camerlengo resin running board from parts box were installed.  I hand painted the new side sills and underbody Vallejo Model Air Dark Grey Blue 71.054.  On the side sills the air brush provided each of us at birth was used.  After paint is brushed on , you pucker your lips and blow over the painted area.

Ladders, ice hatch plugs, ice hatches and 
running board installed.  Add on to side sill painted
and PFE class letting removed.

Ladders, ice hatch plugs, ice hatches and 
running board installed.

Back to the roof to complete install of running board end brackets.  End brackets are made with Evergreen #8102, 1” x 2” strip styrene.  To complete the roof work I installed the roof grab irons bent using Tichy #1101, .010” phosphor bronze wire (PBW) with Yarmouth Model Works eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs.   I continued to install all remaining grab irons on sides and ends, Tichy #1101, .010” PBW.  Once grab irons were installed, the sill steps, A-Line # 29000, were installed.  The sill step under the door is a # 29000  sill step bent to shape.

Running board brackets and roof grab irons installed.

Grab irons and sill steps installed.

I moved onto the “B” end to complete the work needed there.  Brake step brackets (kit), brake step (Tichy set #3013), brake housing (kit), retainer valve (kit) and bell crank (kit) were installed.  A brake rod, Tichy #1102, .015” PBW and a retainer line, Tichy #1100, .008” diameter PBW were installed.  Now the kit brake wheel was installed.  The final detail items installed were the uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW with eye bolt brackets bent from, Tichy #1101, .010” diameter PBW.

"B" end detail install is underway.

Uncoupling lever and brake wheel installed.

Underbody details which I normally do first were completed now.  Under body details added were as follows:

  • Piping from air reservoir to control valve, Tichy #1101, .010” PBW
  • Train line, .018” flora wire
  • Brake cylinder brake lever cut from , Evergreen #8106, 1” x 8” strip styrene
  • Floating brake lever cut from, Evergreen #8106, 1” x6” strip styrene
  • Brake lever hangers, Tichy #3021 18” straight grab irons
  • Slack adjuster, parts box with mounting brackets made from .005” styrene
  • Brake cylinder pipe, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Dirt collector, resin cast in M&N Shops
  • Brake rods, Tichy #1106, .0125” diameter PBW
  • Brake cylinder rod lever chain, A-Line #29219 black 40 links per inch
  • Brake rod clevises, Tichy#8021 turnbuckles
  • Ice bunkers drains, kit
  • Fasteners made with MEK Goop (MEK with plastic melted in it)

Underbody details installed.

M&N refrigerator 9299 was ready for final paint and lettering.  The trucks and wheels were hand painted with Vallejo Model Color Black Grey, #70.862. The car underbody was sprayed Model Air Vallejo Dark Grey Blue, 71.054.

Underbody sprayed.

Once the paint was dry, The car body was sprayed Vallejo Gloss Medium 70.470, thinned 50% with a custom mix of distilled water, Vallejo air brush thinner #71.161 and Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver 71.562, to have a Gloss base for decal application.  Private name Champ decals were used for the railroad name and a 36 inch herald printed on an Alps printer was applied to sides.  On the ends, reporting marks and numbers are applied decals I made with Clover House #9600-11, Railroad Roman Condensed bold white 1/16” dry transfer lettering applied to decal paper and coated with MicroScale Liquid  Decal Film.

Side decals applied.

End decals applied.

After drying overnight, the car body was sprayed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish #70.510 to better  hide edges and protect decals.  Again when dry, the car body was sprayed with Model Master 4636 Flat Clear Acrylic to prepare car body for weathering.  When Model Master Flat Clear Acrylic was dry, a very light weathering with Pan Pastels: Payne’s Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on the car body and Red Iron Oxide Extra Dark 380.1 on ends and end lettering.

Side view weathered.

Weathered "B" end.  Note cuts in 
lettering to get stenciled on look.

Car weathered and ready for service.

M&N refrigerator car 9299 was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  A car card was made for refrigerator M&N 9299,  the final step to put the car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

M&N refrigerator 9299 being iced.

Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company
 refrigerator 9299 being iced.

M&N refrigerator 9299 being iced.

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