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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Unique Miniatures ATSF Express Reefer

Digging in the OO Inventory I spotted again this car which is an interesting one, an ATSF express reefer.

Besides being ATSF (with me expanding my ATSF operations lately) it caught my eye that the sides are printed and I have no idea the manufacturer [See UPDATE]. There were a group of American OO modelers on the west coast, perhaps one of them had these made, or perhaps the sides are modified from something produced for use in S gauge. In either case they are I believe a commercial product and were applied to a Picard 50’ body on a Selley frame.

Looking online I also discovered that the model is fairly prototypical in look! Compare the model to this prototype photo linked here.

The builder of this model was David Sacks. In my rebuilding I replaced the trucks and couplers and worked over the frame details. In the files I found this “before” photo, one taken for the OO Inventory. He had glued a large steel weight to the bottom of the car which I removed (it is heavy enough!), and added a set of Cal Scale express reefer brake details that I found in my parts supply.

I touched up paint dings on the body a bit too and replaced a missing ladder. The car still looks a little rough (the finish is not as splotchy under normal light) but I like how it came out and that it has the ATSF mystery maker sides. The trucks I should also note, I am not sure what they are but the side frames are vintage HO parts to which I added Ultimate wheelsets. They resemble the ones in the prototype photo fairly closely. All in all an enjoyable and fairly quick project, this car will see some use again when I run vintage items.

UPDATE: I am fairly sure this is actually a Unique Miniatures OO gauge car. I missed this in the OO series as they don't seem to have actually advertised. However, in my older checklists developed roughly 15 years ago I have a listing for a 1941-42 product by Unique Miniatures of California, a 45' ATSF express reefer. This model fits the bill perfectly. The mystery for me now is how did I have that listed on that checklist? I must have received a tip from someone about this specific, unique model.

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