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Ice Reefer Conversions to Mechanical?

Jim Betz
 

Hi,
  It occurs to me to ask - did any of the RRs/owners convert ice reefers to
mechanical by adding a refridgeration unit in the ice bunker section of
the car?  Don't remember ever seeing a photo of such ...
  I know that they were used in other services (essentially a box car) - I'm
asking about still being used for reefers - just not ice.
                                                                                                 - Jim

Tony Thompson
 

Jim Betz wrote:

  It occurs to me to ask - did any of the RRs/owners convert ice reefers to
mechanical by adding a refridgeration unit in the ice bunker section of
the car?  Don't remember ever seeing a photo of such ...
  I know that they were used in other services (essentially a box car) - I'm
asking about still being used for reefers - just not ice.

   Yes, several did (see the PFE book, for example). No one ended up happy with the result. The available trucking-type refrigeration units weren't robust enough; the old 40-ft. cars weren't very big inside, and had only 6-foot door openings; and insulation of older cars wasn't as good as what was going into new mechanical reefers. And refrigeration in one end, though it meant you could use the other ice bunker space for cargo, also required rebuilding and adding air circulation means to the car.

Tony Thompson



John Moore
 

The Santa Fe converted 5 ea  50' Rr-31 class ice bunker refrigerator cars to Mechanical Temperature Control cars in 1955.  The standard 5' foot wide swing plug doors were replaced with sliding plug doors.  The ice bunkers held the Waukesha package air conditioning units with the control and fuel tank attached under the car body.  They were converted back to standard ice bunker refrigerator cars in 1960.  Photos of this configuration can be found in the SFRH&MS Reference Series Volume 6  Mechanical Refrigerator Cars and Insulated Refrigerator Cars of the Santa Fe Railway  1949-1988.
--
okladivjohn@...

np328
 

   From reading in the files of my railroad I will add to what Tony has correctly stated and add - at the time mechanical refrigeration units became viable -
                                               market conditions on all sides of the rail shipment were also changing.

   Frozen and fast frozen was where the market was evolving and had been for some time. Frozen food had been around for some time. 
https://books.google.com/books?id=UigDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA26&dq=1930+plane+%22Popular&hl=en&ei=bfiPTs-NGInE0AHC_4k_&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBzgK#v=onepage&q=1930%20plane%20%22Popular&f=true

     However it had taken some time to catch on to where the volumes were significant. (1) This was because corner markets - not super markets were the most common. And these Ma & Pa stores did not have large areas to receive, store, and display frozen foods. Larger markets had to come into general being and that did not happen in a broad way until the mid to late 50's. Food distribution centers capable of holding these large volumes of frozen food were also being built as these super market chains made their presence known. 

    (2) Once the volume of these frozen foods became significant to the railroad industry, HI reefers (high insulation) were now what the industry wanted and the railroads (or reefer consortiums of the railroads) that could supply the highly insulated cars were the ones that got the shipment. Of the high insulation reefers, they were on the scene in the mid to late forties, however there was not a big enough market at that time to over shadow the global refrigerator car makeup on the whole, so the current wood fleet soldiered on. 

    By the time a dependable mechanical unit was developed in Bloomington, MN, m
y railroad did send some folks over to check it out. And they did look at the financial ROI * of converting/rebuilding older reefers and that was a no go almost immediately as much of the fleet was already old. In the financial make up of things, building new cars provided the best return on investment. And (3) the car builders had shifted to all steel car building for some time now. 

And as Tony listed, the cars were 40 footers, with six foot doors. By this time, 50 foot cars with doors and floors built to handle pallets and pallet unloaders were what the industry demanded. 

                 * I may have stated this before however it bears repeating often. Railroads were just a vehicle for their owners to make money.  We forget that far, far,  too often. 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Jim Dick   St. Paul, MN 
              

mopacfirst
 

I can't immediately come up with the photo, but around 1970 I saw one of those 40' ice bunker reefers converted to mechanical by cutting out a section about five or six feet wide from the A end of the car, and a section of the roof about three feet deep, to mount a Thermo King refrigeration unit.  As I recall, it was either Armour or Hormel.  This would have been on the Rock Island on the Herington-Ft. Worth line.

Ron Merrick

np328
 

   About 1970 ?  So well, well, way off the time frame of this list.                                                                 Jim Dick