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HI:

Something to share with you all today......

If you are aware of the operations of the NP (Northern Pacific) and the SP&S (Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway) then you probably know about these "kit bashed" cabooses.  Both railroads ran a number of 36' fish-belly style wood side box cars in the early 1900's.  However, when a caboose shortage occurred the NP and SP&S shops converted many of those box cars into cabooses to be used for transfer and short haul consists.  

I have always been an SP&S fan as my grandfather was an engineer on that road.  So, back in January of this year I began a scratch building project to re-create an SP&S converted caboose.  Be aware that the shops "followed a general pattern" but virtually no two of these cars are identical.  Some variances in the placement of the SP&S herald (left or right of the bay window), window size and location, roof contour, end details etc all varied in some form or another from car to car.   All that said, below is the progress to date on my SP&S bay window conversion.  

The main components of the car are scratch built from evergreen styrene.  The brake system is a Shapeways 3-D printed set and the trucks and some various other details are Proto:48 items from Protocraft.  Some Precision Scale parts are used as well.   The interior is nearing completion with bunks, a stove, head, table and bay window seating.....  I used some "modelers license" on the end railings and ladder structures.  The prototype cars generally used flat stock for these items.  I opted to build the ladders and some of the end components by soldering .032 wire into the correct forms.  This provides for better strength overall.  I will add some flat styrene stock to achieve the general "feel" of the original components.  I built a simple soldering jig to help with the ladders.  This speeds up construction significantly. The entire end ladder build was about five minutes per end.  I trimmed the rungs as close as possible to the rails and then rounded them with an emery board.  This gives a nice scale "welded" appearance.

One additional item for the interior is the addition of LED lighting fixtures powered by a Digikeijs light function only decoder.  The small size is ideal (1/4 X 1/4 inch) and should allow the decoder to be hidden in one of the gear lockers in the interior.  All of the other interior components have automobile tape weights hidden inside.  This helps with the weight of the car.  The styrene build is just too light for good operation hence the hidden weight trick.

This is still a work in progress and I am moving slowly but thought you might enjoy seeing the "up on wheels" mock-up.

Regards 

Bill  (AZBill)

 

Attachments

Images (8)
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.23.04 PM: The prototype starting point....Fish belly car....
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.06.49 PM: Overall mock up - sides and ends are complete and lettered and sealed with dull-coat.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.06.28 PM: End shot.....  current state of railings and end platform.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.54.52 PM: Frame components - evergreen styrene, Protocraft and 3D printed brakes.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.30.22 PM: Some of the interior components.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.30.06 PM: Each interior component has several pieces of automobile tape weights hidden inside.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.35.50 PM: The function only decoder.
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 12.46.46 PM: Simple soldering jig for the end ladders and components.
Original Post

Bill, that looks great!

A few years ago, when the NPRHA convention was last in Tacoma, Bruce Barney of the SP&S Railway historical society gave a presentation on the history of these cabooses and modeling them in HO. IIRC, Bruce was offering HO kits of them. At any rate, NPRHA records their convention presentations on video, so that info may be available to you from them if you don’t already have it. FYI, and best of luck on this project. 

@The GN Man posted:

Bill, that looks great!

A few years ago, when the NPRHA convention was last in Tacoma, Bruce Barney of the SP&S Railway historical society gave a presentation on the history of these cabooses and modeling them in HO. IIRC, Bruce was offering HO kits of them. At any rate, NPRHA records their convention presentations on video, so that info may be available to you from them if you don’t already have it. FYI, and best of luck on this project. 

Thanks!!!   I will look into it.....

My first builds of this caboose were based on the old Accurail HO scale 36' fish belly car.....  the conversion was really pretty straight forward with those......

There is a prototype car at Camp 18 in Elsie Oregon on highway 26.  I have looked at it but did not measure etc.....

Here are a couple of my HO scale builds from many years ago....These were based on the Accurail kit and I cheated by using Athern under-carriages (lots of other errors too!!!) ......  I also have a brass version.

The ability to do fine detail work in O-Scale (Proto:48) makes for a much nicer car...

 

 

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Images (2)
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 2.46.33 PM
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 2.46.56 PM
@DaveJfr0 posted:

This is really nice work.

I'd suggest the grandt line AB brake set (#3049) next time, as I'm sure the shapeways stuff is fragile and perhaps more expensive. 

https://www.grandtline.com/for...laneous-car-details/

how did you build the interior styrene pieces, like the seat with what seem like perfectly rounded edges? or the grill on the stove? (carefully sliced a styrene tube?)  I'm actually working on a caboose interior and decided I was just gonna 3D print everything for more perfection than I could get with hand-making everything, but if i could cut perfectly square and round edges as needed as you have done, I wouldn't be going that route.

