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N Scale - Atlas - 3661 - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - Pacific Fruit Express - 300171

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N Scale - Atlas - 3661 - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - Pacific Fruit Express - 300171


N Scale - Atlas - 3661 - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - Pacific Fruit Express - 300171


Brand Atlas
Stock Number 3661
Original Retail Price $2.75
Manufacturer Atlas Model Railroad
Production Type Regular Production
Body Style Atlas Reefer 50 Foot Plug Door Mechanical
Prototype Type Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical (Details)
Road or Company Name Pacific Fruit Express (Details)
Reporting Marks PFE
Road or Reporting Number 300171
Paint Color(s) Orange Silver Black
Print Color(s) Black
Coupler Type Rapido Hook
Coupler Mount Truck-Mount
Wheel Type Nickel-Silver Plated Metal
Wheel Profile Deep Flange
Release Date 1978-01-01
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Reefer
Model Subtype 50 Foot
Model Variety Plug Door Mechanical
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era IV: 2nd Gen Diesel (1958 - 1978)
Scale 1/160



Model Information: Apparently dissatisfied with the Roco-produced 50 foot mech reefer from 1969, Atlas made a completely new tooling in 1975. This new version featured riveted sides (the Roco version had rib sides). The tooling was moved to China in the 1990s along with all their other molds and production. By December 2006, this tooling was a bit long in the tooth and Atlas reclassified the model and continued production under the Trainman® line.

Four of the early reefers in this sequence (3241, 3242, 3243 and 3244) do not seem to appear in any of the 1970s Atlas catalogs, but they definitely exist. Apparently Atlas was having some serious numbering issues with these reefers. The first four 3241..3244 (at least I think they were the first four) were assigned MPN's that had already been used for their Shorty Tank cars. Then they mis-numbered the 1978 catalog listings as 3551... which apparently was a catalog error, because no such reefers exist. Atlas finally settled on 3651... which is what *most* of the earliest releases used (the original 4 being the exception) and the 1980 catalog is corrected to reflect this. We believe the date of production for these cars was 1975.

This model was also repainted by several of the aftermarket redecorators including Aksarben and Bev-Bel.

Prototype History:
The purpose of a mechanical reefer is to keep perishable items cold. Early reefers were of all wood construction and used ice for cooling. By the 1940s, new reefers were being built entirely of steel. Insulating techniques improved to the point where economical refrigeration could be accomplished using steel side plates in place of wood sheathing. Fifty foot mechanical reefers date back to at least the late 50s / early 60s.

The mechanical reefers could keep a more regular temperature, and often times colder than what the ice bunker cars were capable of. 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.

Road Name History:
Pacific Fruit Express (reporting mark PFE) was an American railroad refrigerator car leasing company that at one point was the largest refrigerator car operator in the world. The company was founded on December 7, 1906 as a joint venture between the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads. It began operation on October 1, 1907, with a fleet of 6,600 refrigerator cars built by the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF).

In 1923, the Western Pacific Railroad joined the venture by leasing its own, brand new fleet of 2775 reefers to PFE. They were painted in standard PFE colors with only WP heralds on the cars instead of the paired UP-SP markings. The WP cars were all retired by the late 1950s, among the last wooden reefers in PFE's fleet. WP ended its partnership with PFE in late 1967 and joined Fruit Growers Express instead.

PFE's assets were divided between the UP and SP when the company was split on April 1, 1978. It is now a UP subsidiary.

Brand/Importer Information:
In 1924 Stephan Schaffan, Sr. founded the Atlas Tool Company in Newark, New Jersey. In 1933 his son, Stephan Schaffan, Jr., came to work for his father at the age of sixteen. Steve Jr. built model airplanes as a hobby and frequented a local hobby shop. Being an enterprising young man, he would often ask the owner if there was anything he could do to earn some extra spending money. Tired of listening to his requests, the hobby-store owner threw some model railroad track parts his way and said, "Here, see if you can improve on this".

In those days, railroad modelers had to assemble and build everything from scratch. Steve Jr. created a "switch kit" which sold so well, that the entire family worked on them in the basement at night, while doing business as usual in the machine shop during the day.

Subsequently, Steve Jr. engineered the stapling of rail to fiber track, along with inventing the first practical rail joiner and pre-assembled turnouts and flexible track. All of these products, and more, helped to popularize model railroading and assisted in the creation of a mass-market hobby. The budding entrepreneur quickly outgrew the limitations of a basement and small garage operation. Realizing they could actually make a living selling track and related products, Steve and his father had the first factory built in Hillside, New Jersey at 413 Florence Avenue in 1947. On September 30, 1949, the Atlas Tool Company was officially incorporated as a New Jersey company.

In 1985, Steve was honored posthumously for his inventions by the Model Railroad Industry Association and was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, Steve was nominated and entered into the National Model Railroad Association Pioneers of Model Railroading in 1995.

In the early 1990s, the Atlas Tool Company changed its name to Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc.

Manufacturer Information: 'Atlas Model Railroad' represents the New Jersey manufacturing facility for Atlas brand model railroad products. Atlas also imported European made models in their early years and those items will be noted as having manufacturers set appropriately. In the 1990s Atlas moved all their toolings to China.

Item created by: gdm on 2017-03-25 18:53:51. Last edited by Alain LM on 2020-06-23 13:54:53

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