Southern Pacific Lines

Coast Line Division 

“The Route of the Octopus”

 
 

PFE Icing / Cooling Practices

Some information is condensed from Tony Thompson’s blog with an interview with Pete Holst, PFE Assistant General Manager for Car Service at San Francisco.

                        (See:     http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2012/09/pfe-operations-from-pete-holst.html)

                        (See:     Model Railroad Hobbyist, September / October 2013)



Customer Car Ordering

  1. The shipper would phone up his local agent, and tell him how many cars he wanted that day. They had to order the cars. This was done in advance. If you’re way out in the country someplace, it has to be in the night before. PFE generally got orders in the afternoon or early in the evening, for the following day’s loads, so they’d know how many to ice in advance.


  2. From experience, you’d know how many cars to have on hand at that town. Most of it moves out of a central point. In Los Angeles, everything came out of Los Angeles Yard [Taylor], for all that citrus territory down through there. But Imperial Valley, it’d be right in the town, El Centro, Brawley, Calexico, because the local switch engines in those towns were stationed there.


  3. PFE would then tell the SP crews how to handle the cars. The shipper would order the cars, and PFE would give a list to the SP. It was a big operation!

  4. Tony Thompson


  1. It was common for a train of refrigerators to belong to different industries and products. And the train could pick up and set out reefers cars at different points along the route.

  2. Marcelo



Pre-Cooling

  1. The intended meaning of "pre-cooling" was cooling the load prior to departure to market. Pre-cooling might be nothing more than placing the packed produce in a cooled room overnight. For dense produce like melons or citrus or apples, dunking the produce in a stream of cold water before packing might suffice for pre-cooling. With leafy vegetables like spinach or lettuce, misting them with water and then subjecting them to a partial vacuum would provide greatly accelerated evaporation and thus cooling (called vacuum pre-cooling). The shipper, of course, chose what was feasible and economic for his particular crop.

  2. Tony Thompson


  3. Pre-Cooling could take place with the load already in the car, or prior to loading. When empty cars are spotted for loading and are already cold inside, they have been PRE-ICED.

  4. Tony Thompson


  5. Part of the decision on a shipper’s part about pre-icing was whether the produce could be cooled before loading (called pre-cooling). If the lading could be pre-cooled, then it was not usually necessary to order a pre-iced car, not only saving the icing cost but assuring the shipper better control of the shipping temperature of the cargo.

  6. Tony Thompson


  7. See the photo at Shorpy’s website:         http://www.shorpy.com/node/14338?size=_original#caption


  8. The caption provided for the photo is misleading. Certainly CARS are being serviced here, but it is their LOADS which are being pre-cooled. The process shown in this Shorpy photo was not done on empty cars.

  9. Bruce Morden


  10. See:                                                  http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/07/few-words-on-packing-houses-and-produce.html



Pre-Icing

  1. When empty cars are spotted for loading and are already cold inside, they have been PRE-ICED.

  2. Tony Thompson


  3. Empty reefers were delivered to shippers either with ice already in the bunkers (called pre-icing) or without ice. Which one was specified by the shipper depended on the crop being shipped, and of course on the climate at that point in the harvest season. After loading, nearly all produce cars were iced (called initial icing) unless moving in ventilation service.


  4. See:                                                   http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2011/07/few-words-on-packing-houses-and-produce.html



Initial-Icing

  1. Shippers could load the car with their produce and then have the car initial-iced (meaning to fill the ice bunkers before starting on the journey to market).

  2. Tony Thompson  

  3. See:                                                    http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/09/my-new-column-on-pfe-in-model-railroad.html



Ventilation Service

  1. Shippers might choose ventilation service instead of refrigeration, in other words to have the ice hatches latched open so that surrounding air would blow through the car in transit. Obviously this would only be done if temperatures en route were expected to fall into the desired range.


  2. Many prototype photos of freight trains or freight yards reveal some refrigerator cars with ice hatches latched open. This represents what the Protective Services Tariff called “ventilation service,” and it meant that ice was not placed in the bunkers, but the cooling of outside air was considered sufficient for the perishable cargo. A frequent case was onions, which are preferably shipped at temperatures well above refrigeration temperature, and so will travel all right under vent service.


  3. Cars with hatches latched open are not “empties being dried out,” but are loaded cars with cargoes in vent service instead of iced. In fact, PFE people interviewed all said they had never even heard of cars being “dried out” that way. Some railfan photographers have also been guilty of this belief, and have captioned photos of cars in vent service as “empties.”

