Freight Car Friday – PFE R-70-20 Reefers

12 09 2014

Often our Freight Car Friday features focus on broader topics. This week we devote our blog to one specific class of car – the prototype for our Lionel and American Flyer reefers.

Pacific Fruit Express

PFE

Lionel’s upcoming American Flyer PFE reefer represents a car following the split of the company with SPFE markings and a Perishable Fruit Express logo over the UP shield.

Created in 1906, Pacific Fruit Express grew to operate the largest fleet of refrigerated rail cars in the world. By the 1970s, their fleet was more than double the size of their nearest American competitor. Consequently it should come as no surprise that the company was a leader in the field of refrigerator car design and utilization.

PFE was owned jointly by Southern Pacific and Union Pacific. Depending on the financing behind a particular order for cars, the reefers could be seen with PFE, SPFE or UPFE reporting marks. The emblems of both companies were displayed on the sides of the cars until 1978. In that year, the company was split with cars going into each railroad’s respective operating fleet.

In addition to the cars, PFE maintained its own ice making and loading facilities and car shops and, until 1961, built most of the company’s equipment in-house.

Evolution of the Mechanical Reefer

PFE was not the first to develop the mechanical reefer. That credit belongs to Fruit Growers Express. The lag in development however has little to do with the management at PFE and much to do with the differences between Florida and California oranges. Florida oranges are more favorable for juicing and this juice concentrate needs to be shipped at a freezing temperature which requires mechanical refrigeration. California’s produce on the other hand was still overwhelmingly being shipped fresh, for which icing did just fine.

BNFE

Burlington Northern owned cars identical to the PFE R-70-20. Some are still in service for BNSF.

PFE’s first mechanical reefers came in 1952. The switch to mechanical reefers didn’t happen overnight however. The last ice reefers were delivered five years later in 1957. Nearly 1500 ice cars were still on the roster in 1975 and some lasted as long as 1980 in ventilator service for loads requiring ventilation in cool weather without refrigeration. The switch to mechanical refrigeration was partly a matter of cost efficiency and also in part due to a shifting in the types of produce being transported by rail to increased numbers of bulk, frozen foods over fresh produce. The latter was increasingly moving by truck but also generally decreasing as a part of the American diet overall. (Interesting how a study of freight cars can provide a look into so many things!)

As is nearly always the case, when the needs of the customers changed so too did the PFE car fleet. Mechanical reefers grew larger to handle greater capacities and maximize the efficiencies of rail transport. Whereas the overwhelming majority of iced reefers were 40′ long, 50′ mechanical reefers were more common beginning in the 1950s and grew to nearly 57′ in 1963. Capacity of the 57′ reefers was nearly double that of the older 40′ cars.

R-70-20

Jumping ahead to 1969, we arrive at the prototype for our O and S scale models. The R-70-20 represented the last major design change for PFE reefers. The class designation stands for Refrigerator – 70 tons nominal capacity – 20th chronological design. These cars were built at Pacific Car and Foundry’s Benton, WA facility. PC&F supplied 1200 cars in 1969 and an additional 1200 in 1970. That second order was evenly split between SP and UP with the UP cars being given the class R-70-21.

Lionel reefer

After assets were divided, Union Pacific painted their cars in bright yellow.

The R-70-20 offered several design changes from the previous models. One was an increase in the width of the doors from 9′ to 10′ 6″. This was done to make it easier for fork lifts to load / unload the car without damaging the car sides. The door tracks required special attention to ensure that a single worker could still open the heavy doors by hand. (Failing this, workers were commonly known to use their forklifts to open the car doors causing frequent damage.)

Another change in this design was the roof. Previous cars all had a lightly peaked roof. The R-70-20 is rounded, but tapers to a flatter profile with rounded corners near the car ends. Changes to the number and patterns of stiffening ribs on the roof is one of the small detail changes found in subsequent designs.

ARMN

After being rebuilt with new refrigeration units, UP’s fleet took a coat of white and wore ARMN reporting marks.

The initial order of cars used either Keystone or Hydra-Cushion underframes. Both types would be used in subsequent classes as well. Visually the only spotting feature is a conical vent in the center of the underframe on the bottom of the Hydra-Cushion cars.

The R-70-20 was also the first class of PFE reefers to be delivered new with the new ACI car reader tags installed.

The only other significant change to subsequent classes (R-70-22 through 25) was substation of Type F couplers on UPFE cars. More obvious than structural or mechanical changes were alterations to the markings on the cars reflecting the corporate evolutions of the period.

