by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
Originally published on:
Type Plug door box car
Item #: 33007
SummaryFruit Growers Express cars were a staple of manifest freights for decades and leased their cars to specific railroads. Atlas released this N scale Penn Central FGE insulated box car as part of their extensive Trainman series. It is equipped with AccuMate® knuckle couplers.
Fruit Growers ExpressFruit Growers Express (FGE) was a railroad refrigerator car leasing company that began as a produce-hauling subsidiary of Armour and Company's private refrigerator car line. Its customers complained they were overcharged. In 1919 the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company's sale for anti-trust reasons.
The company is now controlled by the CSX Corporation.
Incorporated on March 18, 1920 the firm took possession of 4,280 pieces of rolling stock, repairs shops at Alexandria, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, and numerous ice plants and other facilities scattered throughout the East Coast on May 1. By year's end, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois, New Haven, and Norfolk and Western railroads became major stockholders.
In order to compete with the Pacific Fruit Express and Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch in the west, FGE and the Great Northern Railway formed the Western Fruit Express (WFE) on July 18, 1923, a move that added 3,000 cars to the equipment pool. By 1926, FGE had expanded its service into the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest through the WFE and the Burlington Refrigerator Express (BREX), its other partly owned subsidiary (formed in partnership with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) on May 1). That same year, FGE purchased 2,676 36-foot-long (11 m) reefers from the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In February, 1928 FGE formed the National Car Company as a subsidiary to service the meat transportation market. Customers included Kahns, Oscar Mayer, and Rath Packing. 
Refrigerator cars have been on the rails for over a century. They have progressed from using ice to using mechanical and chemical methods. There are 19 AAR classifications of refrigerator car types, including the "RB" -- no ice bunkers — heavy insulation.
40' Plug Door Box Car Penn Central #350610This model is securely packed in a plastic cradle held in a clear hard plastic case. A thin plastic sheet protects the box car from scuffing against the cradle and case lid. The model is factory assembled and ready-to-run.
My first impression was 'Look at the sharp small detail and that sharp printing'!
The trucks and wheels are plastic. I’ve got to admit, the plastic wheels look better because they don’t have that shine of metal wheels found on larger scales. The trucks are held to the bolsters by plastic pins. These reefers commonly rode on Bettendorf or Barber type trucks, however, the model trucks appear to be A. S. Foundries® Ride Control® 50-ton types.
The model is molded without any noticeable flaws. One scale drawback of N is the couplers. Though they are way too big, that is par for N scale; I have only found one aftermarket brand that is more to scale. Not only that but the couplers are mounted on the trucks.
The surface detail is good. All detail is cast on. The ladders, grab irons, stirrups, and roof details appear a bit overscale yet are better than previous N scale offerings. Underside detail consists of sharply molded floor boards, frame, and air brake detailing. The end brake wheel is separate and well done.
• Prototypical painting and lettering
• Friction-bearing or roller-bearing caboose trucks as appropriate
• Factory-equipped with AccuMate® couplers
• Accurate painting and printing
The box car is 42 scale-feet long from sill to sill, and 45 feet 9 inches from coupler to coupler. It weighs .6 ounces. NMRA RP-20.1 Car Weight suggests the weight should be .98 ounces.
Finish and MarkingsThe paint is smooth and opaque without obscuring detail. Basic FGE livery is Armour Yellow, brown ends and roofs, and black underframes.
Incredibly sharp, legible printing finishes the finish. I had to use a magnifying glass to read much of the data! Aside from dimensional data the information you can read:
* PC (for Penn Central)
* LEASED TO PC
WHEN EMPTY RETURN TO
VIA SERVICE ROUTE
* AX 12 76
* CLOSE AND LOCK DOOR BEFORE MOVING CAR
* BUILT ACF 6 1955
The car was built in June 1955. "AX" is in lieu of "NEW" and indicates the car was rebuilt or had a major servicing in December 1976.
Atlas N offers the car in the following roadnames:
- BC Rail
- Detroit, Toledo & Ironton
- Penn Central
- Fruit Growers Express
- ThermIce Corporation
- Burlington Northern (RBWX)
- Canadian National
- Columbus & Greenville
- Green Bay Western
- Pacific Great Eastern
All have two road numbers.
ConclusionI am impressed with this model. N scale of today has the detail only found in larger scales a decade ago. The molding of the body is crisp. The fidelity of the molded detail is impressive, ladders and walkways are over scale. Painting is smooth and markings are sharp. Overall this is a good model for N-scalers who want an insulated plug door box car of the middle diesel era. Recommend.
Wikipedia. Fruit Growers Express. [Web.] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Growers_Express. 13 April 2011.