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Accurail Reefers

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Improving the appearance of an HO scale Western Refrigerator Lines reefer.

Twelve steps to a better Accurail WRX reefer (HO)

The Prototype

Western Refrigerator Lines was formed in 1929 to lease a fleet of refrigerator cars to Green Bay & Western customers.  Their roster consisted mainly of a fleet of wood reefers from American Car and Foundry.  The cars were originally lettered in a serif font with GREEN BAY AND WESTERN in an arch on the left side of the car.  In the late 1930s, the cars were repainted in a simplified sans serif font with GB&W LINES on the right side of the car. 

The Model

Accurail makes their 40' wood refrigerator car model painted in the original GREEN BAY AND WESTERN serif font lettering of the 1930s and 1940s.  They also offered a limited-run kit at Trainfest 2004 (in Milwaukee, Wis.) lettered in the sans serif GB&W  LINES lettering used from the the 1940s through the 1960s.

Andy Laurent shares these tips on how he improved his 1950s era models, including renumbering the cars and matching the colors used on the sides and ends of specific cars.  These steps also apply to the 1920s-30s era models as noted.

12 steps to a better Accurail WRX reefer:

1.  Disassemble the car body.

The car sides are removable from the car body, which makes painting the ends, roof and sill of the model much easier. Working from the inside of the car, use a Phillips screwdriver to gently push the top center pin which holds the car side to the car body through the hole in the car body.  Then push out the pins at the top ends of the car sides, then the bottom ends, and finish with the pin at the bottom center of the car side.

2.  Mask the car sides and paint reefer gray over the printed road number.

Based on Accurail's paint information, Floquil Polly Scale Southern Pacific Lettering Gray #414179 or Modelflex Southern Pacific Letter Gray #16-39 would be a good match.

As an alternate, a modeler could softly scrub the area with a mild abrasive or solvent (such as the end of a pencil eraser and Soft Scrub cleanser or rubbing alcohol) to remove the printed numbers.

3. Renumber the car sides with new decals.

Andy made his decals from the number set at wrxnumbers.htm.  The lettering should be scaled to 9 scale inches high on your printer (0.100" actual). If you have an ink jet printer you can use a water slide decals kit (such as SuperCal) or if you have access to a laser jet printer or copier you can print the numbers directly on standard decal paper.  Scale Rail Graphics is reportedly working on a set of black and white decals which can be used to number the car sides and ends.  (We'll have information when they are available.)

4.  Assemble the brake wheel and post and apply to it to the model.

The bare metal of the brake wheel post needs to be painted to match the car ends, so make sure it is added before you proceed with the following steps.

5.  Mask the WRX initials and car numbers on car ends

Skip this step if you plan to add correct, larger WRX letters and numbers to the car ends.  In that case, the entire car end will be painted and decaled, and no masking is necessary.

6.  Mask the kick plate under the car door.

The Accurail car lettered in the 1930s-40s scheme is painted the same gray under the door that he rest of the car sides is painted.  The entire area under the door should be painted to match the ends of the car.  The Accurail car lettered in the 1950s-60s scheme has the kick plate under the door painted the same oxide red that the ends and roof of the car is painted, but it should be repainted the in same new color that the ends and roof will be painted.

7.  Paint the car body (without the sides) oxide red.  Also paint the kick plate on the car sides.

Based on Accrual's paint information, Floquil Polly Scale Special Oxide Red #414354 is a good match for the oxide red used on the ends and roofs of the car.  Andy used Wal-Mart Colorplace red oxide primer.

8.  Mask off bottom 12" of the car body.

This is the portion of the car body below the rivet line which will be visible under the car sides.  The standard color for this area is flat black.  If you plan on detailing the car in this scheme, it will be painted in the next step.

... but there is a 1962 color photo of a WRX reefer with oxide red underframe and trucks on page 44 Andrew Nelson's Green Bay & Western Color Pictorial from Four Ways West Publications.  There are not a lot of color photos from this era and we are not sure if this was a unique car or if the paint scheme changed from black to oxide red by this time.  If you want to paint the car with this scheme, mask the car body and paint it oxide red with the other parts in step 7.

9.  Add new white end numbers.

The end numbers can be made from the lettering set at wrxnumbers.htm, otherwise a Scale Rail Graphics set of white numbers should be available soon. 

10. Assemble the underframe and paint it flat black.  Paint the bottom 12" of the car body flat black also.

If you are making a model based on the 1962 photo in Nelson's book, the bottom 12" of the car body has been already painted oxide red and need not be painted in the step.

11.  Paint the side ladders and grab irons black.

12.  Reassemble the model.

Reassemble the sides to the car body, glue the weight to the underframe, and assemble the car.  You'll probably want to coat the car with a dull finish such as Testors Dullcote #1260 to remove the shine of the new decals.  The Accurail kit comes with plastic wheels and Accumate couplers.  You can use them on your car or replace them with other wheels and couplers of your choosing.

Parts List

Detail Manufacturer Walthers
Catalog No.
Basic model body Accurail 112-4805 40' Wood Reefer -- Green Bay & Western
Special Run 40' Wood Reefer -- Special Run for Trainfest 2004
Paint Floquil Polly Scale 270-110130 Southern Pacific Lettering Gray
270-414354  Special Oxide Red
270-414290  Engine Black
Paint Modelflex  165-1639 Southern Pacific Letter Gray
165-1601 Engine Black
165-1614 Light Tuscan Oxide Red
Flat Finish Testors 704-1260  Dullcote Clear Finish

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Updated July 11, 2015