On online auction sites, I've been looking at modern versions of the Lionel Work Caboose that has a rear vertical ladder protruding through the roof. In many of the photos, the plastic ladder is not straight and seems to have several bends in it. Is this is a common problem? Also, if I buy one that has a straight ladder, will it avoid the problem occurring in the future? Thanks.
If you're talking about the all-plastic work caboose that's been around since 1970, that rear ladder was designed to flex due to it being molded in Delrin or Celcon, and having a thin cross section.
You should be able to straighten the ladder. But if it's too kinked or broken, it's a reasonably common part to obtain through parts dealers.
Thanks PAPERTRW. I assume a relatively flexible material was chosen to avoid the ladder breaking. This photo shows what I'm referring to. So it's just a case of gently bending back into shape?
Yup, the part was made from a flexible plastic to avoid breaking.
If you find that it's developed a "memory" in the bent/twisted shape, then apply some heat -- a hair dryer or hot water bath -- followed by some weight to keep things straight while cooling down.
Lastly, if it's necessary to replace the part, know that there are three different versions of it:
1. 600-9021-009 (9021-9) was used from 1970-78, and uses two mounting pins.
2. 600-9325-015 (9325-15) was used from 1978 through the present, and has a center mounting tab. The 6-26519 Christmas Work Caboose you're showing uses this version.
3. Same part numbers as #2 above, but it has BOTH the two pins as well as the center tab. Basically you break-off whichever mounting method you don't need, leaving the other.
Hope this helps!