The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Friday, July 6, 2012

Winther Refrigerator Week: Part III, A PFE Trio

To close our look at American OO refrigerator cars by OO pioneer Howard Winther, we have a great set of PFE cars.

Several things are clear looking at these in comparison to other cars featured that were built by Winther. Above all though these are early examples of his craftsmanship. Note that all of the cars of this set of three are hand lettered. They all ride on his now familiar scratchbuilt trucks seen in a number of photos of his cars, and all also have his early couplers bent from sheet stock.

The first car is PFE with an SP herald. I believe the herald is a printed piece applied to the car side.

This is clearer with the second car today, this PFE reefer with a UP herald.

Also note that the lettering is simplified on all these cars in that only the major lettering you would really see is there. Time was not spent to hand letter all the small numbers and such back when these were made, I believe sometime around 1935 based on the photos of the other models. In fact these could be among  his earliest models, as the 1934 article on his layout in The Modelmaker states that "At present there are 11 freight cars in use, mostly refrigerators." Imagine this trio rolling around his layout back in that day! They were great models.

The third car of the set has a Western Pacific herald. Note that this one is just a bit worse for the wear after storage in that a truck came apart. Winther packed his OO gauge models up carefully in wood boxes due to several moves made later in his life, which is why these models are in overall such excellent condition today. It is like they were packed up in a time capsule.

The last photo is a close up made from the previous photo. If you zoom in on any of these photos the pencil guide lines for the lettering are visible. Hand lettering such as this is a skill, and to match three cars so closely is another testament to his craftsmanship.

With that we come to the end of the Winther photos. For those just stumbling on to these now I would point back to these two articles as the essential background reading.
It rare to see early models such as these, but especially so to see early models that were featured in The Modelmaker and The Model Railroader and won awards at the time. Thank you again to the Winther family for sharing these photos of models by an real American OO pioneer, Howard Winther.

Return to the beginning of Winther Refrigerator Week

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