First Look Review
Produce Traffic & Trains
Produce Traffic & Trains
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Produce Traffic & Trains is a new book from Kalmbach Publishing Company. It is part of the Kalmbach series Model Railroaders Guide to Industries. Authored by Jeff Wilson, this 112-page book contains over 200 color and black-and-white photos. The book is catalogued by Kalmbach as item 12500 and as ISBN 978-1627005043.

As Kalmbach presents this book
    From the late 1800s to the 1960s, the railroad industry faced a unique challenge: What was the best way to ship fresh produce across the U.S. to prevent spoiling? Produce Traffic & Trains looks at the development of refrigerator cars and how their development led to wide-scale growing and shipping of produce.

    Covered topics include:

    The development of refrigerator cars, car fleets, and produce terminals.
    Harvesting, loading, shipping, and delivering fresh produce, and later frozen products.
    Running express trains, making ice and icing stations, and carrying out perishable operations.

Through 111 pages Produce Traffic & Trains is told via seven chapters and other sections:
    History of the Railroads and Produce Industry
    Refrigerator Cars
    Car fleets and owners
    Packing houses, harvesting, and loading
    Perishable operations
    Making ice and icing reefers
    Produce terminals and final customers
    About the author

Modeling the produce industry affords the modeler an wide range of options. Trains, trucks, scenery of fields, packing houses, groves, ships and boats, and more. The History of the Railroads and Produce Industry is narrated through seven pages, explaining the development of produce from local consumption to transcontinental shipments. Car ownership is detailed, including the different types of equipment. How and why reefer cars are not prevalent on today's rails is discussed.

Refrigerator Cars is 16 pages of detailed history of the construction of those specialized cars. The text is enhanced with three specialized informational callouts. Next we learn about Car fleets and owners through 24 pages. It narrates the evolution of produce cars from private owners to railroad competition.

Packing houses, harvesting, and loading introduces the subject through 14 pages. It describes cases and boxes, seasons and harvests, the transition from picking to packing; rural operations and corporate operations. Other sub chapters include precooling; Processing, packing, and loading; citrus fruit and apples; potatoes and onions; Lettuce and other vegetables; melons, berries, and grapes; bananas. After reading this chapter I needed a snack!

Moving foods that can spoil is recounted through 19 pages in Perishable operations. It is interesting with facts such as from which regions the majority of produce was grown, and where the majority was consumed. Important terminology is defined:
    Initaial icing
    Stage icing
    Ventilator service

Important stages of car maintenance are described:
    Returning and cleaning of cars
    Express reefer operations

The chapter further explains the decline of traffic and modern operations.

Making ice and icing reefers explores that fascinating industry and process. Many photos show the process of harvesting natural ice from frozen bodies of water with horse-drawn ice plows, and early mechanical contraptions; next it describes mechanical ice plants. These 13 pages also detail the experience and dangers of moving ice, operating icing stations, ice platform operations, and the subsequent icing of cars. It further narrates the rise of mechanical icing machines, transporting ice to the reefer cars via truck, top-icing, and precooling plants. The eventual demise of ice concludes the chapter.

Delivery of the trains to the customers and the market of produce to the consumer is detailed in Produce terminals and final customers. New York car float operations are described, as well as what happened when cargoes were damaged.

Modelers and historians will find this book to be a wealth of information.

Photographs and Graphics
One of the great qualities of Kalmbach books is the enormous collection of photographs Kalmbach packs into a books gallery. Color photos are in good ratio with black-and-white images. The photos have interest beyond trains and ice. They present some exceptional views of produce company packaging artwork, vehicles, apparatus, and period clothing of workers and tradesmen.

Interesting sidebars are presented in shaded callouts. These nuggets of information can be very useful to modelers for simulating realistic produce operations, whether for Operation modeling, or authentic model rail cars and structures.

1. Car rebuilding
2. Billboard reefers
3. Car spotting features
: several characteristics and a cutaway;
    a. Sides
    b. Ends
    c. Doors
    d. Roof
    e. Underframe
    f. Brakes
    g. Trucks

4. Refrigerator car fleets for perishables: the fleets of 18 companies in 10 significant years: 1930; 1940;1954;1962;1971; 1978; 1990; 2001; 2007; 2016.
5. U.S. refrigerator car loads by type, 1943: perishables and nonperishable, 18 foods.
6. Protective service costs. Shipper's charge for various options for ice-bunker refrigeration on a carload of apples traveling from Oregon to Jersey City, 1955: 10 options with several sub-narratives.
7. Full page callout Western Pacific Fruit Block 344. This section presents examples of waybills and icing plans.
8. Southern Pacific Overland Route Timetable reproduction of perishable trains.
9. General flow of perishable traffic, 1950s, national map of main perishable routes.
10. Full page (almost) callout Frozen foods including the table Frozen juice production.
11. Table Rio Grande Valley carloadings, 1930-31, 1935-36, 1940-41, 1945-46: 28 crops by Missouri Pacific, and Southern Pacific railroads.
12. Full page callout Erie Train 98. This section describes perishable trains of the Erie hauling food from Chicago to the major population centers of the East Coast.
13. Half-page callout Nonperishable reefer loading.
14. Callout Heaters describing the equipment and process of keeping produce from spoiling from actual freezing. It includes a table describing the temperature control of 14 commodities by first and second heater systems.
15. Table Orange market in 1943-44 - Florida and California oranges, methods of distribution, and final destinations.
16. Table Erie's Monmouth Yard: yearly grape loads, 1935-1951 from three Erie yards.

Those photos and graphics multiply the quality of the text.

Produce Traffic & Trains from Kalmbach is another amazing book for modelers and historians. It features learned text of an academic quality and an excellent gallery of photographs, in black-and-white as well as color. Graphics are further enhanced with tables and sidebar callouts.

It presents over a hundred years of transporting fruit and vegetables by rail. I have no complaints about this book and believe it to be another exceptional guide to an important industry served by railroads. Recommended.

Please remember to mention to vendors and retailers that you saw this product here - on RailRoad Modeling.
Highs: Learned text of an academic quality and an excellent gallery of photographs, in black-and-white as well as color. Graphics are further enhanced with tables and sidebar callouts.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: This title presents over a hundred years of transporting fruit and vegetables by rail. With this book modelers and historians have another exceptional guide to an important industry served by railroads.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 12500
  PUBLISHED: Nov 10, 2018
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Kalmbach Publishing Co.!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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