Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wordy Wednesday - PFE R-30-12 & -13 Grab Irons

PFE 21919 with with five straight grab irons above the side sill at right edge of the car side, built Feb. 1923 straight grab irons at right edge of the car side, built Feb. 1923, reconditioned July 1938, courtesy of Bill Welch
The PFE R-30-12 and -13 reefers were incredibly numerous (11,900 -12s and 7,654 -13s plus 2,775 Western Pacific cars built to the -13 design*) and I've even written about them, but it was not until yesterday that I became aware of the fact that they had different numbers of grab irons depending upon when built. Granted, I had never looked that closely since I do not need any in my model fleet. Nonetheless, it's an interesting detail that I had not seen profiled. Credit goes primarily to Al Hoffman for spotting the trend and Ed Hawkins for digging into details with Al.
PFE (WP) 51340, also with five straight grab irons above the side sill at right edge of the car side, built July 1923, Rosedale, Kansas, Joe Collias Collection
The Western Pacific contributed 2,775 cars to the PFE fleet, including PFE 51340 shown above, with with five straight grab irons above the side sill at right edge of the car side.


PFE 36430, an R-30-13, built July 1926, with six straight grab irons above the side sill at right edge of the car side. Michael Urac Collection
Beginning with cars built ca. 1924, an extra grab iron was added at the right edge of the car side. It is an interesting change that the model manufacturers have not incorporated into their offerings. They have (understandably) hewed to one or the other number of grabs, but not both. Red Caboose, chose six, as shown below, on the factory lettered PFE 26219 as modeled by me over a decade ago. Yet another detail to be considered... informed is forewarned, especially for you 1920s to mid-1940s modelers!


*Pacific Fruit Express (Thompson, Church, Jones, Signature Press) makes reference to some number of the cars being built to the -12 design, which is certainly plausible, but to my knowledge, no photo documentation of such cars has surfaced for review.

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