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Question re Bay Window Cabooses

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  • Member since
    November 2019
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Question re Bay Window Cabooses
Posted by Gulf Oil on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:05 PM

My Lionel bay window caboose (NY Central; 9174) has couplers at either end, suggesting that this car should sit in the middle of the train.

Question: In actual railroading, were bay window cabooses positioned at the rear of the train? Or somewhere in the middle?

Gulf Oil

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  • From: Hopewell, NY
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Posted by ADCX Rob on Friday, November 19, 2021 5:39 PM

Finding a cabin car(caboose) on a 12"-to-the-foot scale railroad without couplers at both ends would be very difficult if not impossible.

Lionel usually omitted a coupler because these are toys, and they could be made cheaper with just one coupler.

Rob

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    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, November 19, 2021 6:11 PM

Gulf Oil
Question: In actual railroading, were bay window cabooses positioned at the rear of the train? Or somewhere in the middle?

Cabooses were always at the end of the train, no matter what configuration the caboose had.

The only exception I'm aware of was some railroads would also have a caboose at the head-end right behind the locomotive in addition to one at the end of the train.  These were usually on long local freights with a lot of switch-outs, that is, car deliveries and pick-ups.  It was easier and faster for all concerned to have a switch crew on both ends. 

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Posted by pennytrains on Friday, November 19, 2021 6:12 PM

I agree. Cabin cars weren't usually turned at end points so the norm is couplers at both ends.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 12:16 AM

I'd agree with all that's been said. Cabooses typically were always assigned to the end of a train. It's highly impractical to have to turn a caboose around, so having a coupling at either end is far more convenient. Sometimes unmanned cabooses have been used as "buffer" cars, to seperate hazardous material carrying rollingstock from locomotives. I believe 'Transfer Cabooses' were sometimes used as "reach" cars for switching car floats, but don't quote me on it. 

Like any typical piece of railroad rolling stock, a coupling at each end was the norm, offering far more flexibility than if only one was present. In fact, a number of locomotives which appear to lack front couplers actually have ways to hide the front coupler for a sleeker looking pilot. The coupler is brought out when needed, but otherwise is kept stowed.
Case in point- Here is a Southern Pacific E7 with the pilot coupler "stowed" (note the hatches in the center of the pilot):

And here is another SP E7, but with the coupler out in the open:

As was said, Lionel often omitted couplers, especially from cabooses, to shave off manufacturing costs. It was pretty typical for pilot couplers to be neglected on steam locomotives (with the exception of switcher engines) but I think that had more to do with the difficulty of fitting the couplers into the casting, rather than shaving off costs.

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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