Railway Preservation News

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Author:  RCD [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  CABoose

has anyone ever rigged up a caboose to act as a cab car? On the Pioneer Valley Railroad a few years ago they had a caboose on their excursion train for Push Pull service when it rain was pushing the conductor read back the usual "clear 20 cars" Etc. If you rent the Caboose up with a generator in a compressor you could not lights and horns on it and use a remote control set up to run the locomotive. So my question is in the history of railroading has it ever been done?

Author:  Dennis Storzek [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

People who want to control the brakes from the caboose should learn to run a tailpipe.

Author:  EDM [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

There have been cabooses set up with remote controls, lights, horns for 15 or 20 years now. Nothing new- With respect to tail hoses, most cabooses have a dump valve or valve/whistle combination on each platform. A generator is not necessary, solar power can be used to charge a battery and run LEDs. NAUG is doing that now.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Before others chime in:

The Wilmington & Western, with no run-around sidings on its usual route, has operated in that fashion for basically all its fifty-some years of operation. At least one of its several cabooses has long been set up with high double sealed-beam headlight, air horn, and more.

Author:  Dave [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Back in the 1960's - 1970s, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum ran in Fort Lauderdale on a track adjacent to the airport, back and forth, with no runaround. A caboose was outfitted with a light and air horn and tail hose, the conductor rode the rear platform and radioed the engineer shoving on the outbound trip in reverse.

Author:  PCook [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Up into the 1970s the Erie Lackawanna had cabooses specially equipped for a long backing move through Marion, Ohio for trains going to and returning from the Dayton Branch, which joined the main line east of, and headed away from, the Marion Yard.


Author:  sousakerry [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

SMRS does all it's runs push-pull with a caboose in push mode. We run a low voltage LED light off 2 Edison batteries charged by solar charger. Brakeman stands on rear platform with a pigtail/caboose whistle to sound for private crossings. Busy street crossing are stop and flag. If an emergency arises the Brakeman can dump the air on the pigtail or the dump valve hard plumbed on the caboose.

Otherwise constant radio communication to the Engineer is a must giving car counts to crossings and clearances for 20-30 cars or to land marks. It's not a bad gig in the summer but those Santa runs can get mighty cold on that back porch with a constant 10 mph wind in your face. If you get a good hot fire going in the coal stove you can keep the door open and keep your backside warm.

Author:  Trainlawyer [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

I read the question a little differently, whether a caboose has been set up as a cab car with locomotive controls rather than as a glorified shoving platform. I believe that at least a few operations have used a remote control belt-pack from a caboose, however, even with all the lights bells and whistles mounted, the caboose is still a shoving platform.

I know of no cabeese equipped with a control stand and the necessary multiple unit connections. Having said that - I recall an old 'Would You Believe It' item concerning a caboose on an electric line which was equipped with poles and at least one traction motor so that the conductor could catch up with his train after completing station paperwork(?).

The Seaboard Coast Line BQ23-7s are the closest I can come to a caboose equipped to control the train.


Author:  Trainkid456 [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose


The Monticello Railway Museum in Monticello, IL operates in a push-pull mode. Typically, the normal trip over the museum's line has the locomotive lead the train into downtown Monticello and then shove back with either a caboose or on rare occasions, Illinois Central office car number 7, leading. All of the museum's operational "cabeese" and IC #7 are equipped with a horn, so the flagman can be in charge of blowing for crossings, etc. on the return trip. The office car also has a pair of ditch lights mounted just below the open air platform on the rear, and at least once I've seen the flagman bring a rather large chair to sit in while he monitors the track ahead of him.

In addition to that, I was shown a picture of an ex-CP caboose on some shortline in the northeast which had been converted to what is basically your idea of a "CABoose"--ditch lights, horn, and controls to control the locomotive pushing.

So yes, CABeese do exist.

Thomas Dyrek

Author:  EDM [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Erie Mining (LTV) operated their push-pull mine runs, between the pocket to the crusher, with 'belly pack' remote controls in one direction. OK, they didn't use a caboose, but some of the dump cars were equipped with a small cab, complete with headlight and a coal stove. They are pictured in a Pentrex production, from the early '90s, and I don't think that type of operation was all that new even back then. The RS-11s and two of the C-420s had their cab doors widened to make it easier for the crews to get in and out with the 'belly packs'.

Author:  exprail [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Thomas a couple of additions/clarifications/corrections to your post if I may?

