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Billboard Reefers

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, September 30, 2022 10:46 AM

The covered hopper issue came up in regard to 1950's Airslide coverred hopper paint schemes, back before the onslaught of graffiti in recent times...although I would think a white or light gray covered hopper with little lettering or graphics would be more of a target for graffiti "artists" Ick! than one with large lettering and graphics?

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Posted by TheFlyingScotsman on Friday, September 30, 2022 8:52 AM

You could argue that do a degree the sides of intermodal containers push the same message in a more modern way as do the colours. But to answer the OP there are 2 or 3 full journeys detailed in the book Pacific Fruit Express (Thompson, Church & Jones) and they deadhead back to the West Coast as others have said.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 9:56 AM

wjstix
.so why not put big lettering on it to advertise their product?

In today's society 1) It will get covered with grafitti, becoming less a rolling advertisement and more of a rolling eyesore. Not making a good impression on the public 2) It becomes a target for various groups that don't like your firm

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 9:49 AM

In the 19th century, railroads sometimes leased their freight cars directly to businesses. That's why you'll sometimes see photos of say early reefers with a railroad name on one side of the door, and the name of the company / product on the other side of the door. (Unfortunately, this has caused some folks to incorrectly assume that that the railroad had sold advertising space on their cars to a company.)

The problem that arose from that is that it was alleged that if a railroad served several say meat packing plants, and one of the packing companies leased reefers to one of the meat packers, that company would get preferential treatment (like expedited scheduling, more frequent re-icing, etc.) from the railroad.

In the early 20th century, during the Theodore Roosevelt administration, the government required that the leasing of reefers be done through a third party. So a railroad would sell or lease it's reefers to a new company, and that new company would lease the cars to private shippers...or sometimes, back to the railroad. The new companies might be at least in part owned by one or more railroads or shippers, or a combination of both.

Stix
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Posted by cv_acr on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 9:22 AM

To put it simply, if the shipper owns/directly leases and controls the car (regardless of type), they can paint and letter it pretty much however they please, which as big a logo as they please. Private owners control the movements of their own cars.

But a railroad cannot put third-party advertising on a general-service car that isn't exclusively dedicated to a specific customer. I've seen a couple of examples where a railroad-owned car, specially equipped and in dedicated service to a particular customer has that customer's logo on it, but you can't do that with general service cars that could be loaded at any customer.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 1:40 PM

It wouldn't have anything to do with covered hoppers. Many covered hoppers are/were on long-term lease to private companies, who wanted to not have others use their cars for other products.

That was (to greatly simplify it) the issue with billboard reefers - company A wouldn't put their product into a car from company B, so company B's car had to be sent back empty (losing money for the railroad hauling it, compared to a load). Basically, the 1930s regulation said if the car had lettering over a certain size, the company owning/leasing it had to pay to ship it back empty at a rate as if it were loaded - which most were not willing to do. It never banned large lettering per se.

But with covered hoppers, many are/were used for food - sugar, grain, flour etc. - where the leasing company wants the car sent back empty, so it wouldn't be contaminated with some other load, and are OK with paying to send it back...so why not put big lettering on it to advertise their product?

Stix
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 5:33 PM

BEAUSABRE
chutton01 .  All those pretty liveries for AirSlides that Walthers made (Brach's. Wonderbread, Staley -were they foobies?). Foobies they were

I hope not  since I saw the Wonderbread cars all the time at the Wonderbread bakery in Norristown, PA.

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Posted by cv_acr on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 12:30 PM

BEAUSABRE

 

 
chutton01
.  All those pretty liveries for AirSlides that Walthers made (Brach's. Wonderbread, Staley -were they foobies?).

 

Foobies they were

Incorrect.

http://canadianfreightcargallery.ca/cgi-bin/image.pl?i=gacx43478&o=gatx

http://canadianfreightcargallery.ca/cgi-bin/image.pl?i=gacx46624&o=gatx

There were a lot of real-life colourful lease schemes on Airslide hoppers.

