Reefer Madness

Well, why not???  My first post on a project might as well have a pithy title.  One of the countless projects i’ve got on the go (i don’t want to try and count, it would embarrassing to acknowledge how much attention deficit i have when it comes to a project and staying focused, that will clearly need to be a future blog post topic) is a pair of General American Pfaudler Corp refrigerated milk cars that Labatt’s leased in the 1950’s.  I first saw a model of one of these cars five or six years ago at the Barrie-Allandale Train Show on the Canada Southern FreeMo Modular layout.

My first Labatt’s model was built several years ago now, when Sylvan Scale Models (a Canadian manufacturer of resin kits, primarily cars and trucks) released a kit for the circa 1947 vintage Labatt’s Delivery Truck (one of which has been restored by Labatt’s and is a regular at beer festivals across Ontario in the summer).  I bought one of the kits when it came out, and built it.  It finishes up nicely into a unique piece for a corner of a layout.

13090951333_7f08fa4e8f_bSadly i don’t have a flattering picture of my Labatt’s truck, but here it is on my now gone Georgetown switching layout.

As my intention is to model the 1950’s, the Labatt’s refrigerated cars are a perfect fit for a unique special load to be passing through as a way of adding some operational interest.  I haven’t been able to find a lot of information about the cars, in terms of how long Labatt’s leased them, and how they were used, but they make interesting rolling billboards.

GPEX 923, one of two cars leased by Labatt’s.  Picture from the Canada Southern website

Several months ago, my friend Trevor Marshall blogged about his friend Andy Malette who had built two of these cars, and who had done the work to create the artwork, and have Al Fergusson of Black Cat Publishing make the decals in S Scale for him.  Trevor’s post inspired me to get at the project again, and a quick email to Al confirmed that he would be able to print the decals in HO Scale, so a cheque was quickly in the mail to him to have two sets of them done for me as well.

25944710541_3c7d36f475_bAndy Malette’s pair of S Scale Labatts Refers on the S Gauge Workshop layout at the Copetown Show in March 2016

I picked up a pair of the Intermountain Pfaudler reefer kits in November 2015, and got the basics of the work building them done fairly quickly, in the process discovering that i have two reefers that are backwards, due to a production error of some sort, the underframe details on one of the two cars were cast backwards.  I could have fixed it, but by the time I’d discovered it, i’ve decided to just live with it and apply the 3′ rule, so long as the finish on the cars is good, i can deal with the mis-aligned brake gear under the car.  Unless i really derail them badly, most people won’t even notice!  I had the cars in primer, and even painted them pullman green, but wasn’t happy with the first coat of green paint (it was too black to my eye, the cars need to have a greenish tint), and with the fact that my paint job had completely filled the etched roofwalk treads and looked terrible.  So i stripped off the green-black paint, and the roof walks.  I replaced the walks with new etches from Plano, and attempted a second round at painting.

One thing i’ve learned, is that just because a paint is a “Model Railroad” paint or a “military model” paint, that you can’t use it for what you want.  I regularly use Testors Model Master paints for automotive or military colours to get tints that aren’t in the ever shrinking lines of model railroad paints.  For the Green of the car, i wound up using a “Green Drab” from their acryllic line.  I like acryllic paints, most of the time i find they don’t need a lot of thinning, and for the most part, i’ve had good luck spraying them.  The new attempt at green was painted on Saturday, and to my eye, has the look of the dark green paint that heavyweight cars and express cars were painted based on colour photos and other models.

IMGP2549RawConvPainted with Modelmaster Green Drab, the two reefers are ready for decals.  CNR D-1 lurks in the background, more on that project in the future.

Next steps on this project are to take a couple of nights to apply the decals (one night per side), then make any touchups or last tweaks, apply a clear coat covering, and install end details (brake lines and such).  When i get a chance to pick up some metal wheelsets, the plastic wheels from the kit will go in the junk pile.

While i won’t have anywhere to run the cars for a while, at least I’ll have an interesting pair of cars to rotate through my display case.

3 thoughts on “Reefer Madness

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