News & Reviews Product Reviews Staff Reviews ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car

ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car

By Cody Grivno | May 16, 2024

| Last updated on May 31, 2024

Rivet Counter line model based on early 2000s prototype

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Color photo showing two HO scale refrigerator cars on gray background.
The ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car is based on an early 2000s prototype. The Rivet Counter line model is decorated for BNSF Ry. in three versions. Cody Grivno photos

ScaleTrains has added a Trinity 82-foot, 7,883-cubic-foot capacity mechanical refrigerator car to its Rivet Counter line. The modern era car, offered with and without sound, features an injection-molded plastic body, prototype-specific details, and die-cast metal couplers.

The prototype

The samples we received are decorated as BNSF Ry. 793303 and 793324, part of the railroad’s 793000 through 793809 series built by TrinityRail at its Oklahoma City plant under File 2829 between February 2001 and September 2002. Car 793303 has a late Thermo King refrigeration unit; the 793324 has an early Thermo King unit. ScaleTrains also offers BNSF models with a Carrier refrigeration unit. On the full-size cars, the temperature is monitored and adjusted via satellite, while car location is tracked with a global positioning system.

Cars 793000 through 793109 were returned to Trinity in 2001 and put into the Trinity Industries Leasing Co. fleet. The remainder of the cars are still on the BNSF Ry. roster.

Model features

Color photo showing refrigeration units on HO scale mechanical reefers.
ScaleTrains offers the HO Trinity refrigerator car with Thermo King late (left), Thermo King early (right), and Carrier refrigeration units. The access platform features plastic, formed wire, and etched-metal construction.

The ScaleTrains car has a one-piece body with many separate, factory-applied parts, including door rods, door tracks, ladders, stirrup steps, and jack pads. Both BNSF samples we received have a smooth roof and 12-foot plug doors. Other door and roof options, perhaps for subsequent production runs, are shown in an exploded-view diagram included with the model.

Normally the A end of the car is less detailed, but that’s not the case with the ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car. The fuel tank end cage has a separate plastic frame with wire grab irons. The access platform has a see-through photo-etched metal deck. Below the deck is a two-piece round fuel tank with a pair of separately applied fillers and gauges.

Color photo showing brake end details on freight car.
The brake, or B, end of the ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car includes a plastic brake wheel, a freestanding tack board with the wood portion picked in dark brown paint, and a Morton stainless steel crossover platform. The end ladders are factory-applied plastic castings.

Features on the B end of the car include the brake wheel, brake stand, and chain; a plastic tack board with a white frame and dark brown boards; and a photo-etched, stainless steel Morton crossover platform. Plastic ladders and a crossover railing round out the details on the B end of the car.

Both ends of the car are fitted with freestanding plastic uncoupling levers and trainline hoses with silver glad hands. The body-mounted, semi-scale lower shelf Type E couplers are painted a rusty brown color. Like other ScaleTrains offerings, the couplers don’t have trip pins.

Color photo showing underbody of HO scale freight car.
The underbody on the refrigerator car features plastic and formed-metal parts. The push button for adjusting the volume is to the right of the air reservoir.

The reefer has a plastic floor with a one-piece underframe casting consisting of the center sill, crossmembers, and semi-scale draft-gear boxes. Brake appliances include a factory-installed air reservoir, control valve, and retainer valve. The trainline pipe is a formed wire part.

The car rides on American Steel Foundries 100-ton trucks with raised foundry data, truck-mounted brake beams, and Timken rotating bearing caps. Four spare caps are included with the model. The reporting marks and road number are printed on the truck sideframes. The 36” machined metal wheelsets have a .110” wide tread that will operate on code 70, 83, and 100 rail.

Our sound-equipped samples have electrical pickups that rub against the backs of the wheels. The pickups impacted the free-rolling qualities of both cars.

Let there be sound

Color photo showing refrigeration unit end of mechanical reefer.
A light-emitting diode control panel light illuminates when the refrigeration unit is running. Similar to the prototype, the refrigeration unit randomly cycles on and off.

A track-powered capacitor circuit is used to operate the sound system. A touch sensor, activated by placing three fingers above the door, turns the sounds on. At startup, a light-emitting diode (LED) control panel light on the refrigeration unit illuminates. Similar to the prototype, the sounds randomly turn on and off. A small push button on the bottom of the car is used to adjust the volume, which has four settings. Operating instructions are included with the model.

Measuring up

Side view of HO scale freight car painted white with multi-color graphics.
The BNSF Ry. Trinity reefers feature the “glacier frost line design” at the roofline. Measuring more than 11” long, the model has a minimum radius of 22” and recommended radius of 24”.

The BNSF cars are neatly painted white with multi-color graphics. All of the lettering is legible and follows prototype placement. Cars 793303 and 793324 both have a “glacier frost line design” — a term Robert C. Del Grosso used in his book BNSF Railway Freight Cars Volume One (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2004) — where the car sides meet the roof. The model dimensions closely follow prototype drawings published in his book.

I operated both refrigerator cars in a short train on our Wisconsin & Southern layout. Though the electrical pickups caused some minor drag, both reefers ran without issue while being pulled in a train and spotted at East Troy Cold Storage.

The ScaleTrains HO Trinity refrigerator car is a well-detailed model that accurately follows the lines of the prototype. The sound system and illuminated control light add to the cool factor of this contemporary freight car.

Facts & features

Price: Without sound, $54.99; with sound, $89.99



4901 Old Tasso Rd. NE

Cleveland, TN 37312

Era: February 2001 to present

Road name: BNSF Ry. (Carrier and Thermo King [early and late] refrigeration unit). Eight road numbers each.


  • 36” machined metal wheels, correctly gauged
  • Die-cast metal semi-scale lower shelf Type E couplers, at correct height
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces (correct per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)
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