The initial order of R-70-20 cars came with PFE reporting marks with white letters on a small black square. This was done to improve their visibility on the orange car. Both the UP and SP heralds were used. It is interesting to note that the UP shield was always closest to the mechanical, or “A” end of the car, so they swapped places on the left / right sides. Both the heralds were in the new “silhouette” version with the UP having full “UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD” lettering. On the other side of the car, “PACIFIC FRUIT EXPRESS” was spelled out in large black letters with the first letter of each word in white with black outline.

All total, the R-70-20 through 25 classes would include 3800 cars on PFE. Subsequent orders would see small changes to all of these graphics and the reporting marks. After the split, reporting marks on the first cars were also changed by adding an S or U as appropriate. Stickers were also applied over the other road’s herald, again with much variation to make car spotting and modeling more interesting!

BNSF

BNSF cars can also be found in brown. Note that whatever color the railroads painted the sides, roofs were traditionally kept white.

Complete repaints started coming in the 1980s with UPFE cars getting repainted yellow with full UP markings. Southern Pacific retained Pacific Fruit Express as the name of the division operating independently within the company. SPFE cars were typically repainted white with a great variety in lettering styles and colors.

Many cars were sold or scrapped as the need for mechanical reefers was further replaced by trucks during the coming decades. What was left of the two fleets was reunited in 1996 through the UP-SP merger.

Starting in the early 2000s, with the cars now having more than 30 years of service behind them, the remaining reefers were given significant overhaul. The most obvious change to the cars came with the replacement of the diesel refrigeration units with more modern and efficient versions. These mount vertically on the inside bulkhead and look like the units applied to refrigerated trailers. The installation also requires the removal of the last roof “panel” over the unit.

While PFE helped drive the design and purchased the majority of these cars, similar reefers were also sold to other companies. The second-largest fleet of these cars would come to be owned by BNSF, tracing its roots to the Northern Pacific and Great Northern. BNSF’s cars too have undergone a similar rebuilding in the past decade.

The basic body style – with the large plug door, tapered side posts terminating short of the lower sill and roof line and rounded roof with tapered ends – became a common trademark for PC&F insulated boxcars as well. In spite of their age, rebuilding and retirement to the large-scale shift of perishable loads to refrigerated trucks, the familiar face of the R-70-20 continues to have a presence on railroads to this day.

 





Freight Car Friday – Instruction Cars

5 09 2014

It’s that time of year! Time to go back to school! For railroaders, with continuing education and certification an essential tool in working safely, sometimes the school and the teacher come to them.

LEMTU

The Reading’s “LEMTU,” or Locomotive Engineer Mobile Training Unit, is typical of instruction cars converted from passenger equipment. This interesting car is preserved today by the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society.

Instruction cars are classrooms on wheels. They can take many forms, often converted from older passenger or freight cars, and can be used to teach many things. Some cars were more like lecture halls with rows of seating with a projector and large screen at one end. Others take a more hands-on learning approach with simulated locomotive control stands, brake equipment, safety devices and hardware. Having the classroom come to the workers is often much more effective educationally and monetarily than requiring employees from across a wide system to travel to a central training location.

interior

The interior of the LEMTU includes two complete control stands for diesel locomotive training.

Used most often by the railroad’s own employees, these cars sometimes serve a more public audience. Haz-Mat training cars travel the country today to teach first responders how to handle an accident on the rails.  Familiarization with the types of fixtures they’ll find on a tank car can make a world of difference. Cars can also be used to show shippers the proper way to load, unload and secure their products as well as providing safety tips for working around rail equipment.

Similar to instruction cars, many railroads maintain an exhibit car for public outreach as well. Filled with information about the railroad’s history and business, the cars also do an important job in educating about safety around trains and tracks and even employment information. Part education, part marketing, these cars are often scheduled to visit communities or museums as part of larger events.

tank car

Sponsored by the railroad and chemical industries, this tank car is fitted with multiple loading and unloading devices for training. The car travels with a converted boxcar and caboose.

A classroom isn’t very useful without a teacher. In most cases today, the instructors travel separately from the cars and stay in local hotels. Some modern cars travel with an accompanying caboose, converted to an office for the instructor. It was common for older cars to include an office and living space for the instructor as well as the classroom space. Accommodations were basic but included a bed, sink and toilet, desk and limited personal storage space.

