The Pennsy Modeler

In order to portray Pennsylvania Railroad and interchange partners as accurately as possible, this blog contains articles which are essentially notes to myself, but are shared should the community desire the same information.

Articles are sorted by modification date, so if an existing article receives an update it will be presented at the top of the list again.


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.

RAILC X 40b 3w

Over the years, many lettering "schemes" have graced the sides of the Pennsy's vast fleet of rolling stock used in freight revenue service. This is a brief summary of an article by Brady McGuire which originally appeared in the Summer 1988 (Vol.21 No.2) issue of The Keystone, published by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. I highly recommend referring to the original text which contained much more information, prototype photos as examples, and official painting and lettering diagrams.

For modeling purposes, please remember that a particular scheme could be seen well after the period indicated below for the scheme. The period indicated represents what scheme would be applied to a car if painted during the period in question. But many cars, especially gondolas, were rarely repainted. For instance, a Circle Keystone gondola might be seen well into the 1960s...or even today!

Lettering banners and slogans were periodic modifications to lettering schemes which were not tied to a specific scheme but rather to a type of service or concept. For example, "Merchandise Service" or "Buy War Bonds".

reefer train.jpgAs of 1954, the PRR's "Makeup of Trains" consist books list show only PRR reefers used in the creation of passenger trains. With few exceptions, class R50b is prescribed. Videos and photos, however, show Railway Express Agency reefers in use as well, though to a lesser extent.

The following table was created from data contained in The Official Railway Equipment Register.


General Information

Gregg Mahlkov writes "Fresh fruits and vegetables went to two types of consignees. The largest portion, by 1954, would have gone to grocery store chain warehouses, like Acme Markets of Philadelphia. The remainder would have gone to the "Pennsylvania Produce Terminals" in the larger cities, where it was sold by brokers who maintained offices and leased trackage in the terminal and sold to restaurants and independent grocery stores."

These are the paint schemes applied to the GG1 over the course of the Pennsy. The green was actually darker, but is shown light here in order to contrast with black.

Early Prototype Scheme
1934 PRR: Dark Green, block pinstriping, small number keystone

1934: 4899/4800 only. (unit changed numbers in this scheme)

Developed by the PRR, this scheme predates the Loewy design. A similar design was used on the R1 experimental.

gg1 bbg

 ColorStrates2 e1493743521195

strates posterStrates Shows, America's only railroad carnival, travels the United States during a seven-month season, transporting personnel and equipment with 61 rail cars and 34 trucks. Traveling with the show are some 400 employees and families who operate the many rides, games and concessions.


In HO scale, the X37, X37A, and X37B box cars are available as resin kits from Funaro & Camerlengo. In addition to the decals in the kits, Mount Vernon Shops offers decals for the series. Kits were once offered by Sunshine Models, now out of business.

Interestingly, the three X37 sub-classes had different interior heights. The X37 was 10'4", the X37A 10'6", and the X37B 10'8".

 WALTH 5885

Bob Johnson's comments, as coordinator of the archives of the PRRT&HS:

a - As built the cars were painted with Tuscan Red body, Metallic Brown roof, Olive trucks and underbody equipment, Black handholds and ironwork (underframe and sill steps), and Gold Leaf lettering edged with a 1/16" Black line. Side lettering included a 6" high "PENNSYLVANIA", 6" car number with figures spaced 1 1/2" apart, 4" high "AMERICAN RAILWAY EXPRESS", and 4" high "REFRIGERATOR". End lettering was 4" high "P.R.R." and car number. Lettering style was the older Block Type with coved letters "P", "S", "R", "C" and "G".

b - On 4-4-1929 "AMERICAN RAILWAY EXPRESS" was changed to "RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY, INC." It's possible that the last few cars built received this lettering as built. I haven't seen any photos showing this style.

c - On 10-15-1929 the lettering was simplified to "RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY".

d - On 8-14-1930 the end numbers were removed.

e - On 10-21-1930 the side numerals were spaced 2 3/8" apart and the 4" lettering was spaced wider.

f - On 7-9-1936 the lettering was changed from Gold Leaf to Buff Lettering Color, still edged with Black. I believe this is Walthers 5881 (below), "prewar", except I'm not sure about the black edging.

bernard auto train 4002 and train 1972 03 25 ashland va 01 1000x

Nope, no Pennsy content here! I've always been a closet Auto Train fan, ever since it was first featured in Model Railroader in December 1972 and January 1973. I had the privilege of riding the train later in 1973.

auto train m book by doug riddell 2016 001 450xauto-train
by Doug Riddell

Published in 2016 by Doug Riddell with the underwriting of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad Historical Society, auto-train is the definitive work on the auto-train Corp. story to date.

At 218 pages, the book is filled with tales of the auto-train, from its first days to its last -- all lavishly illustrated with hundreds of color photos.


This table cross references Pennsy electric locomotives by class, type, sub class, sub class designator, year of introduction, and availability of HO scale models.

Eventually, clicking on minor class number will link to a class-specific page which will include prototype builder data, specifications, unit rosters, and unit photos.

Corrections and additions to this page are welcome. However, please refrain from submitting roster and subclass information for classes whose class detail pages have not yet been created. Thank you.