A Caboose for Liberty Street

Wabash Caboose from the St. Charles Car Co.

Building cars from prototypes: Wabash Caboose # 465 built by the St.Charles Car Company.
Builder's photo can be found on page three of the St. Charles Car Company Web page

October 7, 2009.

This is another one of those accidental projects that I got into because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I never really had a caboose on my radar yet since I am not modelling any cross country railroad operations but there were always one or two or more hanging out in the yards for local crews and of course waiting to be tacked onto a train for an outbound trip. I knew that when I made it out to the Wabash yard on the Northeast side of the West Bottoms I was going to need some cabeese but that may be a while off. Still, I did have some examples in mind for that day

As to the happenstance. Since things have been slow in my day job, I have been working at my favorite train store on Saturdays. I was at the store a few Saturdays back and asked Don Ball, the owner of the Stockton and Copperopolis Railroad, a veteran member of the "Early Rail" community, if he had any experience with those white metal castings now sold by Bitter Creek Models, like the peaked cupola on the Wabash caboose? Well, not only had he experience with them, he had one at home and would bring it down to me the next Saturday.

So, there I was with nothing better to do and nothing standing between me and that Wabash caboose. I dived right in. I won't go into detail as to the steps of construction. This one really didn't happen in steps. Every thing I did turned out to be a learning experience. Don also provided me with the plans for the very car I was modelling (except for those curious decks discussed below) so I had the novel advantage of being precise. The first thing I did was misread the scale and set my windows too close together which I didn't notice until I was ready to build the roof and found that the guy sitting in the cupola was sitting on top of a window...had to disassemble the sides and start again. The litany of my errors are comical and I don't want to go into it. I did finally get it going the right way, and except for a few questions about details it is well on it's way to completion.

Still have some decking to add to the roof and paint, etc...

Some of the details on the end rails in the builders photo are a little obscure. These covers show on the plan, but are not called out as to material, etc... and the details in the drawing are only partial. Another question I had was, "Does the ladder extend to the deck or end at the hand rail?" I had to do some searching but managed to find some examples of cars of this age on which the ladders terminated at the handrails, so, I presume that on this car that was the case.

The ladder on the end of this up dated car seems to have once terminated on the hand rail and subsequent alterations resulted in two extentions to the deck! This is an earlier view of the previous car showing the ladder configuration as must have been original. Notice the ladder terminates at the hand rail and another rung is attached to the hand rail supports. I suspect the purpose of the toe hole in the end covers was to allow the crew member to use this rung. Here is yet another example from a W.P.& Y. caboose.

Those covers on the hand rails are something of a mysterey. What were they made of? Why were they there?

A little "How I did it"

The lantern hangers on the corners of the car were made from turnbuckles with the ends trimmed and the round ends sliced out to fit around the corners. A small nbw was run thru and the whole thing glued in place (Diagram). Does it work? You be the judge.

The car is finished except for window glazing, lettering and, of course, proper paint. These photos show the model primed a light gray with dark gray roof and under frame. Here I was up against the bain of Early Rail modellers; I have a photo and no information as to the color scheme.

Final Color

Having conducted a mini-pole to gather guesses as to the color of this car, the consensus was that it was either yellow or orange with red lettering. With that information in hand, I made my first attempt at colorizing a b/w photo and the result is shown below.

The final color choice for the model, as seen here, is an orange tinted yellow for the body and my version of red "Lake" for the roof and under carriage. Windows glazed and trimmed, sides and roof painted and ready for decals. The black numbers were applied to test type face and size...these were removed and replaced with numbers from the red, extended Roman set from Microscale.

The caboose is finished! You will notice that I have reverted to the straight type stove pipe...I just couldn't make sense of the bendy one. The lettering is a tad small compared to the prototype but it has the look and feel of the original. I like the way that a caboose like this sets the time period; I may do one or two others in future.