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N Scale - Athearn - 11133 - Reefer, 57 Foot, Mechanical, PC&F R-70-20 - Northern Pacific - 1606

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N Scale - Athearn - 11133 - Reefer, 57 Foot, Mechanical, PC&F R-70-20 - Northern Pacific - 1606 Image Courtesy of Horizon Hobby


Stock Number 11133
Brand Athearn
Manufacturer Athearn
Image Provider's Website Link
Body Style MDC Reefer 57 Foot Mechanical
Prototype Vehicle Reefer, 57 Foot, Mechanical, PC&F R-70-20 (Details)
Road or Company Name Northern Pacific (Details)
Reporting Marks NPM
Road or Reporting Number 1606
Paint Color(s) Gray
Print Color(s) Black
Coupler Type AccuMate Magnetic Knuckle
Wheel Type Injection Molded Plastic
Wheel Profile Small Flange (Low Profile)
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Reefer
Model Subtype 57 Foot
Model Variety Mechanical
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era IV: 2nd Gen Diesel (1958 - 1978)
Scale 1/160



Specific Item Information: N RTR 57 foot Mechanical Reefer, NP #1606

Model Information: This tooling was created by MDC and later acquired by Athearn in 2004. The models are based on the Pacific Fruit Express R-70-20 to R-70-24 class of reefers. The MDC versions were usually sold in kit form, though more recent releases were in RTR format. The MDC releases included Rapido couplers and blackened metal wheels.

The most recent releases from Athearn have the following features: Razor sharp printing and painting; Weighted for optimum performance; Body mounted McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers installed; Machined 33” metal wheels; Window packaging for easy viewing; Interior plastic blister safely holds the model for convenient storage; Minimum radius: 10”.

Prototype History:
Pacific Car and Foundry responded to the railroad’s migration from ice stored in bunkers as a primary cooling system to the diesel mechanical systems. The mechanical reefers could keep a more regular temperature, often times colder then what the ice bunker cars could at the time. Initially mechanical reefers were used primarily in frozen food service. This would soon change as mechanical refrigeration began to replace ice-based systems. Soon after, mechanical refrigeration units replaced the “armies” of personnel required to re-ice the cars. Several different deliveries of the PC&F 57’ mechanical to many different railroads in the mid to late 1960s. Many have been rebuilt and are still in service today.

These 50'-10" mechanical refrigerator cars were built by PC&F in 1969-70 and featured 4269 ft3 capacity and a 10'-6" door opening. Note that this body style is sometimes referred to as 57', however, the mechanical refrigeration eqipment takes up space on one end of the car thus leaving a nominal 50' usable inside length for loading. Bangor and Aroostook often leased it’s reefer fleet to Pacific Fruit Express in the off season for the railroad. This turned out to be a peak season for PFE in California. Green Bay and Western purchased several classes of 57’ Mechanicals from the BAR. Many were hastily patched and put into service. The GB&W cars were often seen on the North Western Pacific in California carrying butter from the Humbolt Bay to eastern markets.

Road Name History:
The Northern Pacific Railway (reporting mark NP) was a transcontinental railroad that operated across the northern tier of the western United States from Minnesota to the Pacific Coast. It was approved by Congress in 1864 and given nearly 40 million acres (160,000 km2) of land grants, which it used to raise money in Europe for construction. Construction began in 1870 and the main line opened all the way from the Great Lakes to the Pacific when former president Ulysses S. Grant drove in the final "golden spike" in western Montana on Sept. 8, 1883.

The railroad had about 6800 miles of track and served a large area, including extensive trackage in the states of Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. In addition the company had an international branch to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The main activities were shipping wheat and other farm products, cattle, timber and minerals; bringing in consumer goods, transporting passengers; and selling land.

The company was headquartered first in Brainerd, Minnesota, then in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It had a tumultuous financial history, and in 1970 it merged with other lines to form the Burlington Northern Railroad.

Read more on Wikipedia.

Brand/Importer Information:
Athearn's history began in 1938, when its founder-to-be, Irvin Athearn, started an elaborate O scale layout in his mother's house. After placing an ad selling the layout, and receiving much response to it, Irv decided that selling model railroads would be a good living. He sold train products out of his mother's house through most of the 1940s. After becoming a full-time retailer in 1946, Irv opened a separate facility in Hawthorne, California in 1948, and that same year he branched into HO scale models for the first time.

Athearn acquired the Globe Models product line and improved upon it, introducing a comprehensive array of locomotive, passenger and freight car models. Improvements included all-wheel drive and electrical contact. One innovation was the "Hi-Fi" drive mechanism, employing small rubber bands to transfer motion from the motor spindle to the axles. Another was the double-ended ring magnet motor, which permitted easy connection to all-wheel-drive assemblies. Athearn was also able to incorporate flywheels into double-ended drives.

The company produced a model of the Boston & Maine P4 class Pacific steam locomotive which incorporated a cast zinc alloy base and thermoplastic resin superstructure. It had a worm drive and all power pickup was through the bipolar trucks that carried the tender. This item was discontinued after the Wilson motor was no longer available, and was not redesigned for a more technologically advanced motor.

Athearn's car fleet included shorter-than-scale interpretations of passenger cars of Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad prototypes. The company also offered a variety of scale-length freight cars with sprung and equalized trucks. The cars could be obtained in simple kit form, or ready-to-run in windowed display boxes. The comprehensive scope of the product line contributed to the popularity of HO as a model railroad scale, due to the ready availability of items and their low cost.

Irv Athearn died in 1991. New owners took control in 1994, but continued to follow Athearn's commitment to high-quality products at reasonable prices. Athearn was bought in 2004 by Horizon Hobby. Athearn was then moved from its facility in Compton to a new facility in Carson, California. In mid-2009, all remaining US production was moved to China and warehousing moved to parent Horizon Hobby. Sales and product development was relocated to a smaller facility in Long Beach, California.

Read more on Wikipedia and Athearn website.

Item created by: Chance on 2016-09-19 09:08:06. Last edited by Lethe on 2020-06-01 00:00:00

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