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 Early cabooses from Canadian Pacific's pioneer era
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Author Previous Topic: 28 boxcar project Topic Next Topic: Upgrading a Pocher boxcar  

New Hire

Posted - 10/22/2019 :  5:59:30 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for approving my registration. I've been lurking in this early rail forum for a while, admiring the top notch work from fine folks like Hakan and others. Nice to see late 19th century standard gauge modelling as there doesn't appear to be much out there. Certainly, I am seeing very of it being done from CPR's 1880-1900 pioneer or construction era. I normally model CP Rail in 1989 but decided to give the pioneer era a try, for these two cabooses at least.

These models of CP 71 and 186 represent the early era of CP’s common 35’ 5” wood caboose design. Roughly 2000 cabooses of this general type (with numerous changes over time) were made from 1881 until 1948 and the last ones remained in service until 1990. Many of them still exist on public display today.

I used the Roundhouse (MDC) “Old Timer” caboose model as a starting point. The body, frame and roof were all shortened and re-sheathed with styrene of various shapes and sizes while numerous unneeded kit parts were placed in my surplus bin. Weights were shortened and mounted inside the shell for improved appearance instead of below the floor as designed by MDC. Only a few commercial parts were used – most of the work on this project was on measuring, calculating, styrene fabrication and wire cutting.

Here is the final result after many enjoyable modelling hours and some time in the paint booth. This distinctive arched lettering style was typical for late-19th century North American railway equipment. It was used on CP cabooses for over 30 years from 1881 until 1912 when it was replaced with the much-smaller block lettering. The MDC cupola is incorrect for CP, so a couple of spare Kaslo cupolas from prior builds were adapted to both models and heavily modified and detailed.

These road numbers were specifically chosen to pre-date train air brakes which did not appear en-masse until the mid-1890s. Truss rods were made from 6 lb. fishing line. Prototype trucks were the Double Diamond Arch Bar style that I was unable to source in HO, so I used Walthers Arch Bar caboose trucks instead. Couplers are the era-correct link and pin style, but grafted onto scrap Kadee-clone shanks and installed in the MDC kit draft gear boxes. The boxes are not correct for these 1880s-era models but this allows for easy replacement with operational knuckle couplers (or new draft gear boxes) if desired in the future. As readers here know, the prototype requirement for knuckle style couplers was not fully implemented until 1900, some 15-20 years after the era represented by these models.

Thank you to Canadian Pacific Historical Association, Ray Breyer, Dave Love, George Toman and John Ott for providing technical input.

Questions, comments or requests for additional photos are most welcome. Thanks for your interest and for all the other great modelling being shared here.

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Posted - 10/23/2019 :  08:48:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome to the forums late-1800s, very nice work on back dating your C.P. cabooses.

Greg Shinnie

Country: Canada | Posts: 8583 Go to Top of Page

Michael Hohn

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  10:57:07 AM  Show Profile  Visit Michael Hohn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Nice job. The details and features characteristic of early equipment really make the models.

Welcome to the forums, the Early Rail Forum in particular.


Country: USA | Posts: 5863 Go to Top of Page

Bill Gill

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  4:50:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome to the forum, late-1800s.
Nice work on the cabooses.
What link & pin couplers did you install? Have you tried coupling and uncoupling them?
I have a friend working on an HO Civil War layout who is very interested in using link & pin couplers on his layout.
Even if the time frame of the couplers you used is not exactly correct for 1860s, they are definitely closer than knuckle couplers.
Can you give a bit more info how you grafted them onto Kadde clone shanks?

Country: USA | Posts: 2855 Go to Top of Page

New Hire

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  6:32:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you Greg, Mike and Bill for the nice welcome. There is some real passion and skill in this early rail forum.

I used Precision Scale 31178 heads to replace the heads on Kadee clones. I simply replaced the knuckle head with the link and pin head (using ACC to glue the link/pin head on the Kadee shank) and installed that coupler in the box with the usual bronze centering spring.

These do not operate as that is beyond my interest level. By doing it this way I gained the prototypical appearance while allowing future flexibility in case someone later wishes to operate these cabooses with regular knuckle couplers.

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Premium Member

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  7:45:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Any idea why there's that box on the roof in the one caboose?


Modeling 1890s (because the voices in my head told me to)

Country: USA | Posts: 8111 Go to Top of Page

Bill Gill

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  8:09:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, late-1800s

Country: USA | Posts: 2855 Go to Top of Page

New Hire

Posted - 10/23/2019 :  8:52:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by deemery

Any idea why there's that box on the roof in the one caboose?


I believe the box ahead of the cupola on 186 was a tool or storage box or else a tunnel offering crew access to the roof. The rear of the cupola on 186 just had a small door leading directly to the shorter running board; CP 71 lacked this tunnel and had doors on both ends of the cupola.

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Posted - 11/12/2019 :  4:34:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome to the forum! And great to see such neat work! Neat to use a MDC model as a platform for resheeting and further enhancement.

I have not been very active in the forum the last years, mostly due to an active 3 year old:-) but I hope to get back it.


Country: Sweden | Posts: 1755 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 11/12/2019 :  4:56:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Welcome! WHAT A NICE SET OF CABOOSES. I look forward to seeing more of your work.


and who are you?

It's only make-believe

Edited by - railman28 on 11/12/2019 5:06:31 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 5427 Go to Top of Page
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