Other than perhaps the steam locomotive, no piece of rolling stock is as iconic as the caboose situated at the end of a freight train. Providing living quarters and office space for the crew, cabooses were a constant fixture until the widespread adoption of end-of-train devices and two-man crews in the mid-1980s.
Established in 1924, International Car Company (ICC) was a leading manufacturer of railway cabooses to the nation’s railroads from its plant in Kenton, Ohio. To this end, ICC supplied cabooses to Burlington, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Spokane, Portland & Seattle — all of which merged to form the Burlington Northern in March 1970. Though the later designs delivered to these roads all featured “wide-vision” cupolas that extended over the sides of the car body, each order differed in specific details such as window arrangements, marker light positions, roof design, and underframe equipment layout.
After the merger, BN continued to purchase cabooses from ICC. An order was placed for 160 wide-vision cabooses, delivered between 1970 and 1972. These cabooses and their immediate premerger predecessors set the standard for BN’s modern caboose fleet.
The Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway caboose features the iconic slogan “The Northwest’s Own Railway.”
Tangent Scale Models has recently expanded its line of premium highly detailed rolling stock with an all-new family of ICC wide-vision cabooses, each with different body shells and details specifically finished to represent each of these early groups of wide-vision cabooses that served on Burlington Northern and its predecessors. This review will cover an SP&S car, and two cabooses finished to represent BN cars as they evolved over the decades while in service. Each model arrived well-protected encased inside a two-layer plastic clamshell enveloped by a thick foam enclosure which itself is framed inside a heavy glossy cardboard box that rivals the type of packaging typically reserved for brass models.
Our first sample is Spokane, Portland & Seattle 905. Arriving on the property in July 1969, the prototype was the final car of the final order of six cabooses (900-905) acquired by SP&S. Out of the box, the car presents itself in a substantial way, weighing five ounces. Finished in a bright red, the model features a simulated galvanized metal roof with red overspray representing how these cars looked when delivered. Bracketing the end platforms are yellow handrails and grab irons. Atop the roof are etched metal Morton running boards and end walkways with round apertures. Aside from the basics such as window arrangements, esoteric SP&S-specific features replicated on this caboose also include a smokejack, underframe battery box and alternate electrical conduit/plug location specific to this group of cars. The attention to detail here is truly impressive…