February 1978 - Page 53
P R OTOTYPE M O D E L E R - F E B R U A R Y 1 978
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Photo of the PFE R-70-5 Class reefer 'as built ' in May-June, 1 952. Photo is from PFE of the initial car built.
This distinctive and interesting class of cars was built by Pacific Fruit Express at their Roseville, Ca. shops. The first 7 5 cars, numbers 200126-200200 were con structed in May through July 1952. A further 100 cars, numbers 200601200700, were built in December 1953 and January-February 1954. These cars were built as 'RS' type bunker refrigerator cars. They were known as 'SUPERS' on account of their extra length, 50 feet instead of 40 feet which was standard for RS type cars. Also, cars had extra thick insulation. This was to make them suitable for the frozen food industry which , at the time, was just starting to move frozen foods in large volume. Several problems quickly became ap parent concerning the use of these cars in this service. Frozen foods should move at 0 degrees or below but these cars could only bring temperatures down to around 15 degrees, which was marginal for the movement of frozen food. To achieve a temperature of even 15 degrees it was necessary to ice cars with a 30% salt solu tion, in other words for every 100 Ibs. of ice put in a car 30 Ibs. of salt was added. This helped lower the temperatures but it also speeded up the melting of the ice and it was hard to keep cars properly cooled from one icing station to the next. This period also saw the introduction of the mechanical refrigeration car which proved to be far superior for the move ment of frozen food. These cars were then quickly rebuilt into ' RP' type me chanical refrigerators in 1955 and re numbered as follows; 200126-200200 to
The History of P FE C lass R -70 -5 Cars
3 00338-3004 12 and 200601-200700 to 3004 13-3005 12. This renumbering was done as cars were rebuilt and not in any number order. In the period 1958-1964 all cars in this class, with exception of 39 cars list ed separately, had meat rails added in order to handle hanging beef and reclas sified as 'RPM' cars accordingly. This was done because by then the larger me chanical cars were available for frozen food and these small cars were no longer suitable for this service. In 1968 those cars classified 'RMP' were renumbered 2003 38-2005 12 by changing the first digit only. This was done to separate these cars from the regular RP type cars and simplify the distribution of them to meat shippers. The 39 cars which re mained RP's retained their numbers. These cars then spent a tranquil period in which they rolled back and forth across the country hauling fruits and vegetables from the west to the eastern markets. Time finally caught up with them, how ever. In 1972 a program was started to remove many of the refrigeration units from the older mechanical cars because they were unreliable and the advanced age of the equipment made it impractical to repair them. Also, these cars were no longer favored by shippers because most of them wanted the larger cars in the 450000 series class. Due to the age and
by Mi chael E . Reynol ds
condition of the refrigeration units in the R-70-5 class it was decided to remove all units and convert cars into "top ice vege table" cars. All these cars had the refrig eration units removed and were classified as 'RB' type cars in the period 1972-1975 as they required major repairs. As cars were reclassified they were also renum bered yet again, this time to 3903383905 1 2 by changing the first two digits of the number only. This took in both the RP and RPM type cars. These cars were then used exclusively for loading of commodities which required only ice over the load and no additional refrigeration. This was known as top ice vegetable ser vice and cars had a stencil applied on each side in black letters on a white rectangle 'FOR TIV /DLO SERVICE ONLY' (top ice vegetable/dry loading only) , cars were used for canned goods loading occasional ly. In January 1977 all cars in class R-70-5 were stricken from the roster and retired from service in a general program to re move obsolete cars from service . As you can see these cars led a varied career, starting life as RS cars and chang ing to several types of mechanicals before becoming RB's and finally being retired. Some of these cars carried four numbers in their twenty plus year career. During this time these cars have been painted in almost all of the various lettering styles,