Unless things have changed in the last year at Monticello, I don't recall a caboose set up with a separate air horn for back up moves. However, all the cabooses I know of with the exception of the Soo caboose, which (has/had a sticky back up valve/whistle) I used to own are equipped with air whistles for crossing protection.

The Canadian cabooses you might be thinking of, possibly, which we acquired and used on the Wisconsin Central were former Algoma Central,. cars and like you stated were set up for reverse move protection with lites and a whistle/horn plus a valve to handle the air brakes. However, there were no controls in the caboose to operate a locomotive which was handled by an engineer wearing a radio belt pack. The ends of the car were set up with MU connections and radio receivers/transmitters inside the car so that any locomotive(s)coupled/ MUed to the caboose could be controlled via a belt pack as a remote unit. This provided an economical, effecient way to have remote operation without dedicated locomotives.


Author:  Brian Norden [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

As I recall being told, the Southern Nevada Railroad Museum at Boulder City has installed a dump valve on the inside of the normal rear end of its ex-UP caboose. Also installed an additional whistle or horn on the caboose with the valve also inside the caboose.

I was told this after I noted that the conductor was riding inside the caboose on the back-up movement. The set-up was made to allow the conductor to be inside and out of the weather. In the winter Nevada can get cold, etc.

Author:  Les Beckman [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Figuring that "A picture is worth a thousand words", I thought I'd add a few to this discussion.

The first shot is of Illinois Central caboose #9926 as set up to lead one of the Monticello Railway Museum's trains from the museum site in to Monticello in September of 2015. Note the air horn on the roof and the tail hose.

The second photo shows the same caboose in September of 2017 with conductor Dennis Slone on the platform as the train pushes toward Monticello. Dennis has his hand on the tail hose in case a stop is needed.

Finally, although the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum does not use a tail hose, the last photo shows the rear platform of Bessemer & Lake Erie caboose #1989 with the various lights and the air horns mounted on the roof, as the train backs away from the museums North Judson depot on its way to English Lake.


MRM Railroad Days September 2015 002.JPG
MRM Railroad Days September 2015 002.JPG [ 341.03 KiB | Viewed 2917 times ]
MRM Railroad Days Sept 2017 007.JPG
MRM Railroad Days Sept 2017 007.JPG [ 344.34 KiB | Viewed 2917 times ]
Pre-Mom's Day at HVRM 5-13-17 014.JPG
Pre-Mom's Day at HVRM 5-13-17 014.JPG [ 348.73 KiB | Viewed 2917 times ]

Author:  hotbox [ Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

Neither an employee with a remote control operator's box nor horns, lights, and a dump valve make it an actual cab-car. It's still just a shoving platform.

Making a caboose into an actual cab-car is probably more trouble than it's worth. Spending the time and money to install the MU cables and main reservoir line of the length of the train to have functional control over the brakes, other than to dump the air, would be a waste of resources for most heritage operations.

Additionally, if the car has it's own brake stand (not a tail hose) and throttle controls then just like any cab-car it is considered a locomotive and must be inspected and maintained as such on FRA regulated properties.

Author:  Trainlawyer [ Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: CABoose

As Hotbox has pointed out a Cab Car is legally a locomotive. The definition includes the ability to control the locomotive, not merely dump the air, blow a whistle and maybe provide some illumination. This alone may render the cost prohibitive.

The question which you need to ask (and the FRA will certainly ask) is this: "Where is the person who is actually controlling the locomotive?" If there needs to be a human being on board the locomotive to release the brakes, work the throttle, et c then you still have a shoving platform. In this case the person manning the leading end of the train may be controlling the movement but he is not controlling the locomotive.

When I was an undergraduate in the 1950s the local freight serving the Princeton Branch would run cabin leading since it saved the crew four runaround moves. The movement was controlled by the conductor standing on the leading platform and communicating with the engineer using hand signals. He had a brake valve and a whistle on the platform. In the 60s before Push-pull commuter trains came into vogue The Pennsy operated what was referred to as the 'Back-Up Train' on the Pemberton Branch in order facilitate a very short turnaround for a deadhead move. The two P-70 coaches used were each equipped (on opposite ends) with Zebra stripes, horn, headlight, conductor's valve and an end door. A crew member would ride in the vestibule to control the movement. Communication was with the signal line. Neither the cabin nor coaches could be considered cab cars.

I do recall reading in TRAINS about the cabeese and a flatcar which were set up as permanent remote control units MUed to the locomotives. This raises a question - If the caboose with the radio gear was to be used for a backup move and was on the opposite end of the train from the power, how was the locomotive controlled?


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