  4. Tony Thompson


  1. The PFE continued “top ice service” with a few designated TIV cars (top ice & ventilator) as late as 1980. 

  2. Bob Chaparro

Pre-Iced  vs. Ventilation

  1. To sum up what is being described here, empty cars might be pre-iced (meaning they had to be set to an ice deck before spotting at the shipper’s loading dock), or not pre-iced, and then would normally be iced again on departure. Alternatively, they might move in vent service, with hatches latched open and no icing.



Ice Estimation

  1. In estimating how much ice you’re going to put in a car, all the charges are based on the estimates. The estimator is walking down the cars. He’s looking in the bunkers, to see how empty they are. He writes down the car numbers, and how much ice is going to go in here.


  2. You’ve got to have that record, so much ice for each station, and claim records are based on a lot of those records. If you missed icing it, why, you’re going to pay for it. Of course, the refrigeration charge was a set amount to a certain station. But your record has got to show that it’s been iced at each station, and how much ice went in there.


  3. The shipper didn’t specify how often it was iced, they just sent it, standard refrigeration, like citrus, you can bill it “one icing,” and so forth. You would do that when it wasn’t too warm. The PFE didn’t have anything to do with how it was iced. The bill of lading would say how he wanted it, what the refrigeration should be. The shipper would put in, “standard refrigeration,” or “one icing in transit,” at, say, Kansas City. He’d say where he wanted it iced again. Then the railroad just followed the bill of lading when they handled the car, unless a car missed a connection or something.

  4. Tony Thompson



Ice Size

  1. Ice bunker capacities in cars did vary a bit depending on several factors. There were several kinds of icing with respect to amount placed in the bunkers and size of the ice pieces. Pieces were specified as "chunk", "coarse" and "crushed". Chunk pieces were not to exceed 75 pounds. Coarse pieces were 10 to 20-pounds, about the size of a watermelon. Crushed pieces were the size of a man's fist. And those 300 pound ice blocks were not to be dropped into the bunkers, as so often seen on model railroads and even the erroneous display at the California State Railroad Museum.


  2. You always had crushed ice for the meat cars, they generally took small pieces and you iced the frozen food cars with more or less smaller chunks. They’d be 25, 30, 50 pounds. They would never put in the whole cake in the hatch. It’s supposed to be a quarter of a 300-pound cake. You cut it in half long way, and then the other way.

  3. Tony Thompson


  4. The size of the ice resulted in different weights for a given bunker capacity. For example, in a Santa Fe reefer in the 4200 to 4249 series, the weight of ice varied from 11,500 pounds to 12,700 pounds depending on the size of the ice.

  5. Bob Chaparro

Modeling Ice Blocks

                                      http://modeltechstudios.com/hoscaleiceblocksvarietypack.aspx

  1. Sand clear plastic blocks to make them cloudy. Ice is not clear.



Ice & Salting

  1. PFE put the salt in after it was loaded, instead of before initial icing. Then you really start doing a cooling job. But before, you were doing the cooling job, and then open the doors wide open for two or three hours while you were loading the car.

  2. Tony Thompson


  3. For meat cars as an example, you chopped it up a little more because you were putting 30 per cent salt in ’em. You dump the salt in as you put the ice in. After you got it about half full, then you start pouring salt in.

  4. Bob Chaparro



Re-Icing

  1. En route to destination, cars were usually re-iced at intervals such as 24 hours (shippers could specify any interval they wanted). Often the 5000 pounds of ice in each ice bunker would be depleted by 1000 to 2000 pounds in 24 hours during normal summer transit weather. The bunker would be refilled and the shipper billed for the amount of ice used.

  2. Tony Thompson


  3. The usual practice was to look at the ice bunker every twenty-four hours or sooner, and replenish the ice bunker if needed (unless the car was in full ventilation service). Ice consumption varied greatly with temperature, of course, so generalizing about icing intervals is not really practical.

  4. Tony Thompson


  5. A document from around 1914 estimated that re-icing in transit typically required about 5,000 pounds of ice per car. This became less over the years with better car design and practices.

  6. Bob Chaparro



Length of Time to Ice a Car

  1. It may have taken two minutes on the Santa Fe to ice a reefer, but the PFE standard was one minute, though not always achieved.


  2. Data from company memos revealed:

  3. Initial icing (fill empty bunkers), 1.5 minutes per car.

  4. Re-icing (replenish partly empty bunkers): 1 minute per car.


  5. Thus it was expected that a 30-car cut which was being re-iced would be done in 30 minutes. This was a HIGHLY averaged number for ice consumption (season-to-season, place-to-place, cargo-to-cargo...thus my "highly" remark): about fifty pounds per hour of ice meltage in bunkers in transit.

