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Kitbashing the Lackawanna's Twin Milk Reefers

 

WARNING: The following dissertation contains modeling methods which may be appalling.

The Lackawanna's milk car fleet consisted of many ancient, wooden milk reefers and only two steel milk reefers. These 'Twins' as I call them were constructed in 1957 and seem to have been the only mechanically refrigerated reefers the Lackawanna ever constructed. Lately I've been actually putting together some kits I've collected over the past several years. In looking for prototype photos to assist in this process, I encountered several of these steel twins.

After pleading with everyone I know who might know something about these cars, I decided they sounded easy enough to model. The prototype was converted from a standard AAR 40 foot steel box car with some minor changes (see below) Being as I'm always on a budget, and I'd rather a car stand up to handling, I opted to start with an undecorated Accurail kit.

The main difference between this reefer and the box car is the mechanical refrigeration. This pokes itself into our eyes via an interesting vent on only one side of each car. To construct this vent, I did some calculations (proportions, really) based on the images available to me. I haven't seen this car in full broadside, so estimations worked for me.

Bill of Materials

  • Accurail Undecorated #3500 AAR 40' Steel Box Car kit
  • Evergreen 4031 Clapboard .030" Spacing .040" Thick 5' x 1.5'
  • Evergreen Sheet styrene 9030 Plain .030" Thick 5' x 2.5'
  • Evergreen 8204 HO Scale 2x4 9' long
  • Evergreen 8206 HO Scale 2x6
  • Miscellaneous Evergreen pieces.

 

I took a piece of Evergreen 4031 clapboard and cut two pieces 5' x 1.5'

(one for each car.) I cemented each of them onto a piece of the previously cut 2.5' x 5' Evergreen 9030 plain styrene.

There is an arm extending about 4 feet from the side of the vent towards the center of the car. (Bob Bahrs tells me this was a slide, used to move the whole vent unit over for servicing.) This I modeled with a length of scale 2x4. I cut it 9 feet long and let the 4 feet extend out. Next I cemented some scale 2x6 around the vent housing, leaving the area around the arm open. On the far end of the slide, I glued a small piece of styrene to keep the arm away from the car side.

It looks like sheet metal is folded over the top section of the vent housing. I modeled it with a piece of 20# paper. I cut a strip of paper to 5 feet by what ever the length of the paper was. (It was only a notepad, but I had more than enough.)

I cut a scale 9 inch length of this 5 foot strip and cemented it in the space between the vent/clapboard and the 2x6 framing. This neatly covers the arm. I then cut another piece of the scale 5 foot paper to about 3 scale feet. Holding the edge just short of the clapboad, I folded this over the top of the framing and glued it on the top edge (6 inch side) of the top framing.

After that dried, I folded the same piece back over itself so that it stuck out the side that would show, and carefully trimmed the excess off so that I had a 6 inch flap. This flap gets glued to the face of the car when the vent unit is installed.

Other differences on this reefer are an apparent exhaust vent between the rungs of the ladder below the vent and 3 small access doors. The exhaust vent I modeled by cutting a piece of metal walkway from my parts box (Yes, I now have a parts box!) It may have been N-scale, but I'm not sure. I cut a lkength of it about 2 feet long and cemented it on the car.

Below this, I cemented a long door fabricated from some strip styrene. I measures about 9 inches by 3 feet. Hinges for this and the other two doors were made by cutting some scale 1x2 and cementing them onto the door.

The other two small doors are about 1.5 feet square and are located on the other side of the car on the vent end.

Photo Sources

The best photo source for this model would be the Erie/DLW Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by Larry DeYoung and Mike Del Vecchio.

A rather good photo of both sides of this car can be found in Bob Bahrs' book: Railway Milk Cars, Vol. 3.

I painted the car bodies and roofs Floquil Pollyscale Flat Aluminum. The underbody, I painted Floquil Grimy black.

For decals, I used the Microscale #87-890 Merchants Despatch 40' Refrigerator Car set for the data. I created my own using Arial and a Railroad Roman font for the words 'Lackawanna', 'Milk', and the D.L.W. reporting marks.

My aim was to create something which greatly resembled those twin steel reefers for my layout and for the modular club that I run stuff on while my layout gestates. I think I succeeded and it was basically a two evening job except for the painting and decaling.

 


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