Caboose question

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by RobertInOntario, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    I have a question concerning North American freight trains of the 1940s or 1950s. Just wondering if (for example) a CNR train would always use a CNR caboose or would they have ever used a caboose from another railroad? For example, would you have ever seen a CNR freight train with a Sante Fe or CP caboose?

    Today, as in the past, you seen freight trains hauling cars from Grand Trunk, Sante Fe, Union Pacific and several other railroads. So it's only logical that, in the past, the cabooses would have been mixed around too. Does anyone know if this was the case?

    Thanks!
    Rob
  2. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

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    I'm curious to know the answer to that myself. I never thought of that.

    Lynn
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    I don't remember ever seeing a foreign caboose on a railroad. In the earlier days they were assigned to crews who would put individual signs and symbols on them.
    It might happen if a train had to detour over another road. Possible also if a shortline had its caboose destroyed and borrowed one from another road.
    I don't know if they ever crossed the border; I can't imagine a Santa Fe caboose on the CN or CP.
  4. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

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    Hi,

    From when there were still cabooses bringing up the rear of freight trains, and from ol' time pictures, I don't think it was common practice to "share" cabooses among roads. The caboose was as much a part of the road's identity as its engines. They were a crew's home away from home, and you certainly didn't want to live in someone else's home.
  5. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Thanks, David! That makes sense but I still was curious to ask about this. From my train watching in the '80s, I do seem to remember seeing Chessie cabooses behind Chessie locos, etc. (In the 1980s/early-90s, my parents had a Chessie line that ran just behind our backyard!!). Cheers, Rob
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

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    I think that cabooses stuck pretty close to home. I suppose that you might see one from a "sister" line, like a CN caboose on the CV or GT, but you would not have seen a UP caboose on CN.

    Andrew
  7. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Thanks, Andrew. That's helpful ... I really miss seeing caboose on modern freight trains as it added another element of interest. Cheers, Rob
  8. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

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    I worked for the SP in the 50's and 60's. I have never seen a caboose from another line on our trains. When Diesels came out, that was the same.
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Thanks, Dick. This is all making sense and the answers seem to be in agreement! I appreciate your feedback. Cheers, Rob
  10. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Good points, Gus, especially (as you say) that these were the crew's home away from home. Thanks for this info. Rob
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    One other consideration: a caboose would have a toolbox with tools (duh!) and things like spare airhoses and brakeshoes and coupler knuckles. There's no way a railway was going to pass those over to someone else.
  12. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

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    In the 70's UP instituted Pool cabooses, which traveled the system. You could tell a pool caboose because they had a big red P on the cupola. During the late 70's pool power and cabooses became fairly common on the WP. I have pictures of BN, D&H, NW, C&EI, UP, D&RGW and a Southern caboose all in Stockton California. We even had SP's Bi-Centennial caboose in our yard one night. Cabooses of other roads usually came in on the Auto trains or in the WP's case trains off the BN going to the Santa Fe. Pooling of cabooses started when RR's started using motels or their own away from home terminal housing. I can't imagine getting good rest trying to sleep on a caboose while 100 yards away they are switching box cars.

    Greg Elems
  13. viperman

    viperman Active Member

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    You oughta take a trip to the Joliet area of IL. The Elgin Joliet & Eastern (EJ&E) still runs cabooses on their freight. The info on this picture says it was just taken September 24th.
    [​IMG]
  14. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Thanks, David -- another good point! Rob
  15. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

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    Thanks as well, Greg and Viperman. Both of your comments are really interesting and makes me wish even more that you could still see cabooses on CNR and CP trains in Canada! Cheers, Rob
  16. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Like Greg Says (He worked with my Dad at the WP in Stockton, Dad was a carman and reapired, rebuilt and refurbished cabooses for WP), foreign road cabs were common ON THE WP, but with other roads, it all depended on the pool agreements, usually with piggyback trains. Cabooses weren't interchange equipment however. Big difference. The ICC had standards that cabooses had to meet, however, the individual states also had their own requirements, California PUC's being some of the strictest. Also, Union rules dictated caboose design and equipment as well and so that caused some variations too. Some roads took immaculate care of their cabs (WP was pretty good about theirs), some roads had the most modern cars always, and some roads didn't give much attention or care to theirs. Some roads saw them as valuable working tools for their men, and treated them as such, some roads saw cabooses as a spendy nuisance (you know, like UP thinks of their real working employees :rolleyes: ) and let their cabooses go to hell in a handbasket.

