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This review is from Railroad Model Craftsman, April 2003. Reprinted with permission of Carstens Publications Inc.


by Trevor Marshall

Atlas O is continuing to produce models that exhibit extraordinary detail, and the International Car Company standard cupola caboose is an example of one of their fine models.

Cabooses were often unique to individual railroads, as each had its own ideas about them. To address that market, the International Car Company developed a modular system for cabooses. Windows and cupolas could be placed where the railroad wanted them. Interiors were also customized.

Atlas O’s two-rail model nicely captures the look of this popular caboose with a model that matches International’s designs and dimensions. The body has nicely-executed, welded side seams, roof panels and rivet detail and sharp molding on the see-through running boards, steps and end platforms. Ladders have scale-size rungs, real chains span the gaps in the end railings and the handrails are separately applied with appropriate fasteners molded on the body.

The end doors operate. A strong spring keeps them closed, but it is possible to prop them open. Only the most detail conscious will want to sand off the cast-on brake wheel chains and replace them with real ones. Inside, the model features a detailed interior molded in appropriate colors. I did not take the review sample apart (instructions with the caboose explain how) but through the windows, I could see desks, chairs and two crew members. The conductor sits at a desk with a book in hand, while a brakeman sips coffee and keeps a watchful eye on the train from a seat in the cupola. The caboose has a light in the interior, powered through wipers on all eight wheels, and both ends have flashing rear end lights. A switch on the underframe allows the modeler to turn this light on or off. 

The underframe includes “silhouette” brake rigging. In other words, it has a cylinder, triple valve and reservoir, plus enough pipes, rods, hangers and other details to be convincing when it rolls past on a train. The underframe and Barber-Bettenforf caboose trucks are made of metal for a low center of gravity. The car comes equipped with Atlas O’s own couplers, which may be easily replaced.

My sample was painted in Burlington Northern green with a silver roof an window frames, yellow end platforms, yellow and white railings, black underframe and white lettering. The paint is evenly applied and breaks between the colors are crisp. Lettering is also well-done and is opaque and sharp.

This is a superb model of a common prototype that’s been designed, built and finished to the standard that modelers in several scales have come to expect from Atlas. The standard cupola caboose is offered in Northern Pacific, Maine Central, Montana Rail Link, Norfolk & Western and Burlington Northern. Two numbers per road name and two different paint schemes on the Main Central version are offered.

The caboose is also available undecorated and in three-rail versions. The suggested price for the two-rail version is $64.95. – Trevor Marshall

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