Caboose?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by dhutch, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. dhutch

    dhutch Member

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    I've been browsing this board for a long time, but i've never really understood what a "caboose" is???

    - i one point i though i know what it was, but i think i've got the wrong end of the stick!!


    daniel
  2. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

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    Well sir... I was born in 1958 - Too late to see steam engines in wide use... You were born a bit late too see Cabooses run... Or "Cabins" as the PRR called them,....

    Here's a link to a short history.... UP Caboose Page
  3. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

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    Well Mikey then there is me i never got to see either of them run LOL. :D

    But back to the subject. :D That is a nice link you posted mikey. You beat me to it before i seen this thread. The Caboose is a home away from home for the brakemen and the conductor of the train. They were at the end of all trains, except passenger trains. They had all the same comforts as they did at home, beds, stoves, food, ect. There were many different types of cabooses and alot of them had different names as well. A few examples are, crummy, chariot, wryend, buggy, hut, shack, palace, cabin, & caboose. This is what i know about a Caboose since my dad was a conductor for the Chessie System back in the 70's and he told me all about it.

    Have A Safe & Wonderful Week
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

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    AHHH! I got you both beat! I recall the last of the main line stream on the likes of the PRR,C&O,B&O,NYC and N&W in Columbus Oh..Plus as a brakeman I got to ride in a PRR cabin car and a C&O hack. :thumb:
  5. dhutch

    dhutch Member

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    But there an american thing right?

    - which i why i've never come across them much? (living in the UK)

    - but there basicly like a extended idea of the "brake van" ?


    thanks, daniel
  6. hudsonelectric

    hudsonelectric Member

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    Canadian railroads used them, too, but called them 'vans'. Another important function of the caboose was that of a mobile office. On many railroads, the crew also consisted of a freight conductor who was responsible for the train, its loads, and the paperwork associated with each freight car. A common item in cabooses was either a desk that dropped down flat against the wall or a fixed table that served the same purpose. Cabooses also had a pressure gauge to monitor the brake line air pressure, radios, and coal stoves, wood stoves, or kerosene stoves. The cupola, that small structure mounted on the roof, was used to look out across the train and spot problems, but when modern boxcars were built taller, the solution was to build cabooses with bay windows on the sides. Some cabooses had side doors, others were nothing more than old passenger cars or converted boxcars. Some had square windows, others, like on the Pennsylvania RR, had round windows. Here's a model of a famous US caboose used by many railroads...the NE6 design.

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  7. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

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    PRR N5c Caboose

    daniel here is a thread that i started that shows a PRR N5c Caboose.
  8. fp9er

    fp9er New Member

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    Hello Daniel! I was born in 1947 which makes me 57 years old. I saw steam engines operating in Canada and in England! Although the "brake van" in England differed from the North American caboose in design (which in Canadian terminology--as already has been pointed out--was also referred to as a "van" and was used in Canada well up into the 1970's) it served basically the same function.

    Our "conductor" was what referred to as a "guard" in England. "Goods Wagons" are/were the British equivalent of boxcars although the North American version was much bigger. We refer to railway passenger cars in general as "coaches" or "cars" (with specific ones like "sleeping" "dining" and "baggage" cars) whereas in England and Europe they are called "wagons".

    I visited Norwich, England at the ripe old age of 13 and spent many happy hours watching British Trains.

    BTW a lot of the Safety Devices used in North American Railroad Operations today originated on the English Railway System. If you'd like to know a little history on these and how they came into being, look for a book called "Red For Danger"....I lost my copy and can't remember the Author's name....

    When I was in England I used to get quite a kick out of listening to the British Steam Whistles which, to my ear, sounded very high-pitched and shrill. Canadian Steamers sounded a far deeper note -- almost like an organ peal in comparion, and when one was sounding across those empty prairies you could hear them for miles....!

    Paul McD.
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

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    dhutch: A caboose IS a brake van. There are differences between American English and English English, especially in the realm of jargon. Railroad jargon is no exception.

