MODELING: Working on the Wilson Reefer

I can report that I have been making some headway on the Wilson meat reefer build.  My focus has been on finishing up the ice hatches, build the running board and add some additional details.


Lets start with the running boards.  Modelers have called this safety feature a roof walk.  The railroad trade term is running board.  I studied the pictures and decided that the running boards appear thinner than other cars I have seen.  Typically, a .025″ thick styrene strip would represent the prototype thickness for many prototypes.  I elected to go with .020″ x .125″ strips.  I use a wire brush and emery boards to texture the top surface.  I also segment the individual boards into three pieces to represent the prototype.  The joints occur over the top of a support.  I used .015″ spacers and .010″ x .040″ straps.   By the way, you can laminate .005″ to the .020″ strips. Don’t cut the thin material to a exact width needed.  Make it wider once the solvent has set.

running board inprog

The prototype car had large blocks at the overhang.  I guesstimated the blocks to be 3″ thick and 9″ wide.   Prototype running boards are held to the car with carriage bolts.  I used Tichy .020″ rivets to simulate the carriage bolts.  The running board is not finished.  You will notice that I have used black grab iron ends made by MacLeod Western.  The 7/8″ square nuts are also made by the same company.   I made the ice hatch latch from .010′ X .060′ styrene with a .0125″ bronze loop for the car seal.

MacLeod parts

Here are the two details I used on the car.  You can get them from Coronado Scale Models or Foothill Model Works.

Tichy Wire

Here is the wire I used for grab irons on this model.  It is .0125″ phosphor bronze. It holds up well in handling.  It will scale out to prototype 5/8″ diameter when the paint is applied.   That is a big step down for modelers who have been using .020″ diameter or larger wire.  It is a progression towards accurately scaled models.

CA Options

I have started using this type of CA.  It is a private labeled product that is widely available.  The blue bottle is a super thin CA that set up in a heart beat.   The purple bottle is a medium viscosity gap filler.  The innovation is in the bottle tops.  The blunt top is kept open with a pin in the cap.  The tapered spout just doesn’t clog.  It is fantastic.

Well, that covers this installment.  I will be back on this topic soon.

Happy Trails,



2 thoughts on “MODELING: Working on the Wilson Reefer

  1. Gene,
    I really like the method you are showing for doing running boards. I need to make a note to myself to review this blog when I can get to that next box car kit.


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