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

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Post-War Scale-Craft Reefer

A few years ago now I posted an article on pre-war Scale-Craft reefers (more here). These models are quite distinct from their post-war reefers, and it is time for a look at those as well.

I did not address the topic of Scale-Craft reefers in the 1946 series but I think that S-C started shipping out the new reefers in 1946. Certainly they wanted to, as they updated the instructions/packing sheet for the OOF-609 reefer in February of 1946. At that point they did not update the drawings (which still show the sand-cast doors and hatches) but the text makes clear that they had moved on from the older version of the model. We read for example “As the doors are stamped metal, instead of castings, it will not be necessary to drill them as shown on the drawing. Lay in position on sides and attach with bank pins.”

But was that actually new text? No, actually, as another instruction sheet I have a copy of is dated June 23, 1941 and has the same text about the stamped metal doors, along with a page that explains how to make “war emergency” ice hatches out of wood strip. So by 1941 they were no longer shipping out the original version of the car with the bronze parts.

The “small” ice hatches are a post-war addition to the model and were packed with their own set of instructions, seen here. Dated 2-14-46, these hatches are a lot smaller than the original hatches and are actually underscale. In fairness, the original hatches were certainly overscale, but something correctly scaled would have been about half way between the two versions. If you put the effort into the assembly though they would operate, which was a nice upgrade.

Then we get to a bit of a mystery. The 1947 “Hollywood” catalog listed four different versions of this reefer. There we find these listings:
  • OOF-607 Has over-hanging roof with no ribs and no platform for the ice hatches. A.R.A. brake wheel, ladders, and has end sills with poling pockets.
  • OOF-608 Has over-hanging roof with roof ribs, A.R.A. brake wheel, poling pockets and grab irons.
  • OOF-609 Has over-hanging roof with roof ribs, A.R.A. brake wheel and ladders.
  • OOF-610 Has Murphy-type roof with roof ribs and Ajax brake wheel.
All the photos with this listing in the catalog are old photos reprinted from pre-war catalogs, so they are of little help. Were four different versions actually shipped out?

All the kits boxes I have are marked OOF-609. But another mystery: the Round Lake catalog (the final S-C catalog) lists only one version of the car and that is listed as OOF-607! And they still illustrate the original car with the sand cast doors and hatches in the last catalog, by then nearly ten years after that version had gone out of production.

The two cars seen in the photos are from my collection. Both are basically stock, and one is still unpainted. On one car the ice hatches were installed incorrectly – can you tell which one?

From the photos you can see also one big flaw of this car if you look close (click on the photos for a better view), which is why I am still not sure what I will do with the unpainted car that came to me nearly finished as seen. Both of the cars are supposed to have scribed sides/ends but on both the scribing on the sides in particular is very faint and not nearly as well done as on the typical pre-war version of this car. I may use printed sides instead to finish the unpainted car.

Overall the model comes off as sort of a combination of upgraded parts and parts that are not as good as the older version, something that must have been very apparent to those active in OO gauge at the time.

As a final note, some of the late Scale-Craft instruction sheets for other models were printed with the Round Lake address, but I don’t have any for this car. They may well be out there, as I have them for other items. And as noted in my longer article on S-C boxes, I have yet to find any instruction sheets or boxes with the Hollywood address, just that catalog and the price sheet and order form associated with it.

To close, elements of the kit could have been better executed by the manufacturer. But still, it is one of the items Scale-Craft upgraded for the post-war market and is one commonly seen.


Steve Neubaum said...

Ice hatches could be found both ways on real cars. Santa Fe had theirs mounted as they were on the sand cast hatches, with the hinges on the outside, but the typical method was with the hinges on the inside. My guess is that in those days, finding this info was limited to what you saw in magazines or at your local rail line, so if one lived along the Santa Fe, he would assume that is how the hatches are mounted.

John Ericson said...

Interesting to know. The instructions for the car show the hinges on the inside.

Steve Neubaum said...

The instructions show the usual way hatches opened. If you are interested, a Google Image search on Santa Fe reefer hatches turns up some images showing old builder photos, which show the unusual hatches on Santa Fe cars.