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). 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 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.
Much of this information from http://modelingthesp.com...
Before World War II, Reefer Express cars were regularly in the Coaster and the mail train. After WW II, you see them very rarely in photos of passenger trains. They could have operated in perishable trains.
During strawberry season you could see solid WB consists of express reefers. In San Jose in the early sixties. Every afternoon a train would come into the SJ station, first from the Santa Maria area, then the Salinas-Watsonville area. Eventually headed to eastern markets.
Solid trains of express reefers would be dispatched from Watsonville to eastern markets. Several cars on a siding with placards signifying strawberries.
The AAR Class of passenger reefers, BR cars, of course include PFE cars but also express cars from others in the REA pool, including REX, GN and NRC cars, along with MILW cars which were seen in SP trains in California. - Tony Thompson
The BAR cars were leased off (potato) season to PFE. You would see them loading citrus at the packing houses in Riverside, Ca. from time to time. BAR reefers were common in the early 80's. There seemed to be a fair number of BAR reefers in the same trains as PFE reefers over Donner Pass. From the early 1950s onward, PFE had agreements of varying kinds with BAR to share cars in certain seasons. Whether these continued with SPFE after 1978, I don't know. This is mentioned on page 67 of the PFE book. - Tony Thompson
The BAR refrigerator car fleet numbers below explain why SP had so many on it’s lines in the ’60’s.
BR-1 50' express reefers (originally R-E-1)
Series 500-699 blt 1923 ACF
Series 700-799 blt 1923 GATC
Broadway Limited Imports #187-1453 (right)
Walthers #932-5494 (not shown)
Though PFE cars were not built with platforms, they all had them added in the mid-1930s. It had an arched roof.PaintThe PFE had cars that were painted in green.
PFE fitted 50 rebuilt R-40-10's cars for passenger train service in 1952 and re-classed them as BR-40-10. These only lasted in express service until 1960. These had the 4-4 dreadnought ends with Apex steel grid running board. These cars were equipped with Symington-Gould XL high speed trucks.
These were leased to the American Railway Express.
Lettering & Numbering: There is some lettering to the left of the car number. The upper word is FANS and under that it says STAGE ICING.
R-40-23 Express Reefer
InterMountain #45512 (incorrect)