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N Scale - Ak-Sar-Ben - 8609B - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - NTRAK - 1986

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N Scale - Ak-Sar-Ben - 8609B - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - NTRAK - 1986 photo by jbeez


N Scale - Ak-Sar-Ben - 8609B - Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical - NTRAK - 1986


Stock Number 8609B
Brand Ak-Sar-Ben
Commissioned By 1986 NTRAK NMRA West Convention
Aftermarket Decorator AkSarBen Hobby Co
Manufacturer Atlas Model Railroad
Body Style Atlas Reefer 50 Foot Plug Door Mechanical
Prototype Reefer, 50 Foot, Mechanical (Details)
Road or Company Name NTRAK (Details)
Additional Markings/Slogan Golden West
NTRAK Convention
Boston NMRA 1986
Reporting Marks NTK
Road or Reporting Number 1986
Paint Color(s) Beige body
Print Color(s) Blue and Red
Coupler Type Rapido Hook
Coupler Mount Truck-Mount
Wheel Type Nickel-Silver Plated Metal
Wheel Profile Standard
Ready-to-Run No
Announcement Date 1986-01-01
Release Date 1986-07-01
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Reefer
Model Subtype 50 Foot
Model Variety Plug Door Mechanical
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era IV: 1958 - 1978
Scale 1/160


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Specific Item Information: year built 7 - 86

Model Information: Apparently dissatisfied with the Roco-produced 50 foot mech reefer from 1969, Atlas made a completely new tooling in 1975. This new version featured riveted sides (the Roco version had rib sides). The tooling was moved to China in the 1990s along with all their other molds and production. By December 2006, this tooling was a bit long in the tooth and Atlas reclassified the model and continued production under the Trainman® line.

Four of the early reefers in this sequence (3241, 3242, 3243 and 3244) do not seem to appear in any of the 1970s Atlas catalogs, but they definitely exist. Apparently Atlas was having some serious numbering issues with these reefers. The first four 3241..3244 (at least I think they were the first four) were assigned MPN's that had already been used for their Shorty Tank cars. Then they mis-numbered the 1978 catalog listings as 3551... which apparently was a catalog error, because no such reefers exist. Atlas finally settled on 3651... which is what *most* of the earliest releases used (the original 4 being the exception) and the 1980 catalog is corrected to reflect this. We believe the date of production for these cars was 1975.

This model was also repainted by several of the aftermarket redecorators including Aksarben and Bev-Bel.

Prototype History:
The purpose of a mechanical reefer is to keep perishable items cold. Early reefers were of all wood construction and used ice for cooling. By the 1940s, new reefers were being built entirely of steel. Insulating techniques improved to the point where economical refrigeration could be accomplished using steel side plates in place of wood sheathing. Fifty foot mechanical reefers date back to at least the late 50s / early 60s.

The mechanical reefers could keep a more regular temperature, and often times colder than what the ice bunker cars were capable of. Initially mechanical reefers were used primarily in frozen food service. This would soon change as mechanical refrigeration began to replace ice-based systems. Soon after, mechanical refrigeration units replaced the “armies” of personnel required to re-ice the cars.

Road Name History:
The NTRAK organization was founded in 1973. Its mission is to provide a set of specifications for N Scale modular layouts.

NTRAK modules are designed to bring model railroading to the public at conventions, exhibits, and shopping malls. In the past a person wanting to see model trains in operation had to seek out a club or home layout that was open to the public. These layouts were often designed for the convenience of the owners and operators, and not for public viewing. The modular layouts have the flexibility to be fitted into many different size and shape areas. They offer close up viewing and maximum train action. Long trains passing each other are always attention getters and are a feature of the NTRAK layouts. While designed for large public display layouts, the NTRAK modules are being used for home layouts and for club layouts as well. For the modeler, the NTRAK modules offer a number of advantages over a fixed layout. We are such a mobile society and the modules make it very easy to move a layout from one home to the next without destroying all the work that went into it. Our smaller homes, apartments, and mobile homes all lend themselves to N scale layouts. Persons who want to run longer trains have the opportunity to take a module to one of the many NTRAK meets during the year and to be part of a large layout. There they can run their longer trains and meet other N scale modelers.

Brand/Importer Information:
Ak-Sar-Ben Hobby Co
Information on AkSarBen Hobby and their history is sketchy at best. Of course, AkSarBen is Nebraska spelled backwards so one might assume that they got their start in the Husker state. The most recent evidence of their existence, however, was in the 2010 Model Retailer Hobby Industry Directory listing them in Jacksboro, TN. The phone number listed is disconnected, so, who knows for sure? What is known is that AkSarBen Hobbies was owned by Allen Miller and got their start in the 1980's producing very high quality custom, limited edition HO and N Scale products. They probably have left the model train business for more than 20 years ago.

Manufacturer Information: 'Atlas Model Railroad' represents the New Jersey manufacturing facility for Atlas brand model railroad products. Atlas also imported European made models in their early years and those items will be noted as having manufacturers set appropriately. In the 1990s Atlas moved all their toolings to China.


Item created by: jbeezz28 on 2018-02-08 11:16:29. Last edited by gdm on 2018-07-03 15:11:57

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