Sunday, July 4, 2021

American Refrigerator Transit Co. 24029

From friends I obtained an Intermountain refrigerator car lettered for American Refrigerator Transit Company (ART) with number 20429.  The reefer came assembled and was missing a few parts as the brake housing and brake wheel.  I believe ART 20429 was RTR car.  Before doing any work on the reefer I decided I should do some research to see if it was worth the effort to repair and upgrade.

I found American Refrigerator Transit (ART) refrigerator data and photos in several good sources in my library.  Sources I used were American Refrigerator Transit (Signature Press, 2017), Railway Prototype Cyclopedia RP CYC 2 (RP CYC Publishing Co., 1998) and Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual Volume three: Refrigerator Cars (Speedwitch Media 2017).

The prototype cars were built in the St. Louis A.R.T. Company Shops with kits purchased from American Car & Foundry (AC&F) in late 1939 and assigned to class RS, series 24000-24099.  The kits included underframes, side assemblies and other steel parts.  Murphy panel roofs and square corner steel 4/4 dreadnaught ends came from Standard Railway Equipment Company.

A unique feature of these cars was the use of four horizontally placed steel sheets, two on each side of the door. The upper sheet overlapped the lower sheet where they were joined with a horizontal row of rivets.  I found the term “belt rail” used in one source to describe this unique feature.  Another unusual feature of these cars were the metal guard railings added to the edges of the roof near the ice hatches.

ART Photograph

The Intermountain American Refrigerator Car 24029 car body including lettering and trucks were a good match to prototype photos.  I only had to add or change some detail items.  Therefore, I began the upgrade of the obtained refrigerator by removing grab irons on roof, sides and ends, sill steps under doors, and on the “B” end cutting off the very oversize retainer line and brake rod between the chain and bell crank.  Rather than describe the step by step process of replacing the missing or removed parts I will provide a summary for each section of upgraded items.

On the underbody:

  • Intermountain metal  33” wheels installed into trucks with missing wheel sets
  • Couplers, Kadee #148 installed
  • Truck kingpins drilled and tapped for 2-56 screws
  • Trucks installed with Fastenal 1/4” screws
  • No changes made on underbody except paint applied to brake components.   All piping and brakes rods could be replaced with appropriate size phosphor bronze wire (PBW) in the future.

Underbody with no upgrade.
(Click or tap on this or any image to enlarge)

Work done on roof:

  • Repaired missing ice hatch latches with scrap styrene from bits box
  • Grab irons were bent from Tichy #1101 .010” phosphor bronze wire (PBW) with Yarmouth Models eye bolts without shoulder for corner legs
  • Kadee metal running board was installed on reefer when obtained.
  • Other older ART reefer series did not receive metal running boards until 1951.

Roof with new wire grab irons and repaired ice hatches.
Note: guard railings on roof edges by hatches.

Roof with changes and weathering.


Work done on sides:

  • Kadee bracket grab irons installed
  • Sill steps under doors installed, A-Line metal #29000
  • Ladders and placard boards were installed on reefer when obtained
  • New 1939 build date on left side of door removed.  A reweigh date to be applied.

Bracket grab irons installed.

Build date removed.  Reweigh date to be applied.


Work done on “B” end:

  • Intermountain brake housing with chain from parts box
  • Brake step, Plano Models Products #11322
  • Brake step brackets, Evergreen #8102 1” x 2” strip styrene
  • Brake wheel, Kadee Universal #2043
  • New retainer line, Tichy #1100, .008” PBW
  • Brake rod between chain and bell crank, Tichy #1102, .015” PBW

Brake housing, incorrect Tichy Adjax brake wheel,
 retainer line, brake rod and uncoupling lever installed.

Brake step and brackets and 
wire bent grab irons installed.

"B" end finished including a
Kadee Universal Brake wheel.

Work done on car ends:

  • Grab irons bent from Tichy #1106 .0125” diameter PBW
  • Uncoupling levers bent from Tichy #1106, .0125” PBW
  • Uncoupling lever brackets, eye blots from parts box


ART 24029 factory applied paint and lettering is the 1931-1947 scheme with the exception of the boxcar red roof.  A.R.T. Car Shops began painting roofs boxcar red in 1948.  Paint used to hand paint detail parts added to ART reefer 24029 to match factory paint were Vallejo/MicroMark #29028X2 Reefer Yellow and Vallejo/MicroMark #29015X2 Boxcar Red.  Vallejo Model Color Black Grey 70.862 was used on trucks.  Vallejo Model Color Black 70.950 was used on sill steps and touch up of black factory painted areas.

The ART reefer was weathered with a light weathering with Pan Pastels, Payne’s Grey Extra Dark 840.1 on roof, sides and ends applied with a makeup brush.  And, on the sides I used Bradgon Powders “Old Yeller” applied with a small paint brush.  I do not apply a clear coat after weathering a car.

ART 24029 lightly weathered.

ART 24029 lightly weathered.


American Refrigerator Transit (ART) 24029  was ready for service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company, The Lakeland Route, “Serving today, Shaping tomorrow.”  As for any build or upgrade, a car card was made for ART 24029,  the final step to put the a car in service on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company Railroad.

ART reefer 24029 at Food Producers

ART reefer 24029 at Food Producers.

A big “Thank You” to Ed Hawkins for the photo of ART 24000 and data for class RS, series 24000-24099.  The ART photo (above) shows that this series came with metal running boards when built in 1939.  And, for data to help with build of this car.  And, for permission to use photo 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



  1. It's nice to see someone do a writeup on ART reefers as it's not a topic that's discussed frequently. I will likely try using a wood running board on this model as I didn't know the older reefers had the running boards replaced that late.

    Into the 1950s, the majority of the ART fleet was wood. The convenient part is that the overwhelming majority of the wood cars were built to only two designs, but they seem similar to the Branchline AC&F reefer. I wonder how close the ART reefers are to the Branchline model as most transition-era modelers will need one or two ART wood reefers for every ART steel reefer they have.


  2. Excellent research and modeling as always. I like reading your blog.

    1. Joe Thank You for your king words. I am pleased to hear you enjoy reading.