The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Simple OO Caboose Conversion, Made Better

Several years ago I posted a brief article on two simple Mantua/Tyco HO to OO conversions, one of which was a conversion of the Mantua “heavy” caboose to OO. As I say there, “From the side this car is OO gauge, clearly over scale for HO. The only problem area is the width of the car which is not that noticeable in service.”

This caboose is very easy to obtain (still in production, in fact! Lots of them are around) and for any reader thinking that they wish they could run or display a Reading style caboose in OO, buy one! My Orient car is run often, it is light and works well and is a nice contrast to Scale-Craft and Lionel cabooses. As a shelf model it would be very effective with only a little effort, and it has been sold decorated for many different roads.

That said, William Gilbert saw the HO model and thought a bit bigger. What he did was purchase two of them and modify the bodies so that roughly 3/5 of a standard car is on each side of the centerline, with the roof smoothed with putty and arched to shape. The result is a car that looks even better to be sure, as it is completely OO gauge.

The first photo shows the more modified car and the less modified car with a Schorr covered hopper for comparison. The Reading car is a very nice caboose in this context and would work great with good vintage items as well. The second photo shows the comparison of the cars from the end. It is amazing how much difference the change of width makes, as the cars look totally identical from the side.

At present my Orient car is on “Morlok method” trucks and the Reading car is on Famoco trucks with new wheelsets. At some point I may upgrade the trucks on both further, but in any case this really is a simple conversion worth looking into.

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