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In-Box Review
HO scale
30' 3-Window Caboose, CN
HO RTR 30' 3-Window Caboose, CN #77122
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:
RailRoad Modeling

30' Three Window Caboose
Scale HO
Roadname Canadian National
Item 84383

Roundhouse (including their former Model Die Casting model brand) and Athearn are now under one management. You might see "Athearn" as the brand name when they mean Roundhouse and/or "MDC", or vice versa, so also check Athearn. These cabooses – “cabeese” -- now being produced are a generational step above what they were before.

The Caboose
According to the authoritative Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website:
The use of a cupola, which is the first spotting feature of a caboose , dates back to just after the Civil War, although even by 1906, they were enough of a novelty that the '06 Cyc. pointed out their presence, calling them "lookouts".

Supposedly the first caboose was an old box car with a hole in the roof. The conductor availed himself of this to hoist himself up and look over the train. During most of the 19th century, most caboose s did not have "lookouts" as the cupola was termed back then. This makes a certain amount of sense, as trains of only a dozen cars were the norm, so it wasn't hard to see the entire train from just the caboose platform.

There was another factor. Air brakes were not ruled mandatory until 1900, which meant that there were brakeman up on the roofs scattered the length of the train. THEY were in effect the person in the cupola.

I am finding that there seem to be two basic standard designs (with lots of variation in each). There is what I call the three-window standard, basically the MDC model, or the Athearn ATSF steel caboose model - a longer body with the cupola maybe 2/3rds or 3/4's down the end, and a shorter two-window one, basically the Northeastern caboose design. This so-called two-window design can have two sets of paired windows, even four windows, but generally symmetrical around a centered cupola. (In the case of the D&H, they had this type, but often had the cupola at the end.)

There are many designs outside this pair, including a lot of temporary box car rebuilds around WWII with all sorts of strange rebuilds.

Sometimes a side door was seen. I believe this was so the caboose could carry a bit of LCL freight, like a poor man's baggage car. In rare cases, the door was not full height, but like the upper half of a dutch door. I guess this would allow packages to be handed back and forth.

Roundhouse 30' 3-Window Caboose
Also according to the authoritative Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website:
Three Window Standard Caboose - I think this is based on a Coahuila & Pacific caboose. shown in the 1906 Cyc., down to the toolbox underneath.[2]

Roundhouse produces 55 models of the 30' 3-Window Caboose with 17 roadnames:
I. Canadian National
II. Chesapeake & Ohio
III. Chicago & Eastern Illinois
IV. Chicago & NorthWestern
V. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
VI. Denver & Rio Grande Western
VII. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern
VIII. Grand Trunk
IX. Great Northern
X. New York Central
XI. Northern Pacific
XII. Pennsylvania
XIII. Rock Island
XIV. Santa Fe
XV. Southern Pacific
XVI. Union Pacific
XVII. Western Pacific

HO RTR 30' 3-Window Caboose, CN #77122
The model is packed in a form fitted cradle with a fitted clear lid. Roundhouse models are packaged in an olive box that displays the model through a cellophane window.
Roundhouse engineered this van (Canadian term for a caboose) with a floor/underframe upon which is secured a metal weight. Over this is set an open single-piece body which is capped with a roof; the windows are molded open but the doors are not. The cupola snaps into an opening molded for it. Separate roofwalks and a smoke jack are applied to the roof. Each end platform has separately applied ladders, brake wheels and shafts, and railings. Underneath are secured the couplers in pockets, and the trucks. Two pieces of four queen posts, one or two "possum bellies" (tool boxes), and the truss rods are fitted.

The prototype design is a double sheathed body with narrow end platforms on each end. Each end has a brake wheel. Underneath is a wooden chassis with truss rods and queen posts. An early air brake system is mounted between the queen posts, as is a tool box. This design Roundhouse used to advertise as an “Old Timer”. While railroads later began to construct cabooses with steel underframes, thence steel bodies, many railroads continued to build, or at least use, cabeese of this construction style. The "crummy" (Aother slang for caboose) is appropriate for circa late-1800’s to the end of steam.

Molding is sharp. There are neither sink holes nor flash. The only ejection marks are out of sight unless you suffer a derailment and the caboose flips over. I did find some minor excessive glue spots on one of the corner roof walks.

Unfortunately, the metal wheels are shiny. Nor are they feature the proper ribbed backside. They do ride in nicely molded plastic arch bar trucks and roll well.

On the Inspection Track: Details
Roundhouse has reworked the original molds and removed all molded detail. The grab irons are all separately applied wire.

Regrettably Roundhouse did not add marker lamps. It is a simple task to drill out holes to mount aftermarket lamps, and even air hoses next to the couplers.

My inspection finds the model to be in conformance with NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices, with RP-25 wheels and couplers at acceptable height. It weighs 2.8 ounces which is light compared to RP-2O.1 Car Weight. The car is not 30’ long, rather 35’ between end platforms, and 40’6” from coupler to coupler. Roundhouse also made a "cabin car" (a common official term for caboose) without end platforms with 30’6” bodies.

Key Features

• Fully assembled and ready for your layout
• Metal truss rods (as appropriate)
• Clear window glazing
• Painted steps (as appropriate)
• Razor sharp printing and painting
• Machined RP25 profile 33" metal wheels
• McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers installed

Decorated for Canadian National Railway the model features crisp, sharp opaque lettering on smooth paint. I cannot find any information when CN used this attractive livery. The classic CNR maple leaf logo looks great!

Years ago I built a few of these cabeese for my steam-era layout. They are inexpensive and easy to build but had molded details. Roundhouse has done a great job of reworking the models with metal truss rods, metal wheels, and separate wire grabs irons. The paint and printing is second to none. The separately applied detail parts are impressive.

Yes, although these are generic models they do afford us the opportunity to model the era of the Industrial Revolution through the Golden Era, and beyond, with a good RTR decorated model. They offer the opportunity to kitbash and detail to more closely model a specific engine. The price is good. I do recommend this model.

Please tell vendors and manufacturers that you saw this model here – on Railroad Modeling!

[1] NEB&W Guide to Cabooses - Overview. " NEB&W Guide to Model Die Casting Misc. Rolling Stock Models." John Nehrich. Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website. 2010-03-12. http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/article.php?article=6068&q=caboose.

[2] Three Window Standard Caboose. " NEB&W Guide to Model Die Casting Misc. Rolling Stock Models." John Nehrich. Rensselaer Railroad Heritage Website. 2010-02-26.http://railroad.union.rpi.edu/article.php?article=4204&q=caboose.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Separately applied wire grab irons, metal wheels, knuckle couplers. Sharp molding and paint.
Lows: No marker lamps. Generic prototype.
Verdict: These afford us the opportunity to model the era of the Industrial Revolution through the Golden Era, and beyond, with a good RTR decorated model.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: HO Scale
  Mfg. ID: 84383
  Suggested Retail: $24.98
  Related Link: 30' 3-Window Caboose Series
  PUBLISHED: Jul 22, 2011

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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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