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1920 thru 1950 Reefers

  • What material was used for temperature insulation on the 1920 thru 1950 refrigerator cars? Sawdust?

    In our city's history, of 1855 thru 1900, there were ice "factories" here to field ice from the spring fed river bay adjacent to the Mississippi. The all wood ice houses were heavily supported on stilts to keep them above flood waters and possibly for cooling (like ice forms quickly on a wet bridge). When fielding and storing the ice, sawdust was liberally used on all sides of each ice block and someone told me that the ice house walls, floors and ceilings were packed full of sawdust. Solid ice trains would deliver ice to wherever needed, like the Florida orange growers.

    This is why I thought the early reefers used sawdust until some better insulation came along.

    Thanks for any input.

    Jerry K

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  • I don't know if this would apply to freight cars as well, but back in 1971 I worked in the maintenance department of a large, old high school in Chicago. One of my first jobs was to help another guy demolish an old walk in cooler in the basement. For insulation they had used sheets of cork, a couple inches thick.
    "Paul [Kossart] - The CB&Q Guy" [In Illinois] ~ Modeling the CB&Q and its fictional 'Illiniwek River-Subdivision-Branch Line' in the 1960's. ~
  • I found some old ATSF 1922 wood reefer plans on the internet. ABPR image library 7/03/98. The car was described as having 2 layers of 1/2" "Insulite" (I assume a proprietary insulation brand) sandwiched between the 1" shiplap exterior boards and the 13/16 inner lining. The inside of the bunkers was covered with galvanized sheeting. The ends had lattice over that, then galvanized screen. The side toward the load had vertical retaining boards with galvanized screen on the bunker side to keep the ice in place.

    Still doesn't answer your question as to exactly what the insulation was. Jim
  • There was a good article on old reefers in Railroad Model craftsman a few years ago,I forgot the insulation type though.If you ask that question on the Model Railroader forum you might receive an answer.
  • Best source for information is the Car Builders Encyclopedia. Then for Locomotive question the Locomotive Builder Encyclopedia. The oleder edition are price collector books.

    Insolite may have been made by John Manville Company.