Whether a specific model is a specific match for the specific version of the car that was the prototype is an open question, but many of these schemes were real.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 12:25 PM

chutton01
.  All those pretty liveries for AirSlides that Walthers made (Brach's. Wonderbread, Staley -were they foobies?).

Foobies they were
chutton01
.I have seen sometimes photos of corporate signs on the flatcar by big loads (think Generators, Presses, or nowadays Windmill blades), but I'm sure that's just publicity images and the signs did not remain on the car in transit.
They stayed aboard - steam locos being delivered often carried similar signs, maybe early diesels too
chutton01
Was it because pretty images and logos were not seen much by likely consumer targets?
Bingo! Look at how many of those cars back in the day were promoting passenger service. 

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 12:15 PM

chutton01
was this the Little Joe Dock Side effect where-in  4 prototypes begat thousands of scale models?

There was once a cartoon (in, I think, MR) that had a plain Jane, nondescript house with a sign in the front yard reading "Only frame building in Colorado never made into an HO model"

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, August 1, 2022 9:20 AM

When the regulations re the size of lettering on cars - which again, didn't ban large lettering, but just said the company who owned or leased cars having lettering over a certain size had to pay to ship the car back empty - came about in the 1930s, it only applied to private cars.

Railroads could do what they wanted, so in the late thirties began putting large lettering and slogans on their cars, almost always touting the railroads top passenger trains - "Way of the Zephyrs", "Route of the Vista-Dome North Coast Limited", "Route of the Super Chief", "Route of the Streamliners" etc. This also happened about the time boxcars increased from about 8'6" height to 10'6", so had plenty of room for big lettering.

After Amtrak took over passenger trains, there were no more private trains to advertise, so lettering schemes reverted back to the simpler style similar to what existed before the 1930s.

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Posted by chutton01 on Friday, July 29, 2022 6:38 PM

Instead of starting a new topic, I figured I'd hijack this thread and add...too many words.

What triggered this was an announcement on a different rail forum that shows new Scale Trains PS 5820 covered hoppers models (FB page here - the quality of that image of the models is good, IMO nearly a 8 on the Photorealism scale). Anyway note the large "Novamont" and "Norchem" corporate logos on the side - these liveries represent 1970s era (images of similar Novamont hoppers have 1979 dates on Pintrest, and the build date on the model is 1979).

What comes to my mind is there doesn't seem that many big corporate logos on North American (NA) freight cars anymore, yes recent images show we have the Tropicana Juice Train TrinRail reeferes with the large Tropicana logo (and maybe the orange impaled with a straw image), and plenty of scrap gondolas with the blue/while DJJ (which apparently they have recently changed to a rather less obtusive one. Hmmm.). Past that, I don't know what companies -- not railroads of any class, not pooling companies like Cyro-Tran was nor TTX is, but private companies which own/lease cars for their own usage -- still post logos on freight cars they lease or own. Railfanning either in the real world or virtually via YouTube channels, doesn't seem to show many (any) such freight cars, and images show not much since the turn of the century. Lots of grey/off-white/red covered hoppers, lots of yellow (guess who), red, green, brown boxcars, lots of black (lots of black), grey and off-white tank-cars...no real corporate slogans or logos.

With that in mind, I wonder if we can devise a (very rough) timeline of the demise of corporate logos on freight cars the companies leased (or owned).

Earlier in this thread the topic of tank cars was discussed, and why those corporate logos likely faded out by the mid-70s when Action News could show live images of burning derailed tank-cars proudly labeled...well, some oil company logo... as black smokte framed the sky. No more Gramps (was this the Little Joe Dock Side effect where-in  4 prototypes begat thousands of scale models?), no Sunoco, no Phillips, and so on.  Along those lines, what about chemical firms? The famous orange & black "Hooker" chemical tank cars (a ubiquitous model which I'm certain made every 9 year old boy chuckle) - well Hooker Chemical was brought out in 1968 so that was that (yes, the livery hung on old tanks for years after), but what about Stauffer chemical (I believe a big favorite of Athearn, I had 3 ACF covered hoppers with that livery) - they were folded into Unilver 1987 it seems - does Unilever now use anything beyond plain grey covered hoppers? I am a bit surprized those 1970s hoppers I mentioned before had company logos.  Oh, carbon black hoppers seemed to be a promising fields (lots of different models), but apparently only Sid Richardson is putting its name on the hopper side.  All those pretty liveries for AirSlides that Walthers made (Brach's. Wonderbread, Staley -were they foobies?). Many Airslides themselves have been scrapped or repupurosed for various gondola usages such as MSW,