  6. Tony Thompson


  1. By the mid-1950s many of the larger icing platforms were using icing machines that could ice a car in a minute or less. The crew previous used required about two minutes with two men working the top of the car and a third man passing the ice blocks for them to break down and load. For the most part, crews were full-time railroad personnel supplemented in peak times by others, including adult locals, students and (during World War II) prisoners of war.

  2. Bob Chaparro



Diversions

  1. The shipper would have to know something about what to expect. They all had traffic managers. The diversion part of it was a big part of PFE business, handling all the perishable diversions. The shipper were not charged for those diversions. They got three for free.


  2. It’s a lot of work for PFE, especially when you get into stuff like Mexican tomatoes, diversions on every car, because they were only billed to the border to start with, and you got that Mexican waybill. With Canadian shipments, you’d get a Canadian shipment that’s diverted to someplace in the United States. You ship it in bond, and then you got to get somebody to open the car for you.



Trading Ice

  1. During World War II in Los Angeles, they had a lot of shortages of ice everywhere. With Santa Fe’s Refrigeration Department, the PFE traded ice and switched ice. If they were short of ice, PFE  would give them ice out of  Colton, and get ice from Bakersfield. It saved a hell of a lot of cross-hauling of ice. 


  2. Santa Fe had a plant in Bakersfield, and a bigger plant in San Bernardino. PFE had a small plant in Bakersfield. When PFE needed ice in Imperial Valley, they traded ice up the valley with the Santa Fe. It saved a lot of cross-hauling. For years we’d been shipping ice right by their ice plants, and one thing and another.


  3. Santa Fe reefers didn’t show up on SP tracks, for SP shippers to use. and PFE wouldn’t let a Santa Fe car be loaded on their line either. If they were unloaded on the SP we turned ’em back, and they would, too. If PFE’s cars were unloaded on the Santa Fe, they’d give ’em back to us. They could always use ‘em.



Ice Service

  1. Ice service was the transportation of ice from places it was produced, to smaller ice houses which didn’t have ice manufacturing capability, which then simply stored the ice for later use. Pacific Fruit Express assigned a few old, worn-out cars to ice service. As explained and illustrated in Chapter 13 of Pacific Fruit Express.


  2. In addition, when ice got a little short at facilities serving a heavy harvest, additional ice could be moved to those facilities with the ice service cars, usually from PFE’s own Ice Manufacturing plants, but sometimes from commercial ice companies.

  3. Tony Thompson


  4. The railroads used to deliver ice to section houses and the homes of employees stationed along their lines in the days before the widespread use of home refrigerators. Ice also was delivered to stations at which passenger cars needed to receive ice for ice-activated refrigeration and for dining car kitchens.


  5. The PFE book notes that ice service reefers usually carried 164 blocks of ice. At 300 pounds per block this amounted to a little under twenty-five tons of ice per car when loaded.


  6. In Southern California ice manufactured at PFE's Colton Ice Manufacturing Plant was distributed to PFE Ice Transfer Plants located at Coachella, Brawley and, less than a mile down the tracks from Colton, Loma Linda. Loma Linda handled the overflow icing service from Colton. At one time PFE had forty-five older wood reefers assigned to the Colton-Loma Linda ice transfer service.


  7. According to Santa Fe authority Steve Sandifer, "The Santa Fe used old reefers or old boxcars for this purpose and often ran them until it was not economically feasible to rebuild them. Some of their old truss rod reefers remained in service until 1956. The Santa Fe operated 300 ice cars in 1941, 313 in 1951, 171 in 1961, 111 in 1971. The fleet was retired or moved to MOW service in 1972."


El Paso

  1. PFE contracted with the Globe Ice Company in El Paso to provide ice to its local Ice Transfer Facility as the PFE facility did not manufacturer ice. The facility’s platform, built in 1920, was across from the Globe Ice Company.  In 1948 a new platform was built three miles down the line. Ice cars were used to move ice to the new platform. 

  2. Bob Chaparro


Reference

  1. Tony Thompson's "Modeling The SP" blog. The subject is Ice Service Refrigerator Cars.

  2.                                                                         http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/06/ice-service-refrigerator-cars.html


  3. Here is an image from the Los Angeles City Library's on-line collection. Notice that this former SFRD reefer now has ATSF reporting marks. The image is dated 1942.       http://jpg1.lapl.org/pics49/00044034.jpg

  4. Bob Chaparro





 
Icing / Cooling Practices
Customer Car Ordering
Pre-Cooling
Pre-Icing
Ventilation Service
Ice Estimation
Ice Size
Ice & Salting
Re-Icing
Diversions
Trading Ice
Ice Service
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   PFE Operations

Photo & Model courtesy of Bob Smaus