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First Look Review
N scale
40' Wood Reefer
40' Wood Reefer Doggie Dinner #60126
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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40' Wood Reefer
Company: Doggie Dinner
Reporting Marks: GARE: General American Car Co.
Scale: N (1/160)
Item: 41558
MSRP: $24.95 (Undecorated $13.95)

This highly detailed model is based on the 40' wood refrigerator cars built by Pullman for the Northern Refrigerator Car Co. in 1930. With its rooftop ice hatches, USRA-style fish belly underframe and vertical brake shaft, it is representative of the thousands of similar cars that were built during the "Billboard" era of American railroads. *

Reefer Cars
Refrigerator cars started out built, like all freight cars, of wood. Eventually construction progressed into composite wood-steel construction, and ultimately to metal cars. Hauling meat and milk and fruit and vegetables was a challenge. Originally cooling was achieved by filling the car with lading and then shoveling huge amounts of ice into surrounding voids. Insulation was achieved with compressed horse hair! Later, mechanical and chemical refrigeration replaced frozen water; this lead to the end of icing platforms, a fascinating track side structure. Horse hair was replaced by modern forms of insulation.

Refrigerator cars are favorite models because of elaborate "Billboard" advertisement artwork of the era.

Atlas N 40' Wood Reefer
Atlas packs this 1/160 N scale model with a lot of detail, featuring:

    • Accurate painting and printing including door hinges, ladders, grab irons and end straps
    • Opening roof hatches
    • Realistic handle and latch detail
    • Wood grain finish detail on carbody
    • 40-ton friction bearing trucks
    • Accurate painting and lettering
    • AccuMate® couplers

You may notice the model looks warped. This is distortion of the small model under close-up photography.

Atlas securely packs this model in a formed cradle with a fitted top. Plastic film protects the model from scuffing; the cradle is held inside a hard clear plastic jewel case that both protects and displays the model.

Your 40' wood reefer is molded to a high standard. Impressive fine wood grain texture is molded on the sides. Sure, you couldn't really see wood grain on a car from an N-scale distance, yet the detail is appreciated.

What else does the model offer? Finely molded hardware detail for the doors and sides, ladders and stirrups, opening hatches and latches, and a small separately applied hand brake wheel. The entire model is cleanly molded: no flash, no sink holes, no ejector marks, and no seam lines. The 40-ton friction bearing trucks have good detail for the scale and the wheel sets, while plastic, are molded a dirty brown color. They are compatible with code 55 track. Knuckle couplers by AccuMate® are a big plus.

Plenty. First, the wood grain. Opening roof hatches -- be careful with these because the hatch latch does not seem to move and almost broke when I opened a hatch.

Look the the photos of the underframe. Plenty of brake system detail including triple valve, reservoir, cylinder, actuator arm and levers, and wire brake rods.

The model rolls nicely on Atlas code 80 track and across a Peco turnout. Atlas' 40-foot reefer measures 40 scale feet from end to end. It weighs 1.1 ounces, a smidge more than the recommended NMRA RP-2O.1 Car Weight of .95 oz.

Paint and Livery
Today's standard of finish is very high and Atlas N keeps the bar raised high. I find it incredible just how legible the fine, crisp printing is! Dimensional data, road names and numbers, service markings--you can read it all.

This reefer is marked for General American Car Co.. General American Car Co. reporting marks were GARE, and eliminated in 11/1934 and 7/1935 when changed to GARX; GARX = General American Refrigerator Express Co. (General American Transportation Corp.).

Doggie Dinner of Terra Haute, Indiana, used beef and not horse meat--as advertised on the side of the reefer!

Atlas released this model in eight roadnames:

    1. Doggie Dinner (Yellow/Brown/Red)
    2. Red Top Milk (Yellow/Brown)
    3. Frazier's Packing (Yellow/Brown/Red)
    4. Great Falls Beer (Yellow/Brown)
    5. North Western (Green/Yellow)
    6. Glenbeulah Canning Company (Yellow/Brown)
    7. Plochman & Harrison (Grey/Brown)
    8. Undecorated

Each has two road numbers (listed on the Atlas site).

For N scalers of the billboard era, this is an excellent little model! I am impressed with the paint and markings. The knuckle couplers are great, as are the (frail) positionable hatches. Brake detail, too! Overall molded detail is very good. Although metal wheels would raise the cost of the model, the plastic wheels are a disappointment; at least they are molded in color.

Overall, I think this is a fantasic model.

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad! Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on RailRoadModeling.net.

AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

* Atlas Model Railroad Co.

Ian Cranstone. CANADIAN FREIGHT CARS, A resource page for the Canadian Freight Car Enthusiast. 2011. http://www.nakina.net/index.html.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Excellent paint and printing. Sharp clean molding, knuckle couplers, brake detail, and positionable hatches.
Lows: Plastic wheels.
Verdict: An great addition to your billboard-era N scale layout.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N Scale
  Mfg. ID: 41558
  Suggested Retail: $24.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 04, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Atlas Model Railroad!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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