Wooden Reefers

Discussion in 'General' started by Rob R, May 7, 2023.

  1. Rob R

    Rob R Member

    When did Wooden Reefers go out of fashion?
    I an guessing at late 1960's but I was less than 10 years old then and on the wrong continent so I may be way out.
    Thanks in anticipation.
    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  2. geep07

    geep07 Member

    There is no specifics on this subject due to the fact that some of the wood reefers where rebuilt with metal frames and sides and ends.
    According to this book by Kalmbach books titled
    Produce Traffic & Trains by Jeff Wilson the wood reefers where pretty much gone by 1950's with a few hanging on somewhere.
    If you can find this book (paperback) lots of photos and reading.
    Rob R and Ozarktraveler like this.
  3. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    One of my longest term friends worked for the Frisco at Fort Smith from '71 up into the BN years. (He left the BN for the KCS in '82.)

    During his early years of Frisco employment, he's told me that he saw a few wood sided reefers at McCord Wholesale and RMB produce. In fact, one he saw still had its wooden ends. True, this would NOT be a common occurrence, but apparently there were a few still running about in various assigned services?

    Also, even some of the short (36') wooden meat reefers (Swift, especially) survived into the late 50s/early 60s on account of dock door spacing at some of the late 19th/early 20th century built meat plants/distribution structures. Again, specific circumstances prolonged their life.

    Here's a pic of some Swift 36' wood reefers, the closest being rebuilt in the early 50s. I also have pics of such in service in the Jan '61:

    A quick browse of my Morning Sun book "Refrigerator Car Color Guide" indicates several reefer companies retained their wood cars into the sixties. The same book shows some Green Bay & Western wood reefers in service in March 1968 and another in October 1970. These are just to name a few.

    As a general rule, wood reefers were more efficient than steel reefers (wood is one of the best insulators), so many of the reefer car companies (especially the meat packers) held on to them as long as they could and extracted every mile out of them they could.

    SO, IMHO, wood reefers in the early 1960s will be quite prototypical. Though wood reefers would not represent the majority per reefer train in the early 1960s, I think it's safe to say that some wood reefers would most certainly be evidenced therein.

  4. Rob R

    Rob R Member

    Thanks guys.
    Your answers have convinced me to leave the wooden reefers I have seen in the shop......(I may regret it later, but cest la vie)

    A bit of background.
    I was intending to model a little bit of Frisco land (with a splash of Rock Island) circa 1975 ish.
    Then someone offered me an RS1 kit (we are talking S Scale here) which immediately poses a problem as the last of the Frisco (ex AT&N) RS1's went in 1969.
    The reefer question was because I was trying to work out how far back I could go and still use most of what I have already collected, topped up with a few extras (wooden reefers, outside braced boxcars etc).
    I'll stick with 1975 but will go for the RS1.
    I will also be applying Rule 1 - it's my train set and if I want to run it I will!!


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