The latest Rapido Trains HO scale model announcement has created quite a buzz among railroad modelers, especially for those modelers focused on the 1912-1940 years. Model production has started on the Pennsylvania Railroad X23 class box car and R7 class refrigerator car. These are distinctive prototypes that had many years of service.
From 1912 through 1913, the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) added 7,117 X23 class box cars to their fleet. These were spread across the main Pennsy fleet and subsidiaries. The final three X23 in service were listed in a 1955 ORER. Then they were gone from the roster. Many X23 cars spent another couple of decades in maintenance of way duty.
An additional 3,200 refrigerator cars were built to a similar design in the R7 class. Nearly all of these cars were leased the Fruit Growers Express (FGE) fleet in 1922. All were under FGE ownership by 1932.
Of these original totals, about 500 cars were listed in-service in 1949 and dwindled to 111 cars in 1953. Some continued in service until the late 1950s, with the final R7 reefer off roster in 1961.
Please note the models depicted in this blog post are 3D printed samples and computer generated renders. Rapido Trains expects to share images of factory production samples sometime this fall.
The distinctive steel Warren truss framing and short height made these prototypes stand out in many period images. A pair of R7 reefers are easy to spot in this 1923 image of a Pittsburgh produce terminal.
I looked over the models on hand at the Rapido Trains booth during the New England/Northeast RPM. Based upon the pre-production photos and samples, these new ready-to-run models will be highly detailed.
Rapido is working on several variations of both car designs. Four of the X23 model variations follow pre-1930 prototype lettering and detailing. The R7 reefer models also cover a pair of early versions.
Let’s face it, there have been few HO scale ready-to-run model introductions that cover as many pre-1930 variations. This will be the sixth and seventh pre-1930 freight car from Rapido Trains. It’s a golden moment for modeling the Real Steam Era of the Teens and Twenties.
Rapido is already working on more freight cars that potentially could be lettered in as-built, pre-1930 schemes. Sales of the X23 and R7 in the earlier paint and lettering schemes will dictate what will be applied in the future.
As you can guess, I’ve pre-ordered a few of these models. Strong sales can encourage Rapido Trains and other companies to produce freight car models for Pre-Depression Era railroad modeling. Keep that in mind as you review your freight car fleet and Rapido’s X23 and R7 product announcements.
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