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

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Billboard Refrigerators, and a Gracline OO Classic

Many manufacturers of American OO sold models of billboard refrigerators. The car below is a nice example by Graceline, with the factory, hand painted sides.

These cars don’t really fit into the primary era of my layout, which centers on the early 1950s, but certainly they are interesting and collectible.

Billboard refrigerators seem to have been something many modelers were interested in back in 1930s especially, which makes sense reading the review of a new book, Billboard Refrigerator Cars, reviewed in the spring, 2009 issue of Classic Trains. There the reviewer wrote,

From World War I through the late 1930’s, the “billboard” refrigerator car was a colorful element in freight trains across the country. This book traces the history of such cars through more than 400 photos of examples from various leasing and ownership groups. Billboard cars were painted in the schemes and logos of packing companies, food processors, breweries, creameries, and other businesses …. the ICC stopped the practice in 1938.

It sounds like a very interesting book. Amazon has it here. Note the Baby Ruth car on the cover. The Graceline version seen here is a bit loose on the details, but for the time was a good example. What OO gauge enthusiast of the late 1930s would not want one? With a growing number of 1930s era and also more modern models I will have to consider the idea of swapping my roster around to run the layout in different eras.

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