Boxcars...well, once you get past the DF/Cushioned Car/Air Pak of the 1960s/early '70s (Railroad owned anyway, and was there an arrangement between the RR and the component manufacturers for advertising these systems?), and the Next Road/Any Load ilk (Railroad and Pool slogans - Class 1's I don't know, but maybe short lines/regionals? So when did RR slogans die out - the boxcar slump of the early 1980s? Sure TTX still has slogans, which is nice...But, were there any class of post 1966 boxcars which frequently carried corporate logos...of course, and you know them as all door boxcars - Lignum, Georgia Pacific, Canford, ATCO, et. al.  This party stopped more or less with the rise of the Centerbeams into the 1980s, although I suppose nowadays the plastic wrappings of the lumber stacks carry on the corporate tradition.

Flat cars as a whole...I have seen sometimes photos of corporate signs on the flatcar by big loads (think Generators, Presses, or nowadays Windmill blades), but I'm sure that's just publicity images and the signs did not remain on the car in transit. Hmm, I wonder if ever auto manufacturer's put up signs/banners on auto-boxcars or early period (early 1960s) auto-racks annoncing these were the new 19XX Panhard Customs?  By the late 1960s they'd be kind of foolish to draw attention to those new car racks (which admittedly already stand out but still criminals don't need head-up that the racks are loaded with vehicles).

Metal hauling equipment such as bulkhead flats, coil-cars and the like...did these ever get corporate logos beyond the owning railroads/pools?

Anyway I probably skipped lots of areas, but its a start - can anyone fill in time gaps?  Why did "Proudly" labeling your rolling stock with your company logo/slogan/image seem to fade out?  Was it because it wasn't worth it for advertising, or worse would it turn off potential shoppers seeing a rusty grain hopper pass by at a grade crossing?  We can get why labeling a boxcar full of beer was likely a poor idea, and why explody things with your company logo was also likely a poor idea in a media age. Perhaps the company just didn't want their logo to share the car with Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad...

TLDR:
Do we agree rather few freight cars on the rails today in N.A. have company logos (not pool or railroad names, but say Tropicana).
When and why did this trend happen?
   - Was it because the rolling stock was kind of grody (dirt, rust, graffitti)
   - Was it because of a negative image of railroad
   - Was it because pretty images and logos were not seen much by likely consumer targets?
   - Who were the cushioning and load support logos on boxcars (Shock Control, DF, Air Pak) geared to?
   - And finally, if no one advertises on railcars what's with all the darn model railroad foobies then? Ugh!
   - 





 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 18, 2022 11:10 AM

NHTX
One more thing to note: Privately owned cars have reporting marks ending in "X". Common carriers-those for general hire do not. Hence, PFE, SFRD, ART, MDT. Only the cars of Burlington Refrigerator Express and those of Fruit Growers Express and its affiliates use the X as in BREX, FGEX and WFEX. Why, I do not know.

During the Theodore Roosevelt administration (IIRC) and their "trust busting", there was a belief that railroads held an unfair monopoly on supplying refrigerator cars to shippers. Laws and regulations were enacted that required the railroads to divest themselves of their reefer fleet. So for example the CB&Q set up "Burlington Refrigerator Express" as a separate company from the Burlington itself. In practice, I don't know how separate they really were, but it was enough to satisfy the law. In some cases, multiple railroads got together to create a refrigerator car company.

