Author Topic: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?  (Read 3366 times)

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rickb773

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    • Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines
When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« on: September 15, 2012, 09:42:46 PM »
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I am modeling the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines in the 1950s. An engineer studying for his engineer training had made a track diagram showing Woodbury, NJ with an icing track. Since I am modeling that town I figured it would be a great way to add additional switching by making all my non-mechanical reefers stop to get re-iced before being loaded with produce in south Jersey. Would they still be in use in the 1950s?

Bob Bufkin

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2012, 10:04:17 PM »
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Suggest you go over to the Yahoo Group "Reefer Madness" (yes, that's their name) and asked.  They have a wealth of info on reefers and facilities and am sure they could answer your question.  I'm not an expert but I do believe that these facilities lasted into the 50s before mechanical reefers made them obsolete.

Kisatchie

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2012, 10:07:57 PM »
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I read that 40% of PFE's reefers were ice reefers in 1970. Don't know if it's true, but that implies icing platforms in 1970.

I eagerly await confirmation of this.



Hmm... there's nothing
funny about ice...


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The cricket jumps across the room onto the other pad.
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sirenwerks

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2012, 10:43:57 PM »
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There were options other than platforms too, used until the end.  I've seen numerous of photos of platform-bearing trucks used in yards to ice reefers, and am dying to model this.  One of the Southern roads had a gantry crane-style icing machine too.  I think it was RF&P and in the Morning Sun reefer book; will have to look when I get home.
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nkalanaga

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 12:36:45 AM »
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The last icing on the BN was in 1973 or 1974.  Mechanical reefers were just catching on in the 1950s.
N Kalanaga
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C855B

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 01:44:30 AM »
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Santa Fe was still icing in 1973 for SoCal citrus service using conveyors to lift the blocks from flatbed trucks delivering ice bought from private ice houses. The icing platforms were gone and RR-owned ice production had stopped around '70-'71. The bought ice was pretty much the end game to support the last few customers who wanted iced service. The last car I saw get iced was in April or May of '73. IIRC, they formally discontinued the service in '74.
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robert3985

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 03:29:14 AM »
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Fruit Growers Express (FGE) started experimenting with mechanical reefers in 1949 specifically to support the growing frozen orange juice popularity nationwide as Florida oranges were more frequently used for juice because they weren't as sweet or pretty as California oranges, which were more frequently shipped as whole fruit for "tabletop" use. This first experiment began with 25 cars.

FGE's fleet grew to 175 cars by 1952, when Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) and Santa Fe fielded their first mechanical reefers with 30 cars each.

However, these ever-growing fleets of mechanical reefers did not displace the ice-reefers until 1972 (with PFE).  I am not sure when the icing platforms were last used nationwide, but it is very safe to say that there were many thousands of ice reefers in use during the '50's, as well as many icing platforms of increasingly modern design being used also.

Of interest is the fact that both mechanical and ice cars would be used together in the same trains, so it is not anachronistic to have them both running simultaneously, with the mechanical cars used to haul freight that required it to be kept frozen, such as frozen juices, and the ice cars used for freight that required being both cold and moist, such as crates of raw fruit.

An excellent reference is the the book "PFE" by Thompson, Church and Jones published in 1992 by Central Valley Railroad Publications, and this is where I got my information.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 07:53:24 AM by robert3985 »

CBQ Fan

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2012, 08:32:10 AM »
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Would the cars have been intermingled or would they have switched them into blocks of ice and then mechanical reefers?
Brian

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ntex

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2012, 08:56:14 AM »
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From the Bluford Shops Timeline webpage

"1972 PFE ends ice service, ventilator service continues (ice hatches propped open)
 1973 September 3: Railroads no longer required to re-ice reefers in transit on their lines.
 1978 ice service ends on the B&O (last in the country)"

http://www.bluford-shops.com/bluford_93_026.htm

Steve
Frisco TX

sirenwerks

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2012, 07:22:06 PM »
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Would the cars have been intermingled or would they have switched them into blocks of ice and then mechanical reefers?

I think it depends on the railroad the cars are on and availability of ice service.  Photos I've seen of the trucks have the ice reefers mixed in with other cars.  It looks like the trucks would just drive the length of the train (or the train roll by the truck) and each car that needed it was hit with ice.  A road with limited dedicated icing services, like the one featured in the track plan shown at the start, would definitely need to block out the ice reefers to get them in and out of such a facility in a timely manner.

