Keeping it chilled

Another project for the new layout is a modern (as in ‘right now’ modern) ‘deep sea’ stack train, basically a unit train from AP Moller (Maersk‘s) on-dock intermodal terminal at Long Beach to Chicago via the BNSF, I plan to ‘lease in’ some suitable big GE’s from CC to power it when it’s up and running!

One of the reasons for picking a Maersk train was that in the last few years they have become the worlds largest container line by purchasing P&O Nedlloyd – their ‘home’ fleet boxes thus include Maearsk, Maersk-Sealand, Sea-Land, Safmarine, P&O, Nedlloyd and P&O Nedlloyd liveries, to say nothing of the usual sprinkling of leased boxes that appear. 

Now that we have a nominal 30′ train length to work towards, doing a few sums suggests around 8 x 40′ ‘five pack’ intermodal cars plus a couple of standalones will fill it out, and that means somewhere in the region of 80 x 40′ boxes (or 160 TEU – Twenty foot Equivalent Units) Not much wonder then that i’ve been working on buying/weathering/painting/decalling/kitbashing boxes for a little while now!

A nominal fleet of 160 TEU’s does give some scope for containers other than the standard corrugated dry boxes, and this train will include a couple of flatracks, an open top, plus a reasonable number of reefers.

As I was researching the reefers through various online photo archives I realised that the method of keeping these powered had changed over the years. When APL got into stack train service in the 80’s it bought special well car sets with onboard generators, containers could then be plugged in to keep the reefer units running.

I suspect that was quite restrictive in terms of loading and equipment utilisation, as fairly quickly railroads and shipping lines seem to have built portable generator sets, usually based on 20′ flat rack containers (although there were some ones built in enclosed 20′ and 40′ boxes, CP rail was a notable operator of these) these at least made any well car capable of powering reefers – I know I saw two Maersk generator sets in use on my Y2K trip to the US.

Most of the more recent pics I can find online however see reefers fitted with individual ‘clip on’ generators, as one of those isn’t available from the trade as far as I can tell I needed a way of kitbashing them.

These first 6 (of about 12 I need to do) were kitbashed from A-Line truck reefer unit (Carrier Modern, part 50139) with about 50% of their height removed. At this point they have had a first coat of paint, but they need a second coat, and I think it needs to be about two shades lighter. 🙂 Some small lettering and details from assorted container decal sheets should finish them off.

Oh, the containers themselves? The 20′ reefers are Athearn tooling, the Triton and Nedlloyd ones are Athearn paint jobs with some (fairly significant) weathering, whereas the Maersk-Sealand pair are based on Triton ones with some redecalling.

The 40’s are by Walthers, and are the factory painted Maersk and Sea-Land schemes (nice penguins!) but have had their aluminium framing painted on (in gunmetal, which seems to work quite well for an old weathered container) – the Walthers tooling represents what seems to be an older reefer design with rivited panel sides, whereas most modern ones feature ‘plank-like’ sides as per the Athearn 20’s – the aluminium framing seems to be the right choice for these older ones, but due to the lack of a better solution some of my other reefers will be ‘all white’ as per the more modern designs of box, i’m going for an overall look there until a better solution comes along.


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