Interesting to note that the 1930's restriction on billboard reefers - which basically said the lettering with a company name could only be a certain size (I think 18" letters?) - didn't affect railroad owned cars. Railroads in the late thirties began to increase the size of the lettering on their boxcars, often adding large eye-catching graphics to advertise the railroad's service and it's top passenger trains. This was the time many of the well-remembered railroad slogans ("Santa Fe - All the Way", "Way of the Zephyrs", "Main Street of the Northwest", etc.) started to be added to cars.

Stix
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Posted by dknelson on Monday, April 18, 2022 10:05 AM

One other thing about reefers.  Meat reefers had demand all year long.  But reefers that hauled fruit and veggies usually were tied to specific harvest and growing seasons, and while those seasons varied from west to midwest to south, at some point no place was harvestng or shipping and they might sit idle.  They sometimes were pressed into other uses although the ice bunkers at the end made them rather inefficient, so usually special pricing was arrived at.  One use was in the late fall grain rush when railroads, and shippers, got pretty desperate for anything on wheels, even shipping grain in open coal hoppers and boarded up stock cars (ha, and you thought that dark bread was multi-grain).  Even early mechanical reeefers were sometimes pressed into grain rush service.   In fact an old mechanical reefer that had been donated to the Illinois Railway Museum was requested by the C&NW to help out during the grain rush.  

At least grain was a clean load that didn't unduly contaminate the car for its actual purpose when the time came.  The only other clean load I can think of is paper but paper has no seasonal rush.

I was surprised by the way when I learned the actual reason for the ban on billboard reefers.  It wasn't that shippers resented having to pay to advertise the products of a rival, which is what I thought.  Rather, in an era of government controlled rates, billboard reefers were regarded as an illegal rebate -- cheaper shipping -- to the advertiser who also shipped, because in addition to getting their goods hauled for which they were paying full price, they were also getting national advertising, essentially reducing the price of their shipping.   

That is why cars that sure looked like billboards -- the huge red "Swift" on the sides of meat reefers that Swift itself owned or leased come to mind -- were OK.  They were Swift's own cars and thus no rebate was involved.  And the whole issue raised its head again in a surprising way just a few years ago when the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad hosted a steam locomotive and train, complete with Santa in a caboose, for Christmas celebrations in Plymouth Wisconsin, home to Sargento Cheese.  To honor Sargento's sponsorship of the train and celebration, the WSOR painted a reefer in Sargento's distinctive lettering (complete with painted on swiss cheese holes!) for their truck trailers.  It was used for the Christmas train but then WSOR realized, or figured all along, that those old rules were still out there so they needed to paint out the big banner "Sargento" that went diagonally along the whole side of the car before returning it to regular service.  Athearn offered the car in both paint schemes, as I recall.  I was there to see that train and you could smell the fresh paint on that beautiful car.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by CharlieM on Sunday, April 17, 2022 8:54 PM

Thanks for the info, all. About what I suspected but I wanted to be sure. Seems like a waste of rail time but it's more traffic for my RR.

Charlie - Northern Colorado

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, April 17, 2022 7:26 PM

MisterBeasley
A full reefer of beer was an attractive theft target.

Another thing to consider was the perceived bad PR when news video of burning tank cars scattered across the countryside and cars emblazoned with advertizing slogans are seen along with them. Guilt by association.

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 17, 2022 6:22 PM

NHTX
The American Refrigerator Transit of the WAB-MP consortium branched out into other types of freight cars, when most reefer traffic went to trucks.  ART may still live on in those huge white things that carry their refrigeraton units on their back porches.

ART was originally WAB-MP, then later NW-MP and finally entirely owned by the MP.  PFE was owned by the UP and SP and then split into UPFE and SPFE.  When the UP wanted to expand it's reefer business they used the ART derived initials rather than the PFE initials due to the lawsuits involved in the split.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 17, 2022 6:17 PM

MisterBeasley
It's no surprise that brewers were not terribly opposed to regulations that banned billboard beer reefers.

Billboard perse were never "banned".  Cars belonging to leasing companies that had pools of cars that supplied several customers were banned.