I believe brine cars kept running for a while after ice cars?  Anyone?  Did these require servicing enroute, maybe re-brining?
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

up1950s

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2012, 07:38:12 PM »
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Says here that in 1971 the last PFE ice cars were taken out of service , but who's counting , consider it conformation Bob .:)http://books.google.com/books?id=YD1WbwyoeosC&pg=PA107&lpg=PA107&dq=last+union+pacific+icing+platform&source=bl&ots=gAbg6yJs3H&sig=BfnCVThGXHXf0WjxAGm1MTzZcwY&hl=en#v=onepage&q=last%20union%20pacific%20icing%20platform&f=false

robert3985

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2012, 11:33:50 PM »
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As to "blocking" the ice reefers together and the mechanical reefers together for icing on the docks, I'm assuming it was not a huge problem in the 50's because the ratio of mechanical reefers to ice reefers was extremely low.

For instance, when PFE had authorization for 2500 new cars to be built in 1953, only 25 of those cars were to be mechanical.  That's a ratio of 100 to 1, and that ratio applies only to that particular build, which doesn't include the thousands of ice reefers that were already in operation.

By 1955, PFE was experiencing less traffic and had too many cars for what was being hauled, so as the ice reefers needed repairs, they were simply scrapped or converted to other uses, such as living quarters for MOW use.  Also, the market had changed and many more products needed to be shipped with temperatures lower than 0 deg. F, which the ice reefers were not capable of providing.  Their lowest absolute temperature was 6 deg. F and they were not as efficiently ventilated as the mechanical reefers, so they had "hot" spots, which meant spoilage.

Through attrition, the ice reefers were phased out, but some lasted until the '80's as "ventilated" cars, and hauled such things as onions, garlic etc., that required ventilation, but no ice and were hauled during cool weather seasonally before hard, freezing temperatures set in.

For Rick's 1950's operations, I don't think sorting out the mechanical reefers from the overwhelmingly superior numbers of ice reefers would be something to worry about.  However, refueling the mechanical reefers would be something that would require getting the fuel to them, such as a tank truck.  In the early 50's I doubt the icing platforms would have had a stationary diesel fueling station yet...it'd be much easier just to fill 'em up using a truck.

Interestingly (for me at least) PFE didn't run its cars with the ice hatches open when empty.  They would run that way directly from servicing facilities to air them out, but not when merely empty.  If there was a a bunch of them running with open hatches, they were running as ventilator cars, with no ice or salt brine.  Lots of photo captions say they're running empty, which is incorrect.

Thought I'd post this photo of a Big Boy rounding the curve at Echo on my modular layout, heading east (left hand running) with a reefer block after coaling up at the new Echo coaling tower before heading upgrade towards Green River.


Cheers!
Bob Gilmore
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 11:43:14 PM by robert3985 »

bill pearce

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2012, 11:39:29 PM »
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I have been fortunate to attend several clinics by Keith Jordan, the most knowlegable man on ASTF reefers. He indicated that generally, the last gasp of ice reefers came when frozen goods went to mechanical cars. Then, ice reefers were used in what was called "tip iced vegatable service" where large hoses sprayed crushed ice over the top of crates of vegetables. So, no blocks, no salt.

nkalanaga

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2012, 12:07:26 AM »
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Blocking probably wasn't a problem, as most reefers would have been loaded as a group.  The shipper would have had one, or similar, products to ship, and would have used similar cars.  Thus, the cars would already have been "blocked" by the shippers.  One loading track loading iced and mechanical reefers at the same time was probably very unusual.
N Kalanaga
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sirenwerks

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Re: When Did Railroads Cease Using Icing Platforms?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2012, 01:39:00 PM »
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Blocking probably wasn't a problem, as most reefers would have been loaded as a group.  The shipper would have had one, or similar, products to ship, and would have used similar cars.  Thus, the cars would already have been "blocked" by the shippers.  One loading track loading iced and mechanical reefers at the same time was probably very unusual.

But if you're talking about something like apples in Washington where small shippers weren't uncommon, the blocks weren't necessarily large, so when they got to the yard via the local, they either needed to be blocked before being placed in a train or enroute.
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.