    The WP had a train "SEALAND xx" (xx denotes date) (crews called it "The Seal" for short) which was a hot intermodal Container/trailer on flatcar train originating at Sealand in Port Elizabeth New Jersey and terminating in Oakland California, literally coast to coast. It was a land bridge arrangement for Sealand to avoid sending ships through the Panama canal for speed and efficiency's sake. It was from what I can recall one of the hottest trains on the railroad. On one fateful day in April 1980, the SEALAND 6 had 3 UP SD40-2's for headend power (Referred to as Extra UP 3734 West) and a D&H Wide vision caboose (#35791) that was a piece of @#%&. The caboose had NO working radio and bad wooden core doors that would stick, in fact, the rear most door was stuck closed, despite Dad's efforts to pry it open for the crew in Stockton when he air tested the train in the yard. The rear end crew was 2 good friends of Dad's, and one was a good family friend that was like a brother to our neighbor, we used to have pool parties where Mark would come over to Steve and Bernieces and I, being 4 years old and a TRAIN NUT, would ask him a zillion questions. He always patiently answered every one and was a hell of a nice guy with kids of his own. As a trainman (my Dad was a carman, so while his job was interesting to a 4 year old train nut, train and enginemen were GODS), I just found his job fascinating, so I'd talk the guys ear off.

    Both guys told Dad to just forget about it, Oakland was afterall, only about 80 miles away and they'd be done with that caboose anyway. Fact of the matter is, that caboose was illegal for service in California per the ICC. That stuck door in an illegal piece of &*%$ caboose was what killed Mark and Eugene ("Obi") a few hours later as the caboose trapped the crew while a UP C30-7 from a "helper" consist lay on top of it at the bottom of a Hayward California underpass burning what was left of it down to the ground. I only hope to God their deaths were instant and they didn't have to suffer. I'm almost in tears writing this, as it was a very rough night for my family; Dad was the one that had to go next door and tell Steve and his family that their beloved "brother" had taken his last train out. (I get chills thinking about Dad coming back into our house right after that). Another good friend of mine was almost killed as he was the helper engineer that pushed the Seland 6 over the overpass and flipped the consist over and dropped the second unit of his consist onto the caboose. He had sustained a broken back and burns to his legs while his brakeman pulled him out of the cab, otherwise, he'd be gone too. All because management didn't want to take the time to refuel the Seal.

    It was the blackest day on the old "Wobbly". It was a horrible series of mistakes by WP management that snow balled into a hellish nightmare for a LOT of people.

    Here's a photo a WP employee had shot of the Sealand 6 at Midway, California on Altamont pass after the RBW-9 was combined with the Sealand 6 to push it into Oakland after the Seal ran out of fuel. An hour later, this train was a fiery mass at the bottom of Industrial Parkway in nearby Hayward. I won't post photos of the wreck here on the net, but I have a couple dozen photos of the wreck and the 36 Page NTSB accident report for those interested in reading about one of the main reasons why cabooses were NOT normal interchange equipment. E-mail me if interested in reading the report, but just a heads up, it'll **** YOU OFF reading about the disgusting actions of the management involved to "expedite" this train to Oakland. The shortcuts these people took cost two men their lives.

    Folks, I apologize for the LOOOONG post, but I thought this would clear up some questions while giving you some insight to the daily workings of cabooses and what can go wrong when Management gets impatient. I'm sure Greg misses these guys alot, he worked with them, and on the WP, they had their own RR term for their fellow employees:

    "Brothers".

    [​IMG]

    UP 3734 West (Sealand 6) at Midway CA roughly an hour prior to derailment

    [​IMG]

    RBW-9 pushing Sealand 6 at Midway
  17. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

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    Yes a dark day indeed. They all were friends, the ones who survived as well as those who died. WP employees were loyal to the company and would do almost anything to help get the trains over the road, even if it had dire consequences. There were many small things that lead to that tragedy and we all wish things had been done differently. At the time I found it hard to believe that the accident was really on the WP. It shook our WP family to the bones and is still hard to believe it happened even today. CCT70 isn't dredging up old bad memories but relating one of the sad stories of railroading. Cabooses while romantic had their hazards as does any job on the railroad.

    By the way CCT70, I've never seen those pictures of the doomed train. Thank you for sharing them. Better memories for the fallen "Brothers" than the ones taken at Hayward.

    Greg Elems
  18. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Sorry to put you guys in a somber mood, here's some photos that show the "romantic side" of cabooses, this is freshly re-built WP 430 taken when outshopped in Stockton in 1980, showing the inside and outside of a typical bay window caboose.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sorry about the crappy quality, these are scanned from prints taken 26 years ago on a cheap K-mart camera that Dad kept in his glove box for derailments and such so he could show the train nut in the house the pictures. sign1
  19. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

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    Were companies fast about repainting second hand Equipment, like cabooses? In Ca, would the PUC order it done ASAP, or would they even care?
  20. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

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    Paint, no. At least not exterior paint.