Billboard cars that were owned by or exclusively leased by one company were perfectly legal.

That's why many of the meat packers kept operating billboard reefers until they stopped using rail service (think Swift SRLX bright red and later silver reefers).  That why chemical companies have tank cars and covered hoppers with their logos and product names across the sides.

The beer companies tended not to own their own reefers or exclusively lease their own cars, so the ones the leasing companies had painted went away.  Kelloggs had their own boxcars (KELX) and at one time had cereal mascots painted on teh sides, but "hunters" tended to use them for target practice and later vandals tended to deface them, so they went to a plain, solid color car.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by NHTX on Sunday, April 17, 2022 5:34 PM

Charlie,

     "Billboard" reefers and those of say, PFE, SFRD, ART, Fruit Growers Express and others bearing railroad heralds, are two different breeds of cats.  As has been noted, the billboard cars bore the brand identity of the owner/lessor's product and most shippers did not want to ship their goods in a competitor's car.  It would be akin to UPS making deliveries with a Fedex truck.

     Then, most of these billboard cars carried a specific product from the shipper to the consumer with no comparable cargo going the other way.  It would equate to "hauling coal to Newcastle".  Newcastle already produces more coal than it needs!  There is also the possibility a car could be loaded with a backhaul cargo that would render it unusable for its purchased purpose and, that could be extremely expensive.  Most of these billboard or private owner cars are outfitted with special equipment tailored to the requirements of that owner, at that owner's expense.  They are not making that purchase to benefit a direct competitor-when the car is empty of his goods, he wants it back, for another load.  The reusable container principle.

     The cars with railroad heralds on them were in a general sense, free-runners.  Not bearing product names, they could carry anything-within reason-for anybody that could pay the freight bill.  Some-PFE and ART come to mind, bore the heralds of two different railroads simultaneously.  Southern Pacific and Union Pacific, and Missouri Pacific and Wabash contributed cars to a jointly owned subsidiary that offered them to any shipper with a cargo requiring refrigeration.  Late in the game with SP's declining finances, PFE was split up with each road taking its cars and going its own way.  That is why cars delivered as PFE, became SPFE or UPFE.  The American Refrigerator Transit of the WAB-MP consortium branched out into other types of freight cars, when most reefer traffic went to trucks.  ART may still live on in those huge white things that carry their refrigeraton units on their back porches.

   One more thing to note:  Privately owned cars have reporting marks ending in "X".  Common carriers-those for general hire do not.  Hence, PFE, SFRD, ART, MDT.  Only the cars of Burlington Refrigerator Express and those of Fruit Growers Express and its affiliates use the X as in BREX, FGEX and WFEX.  Why, I do not know.

    The whole problem was a shipper having to possibly use his competitors cars to move his goods.              

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, April 17, 2022 5:23 PM

Beer reefers, in particular, had a different problem.  A full reefer of beer was an attractive theft target.  It's no surprise that brewers were not terribly opposed to regulations that banned billboard beer reefers.

My layout still has them, along with a brewery and icing platform.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, April 17, 2022 3:46 PM

Short answer is, they went back empty. Private owner or leased cars weren't pooled. There may even have been specific return instructions (routings) for them.

 Reefer_Madness by Edmund, on Flickr

Plus there wasn't any produce or lading to speak of going back. It was primarily from producer to consumer. Fresh dairy had a very small territory. Those cars would be cycled back later that day or the following day. Butter and cheese, however, could have a wider distribution area and those cars might be seen farther from home:

 ACF Lot #116            046 by John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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Billboard Reefers
Posted by CharlieM on Sunday, April 17, 2022 11:14 AM

A question for you real railroaders. Back in the days of billboard reefers, particularly meat and dairy companies, what happened to the cars after they delivered their goods. Did they return empty or did they find some other cargo to haul back. Same question for Pacific Fruit Express reefers from the west coast. I understand that the limited flexibility of the billboards did lead to their demise.

Charlie - Northern Colorado

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