review is from Model Railroad News, Vol. 7, Issue 1, January
2001. Reprinted with permission of Lamplight
O’s New Extended Vision Caboose
by David Otte
Hacks, and Conductor’s Car, Cabins, and Way Cars – all
are nicknames for one of the most beloved icons in American
railroading, the Caboose. For over a century the caboose
served as the conductor’s office and the train crew’s
home away from home. Once numbering in the thousands, the
caboose has become almost extinct on today’s railroads.
But this end-of-the-train symbol has remained as important
to the railfan and the model railroader as the locomotive is
on the other end of the train.
So it is
quite fitting that Atlas O, who has previously released an
assortment of locomotives and modern rolling stock, issue an
O gauge caboose to follow up their highly detailed line of
scale models. They have chosen a relatively modern design
based on the International Car Company’s Extended Vision
Cupola Caboose. Available in both 3-rail and 2-rail
ready-to-run, the car is being offered in the following
roadnames: (First Run) Burlington Northern, Chesapeake &
Ohio, Great Northern, Reading,
Santa Fe, (Second Run) Seaboard Air Line, Chessie, Conrail,
and Cotton Belt. Two roadnumbers will be offered per
roadname. An undecorated caboose will also be offered along
with a limited edition Burlington Northern car in the
one-of-kind green and cream scheme.
as a wide version or saddlebag cupola caboose, the EV
caboose had its beginnings before the turn of the century.
In the late 1880s, Haskell & Barker delivered several
wooden cabooses constructed with cupolas wider than the main
car body to the Chicago Great Western Railway. This
arrangement permitted both overhead view and side view of
the freight consist.
1950s the idea of an extended cupola appeared again on the
Monon. Here the railroad’s own shops added a bay windows
to the side of a standard cupola on a steel caboose. Due to
the larger sizes of modern freight cars, train crews needed
this extended vision in order to see around the cars rather
than over them.
It was also
at this time that International Car Company began to realize
the need for a modern manufactured caboose featuring an
extended vision cupola. In 1953, they delivered their first
EV caboose to the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway.
Over the next two decades International would continue to
produce EV cabooses for many of the railroads in the U.S.
Due to the
fact that there was no real standardization of cabooses
between one railroad and the next, International came up
with a kind of modular system for their welded-steel car
design. Wall panels with or without window openings could be
arranged into any combination the customer required. Cupola
height and location could also be adjusted as needed. A full
array of options were also made available: sliding windows,
toilet compartments, refrigerators, water coolers, oil
heaters, electrical lighting, and radio equipment just to
name a few.
cabooses were generally equipped with cushion underframes
and the most up to date safety appliance such as: numerous
safety railings located throughout the car, all interior
corners were rounded, steps were recessed into the walls,
and table edges were padded. Therefore, while International
built EV cabooses are generally identifiable as such, one
caboose may have a centered cupola and two windows located
in the sides, while another road’s caboose will have a
cupola offset to one end of the car body and three side
Atlas O has
chosen an EV caboose as built by International in 1970 for
the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad as the prototype for
their newest addition to the Big O Rolling Stock line.
Overall, the O scale model matches the prototype drawings
almost inch for inch in dimensions.
International cars appear to be based on a standard 23’
2-1/2” wheelbase and the Atlas O EV corresponds. The model
measures 10-3/8” or a scale 41’ 6” over coupler
pulling faces, 2-5/16” (a scale 9’ 3”) wide over the
steps, and 3-15/32” (a scale 13’ 10-1/2”) high to the
top of the cupola side. Even the truck wheelbase scaled out
appropriately for the 5’ 9”, 50 ton roller bearing swing
motion trucks on the real thing – a sure testament to
Atlas O’s insistence on accuracy.
If you are
a detailed oriented person, then this caboose model is for
you! Features include: separately applied metal railing and
hand grabs, metal safety chains across the end railing,
rooftop mounted smoke jack and bathroom vent, opening doors,
windshield wipers on the end cupola windows, see-through
steps and end platforms, and a hefty die cast metal chassis
with full brake gear and battery box details.
As an added
touch, Atlas O has provided for some interior details as
well: conductor’s desk with high back chair at both ends
of the caboose, cupola seating, and various interior
compartments. Two individually modeled and painted figures
occupy the interior, with the conductor reviewing his time
table at the desk and a coffee drinking crew member seated
in the cupola.
O is to be commended for this list of amenities, the most
striking accomplishment to me is their correctly modeled
caboose trucks as I mentioned earlier. Other O gauge
manufacturers have produced EV cabooses in the past, but
most have failed to provide the proper trucks and instead
use common freight trucks. For the sake of a better ride for
the crew, real cabooses usually ride on leaf spring trucks
and not coil spring as on freight equipment. Hats off to
Atlas O for making their caboose correct from top to bottom!
If there is
one assumption the O gauge consumer can make regarding an
Atlas O product, it has to be their quality of fit and
finish. Just read all of our previous product reviews
associated with this manufacturer -- their track record
speaks for itself. Our Great Northern decorated EV caboose
sample is no different -- just superb!
purchased 65 cars from International over a four year period
beginning in 1966. Our review sample, numbered X104, was
delivered during this first year and in the red paint scheme
with the famous Goat herald. The GN caboose is very similar
to the C&O prototype EV caboose, with three side windows
and offset cupola, but the actual GN version was delivered
with roofwalks and end ladders.
operation, our 3-rail O gauge car’s metal couplers and
trucks performed well, but note that the minimum curved
track diameter for this caboose is 36”. The neatest
operating feature of this model is the flashing rear end
light. Although both car ends have a simulated red lens
light, only the one end operates and can be turned off by a
slide switch found on the underside of the car. The blinking
warning light really adds some colorful animation to the end
of the train.
of you who like to simulate night time running, the Atlas O
caboose has interior illumination so you can enjoy those
great details inside too. It is with this feature though,
that my only true criticism can be found. When the car is
operated with room lights out, I noticed that the interior
bulbs shined through the car sides. Thus the car had an
unprototypical red glow to it as it circled the test track.
Whether this is a function of the color or not I am
uncertain as we were unable to view any samples in the other
paint schemes. I can say that the thickness of paint seemed
appropriate for this scale model, and the plastic sidewalls
did not appear to be unusually thin either.
I encountered this lighting problem, I still proclaim, in my
most humble opinion, that the Atlas O EV caboose is
undoubtedly the best
O gauge plastic caboose model available on the market today.
conclusion is based on prototypical accuracy as well as
decoration. For both tinplate and scale modelers alike
era consists, the Atlas O EV caboose is a must!