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First Look Review
HO scale
NE-6 Caboose New Haven Style
NE-6 Caboose
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

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Crew Call
Atlas has re-released another group of their popular Master Line NE-6 Caboose in HO. This run features new road numbers and one new paint scheme. This Master Line model is offered in two body styles, the New Haven style and the Nickel Plate style.
    This Atlas HO scale model is based upon a standard caboose design of the International Car Company of Kenton, Ohio that was used in the 1940s. It is typically associated with the New Haven Railroad but this body style was in fact used by other rail lines as well. The cabooses showed real longevity and were found in operation well into the diesel era. - Atlas

NE-6 Caboose
I have read that NE stood for North Eastern. I have also read that NE was the AAR code for caboose and that "North East" is a model railroader misunderstanding. Regardless, the NE caboose was an all-metal design by the International Car Company of Kenton, Ohio. The -6 was a standard that entered service in 1947-48. It is typically associated with the New Haven Railroad but this body style was in fact used by other railroads as well. The cabooses showed real longevity and were found in operation well into the diesel era.

    NE-6 Dimensions*
    Length over Strikers 34' 0"
    Carbody Length 27' 4"
    Truck Centers 18' 10"
    Carbody Width 9' 5"
    Carbody Height 11' 6"
    Cupola Height 13' 10"
    Typical Weight 47000

    Sources : Field measurements of Walt Gosciminski's NH 705

NE-6 cabeese have five steel panels separated by four vertical ribs on each carbody side.

Master Line NE-6
Atlas' NE-6 is a sharp looking model with excellent molding. It appears they used three types of polystyrene, common hobby "hard" styrene for the body, a slick Delrin®-type for the trucks, and a more malleable styrene for end ladders, roof walks, and grabs. Being an undecorated model, the window panels are included unset int their openings. The clear plastic is clear without distortion. Despite the body windows being fairly widely spaced, the glazings are molded to a single piece for ease of mounting, as is the 'glass' for all the other windows.

Molding is exceptionally crisp. The car body features the five riveted panels per side and a steel roof with raised rectangular panels. Small diameter components like hand rails, chains and brake gear are thin.

With all the detached fine small plastic detail parts to add, you will be happy to know that Atlas made this car with pre-drilled holes to mount those pieces into. Thank you Atlas! Years ago I bought an undecorated Walthers wood caboose containing lots of separate parts and despite claims to the contrary, Walthers had not pre-drilled the holes. Drilling those out cost me several ultra-small drill bits and sucked the life out of my enjoyment of the model. (I complained and they changed the wording for the undecorated model.)

The car is pulled with knuckle couplers and ride on metal wheels. They are blackened yet still have a sheen and look a bit on the steely side. Many unattached pieces are included for the modeler to add. Atlas promotes these features:
    Finely detailed end rails, smokestack and ladders
    Brake line detail
    Weighted chassis
    Friction-bearing or roller bearing caboose trucks
    Factory-equipped with AccuMate® couplers
    Accurate painting and printing

    Two different body styles:
    New Haven Body Style: windows spaced closer to the cupola
    Nickel Plate Body Style: windows spaced further from the cupola

Weights and measures and performance
This model weighs 3.5oz, within NMRA RP-20. My Kadee coupler height gauge shows the couplers to be at proper height. I measured the model at 34 feet from striker plate to striker plate. It is 37.5 feet from coupler to coupler.

An easy nudge across Atlas code 83 track sent the caboose freely rolling through an Atlas turnout and across a Peco code 80 switch with no problem.

This model features a great deal of detail. Starting from the top, a closed rectangle of hand rail runs around the copula edges. A very finely molded open grid metal running board with laterals spans the roof from the ends to the cupola. It rests atop brackets and the roof straps allowing light between it and the roof.

Fine rivet detail runs along the edges of the roof and side panels, and the gasket for the separately applied smoke stack. That stack not only is molded concave for the exhaust ports, it even has a pair of holes in it for retaining wires.

Down on the body, the sides have fine rivets along the edges of each panel. Shallow tabs along the otherwise straight sill hide the crossbeams. Tiny bolt detail is molded next to the mounting holes for the end grabs.

