Refrigerator Cars, "Reefers" (1 of 4)
Gilbert made six in the 600 series (most with multiple variations), plus the 802, and nine 5-digit reefers. 
Lionel made 16 more reefers under the American Flyer name between 1988 and 2007.Because there are so many, I have split them up over four web pages:

Gilbert reefers #600 through #642 are on this page
                     #647 through #24420 are on
page 2
                     #24422 through #24426 are on
page 3
Lionel reefers  #48203 through #48481 are on
page 3
                     #48800 and above, plus my first S-Helper and Crown Models reefers are on
page 4

Unless otherwise specified, the large pictures are on this page are of cars in the collection of The Upstairs Train.
The difference between boxcars and reefers is perhaps easiest to see in the hatch cover in the roof
where they put the ice into the reefers or bulk commodities into the boxcars.
In this picture, the reefer is on the right and the boxcar on the left:
From the side, you can also see a difference in the doors.  Also, the panels in the side of the car are noticeably wider on the reefer.  Again, the reefer is on the right and the boxcar on the left:
The 600 series included the #623 Illinois Central, made in 1953.
Like the 632 & 640 hoppers, Gilbert made the #633, 639, & 642 in many variations,
some as boxcars and some as reefers.  They also made the #637 MKT Katy as a reefer but it is very rare.
The red #633 B&O Reefer made only in 1952 is quite hard to find.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
The brown #633 B&O Reefer, also made only in 1952, is even harder to find.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
William Young sent me these pictures of an undocumented 633 reefer asking if I could verify whether it is a factory prototype.  Since I couldn't verify that for sure, I posted it here to see if anyone in the community was familiar with it.

It is black plastic painted the same color orange as the 623 reefer, with plug door, no brake wheel (the hole is plugged as it is on some other reefers), black lettering and logo, "633" underscored, "EH 12-6", frame is diecast part number "PA 10423", Type B trucks with black link weights.  The springs on the trucks lack detail, implying 1950 or 1951 vintage, before Gilbert made the new dies.

By 1950, Gilbert had converted to sheet metal frames; the diecast frames were mostly 1947 & 1948.  But the first reefer bodies were made in 1951.  So a reefer body on a diecast frame with no detail in the truck springs is a set of surprising mismatches.  But with A.C.Gilbert, there is an exception to EVERY rule!

The stamped printing appears to be that used for 633 box cars, as spaces in "BALTI MORE & OH IO" lettering do not align with the four vertical rows of dummy panel rivets (the 633 box car has five rows of dummy panel rivets, and visual comparison indicates the lettering aligns with the rows of dummy rivets on the box car.  The lettering is not as sharp and clear as it is on Gilbert boxcars.

While it is conceivable that this car may be a factory prototype that they put together using old parts (which would be extremely rare and quite valuable), my opinion, and that of the knowledgeable people who replied to my inquiry, is that it is far more likely a repainted reefer body that someone put on an old frame, possibly with replacement trucks.
My 639 is the yellow painted reefer made in 1951 that came with my Farm Freight set.
The unpainted #639 B&O Reefer, made only in 1951 & 1952.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
The unpainted cream color #639  Reefer, made only in 1952, is quite hard to find.
(Photo courtesy of an anonymous donor.)
#642 reefer in Tuscan, made in 1951 & 1952.
#642 reefer in red, made in 1951 & 1952.
Greenberg's lists 7 variations of the #642 reefer and 6 of the boxcars.

Show me the rest of the reefers.
Over the years, Gilbert made four different kinds of couplers, three of which are common and familiar to most American Flyer owners: link, knuckle, and Pike Master.  The fourth, the so-called "solid knuckle coupler," was short-lived and not used on very many cars.  Lionel later came up with its own version of knuckle coupler.  American Flyer has therefore gone through five generations of couplers.  Because there seem to be a lot of people confused by this, I created a page to show the differences.  Click the picture below for more detail.

It takes time and money to maintain a website like this.  If this site is interesting and helpful to you, please contribute financially to its ongoing success.  You may
send a contribution via PayPal using as the payee. Both credit card and direct transfers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

If you or your friends have some American Flyer trains and would like them to go to a nice home where they'll be loved and cared for, this is the place!  Email me:  See my
Wish List for the items I need most.  Thank you very much.

On the other side of the coin, I post pictures from time to time on my
For Sale page of surplus items I have for sale.
This gallery will continue to grow and become more comprehensive as I collect more cars and as visitors like you send me pictures of the cars I don't yet have.  If you have a car that you would like to share with the world, email me a picture:  Click here for a list of the pictures I need to complete the Gallery.

The books I am using for reference are listed in the
Bibliography page.  All the writing and all the pictures on this website are, however, my own, except where cited.  No copyrighted materials have been included and all pictures provided by others are used by permission.
Now show me:                                                                                                                                    
The Gilbert Gallery Home Page  
Engines      Passenger Cars      Freight Cars      Freight Sets      Accessories      Infrastructure  

Christmas Cars      Boxcars      Refrigerator Cars      Stock Cars      Hopper Cars      Gondolas
Tank Cars      Flatcars      Floodlight Cars      Crane Cars      Work & Boom Cars      Cabooses

Pictures Needed     Useful Links     For Sale     Wish List     Bibliography     The Upstairs Train
visitors have viewed this page