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Specific Item Information: MADE IN YUGOSLAVIA molded into bottom of frame.
Model Information: Mehano first started producing this model in the early 1970's for MRC. It is clearly a knock-off of the Roco 40 foot steel reefer of the same time period. Even the under-frames are close to identical! The only simple way to tell the difference between the Roco and Mehano versions are whether they say "Yougoslavia" or "Austria" on the underframe. I am unsure whether the tooling was licensed by Mehano or 'stolen'. The Mehano version was also imported by AHM and Model Power. Later, the tooling became lost or damaged (due to the civil war in Yugoslavia) and Mehano redid the model to carry a more conventional plug door. The new version was imported only by Life-Like.
It was founded in the 1950s by a company that pioneered extruded foam ice chests under the Lifoam trademark. Because ice chests are a summer seasonal item, the company needed a way to keep the factory operating year round. As model railroading was becoming popular in the post-war years, they saw this as an opportunity and so manufactured extruded foam tunnels for model trains. Over the years, Life-Like expanded into other scenery items, finally manufacturing rolling stock beginning in the late 1960s. At some point in the early 1970s, Life-Like purchased Varney Inc. and began to produce the former Varney line as its own.
The Canadian distributor for Life-Like products, Canadian Hobbycraft, saw a missing segment in market for Canadian model prototypes, and started producing a few Canadian models that were later, with a few modifications, offered in the US market with US roadnames.
In 2005, the company, now known as Lifoam Industries, LLC, decided to concentrate on their core products of extruded foam and sold their model railroad operations to Wm. K. Walthers.
Read more on Wikipedia and The Train Collectors Association.
Item created by: gdm on 2017-01-30 17:13:19
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