John Houlihan’s PFE Reefer
John Houlihan lives in Fresno, CA, and is well known around the NMRA’s Pacific Coast Region as the “Irish Tracklayer”. John models the Southern Pacific in O scale. What is less well known about John is what he keeps in his basement.
John has managed to collect, literally board by board, most of a wood sheathed Pacific Fruit Express reefer car side. John found the car abandoned in a field and began removing a few boards at a time after marking their original sequence on the car side. The eight to ten boards he removed with each salvage operation was all that he could fit in his vehicle.
Over a period of time he retrieved a sizable portion of one exterior wall and the interior ceiling. He had to remove decades of dirt, mud and insect infestations from the wood. These boards the now adorn one wall and the ceiling of the den adjacent to his basement layout. The exterior boards exhibit most of one car side as it appeared when the car was removed from service.
From the stenciling on the boards (See the attached photos) the car’s identity is -
Car Number: PFE 7322
Immediately adjacent to the class designation stenciling of R-30-5 is “-11 ½”. This additional stenciling is clearly evident in the photo and indicates a sub-class of the R-30-5 cars. (Other PFE refrigerator car classes had such additional sub-class designations.)
This subclass indicated an upgrading similar to the upgrades received by some later classes of PFE reefers. The upgrades were based on temperature tests conducted jointly by PFE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1915-1916.
PFE 7322 was built by Pullman and was one of 3,021 cars of the R-30-5 class. It was part of Lot 5193, which included PFE 7101 through 8121. All 3,021 cars were built just prior to passage of the 1911 Safety Appliance Act and were only operated a short time before the Act required them to be upgraded. This was done in the years 1911-1913 to meet the requirements of the Act.
Only sixty-six cars of the R-30-5 class, with their original numbers, were on the roster by 1940. Only one was left by 1947. It is possible some of the sister cars were rebuilt into different refrigerator car classes but I cannot state that as a fact.
Additional information on these cars can be found in the book, Pacific Fruit Express. An image appears on Page 79.
Westerfield featured HO scale models of the R-30-5 in both pre- and post-1911 Safety Appliance Act versions but these currently are out of production. These were kits 4903 and 4953, respectively.
My error…the Westerfield kits are again available:
Hi Bob: I am enjoying reading your Citrus Yahoo posts and it was nice to meet you at the AT&SF Convention.
I just saw your post about the guy who is lining his den with reefer siding. Sounds really neat.
I do need to correct you on the R-30-4/5/6 reefers, though.
These ARE available again from Westerfield Models. Kit series 4900, please see the below link: https://id18538.securedata.net/westerfieldmodels.com/merchantmanager/index.php?cPath=124
Or please see my website: www.westerfieldmodels.com