PRR

Converted from an RPO and finished to match passenger cars of its day, this Pennsylvania Railroad air brake instruction car has been restored to working order at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.

Equipment for the instruction cars often comes from retired revenue freight or passenger cars. Coaches, baggage cars, Railway Post Offices, boxcars, tank cars, flat cars and cabooses have all been used. Sometimes the conversion shows little change on the outside other than special paint and lettering.

TTX

A two car training set from TTX is on its way to its next class. Both cars are converted from auto rack flatcars. One features multiple trailer hitches, the other enclosed instruction space.

Classes are usually held in or very near a large rail yard. Typically the car will be spotted on a little-used track near where the students can park and walk to the car without crossing active rails. “Blue flag” protection is used to make sure no other trains use the track while the cars are spotted there for class. Extra steps or ladders may be used to make it safer, especially for non-railroad employees, to get on and off the equipment. Typically the cars will be in town for a day or two so that multiple classes can be held, training or certifying everyone in that area. Then it’s off to the next yard or town.

Adding an instruction car to your model railroad could be a fun way to add a little variety to your rolling stock and create an interesting scene on one of your yard tracks. So look over your rule books and get your No. 2 pencils sharpened – school is on its way!





Happy Labor Day

1 09 2014

Happy Labor Day from all of us at Lionel!

The roots of the national Labor Day holiday actually have a strong connection to railroads. You can learn more about the connection in this earlier blog post!

Enjoy your holiday!

 

 





Freight Car Friday – 1905 Common Design Hoppers

29 08 2014

We recently looked at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s GLa hoppers, the inspiration for Lionel’s upcoming new models. These well-designed cars were also the inspiration for many prototype railroads as well.

plans

The 1905 Common Design cars came from a variety of builders, but all shared similar traits and heritage. The plans shown here are from Standard Steel Car.

With an urgent need for an enormous quantity of steel coal cars, the Pennsylvania Railroad had to farm out production across several builders. No single company at the time could have produced all of the cars needed fast enough to meet the railroad’s demands. A consequence of these actions was that most of the major steel car builders now had copies of the new design which they were more than happy to repurpose for other customers.

The cars which followed are today collectively referred to as the “1905 Common Design.” 1905 because this was the year the new hopper designs were first delivered. “Common Design” because they had all emerged from the same drawings and shared in common most of the major design elements. They were not however a truly uniform “Standard Design” such as the later USRA cars which were all built to exactly the same plans. Despite overwhelming similarities to the PRR’s GLa, different builders and customers did make subtle changes to their cars. Still, there is enough uniformity within this family that it is worth linking them together through the common design description.

The 1905 cars found homes on railroads of all sizes, from the B&O to the P&WV.

The 1905 cars found homes on railroads of all sizes, from the B&O to the P&WV.

Production of cars of this general size lasted for several decades. Most of the major Eastern and Midwestern roads had at least a few, if not a few thousand, on their roster. For most, these would be their first all-steel hoppers, replacing wood hoppers or gondolas.

In most cases, cars differed in major dimensions from the PRR GLa by five inches or less in any category. Construction details were also very similar. The most common and obvious differences were changes in the end sills and posts, brake wheel and grab iron or ladder placements, and hopper door hardware.

These cars fell neatly in a time of freight car construction where new standards for construction and safety equipment were being refined and made universal. The Railroad Safety Appliance Act had started the process in 1893, but revisions in the law were still being made as late as 1910. Through collective organizations like the Master Car Builders’ Association, standards for everything from hand-holds to the printing of dimensional data and reporting marks were being standardized across all common-carrier railroads. The 1905 Common Design hoppers both reflect those changes and helped implement them as railroads realized the benefits of shared designs.

These standards allowed a more safe and efficient interchange of cars between railroads. The improvements in these steel cars over the older wooden cars meant greater payloads and longer service lives. Many of these cars would serve the railroads as late as the 1940s.

The 1905 hoppers are an important chapter in freight car history, but they are far from the end of the story. These cars cleared a path for similar developments with other car designs in the years leading up to World War I. It was during the War that the cars would take the next step towards a truly standard design under the auspices of the USRA. We’ll look at those cars and see their roots in these 1905 Common Design and the PRR’s GLa in the coming weeks.





Freight Car Friday – Gunderson Freight Cars

22 08 2014

Nelson Gunderson arrived on the shores of what would become the state of Washington with literally nothing but the clothes on his back after his ship wrecked off the coast. It is ironic that the company which would later bear the Gunderson name would become such a powerful player in, of all things, transportation.

