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Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad
DSP&P Refrigerator Cars: History, Photos, Plans

DSP&P owned 27 refrigerator cars. They arrived in three batches, one of 7 cars and another of 5 cars in 1880, and 15 cars in 1883. The first 12 were 26 foot cars, the last 15 were 27 foot cars. The 1880 cars were built from parts by the DSP Shops in Denver. The newer cars came from St Charles Car company of St Charles MO. All were built according to the Tiffany refrigerator car patent. The main distinguishing feature of the patent cars is the exterior air vent on each end of the car and the lack of ice hatches on the roof of these narrow gauge cars. A description of the actual patent is at the bottom of this webpage.



505-511 Reefer 24000-24011 26 DSP 1880
555-559 Reefer 26 DSP 1880
1050-1064 Reefer 24012-24026 27 St Charles 1883

DSP&P had 27 refrigerator cars built to a narrow gauge version of the Tiffany Patent "Summer and Winter" design. The first group of cars were 26 feet long, numbered 505 -- 511 and 555 -- 559, and were built by DSP&P shops in 1880. The second batch arrived from St Charles Car Company in 1883 and were 27 feet long, numbered 1050 -- 1064. The two groups became numbers 24000 -- 24011 and 24012 -- 24026 during the UP renumbering in 1885. Ten 26 footers made it to the C&S roster as C&S #574 to 583. All 15 of the 27 footers became C&S #585 to 599. in 1908, two 26' cars and three 27' cars were renumbered to C&S #1126 to 1130 and survived to about 1923; the others were no longer on the service roster.

Most people are convinced that DSP&P Tiffany Reefers did not have roof hatches for ice, like the standard gauge cars, due to the lack of headroom in a narrow gauge car. There is no evidence for roof-top icing platforms on the DSP&P, although icing "facilities" were available at Denver, Golden, and Como, so the general consensus is that ice was hauled in through the main doors and placed in bunkers at both ends of the car, before cargo was loaded.

Derrell Poole's drawings of DSP&P reefers #508 and #1058 showing vent location in end walls and an interpretation of the sidewall air ducts passing through the car doors.


Some of the author's kitbashed Tiffany refrigerator cars

DSP&P #506, one of 8 kitbashed Tiffany patent refrigerator cars on the author's outdoor garden railway. Note wood roof, ladders, and black painted hardware (instead of Murphy metal roof and grab irons). Not shown is the ventilation hole on the car ends.


DSP&P #70 with boxcar and Tiffany reefer

A DSP&P 27 foot reefer at the front of four boxcars and a waycar

DSP&P Tiffany reefer with two flat cars and red waycar. Note air vent at top left of the reefer's end wall.

Hartford Products craftsman kit for DSP&P Tiffany Reefer

Tiffany reefer #1063 CAD image by Bill Gould. See Bill's website for many more images, exact-scale plans, and fine art prints for sale.  

PLANS by John Maxwell

DSP&P 26 Foot Refrigerator Cars 505 to 511 and 555 to 559

DSP&P 27 Foot Refrigerator Cars 1050 to 1064


PLANS by Ron Rudnick

DSP&P 26 foot Tiffany Reefers 505 -- 511 and 555 -- 559  1880

DSP&P 27 foot Tiffany Reefers 1050 -- 1064   1883

DSP&P / DL&G 26 foot Tiffany Reefers 24011  After 1885

DSP&P / DL&G 27 foot Tiffany Reefers 24012   After 1885


PLANS by Others

DSP&P 26 Foot Reefer #506

DSP&P 27 Foot Tiffany Patent Reefer #1063 and 26 Foot Reefer #509

DSP&P 27 Foot Tiffany Patent Reefer #1050

DSP&P 27 Foot Tiffany Patent Reefer #1050

DSP&P 27 Foot Tiffany Patent Reefer #1050


DSP&P 27 Foot Tiffany Patent Reefer #1059


The Tiffany Patent Refrigerator Car

Joel Tiffany made his living licensing a number of patents, and was never in the freight car building business. His July 1877 patent covering "Improvements in Refrigerator-Cars" is quite wordy and not especially clear on the purpose or use of some of the "improvements" claimed. The text and illustrations from his patent are shown below.

The basic concept of the patent claim was an insulated refrigerator car with air ducts in the walls to assist in circulating cold air, with vents in the car ends. The 1879 Tiffany advertisement clearly shows ice hatches with lift rings in the roof and a shielded vent on the end walls (see drawing below). There is no evidence of roof hatches on the photos of the South Park narrow gauge version of the Tiffany refrigerator cars, although vents in the end walls are clearly visible.



Standard gauge Tiffany refrigerator car.
Note roof hatch and lift ring, interior cool air ducts in walls, meat hooks on rail inside car,and end vent.  (image from 1879 Advertisement)



Standard Gauge Tiffany Patent Reefers
The following is from http://www.midcontinent.org/

Within 18 months after the patent was issued, there were 95 Tiffany cars in service in the United States and 7 more in Europe. By this time the distinctive clerestory had been abandoned, replaced by a shallow, full-length ice bunker mounted directly under the carlines of the roof. This overhead ice bunker would remain one of the hallmarks of the Tiffany car throughout the life of the company and was one of the features that made it so successful. These V-shaped bunkers sloped gently toward the ends of the car, where a tank collected the melt-water. A drip-pan mounted slightly below the bunker caught any condensation and carried it too to the collection tank.

The merit of the overhead bunker was proven by the comparatively small amount of ice needed. Tiffany claimed that on a trip between Chicago and Boston during the hottest part of the summer Tiffany cars used just Ĺ the ice needed by end-bunker cars. Indeed, this makes sense, as putting the ice at the highest (and hottest) point of the car provides for natural circulation of air, as the warmer air rises from the floor and the cooled air descends naturally to the floor. Cars with end-bunkers do not have this natural circulation, and thus either require some sort of artificial circulation or else cool the carís contents much better at the ends, adjacent to the bunkers than in the middle. Icing of the Tiffany cars was accomplished through several hatches mounted flush in the car roof .

By 1880, Tiffany reportedly had 400 cars in service. By the summer of 1883 there were 1,000 Tiffany cars in service.  Less than four years later (1887) there were 3,000. The Tiffany design appears to have gone out of favor by mid to late 1890's, as it was no longer illustrated in the 1898 edition of the Car Builders Dictionary.

Clerestory Version -- only a few of these were built (image from Wikipedia)

Another standard gauge car,from 1888 Car Builder's Dictionary




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