Reefers for Your Model Railroad
Imagine a freight train on a your layout with a long string 
of bright yellow and orange refrigerator cars right behind the 
engines. Colorful reefers with eye-catching graphics can be eye 
catchers. Railroads once handled a lot of meat ,beer/spirits and
produce traffic on fast schedules. Multi-car cuts of colorful reefers
and entire reefer trains were common sights into the 1970s. Single
reefers also traveled on branches and shortlines where they originated or terminated, and a few even owned their cars.
While meat packing plants with structures similar to the 
Cornerstone(R) HO Scale Champion Packing Plant (933-3048) could 
be found in many places across the continent, there were large 
concentrations in small and medium-sized Midwestern U.S. cities 
such as Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. Processing plants 
shipped several loaded meat reefers daily. Usually these reefers 
would be iced at the plant and switched onto trains at nearby 
Produce moved by rail from the western states and various 
seaports to markets in major cities. Packing houses, such as the 
Cornerstone HO Valley Citrus Packers (933-2926) loaded reefers 
along lines near orchards and farm fields. 
Meat and produce loads moved on expedited schedules - often in 
their own dedicated trains. As the trains traveled toward major 
markets they would gather more reefers at on-line yards. On long 
runs they would stop at icing decks (available in HO as 933-
3049), where reefer ice bunkers were topped off. At major cities 
local switch runs quickly distributed the loads to cold storage 
warehouses such as R. J. Frost Ice & Storage (933-3020, returning 
soon) and businesses such as the HO Grocery Distributor (933-
Reefer owners and railroads were reluctant to invest in new cars 
after the 1950s as traffic was increasingly lost to trucks. By 
the 1960s mechanical reefers operated alongside ice reefers and 
wood ice reefers began to disappear as traffic dwindled, with a 
few wood reefers soldiering on into the early 1970s. By the late 
1970s reefer traffic was almost gone. In recent years, however, 
railroads are again gaining reefer traffic thanks to new 
technology and greater operating efficiencies. 
Ice-cooled reefers appropriate for steam and classic-diesel era 
train consists are available as WalthersMainline(R) models. Steam 
and transition-era modelers will love 40' Double Sheathed Wood 
Reefers w/Steel Roofs and Ends because they feature authentic 
color schemes for many well-known companies. 40' Steel Meat 
Reefers are great for your modeling the transition and 
early-diesel era through about 1973. Remember, however, that the 
wood reefers lasted to about 1973 as well. Modern modelers will 
like the WalthersMainline 70' Cryogenic Reefer that's been widely 
used for hauling potatoes since the 1990s. These popular cars are 
almost sold out, but a few are still on hand.



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