The ends have no detail except for the open windows and a molded door, although there are holes molded for hand rails. However, the end platforms feature very fine and sharply molded diamond tread decking on each of the decks, and even on each step. Those steps are also molded with gaps between the tread and backs. That treading looks so good that it is hard to complain that the decking is not molded open. Photo-etch would solve that but for a RTR injection-molded model, making them open would no doubt make the model very fragile. The each end platform is completed with a nicely formed part featuring end rails, 5-rung ladder, hand brake stand, and safety chains guarding the aisle between the brake stand and ladder. The sill has small bolt and fastener detail modeled on.

Each side window, body and cupola, has holes at the upper corners so that one can mount sun shades above them. Speaking of the windows, they are included. The problem is that Atlas tightly packs them in plastic that is very difficult to open, seemingly self-adhesive on both interior sides. One of the body window sheets broke as I tried to peel it off the plastic packaging.

The separate hand grabs are both styrene and metal, and of very fine in diameter. The metal parts have a magnetic quality when I picked them up with my tweezers. These parts are:
    Air hose and cock x 2
    End sill grab handles X 4
    Curved side grabs X 4
    Cut levers X 2
    End handles X 4
    Ladder tops X 4
    Smoke stack

Plastic pieces include:
    Rerailers ("rerailing frogs", "replacers") X 2
    Sunshades, body X 4
    Sunshades, cupola X 4
    Smoke stack X 1

Underneath the caboose is an air brake system. It includes hangers and rods. However, it lacks the trainline.

Good metal wheels rest within Barber-Bettendorf Swing Motion caboose trucks. The truck sideframes look a bit plain. The wheels are blackened and nicely dark. My Kadee coupler gauge shows the factory mounted AccuMate® couplers are at the correct height.

Atlas' NE-6 is ready to go out of the box. However, those 31 separate detail pieces noted above can be attached for enhanced detail.

Most of the hand grabs are metal and they stick magnetically to my tweezers. The plastic pieces are made with a malleable plastic; be careful as they can catapult themselves out of your fingers/tweezers. Especially the decouple levers. They attach with pins to two brackets on the sill; the problem is that they have a bend to fit around the opposite side of the hand brake wheel pedestal. I have not succeeded with mounting them and think I will have to detach the end railing/ladder/brake mount pieces to get the lever around everything.

Most of the mounting holes are open enough to accept the parts. However, I had to fight to get the end sill grabs in place. The grabs are painted white and I suspect the paint makes them too big to fit in the holes.

Atlas' NE-6 caboose offers a great deal of detail pieces. I do not recommend inexperienced modelers to try installing these parts, their size makes them tricky to handle.

Paint Schemes
This sample is undecorated. However, I have yet to be anything other than enthusiastically amazed by Atlas' paint and printing. This release of the HO NE-6 caboose offers seven railroads, including a new scheme:
    Conrail (Blue/White
    Family Lines (CCR)* (Red/White/Black)
    New Haven (Red/White/Black)
    Norfolk & Western (Red/White/Black)
    Penn Central (Green/White)
    Susquehanna (Red/Silver/Black)
    New Paint Scheme
    Monongahela Bicentennial (Red/White/Blue)

All of the cabooses have two road numbers except for the Monongahela.

Atlas offers undecorated cabooses in both body styles.

Atlas' NE-6 caboose is a very detailed and sharply molded model. Molding is first-rate. It looks good even without the optional separate parts attached. The model scales and weighs out precisely.

Inexperienced modelers will need some help getting the small parts attached. The packing that holds the window glazing is horrible to try to peel off the clear plastic.

I think that this model will look great on any HO layout. Highly recommended.

* Railfan.net. Conrail Cabins & Cabooses
Class NE-6
. [http://crcaboose.railfan.net/classes/NE-6.htm] July 14, 2000.

AccuMate® couplers are made under license from AccuRail, Inc.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Exceptionally crisp molding.
Lows: Inexperienced modelers will need some help getting the small parts attached. The packing that holds the window glazing is horrible to try to peel off the clear plastic.
Verdict: Atlas' NE-6 caboose is a very detailed and sharply molded model of the NE-6 caboose.
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 20 003 597
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 28, 2016
  NATIONALITY: United States

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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