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

Saturday, March 14, 2015

An easy, modern OO scale caboose conversion

This is an interesting model that I stumbled across recently. An eBay seller had listed examples of this model a couple times in the OO listings, which is where it caught my eye.

A product of the 1970s, it is a Tyco “brown box era” model and was available in a variety of schemes -- the ATSF scheme seems most common along with The Chattanooga Choo-Choo train set version. More info on the model and paint schemes may be found in the Tyco Brown Box Era HO-Scale Trains Resource.

In these photos the Tyco model is seen with a vintage AHM HO caboose body, and the comparison is interesting. The cupola of the Tyco model is certainly OO scale and the body is longer and taller than an HO model should be as well. The windows are nice and large and seem to be appropriate for OO scale. From the top the body should probably be wider in OO scale (prototypes undoubtedly varied a little), but it is nevertheless also wider than the HO model and is overscale for HO in basically every dimension.

I think the roots of what happened is the folks at Tyco wanted to use the same frame they used on 40’ boxcars and reefers for a 40’ caboose. It would simplify inventory and anyway it was a train set model, freelancing in this manner was not a problem from their perspective. To make it look more realistic/plausible they had to scale up the caboose a bit, so it ended up being more or less 1/76 scale.

This example is my first simple conversion of this model, and it is riding on the original trucks but modified with the “Morlok method” (described in this article) and HO 36” wheelsets.

I have several more of these bodies that I will be using as the basis of additional models. In particular I am interested to make a more convincing ATSF version, blanking out some windows and using decals to letter it in a correct paint scheme and use better trucks (mounted a bit further in from the ends, too). This type of project is a great break from the more involved vintage projects underway and certainly this model can be used as the basis for a variety of modern caboose conversions.

UPDATE: See this article for two more conversions.

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