New Image

Gunderson’s most prevalent contribution to the freight car scene today are its numerous double-stack well cars. These cars have come a long way from their first prototypes.

The company that grew into a leader in railcar production, among other things, started with Nelson’s sons Al and Chet. The brothers’ first business ventures surrounded wheels, rims, and automotive parts. In 1936, they began building trailers for the logging industry. In 1941, they built their first ship – a tug boat for a ferry on the Columbia River.

During WWII, Gunderson built a variety of supplies and parts for the Navy. Their first payment for building landing craft at a newly constructed plant arrived just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition to contracts, the war also brought challenges in obtaining materials and labor. Gunderson began welding schools to train the workforce it needed during the war – a practice that was retained and even expanded in peacetime.

multimax

With decks that convert from 2 to 3 levels, the MultiMax represents the cutting edge in auto transport.

Following the war, maritime production continued at the heart of Gunderson’s business. A substantial truck construction, sales and maintenance division remained as well. The company also ventured into water and fuel tanks, dry docks, leaves and canal gates, and structural steel. There were many experiments, failed attempts and missed opportunities along the way, but Gunderson always found success when they needed it and never failed to stop looking for the next opportunity.

Gunderson’s big break in the railroad industry came with an order for 150 steel underframes for the Southern Pacific in the 1950s. The company quickly realized that these “small” projects (compared to shipping barges, tug boats and tankers at least) were profitable and fast – meaning lots of repeat business. The SP liked the product they were getting and continued to up the order – by the end the project had grown to more than 2000 frames.

twin stackIn 1960, Gunderson went from supplying underframes to building the entire car with an order of 200 drop-bottom gondolas for the Union Pacific. The drop-bottom gon is not an easy car to build and when the newcomer to the industry pulled it off, the railroads took notice. Soon Gunderson was expanding their car shops and taking in orders.

The Gunderson’s brothers left the company in the 1960s, with the corporation itself sold to FMC. But the name was changed to the Marine and Rail Equipment Division (MRED) but its reputation for quality continued. Car production expanded through the 1960s and 1970s. The company was an early proponent of welded car construction. It also capitalized greatly on the boxcar boom of the 1970s. FMC production peaked 6.027 freight cars in 1979.

ABOX

The boxcar boom and bust of the 1970s and 80s helped boost and nearly broke the builder. Thirty years later, the cars and company are both survivors.

In 1980 however, the bottom dropped out of the boxcar market. In 1982, the company built a total of just 25 railcars. Rather than throw in the towel, FMC simply continued its tradition of looking for the next big thing. It found it in the intermodal market.

FMC introduced an innovative new intermodal car in partnership with the Santa Fe. Itel later bought the rights to the car and more than 700 more were built for them. These new cars featured 10 articulated platforms, each of which was little more than a frame and a pad for a trailer’s tires. The lightweight car reduced weight and the articulated joints reduced the amount of coupler slack in the train.

centerbeam

Gunderson’s centerbeam flatcars were for the lumber industry what well cars were for intermodal.

In 1984, FMC partnered with Greenbrier to design and build a new double stack well car. As all of this was taking shape, FMC sold off the division. Greenbrier would be the primary shareholder. The Gunderson name was formally returned the company after the transaction with permission from the family. At first there was strong resistance from the railroads to the new double stack cars. Concerns over a high center of gravity and the requirement of higher clearances created real operating challenges for the railroads. With pressure from the container shipping companies however, the railroads began buying the cars. One look at the railroad scene today is all the proof you need of their success.

In addition to intermodal equipment, Gunderson was an early builder of new center partition flat cars or “center beams” for the lumber industry. The new cars greatly reduced loading and unloading times as well as damages while increasing capacity compared to conventional boxcars.

The Gunderson AutoMax is the largest auto rack on the rails.

The Gunderson AutoMax is the largest auto rack on the rails.

And so from the lows of 1982, by 1987 the company commanded a 50% share of the total freight car market for well cars and centerbeam flats. Soon new boxcar and gondola designs were added. In the 1990s, the Husky Stack well car emerged as the new mainstay of their intermodal sales. The Auto-Max articulated autorack came along in 1997. In 1999, the company marked the milestone of its 100,000th railcar.