    We call...

    An engine driver a fireman
    A chimney a smokestack
    A footplate a cab
    A box van a boxcar
    A bogie wagon a flatcar

    etcetera.

    The actual use may have been somewhat different because of the greater distances American railroads traveled--I don't know if Brit brake vans were used as sleeping/cooking quarters, for example.

    They are no longer used on American railroads--I imagine that brake vans are equally rare on English roads these days, which is why you don't see them.

    But, like the steam engine that used to be on the other end, they are still a part of public consciousness.
  10. Summit

    Summit Member

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    Most states in the U.S. had laws requiring the use of cabooses on all trains. Starting in the early 1980's the railroads were able to get all of those laws repealed...this happened about the same time that union contracts were re-nogitated so that brakemen were no longer required on through freights, and train crews were reduced from four people down to two.

    There are still a few cabooses earning their keep on American rails, but they are few and far between and exist only in places where long reverse movements that need to be protected against make them usefull. Otherwise, cabooses are basically part of the past.

    Summit
    Elko, NV
  11. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

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    I highly recommend the book, "The Railroad Caboose" by William F Knapke, published by Golden West Books. First published in 1968, it has gone through many many printings, and is still in print. It isn't a "technical" book, but really relates the lore of the caboose, and has a lot of photos and illustrations.

    Bill S
  12. hudsonelectric

    hudsonelectric Member

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    That's the one! I loaned my copy out to a friend and couldn't think of the author's name. Great book! William Knapke worked for railroads across the country and gives a very understandable description of the caboose along with some really funny stories....like the one about the horse being transported by the crew in the caboose.! :D I picked my copy up on eBay.

    Russ
  13. dhutch

    dhutch Member

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    Yes, that what i though, thankyou. And as you say, i far as i know English brake vans where much less, assumable, like you say becuase of the smaller distances. The had stoves, for heating and tea/elevenses but i dont think they where ever sleeped in, and im not sure if they where even assined to a specific brakeman (although they would often us the same one for years)


    - also, i a slight tangent, If the brackman sleeped inn the caboose, what did the engine men do?


    thanks, daniel
  14. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

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    I will throw in ARCHES, the American Railway Caboose Historical Educational Society, Inc., based in St. Louis, MO, but with members in 42 states of the US and 3 Canadian Provinces. The organization's slogan is "Don't let the END, END! Now is when the END justifies the means to preserve it." ARCHES has published lists of preserved "cabeese" (a plural form which some of us use) and has trips every year to visit some of these. I am a member, but otherwise have no vested interest in the organization. However, I suggest that anyone interested in possibly joining contact them at P.O. Box 2772, St. Louis, MO 63116, phone 314-752-3148, http://arches.org.
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    Daniel:
    Sleeping in the caboose would be done only on a "home and away" job (Oh yeah?) if there was no railroad hotel or YMCA at the far end. On a lower grade line, with no signals, the crew might be 5 people - engineer, fireman, head-end brakeman, conductor, rear-end brakeman or flagman. On a fully signalled line, the crew might not have a front-end brakeman, and maybe no rear-end brakeman.
    There were major variations in caboosi, from the very small 4-wheelers, to the large steel ones. The cattle roads often had ones with a passenger compartment for the "drovers" accompanying the livestock. There were others where they had a passenger compartment for real passengers.
    Compared to the brake van, the one function they didn't have was being the only brake on a whole train. Before air brakes, there might be brakemen at intervals along a train who would apply the handbrakes from the roofs of the cars.
  16. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

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    Ahhhh...caboose....my favorite railcar. From long and short...

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  17. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

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    ...to big and small...

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  18. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

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    ...then and (sniff)...now.

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  19. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

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    I'll use this thread to ask one of those "why don't I know this after all these years" questions:

    What's the origin and function of the curved grab bars commonly found on cabooses but seemingly on no other rail cars?

    Wayne
  20. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

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    I think they enabled the conductor to grab on and swing up more easily as the train started up.