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Atlas O Trainman O gauge Chesapeake & Ohio cupola caboose

This O gauge caboose from Atlas O features die-cast metal couplers and LED lighting
Atlas O Trainman Chesapeake & Ohio cupola caboose
William Zuback
Price: $66.95 (undecorated, $64.95) Features: Separate, factory-applied window awnings, window glazing, smokestack, brake wheels, roof grab irons, and see-through running boards; die-cast metal couplers; solid-bearing caboose trucks; plastic underframe with molded brake detail; interior lighting with on/off control switch on underbody Minimum diameter curve: O-31 Road names: Boston & Maine (blue, white, and orange), Burlington Northern (Cascade Green and yellow), Chesapeake & Ohio (red and white), Chessie System (yellow, blue, and orange with C&O reporting marks), Monon (red, black, and white), Virginian Ry. (red, black, and white) Also available undecorated Website:
Generations of kids stood patiently next to the tracks as trains rolled by hoping to exchange a friendly wave with the conductor as he passed in the caboose.

Thanks to Atlas O, you can re-create those bygone days with the manufacturer’s latest release, a Chesapeake & Ohio cupola caboose. The injection-molded plastic model features plastic see-through running boards; separate, factory-applied end cages; and interior lighting.

The Atlas O Trainman line caboose is based on Chesapeake & Ohio steel prototypes first produced in 1937. During the course of the production run that ended in 1949, 350 steel cabooses were built by Magor Car Corp., St. Louis Car Co., and American Car & Foundry. Pere Marquette, Missouri Pacific, and Chicago & Eastern Illinois rostered similar cabooses.

Our O gauge sample is decorated as Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) no. 90209, part of a 150-car order built by American Car & Foundry in July and August 1949. Cabooses in the 90200-90299 series were assigned to the Chesapeake District, while the remaining 50 (90300-90349) went to the PM District. Dwight Jones, in his book Steel Cabooses of the Chesapeake & Ohio 1937-1987 (Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, 1987) notes the interior layout and end ladder location were different between the two caboose series.

The model
The caboose is part of the budget-oriented Atlas O Trainman line. It has a one-piece plastic body with a separate cupola. The awnings over the side windows on the cupola and body are separate pieces, as are the ladder grab irons and smoke jack. The grab irons on the sides and ends of the carbody are molded; the curved grab irons on the side are painted yellow. All of the windows have clear glazing installed.

The body has four tabs, two on each end, that lock into corresponding slots on the underbody. However, before removing the body, detach the end cages first. They’re held on by two friction-fit pins, one on each corner of the end platform.

The top of the underbody features a painted steel weight that measures 115/16" x 47/16". The weight, which accounts for most of the model’s 13.6 ounces, has holes to allow wires from the trucks to connect to a circuit board and a notch for the on/off switch and associated wiring.

The interior is lit with four LEDs. Though the model lacks an interior, an ambitious modeler could add one following a diagram published in Jones’ aforementioned book.

The caboose underbody features an assortment of molded details. The end platforms have molded grate detail and C&O-style tender steps. The die-cast metal solid-bearing trucks have separate plastic brake beam detail. A trainline air hose is attached to the side of the coupler on both ends.

Measuring up
The Atlas O model is decorated in C&O’s as-delivered scheme. I compared the model to prototype drawings published in Jones’ book. The wheelbase of the trucks, distance over the running boards and between the trucks, and the interior length are all spot-on. Then I gave the caboose a real-world test on the City Terminal & Transfer, Classic Toy Trains’ 5 x 9-foot O scale layout. The model navigated the layout’s O-36 through O-84 curves with ease, and passed through the O-36 and O-60 turnouts without incident.

Atlas O has done a great job with its Trainman line Chesapeake & Ohio steel caboose. The model features a nice blend of molded and separately applied parts, and it faithfully captures the lines of the prototype. Just put a waving conductor figure on the back platform and some kids standing trackside, and you can play out on your O gauge layout a scene that took place countless times across America’s railroad network on your O gauge layout.


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