 

Hi Dave:

I looked at the Grandt brakes but decided on the Shapeways....  they are actually very sturdy...a few compromises with exact scale and some minor details but very good overall.

The interior pieces are cut from sheets of Evergreen styrene.  .020 thick O-scale car siding to be exact.  I use a small machinist square for straight cuts and I use emery board to round the corners.  

To get the various pieces to sit square I only scribe the cut lines and then bend the piece carefully.  Once in a square position I add a length of Evergreen styrene angle to the inside of the bend.... usually the .080 size and that holds the pieces square and very firmly.

The pipe for the stove is as you surmise a carefully sliced styrene tube.  I sliced off very thin pieces to simulate the joints where the pipe bends.

I also just finished the interior walls.  The roof and bay window walls are one piece with various components cut from flat stock.  When I am ready to assemble the car the interior components will be attached to the walls and then the walls to the inner car sides.

 

Regards

Bill  (AZBill) 

Attachments

Images (2)
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 3.07.38 PM
  • Screen Shot 2020-07-11 at 3.07.56 PM
@Ron_S posted:

Bill, Growing up while the SP &S and NP rolled through Eastern Washington State in the 50's and 60's, I am glad to see a project modeling the roadname.

I do not have a full consist of SP&S yet but run the NP Passenger consist regularly on my home layout and the clubs when it is open.

Thanks Ron......

It was always great to see the GN, NP and SP&S in and around Portland where I grew up.   I got to ride on my Grandads Alco S2 switcher at Willbridge yard in Portland on the day he retired......  I was nine years old and I am STILL in awe of that experience.....

Got to sit in his lap as he yelled commands and notched out the throttle.........  Holy Cow!!!!

Regards

Bill  (AZBill)

Bill, As far as I know we had no railroad people in my family, a neighbor when we lived in town for a year was a SP&S brakeman and he would take me fishing but never offered to take me to the Pasco yard.  I would ride my bicycle up there for that year, but we mostly lived on my grandparents farm and heard the whistles as they trekked down from Ritzville along HWY 395 towards Pasco, the steam gave way very early to Diesel and seeing the shiny new diesels was a treat.  NP and SP&S were more readily seen but a few GN came through.

When we traveled along the Columbia. whether on I-84 or HWY 12 on the Washington side, we watched NP and SP&S through Washam and the UP along the Oregon side. Now the BNSF and UP wander the gorge. I get back up there 2-3 times a year to see family and watch the freight run the gorge and the 395 corridor.

@Ron_S posted:

Bill, As far as I know we had no railroad people in my family, a neighbor when we lived in town for a year was a SP&S brakeman and he would take me fishing but never offered to take me to the Pasco yard.  I would ride my bicycle up there for that year, but we mostly lived on my grandparents farm and heard the whistles as they trekked down from Ritzville along HWY 395 towards Pasco, the steam gave way very early to Diesel and seeing the shiny new diesels was a treat.  NP and SP&S were more readily seen but a few GN came through.

When we traveled along the Columbia. whether on I-84 or HWY 12 on the Washington side, we watched NP and SP&S through Washam and the UP along the Oregon side. Now the BNSF and UP wander the gorge. I get back up there 2-3 times a year to see family and watch the freight run the gorge and the 395 corridor.

Thanks Ron:

An old North Portland neighbor of mine was an SP&S super and he and his family moved to Wishram in the early sixties.  We went up to visit and of course dropping by the yard was required!!!  Diesels were in total control by then and the Alcos were just all over the place!!!!  

Good memories for sure!!!

Regards

Bill  (AZBill)

Bill, I have meant to stop in Wishram, they are supposed to have an old steamer on display there, but every time I get along the stretch before The Dalles, I don't have the time to drop down the grade and check it out. It is on my list of to do before punch out.

I haven't stopped in Pasco in a long time, there used to be an SP&S switcher steamer in the park on 4th Avenue across from the court house when I was a kid there. So much has changed it probably is long gone, my old JR High is now city hall and the terminal for Amtrak is in the bad part of town.

Ron

@DaveJfr0 posted:

This is really nice work.

I'd suggest the grandt line AB brake set (#3049) next time, as I'm sure the shapeways stuff is fragile and perhaps more expensive.

Can you even place an order with Grandt Line and get anything delivered? I've heard nothing but problems.

I'd also recommend the AB set from Wiseman Model Services - all metal castings.

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