MODELING: Signature Freight Cars by Lee Turner



Lee Turner has performed his magic on several classic freight cars models of rolling stock that were built for the once mighty Pennsylvania Railroad.   The road billed itself as the “standard railroad of the world”.  That is a tall order but a good deal of their legend was deserved.  The railroad’s design team created the X23 boxcar design and derived it into an automobile car, reefer, stock car and even a caboose.

The railroad did create standards for nearly every piece and part of the road.  PRR freight car designs lead the industry during the early part of the 20th century.  Once such design was the X23 boxcar.  The car had exterior steel posts, deep underframe and a solid steel roof.  Wood sheathing completed the cars construction.

The X23 was developed in 1912 and started production in that year. The railroad acquired over 6900 cars of this design.  They also developed the R7 reefer and built 3304 cars.   If you would like to learn more about the cars, I would suggest you go to Rob Schoenberg’s website.  He has a vast storehouse of information on the road’s many cars and locomotives.

The first of the PRR family modeled by Lee is the former R7 reefer.  A key piece of information modelers must keep in mind when choosing the paint scheme for these cars in that the Pennsylvania sold all of these cars to Fruit Growers Express in 1930.  The colorful scheme shown below changed at that point in history to a similar FGEX scheme.   Cars were operated under different names as they were leased to clients.

r7 before and aftter

The above picture illustrates the effect that Lee imparts on a model.  The stock factory painted Precision import came in a bright yellow with black lettering for the old PRR scheme.   The model was treated with weathering filters like the one’s sold by Vallejo.  The brown filter works to tone down the yellow along with various dust and grime washes.  Check out this previous post on Lee Turner’s technique .

mdx reefer

Mathieson was a company that used the former PRR R7 cars.   The majority of the cars kept their Fruit Growers scheme through the later part of their life.


The above scheme is correct for most of the steam and early diesel era.  The PRR lettered cars would be incorrect if you model after 1930.  Then again, it is your railroad so do what you want.

The PRR used the X23 as a basis to fill a shortage of cabooses during WWII.  A total of 75 boxcars were converted into NX23 during 1943.   Lee has depicted the car as you would expect a war era car to look.

prr caboose

I found several prototype photos of X23 boxcar.  They appear to taken in the late 1930s.



I hope that this posting provides some useful information on these classic freight cars.

Happy Trails,


4 thoughts on “MODELING: Signature Freight Cars by Lee Turner

  1. Hi, Gene! I wonder if you could forward an inquiery to Lee Turner about the possibility of publishing some of his work in the Norwegian model ralroad magazine «MJ-Bladet»? As I might have mentioned, this is the members magazine for the Norwegian Society of Model Railroaders. If he is interested or have any questions, he can each me by email:

    Best regards, Håvard Houen

    > 17. aug. 2016 kl. 03.28 skrev Genes P48 Blog : > >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s