Modeling small refrigerator cars

There are few offerings of highly detailed smaller, steel HO refrigerator cars though, if one looks at 1960s and early to mid 1970s images of freight operations, ’40 foot steel refrigerator cars were still fairly common.  The PFE had many variations.


Accurail offers a reasonably detailed version that with a few updates looks pretty good.


The kit is pretty detailed but I did replace the running boards and couplers (Kadee) and installed brakes hoses (Kadee), pin lifters (Tangent) and scale wheels (Exactrail).  The molded on details are not ideal, but with proper weathering look OK.  I added an ACI tag as well (Microscale decals).



The Kadee running board helps a lot.


I like the results enough that I have ordered a few more to depict late-1960s, early to mid 1970s operations.  Accurail has upped their game.  Some of the details such as stirrups and beneath the car details have gotten much better.  I truly love the work of Tangent, Moloco, Exactrail, Athearn Genesis and now Arrowhead Models for sure, but it is nice to have other American made cars on the layout to go with my large fleet of Kadee cars.  (Just got my order of Arrowhead Model’s Rio Grande “Committee Design” Hoppers and they are outstanding.)

Note:  Accurail thoughtfully made it easy to install the step up to the door at three different locations.  This series of cars put it to the left of the door.  Other PFE orders (with three rod doors) put it to the right.

Note 2:  Weathering is critical.  This is how the car appeared before weathering began—