Today Gunderson continues as part of Greenbrier’s larger family of railcar builders. It’s marine operations also continue to build a variety of craft – completing the circle nearly broken off the shores of Washington more than 130 years ago.

 





Freight Car Friday – Pullman Standard 86′ Boxcars

15 08 2014

We’ve covered auto parts boxcars on Freight Car Friday before, but with the new Pullman Standard 86′ cars coming later this year from Lionel, let’s take a closer look at their specific prototype.

Pullman Standard began production of its 86′ 6″ high cube boxcars in 1964 at its Bessemer, AL facility. They were not the first to release a car of this size, but with the efficiencies of the large boxcars proven and auto makers and railroads demanding cars to the new standard, Pullman Standard jumped on the idea.

Pullman Standard built 14 boxcars for the SLSF in 1967. 10 other railroads received similar cars at the time.

Pullman Standard built 14 boxcars for the SLSF in 1967. 10 other railroads received similar cars at the time.

Production of the large cars came in batches. Typically, one railroad would put in a large order. Additional orders from additional roads would then get tacked on to this production run, sometimes these orders could be even larger than the initial one. Doing this allowed Pullman Standard to save costs by ordering raw materials in larger quantity and reduced downtime in having to stage assembly lines for different products. It was not uncommon for five or more railroads to receive cars at the same time.

Conrail operated the largest fleet of autoparts boxcars with cars coming from its own predecessors and many purchased from other carriers. This is a former PRR car built by Pullman in 1966.

Conrail operated the largest fleet of auto parts boxcars with cars coming from its own predecessors and many purchased from other carriers. This X60G class is a former PRR car built by Pullman in 1966.

While there would be some small changes in the details of these cars over the length of their production, within the order blocks construction was very standard. So cars built at the same time for different railroads will share the same details. Interestingly, this often included the stenciling for data on the finished car. Comparing builders photos shows that once the stencils were cut, workers kept using them – even if it meant a different font or size from what the railroad normally specified.

Many of the cars chosen by Lionel for the first run came from the same production run. Our Frisco cars for example carry the Pennsylvania’s “X-60G” class and the “CUSHIONED CAR” graphics are clearly made from the stenciling used on the PRR cars. The Frisco cars were part of order 9275H, the PRR ordered 10 identical cars on order 9275B. Our Santa Fe and Milwaukee Road cars were also part of this big 1967 order.

The Milwaukee Road ordered 5 cars at the same time as the Frisco car seen above. This too was an "X60G."

The Milwaukee Road ordered 5 cars at the same time as the Frisco car seen above. This too was an “X60G.”

The first order of the cars went to the Pennsylvania, with 152 being assembled in November – December 1964. Add on orders quickly followed for the New York Central and N&W into January. These were all 4-door cars like the Lionel models. As soon as these orders were filled, production shifted to 8-door cars in January, 1965, with the PRR again showing the lead order (50 cars). Add on orders for identical cars came from the B&O, Milwaukee Road, Rock Island, Missouri Pacific, Texas and Pacific, New York Central, Rio Grande, Union Pacific and Southern. Look for Lionel models of these 8-door versions in the future! In total, Pullman put out 476 cars by the end February of 1965.

The Grand Trunk served many auto plants. In addition to cars purchased new, the GT also acquired cars from DT&I.

The Grand Trunk served many auto plants. In addition to cars purchased new, the GT also acquired cars from DT&I. The Lionel models represent prototypes built for DT&I in 1966.

By the time production ended in 1969, the Bessemer plant had turned out 2,689 total boxcars. 2,125 of these were the four-door model with just 564 of the eight-door cars built. The 8-door cars were preferred by General Motors for their Chevrolet and Oldsmobile lines. Ford and Chrysler both specified 4-door cars for their pools and the 4-door cars could be found at some GM plants as well.

The late 1960s were colorful years on American railroads and these boxcars fit right in with that craze. As these cars operated in regular pools between specific plants, it was not uncommon to see cars from several different railroads mixed together in the same train. And as the familiar names on the sides of the cars disappeared into mergers, new bold paint schemes came forward to take their place. The sales of these cars between companies have led to some interesting pedigrees – cars built for the New York Central now work for Union Pacific, while Norfolk Southern and CSX both roster cars originally from the Santa Fe.

Higher Cube? CSX has rebuilt some former Conrail cars to make them even taller! This rebuilt car serving its fourth owner and wearing NYC reporting marks for the second time

Higher Cube? CSX has rebuilt some former Conrail cars to make them even taller! Don’t be fooled by the NYC reporting marks; Pullman Standard built this car for the Pennsylvania.

