PROTOTYPE: Swift Wood Reefers

The Swift Company operated a large fleet of reefers to distribute meats from their slaughter houses to regional meat preparation distribution centers. In 1948, Swift had over 3700 cars in operation. The cars were largely wood but steel construction appeared in the fleet after 1954. With the exception of one group, all of the wood cars were either 36′ or 37′ long. This length was typical of the wood era. The wood cars do vary in details and dimensions from one series to another. The picture at the top of the pages illustrates variation in underframe and safety equipment.

I have included a table that was once published in Railmodel Journal many years ago. It shows how the fleet was not a monolithic design that you see on most model railroads. With the exception of the Sunshine HO kit, nearly all commercial models missed the mark on this legendary car.

As you may know the cars wore several decoration schemes ranging from a yellow with black letters to bright red with billboard lettering.

The two photos above show the yellow carbody schemes. Quarter-inch scale modelers are fortunate that Protocraft offers two lettering sets that cover both of the yellow styles and the red sides with white lettering.

The one car that interested me is in the 2500-2875 series. It has an exposed side sill with tension rod bolts and plates below the sheathing.

The brake booster was a piece of hardware to reduce the force needed to apply the brakes. It could be found on a number or freight cars. I did a MKT boxcar for Southern Car & Foundry which had this part included. The picture shown below illustrates a typical installation on a freight car. Ted Culotta was kind enough to provide a correction for the proper name for this device. This brake booster is a Universal product.

I am thinking that this car might be my next build once I finish the Rio Grande automobile car.

Thanks for stopping by



7 thoughts on “PROTOTYPE: Swift Wood Reefers

  1. Hi Gene,

    The MKT part is actually a Universal brake booster, which I believe is a different function than a slack adjuster, although one more versed than I can likely answer…

    Ted Culotta

  2. In Sioux City, IA we had a large Swift plant with lines of Swift cars lined up in and around the stockyards. There is one photo that shows swift cars in deep water form one of the several floods in Sioux City.


  3. Thanks Gene, Really appreciate you work! I have a Swift plant on the layout with ONLY one car! That car will be busy indeed. Thanks and hope all is well. Mike

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s