Operation question - "Use of Caboose"

Kitbash Jul 21, 2021

  1. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    Question for anyone "in the know". During the steam transition era, were cabooses used when switching industrial areas of cities?

    Lets say a switcher goes from a yard area direct to a city industrial area without having to traverse over main-line, interchange, or other higher traffic rights of way. Did those small trains typically use cabooses for heavy switching in industrial areas?
    Kurt Moose and Shortround like this.
  2. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I think it would depend on the railroad and labor agreements that dictate the number of crew per train. I am not really a steam modeler, but the existence of transfer cabooses and other shoving platform/shop-built cars seems to indicate that cabooses were used on short runs too, even if the amenities of a full cupola caboose weren't needed.

    Even modern railroads use cabooses for certain runs, and if you need a crew member to protect an unguarded grade crossing on a backing move (if he isn't already riding the side of a freight car), I suspect you will need a caboose.

    You might have to check rulebooks for caboose placement, but it may be possible to put the caboose directly behind the locomotive. That would eliminate the need to cut the car off to switch industries, but it would also support a three- or four-man crew if your railroad used them.
    Mike VE2TRV likes this.
  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    As I understand it, no engine/lash-up left the company's yard limits without a crummy.
    Kurt Moose and Mike VE2TRV like this.
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I don't know if "typically" would be the word I might use. But I saw many, many times when there was a caboose along. The era in question saw five and six man crews on both main track movements and in working industries. (Although radio had come into use, not quite every company had them, let alone portables for all the crew. Hand signals were still heavily used and often required several men to relay from one end of the cut to the engine.) The caboose was necessary for more than just shoves, etc. It was a mobile office for the conductor, who had plenty of paperwork to do in those days. And it was also a crew shelter. A place to eat beans and it had a restroom as well.
  5. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    I have seen them recently on frieght loads that may need to be broken up. A long line of similar cars, like tankers, car haulers and hoppers, that will be going to the same place may have extra engines but no caboose. Few car and lumber haulers lately.
  6. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

    As my signature says, the INDIANA RAILWAY, is 100% steam powered. Where else are the CREW going to ride? Engineer & Fireman up front, with maybe a Brakeman too. Conductor, rear Brakeman, & Swing Brakeman are riding the Caboose in the rear. Indiana is a FULL CREW state, and all 6 people are to be present on the train. So a Caboose and maybe a Rider car are needed.
    Mike VE2TRV likes this.
  7. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    I've got some HO scale strikebreakers. Boy can they get N scale brotherhoods to the bargaining table!
    Mike VE2TRV and Kurt Moose like this.
  8. fordy744

    fordy744 TrainBoard Member

    Like the above say, it will dependant on road and labour agreements in certain states, but a caboose is always present as it has many functions and switching always involves crews and paperwork.

    "Light engine" movements outside yard limits, but excluding locally stationed pushers on certain grades, always had cabooses too.

    As ever there will be an exceptions but I believe it should always have a caboose.
  9. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

    True this. Train service crews didn't even share locker rooms with engine service employees at the terminals.

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