Today, these cars continue to show up on freight trains in auto parts and other service roles. Some have been repainted four or more times through mergers and sale. Others continue to display their heritage to this day, albeit in well-weathered form. No longer the biggest things on rails, these High-Cube boxcars are still as impressive as they were when they hit the scene nearly 50 years ago.

 





Freight Car Friday – The Juice Train

8 08 2014

Thirsty for a more efficient way of moving fresh product, Tropicana Products teamed with the railroads to create a novel service which remains one of the most distinctive unit trains to be found anywhere, the “Juice Train.” While the cars, the routes and even the railroads have changed since its inception, one thing has always remained constant; keeping “the Juice” moving is a dispatcher’s top priority.

Juice Train

The Juice Train highballs north on CSX on a late spring evening. The train has just crossed the historic Thomas Viaduct near Baltimore and its sweet contents will be on local delivery trucks by tomorrow morning.

The unique operation began in 1970 when Tropicana started shipping juice from its Bradenton, Florida processing plant north in large insulated boxcars. By 1971, 150 new dedicated cars from Fruit Growers Express gave the company enough equipment for several complete unit train sets. The roster was soon expanded to 250 cars, some with refrigeration units added to help maintain temperatures on the hottest days of the year when insulation alone wasn’t quite enough.

Initially the train used Seaboard Coast Line, Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac and Penn Central rails on its run from Tampa to Kearny, New Jersey. The last part of the run put the train under the catenary and GG-1 and E44 electric locomotives could often be found on the point.

modern Tropicana car

Tropicana’s newest cars returned to the white color of the first train but with today’s instantly recognizable trademark graphics. The satellite-controlled refrigeration units were but a dream when the original cars were delivered however.

Railroad mergers changed the names to CSX and Conrail. As Conrail rolled back its freight operations on the Northeast Corridor, the route shifted to the nearly parallel CSX, former B&O line north of Alexandria, Virginia before riding former Reading and Lehigh Valley rails. Because of the priority schedule of the train however, it will be rerouted if a derailment or major construction project prevents timely service on the normal route. It has run as far west as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on its trip north.

What started with just two 60-car trains a week has grown to as many as 10 weekly trains, including new runs to Cincinnati, Ohio. Train lengths can vary from as few as a few dozen cars to well over 60 depending on the season. In 1999, a new Jersey City, NJ facility was opened on the north end. A new facility in Ft. Pierce, Florida now sees connecting cars coming from the Florida East Coast Railway as well. And in addition to the New Jersey and Ohio unit trains there are several carloads of juice shipped daily to California’s City of Industry via CSX and Union Pacific – often on the head end of priority double-stack trains for fast handling.

insulated boxcar

Many of the older cars still carry the orange paint scheme. Note the small refrigeration units added below the floor of these insulated boxcars.

Empty cars returning south receive less priority but must still be moved efficiently to ensure a constant supply. At times the cars have returned in solid unit trains. Other times cars were sent back as they were emptied as part of regular mixed-train consists.

Even people who don’t know a lot about trains can easily relate to the taste of fresh orange juice. That makes the Juice Train the perfect marketing tool for all companies involved. And the freight cars themselves are really a major part of this train’s appeal.

CSX reefer

CSX owned reefers show up in the trains as well, some with Tropicana markings.

The Juice Train isn’t just a rolling refrigerator, it’s also a gigantic billboard. The large cars have worn a variety of paint schemes featuring the Tropicana logos – modern “billboard reefers” for sure! At times painted white, orange or even dark blue, the long train of bright cars with the familiar trademarks makes quite a statement as it rolls along its heavily populated corridor. In 2012 the train’s unique character made it the perfect subject for a promotional article and video for General Electric’s locomotives as well as CSX’s performance and service.

There have been several different types of cars used on the Juice Train since 1970, from insulated 50′ boxcars to modern mechanical reefers. In addition to Tropicana’s cars, leased cars from CSX and FGE have also been employed when needed during peak times. The initial order of cars came from FGE. Since then PC&F and Trinity have supplied equipment. Today’s train often includes a mix of the modern white Trinity cars along with some of the older PC&F and FGE cars in a mixture of the new white and older orange schemes.

Whether you enjoy studying freight cars, railroad operations or just a refreshing glass of OJ, the Juice Train is certainly a fun part of the railroad scene!