S Scale Models

Reefer Project

The Pennsyltucky needed some color

I obtained 3 of the old Scenery Unlimited refrigerator car kits and decided that I needed a lot more cars so I decided to build an additional 12 from scratch following the SU plans.  I decided to purchase as few castings as I could by making parts like the roof hatches and catwalks from scratch, only purchasing castings that I could not make a convincing duplicate. 

I started by making the underframe and roof.  After cutting the wood for the underframe and roof to the proper length and width I notched the ends of the frame using an arbor saw.

For the roof I started by using the arbor saw to notch the edges for the sides and by creating a custom jig to hold the wood in the correct position to slice the angle on the roof.


  • The first step was to create 12 roofs from 2x1/4x24 basswood strips. Each strip was first narrowed and then cut to length.

  • Next the notched were cut in the sides to allow for the overhang and for the billboard reefer sides.

  • Finally the roofs were cut for the angled top using a Micro Mark arbor saw and a custom jig I built to hold the roof at the proper angle.

  • Ribs were added to 10 of the car roofs and the other 5 were left plain
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  • End view of shaped roofs with ribs.  I cut the ribs slightly longer than needed and trimmed them at the end.

    Frame with bolsters waiting for addition of center sills and supports.

    After adding supports, sills, braces.  Car ends can be seen in the background ready for assembly.

    Finished frames awaiting end sills


  • Frames and Ends, painted

    Frames with ends, unpainted roofs

    Roofs installed, waiting for end panels

    Reefer sides ready to attach

    Roofs and sides installed, awaiting finished ends

    With finished ends, drying, rubber bands as clamps

    Reefer trim added, awaiting paint touchup to trim.