Will a Southern EMD GP50 headed train do without a caboose?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by mikebalcos, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. mikebalcos

    mikebalcos Member

    I've read in Wikipedia that cabeese are not used on some freight trains nowadays. I have just got a Southern EMD GP50 made by Bachmann. I don't have a caboose for this engine. Will it be OK if I don't attach a caboose at the end of this GP50 headed train?

    One more thing, I also have an Athearn SD40-2 (UP colors). Will it be ok if the train it heads doesn't have a caboose? I do have an Athearn wide vision caboose for this one, though.

    I'd like to use these engines to loosely depict present freight practices.
  2. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member


    Save your money! No need to purchase a caboose for your trains in this current era since the U.S and Canadian railroads quit using them many years ago (probably around 1970). For awhile the railroads hung an 'end o' train' red flashing lantern on the rear coupler of the last car, but that practice has also disappeared.

    -Ed Acosta
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Ed is right! You don't need a caboose to represent present day American railroading. Actually that makes me sad but that's the way it is! :) Your train will look perfectly appropriate.

    I caught the tail end of a Minnesota Commercial Railroad local last month. You can see one of the End Of Train Devices Ed referred to mounted on the rear coupler of that covered hopper.

  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    First there are some fully functional cabooses still in service as well as some with welded shut doors and platted over windows.
    Do you need a caboose?
    Depends.The Southern GP50 could have a caboose since the GP50 was produce between 80-85 and many are still in service today.The SD40-2 can be ran with a caboose or without a caboose depending on era.You see the SD40-2 was produce between '72-86' and many are still in service.

    By the way..Cabooses was phase out of road service starting in the mid 80s.
  5. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    My data indicates that the GP50 was produced between May 1980 and November 1985, so running without a caboose would be prototypical.
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jeffery,Wouldn't that depend on the delivery date? A block of GP50 delivered in say 1981 could had a caboose and 4 man crews.Again cabooses wasn't phased out till the mid 80s and we can't forget there are cabooses still in service..Even today a GP50 assigned to a local *could* have a caboose IF a long reverse move needs to be made.
    So,it still depends on the year-if one wishes to be prototypical.That could also boil down to what service the GP50 is assigned to today.
    As I stated before railroading isn't cut and dry as modelers believe or try to make it to be..I have rode in cabooses on coal trains being pulled by Chessie SD50s..
  7. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I simply said that it would be prototypical if he ran it without one. Most of the cabooses on the KCS line were retired by 1981, with only one part of the line still running them as per government regs. Whether he uses one or not, it's prototypical either way, depending on the era depicted.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Of course, if you want to, you can still use cabooses. I've seen several Norfolk Southern trains on the Northeast Corridor and other NJ transit lines with cabooses on them, even today. They are there for safety reasons I assume.
  9. mikebalcos

    mikebalcos Member

    Thanks for enlightening me. :) I'm not strictly prototypical, so I guess I can do without a caboose. It will be difficult for me to look for a Southern wide vision caboose. I checked the Athearn and Bachmann websites, and they don't have Southern wide vision cabeese. But I think I will attach my caboose to my UP SD40-2. And if I get that tingling desire to attach a caboose to my Southern GP50, all I need is to look for an axle for my idle wide vision Chessie caboose(it is missing one, and I can get one from an idle passenger car), and perhaps repaint that caboose. :)
  10. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The Southern's GP50s were all early models, because NS was formed in 1982. In In Southern days (when they were new), I'm sure they would have run with cabooses. It was in early NS days that cabooses were generally eliminated, but I'm not sure how quickly the SOU GP50s were repainted. Probably not quickly - there wasn't much repainting until about 1987. What I'm saying is, the Southern GP50 doesn't represent present-day railroading.

    An SD40-2 would have run with a caboose when it was new, but generally wouldn't now.
  11. mikebalcos

    mikebalcos Member

    Thanks for the info, Triplex. :) I'm not strictly prototypical. So I guess I can use the Southern EMD GP50 during the last Southern years and the early NS years. My question now is that could there be a chance that an EMD GP50 in Southern colors not coupled with a caboose, perhaps in the early NS years? It seems that Athearn and Bachmann does not carry a Southern wide vision caboose. I can repaint an idle Chessie wide-vision caboose, though.
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Mike,Southern had side bay cabooses not wide vision.Also after 1982 you can use N&W cabooses behind your Southern units-until about 84/85..
    Also as I mention NS still uses some cabooses on locals and mine runs that require long reverse moves.
  13. mikebalcos

    mikebalcos Member

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

  15. Dirtyd79

    Dirtyd79 New Member

    Cabooses actually aren't entirely out of service just nowhere near as common as they used to be. For example on the Union Railroad in Pittsburgh just about every train they run includes a caboose. Cabooses are often used on trains that will be making long trips in reverse such as backing into a coal mine or loader or on locals.

    Also in some cases a railroad's police department rides in a caboose on high value shipments like intermodal, autoracks, or on military shipments. Most times these cabooses will be cut into the middle of the train instead of the end though so the police have better access to all the cars.

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