PENNSYRR.COM by Jerry Britton

Jerry Britton's PRR Middle Division in HO Scale

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Western Fruit Express (WFE) was a railroad refrigerator car leasing company formed by the Fruit Growers Express and the Great Northern Railway on July 18, 1923 in order to compete with the Pacific Fruit Express and Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch in the Western United States. The arrangement added 3,000 cars to the FGE's existing equipment pool. It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation (BNSF), the Great Northern's successor.

The success of the WFE led to the creation of the Burlington Refrigerator Express (BREX) in May 1926.


Notable Number Series

Series 501-550 bore reporting mark WOBX (Overhead bunkers).

Series 60001-63910 were built for the Great Northern and repainted for WFEX upon its creation.

Series 66400-66499 were built in 1942 with plywood sides and lacked air circulating fans.

Series 68000-68399 were built by American Car & Foundry in 1948.

Series 68400-68649 were built by Pacific Car & FOundry in 1949.

Series 68650-69099 were built by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1950.

Series 70290-70999 were built by Pacific Car & FOundry in 1954 and bore reporting mark WHIX (Heavy insulation).

Series 72000-72054 were rebuilt by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1952.

Series 72055-72179 were rebuilt by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1948. 

Series @ 76305.

Paint Schemes

Rick Tipton writes "Starting in 1929, the Western Fruit Express (WFEX) reefer was done in recognizable Fruit-Growers-Express-style lettering; this because FGE contracted to operate and maintain Great Northern's WFE fleet around this date. In 1929 these yellow-sided reefers were probably lettered much like other FGE cars, but carrying a GN herald above the legend "VENTILATOR and REFRIGERATOR" to the right of the door.

By 1948, the standard is known to be FGE-like, and the right half of the carside carried a GN herald with GREAT NORTHERN around a ring, with the side-facing goat inside. Under that herald was a single line "VENTILATOR-REFRIGERATOR".

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InterMountain #47721 - Ventilator/Refrigerator [starting 1948]
In 1950, the herald changed to "GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY". In 1952, the herald stayed "GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY" and lettering under it changed to "REFRIGERATOR".
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InterMountain #47702 - Refrigerator [starting 1952]

The big circle with goat came in with the "Big Sky Blue" image in 1967.

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InterMountain #47703 - Large Goat [starting 1967]

Since this lasted under three years until the BN merger, number of reefers carrying it may have been limited. Post-BN merger paint schemes for WFE and RBWX reefers carried the BN herald in black on the right; the lettering styles used begin to get more modern also. Note: in all cases, the preceding is true only for ice and mechanical reefers. Phases of lettering (and the dates) of insulated box cars, even those built or maintained by FGE, will be different. WFEX was the most-used reporting mark, but Western Fruit Express reefers also used BNFE, RBWX, WFBX, WFCX, WFIX, WFMX, and WHIX at one time or another.