These homebuilt cabooses served the Milwaukee Road right up to the 1980s.
Product Review: Walther's Milwaukee Road
Ribbed Side Caboose
by George Riley
In the mid-1930s, new and bigger freight cars created visibility problems for crews in caboose cupolas. Starting in 1937, the Milwaukee rebuilt some older wooden cabooses, removing the rooftop cupola and installing new side-mounted bay windows. This experiment proved successful, reducing injuries, improving visibility and putting crews where they could spot problems quickly.
By this time, the ever resourceful and cost-conscious Milwaukee also had welded-steel passenger and freight cars with ribbed sides (ribs improved strength while reducing overall weight) in regular service. In 1939, these ideas were combined to create an all-new welded steel bay window caboose with ribbed sides. Two additional ideas were borrowed from the passenger department; trucks were a design first used on some 56' combines built in 1934, and the cars wore the road's signature orange, maroon and black paint. There were some innovative new ideas too, including a side-mounted toolbox that made it easier to retrieve repair parts. Construction began in the Milwaukee's shops in July, with the first car ready for service by mid-August, and 75 completed by year's end. With minor changes, modernizations and improvements, the Milwaukee would build 315 of these cars through 1951.
Wm. K Walthers
5601 West Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Walthers Milwaukee Road
Ribbed Side Caboose
Walthers Part #932-7661
HO Scale, MSRP $34.98
Serving all over the system in a variety of roles, many of the rugged little cabooses outlived the Milwaukee Road itself. After the 1985 merger with the Soo Line, many survivors were sold, and several have been preserved. Your model represents a 1939-built car, refitted with a small smokejack for the kerosene lamp above the conductor's desk. Milwaukee fans will appreciate having this accurrate and affordable model bringing up the markers on their freights.