Over the past two years I have been reducing my fleet of HO scale freight cars. Well over a hundred cars have been given new homes and another large group are being weathered for eventual sale on E-Bay.
I like the more accurate, better detailed freight cars that have come to market in recent years and that is what I purchase...in moderation.
I tend to purchase a car if it represents something notable and a recent buy is just that. I bought an Accurail West India Fruit & Steamship Company boxcar. Seemingly this would be a bit out of place on my Southern California theme layout. But maybe not.
First, a little about the company. The West India Fruit & Steamship Company operated a railcar ferry service between the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, and Havana, Cuba, from 1946 until worsening relations with the Castro government resulted in a trade embargo by the United States in 1960. I model 1956 so no problem. The company had boxcars and refrigerator cars in its fleet.
Upon further research I discovered that the company also ferried freight cars to New Orleans. By the middle 1950s, up to eighty railroad cars each way per day were being transferred between the United States and Cuba. Inbound freight to the U.S. included tobacco, refined sugar, pineapples, rum, tomatoes, slaughterhouse byproducts, and scrap metal. Cuban bound freight included less-than-carload merchandise, manufactured goods, chemicals, lard, railway equipment, temperate zone fruit such as apples, pears, and grapes, meat, dairy, steel products, and machinery.
These cars traveled all over. Here are photos of boxcars WIF 321 and WIF 106 in Vancouver, British Columbia:
And more research determined their freight cars did indeed travel to Southern California. I even found a photograph of one of their cars in Los Angeles at a Southern Pacific yard:
The boxcar (WIF 233) is just behind the two tank cars. Also notice the Canadian Pacific eight-hatch meat reefer (CP 283285) to the right.
So this gave me a reason to purchase the Accurail car. (Accurail no longer produces this car but they are available on E-Bay and elsewhere.) Now all I have to do is figure out some justifiable loads for this car in order to integrate into my operations.