The mighty reefer fleet – from a PFE persepective

I took a few minutes this evening to look over the web and dig into the pages of those modellers who are modelling California railroads and who are looking into PFE reefer movements to pick up some tips for my own fleet of potato-hauling MDT and CN cars.

I found this really great blog post and I wanted to share it almost immediately with you:

The blog is titled: “Choosing a model car fleet-11: reefers” and it reflects some of how I thinking about designing my own collection and I quote from his article:

The core of my reefer fleet is necessarily the cars of Pacific Fruit Express (PFE). I have already discussed my approach to the PFE part of my reefer needs, in an earlier blog post (see: This approach takes proportions of the model fleet directly from the prototype car fleet. I expanded on the era characteristics and layout needs I personally have in a follow-up post ( Accordingly, my PFE car fleet is simply proportioned by (approximately) one model for each 1000 cars in the prototype PFE roster, thus a total of around 40 model cars. Within these 40 model cars, I am trying to achieve a close approximation of the number of cars per prototype class, again at one model per 1000. This looks like it will come close to working out.

That’s what I’m thinking. The blog itself is completely new to me but I can already see some neat ideas in there for weathering and car movements. I’ll post a link to this article in my Links to the right for future reference.

Just before I found that website I came across the Citrus Modelling YahooGroup:

Looks like maybe it’s another group to consider joining. Perhaps.

Finally, as I key this I am remembering all those great Bob Smaus articles from RMC on modelling PFE cars that were published in the early-nineties. It’s unlikely that any of those issues survived my great magazine purges over the last few years but I’ll go to the pile and check anyway.

And here are the two PFE cars that started this all for me:

Reporting Marks Number Siding Name Date
SFRC 2493 Atlantic 08/01/1973
Lyons Siding for Altantic 09/01/1973
1st RR 08/01/1973
701 10/01/1973
PFE 19959 701 09/01/1973
19999 Track 5 08/01/1973
Track 4 06/01/1973

That SF car peaked into the table as well. I’ve seen pictures of the SFRC cars being loaded onto the Borden ferry and might include one too.



  1. G’day Chris!

    I think your research into reefers is very interesting. I’m doing something similar at the moment for my layout. Similar period, just a different country and language. You’ve mentioned the Toyama Portram in other posts, I’m modelling the parent company Chitetsu and it’s predecessors circa late 70s.

    That website of Tony Thompson’s is also very interesting, thanks for posting it.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks for the great feedback. While my collection of N scale trams isn’t as broad as it’s been in the past I do still try to collect them. My latest n scale tram is one of the new Tomytec trams. I’ve put up a couple of posts on here about this excellent model.

      I see you’re in Australia. Have you seen the nice body castings for the Melbourne cars from Miniatures by Eric?

  2. No, I hadn’t seen the W car castings. A mate of mine is looking to model the MMTB in N scale, I’ve mentioned these to him, and he’s very keen to get some. Thanks for the heads-up!

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