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Athearn HO scale bay-window caboose

Read this review from Model Railroader
Athearn HO scale bay-window caboose
Athearn HO scale bay-window caboose
An impressively detailed model of the Southern Pacific’s C-50 class bay-window caboose is now available from Athearn. The HO scale car comes in three phases, modeling different construction lots and bearing details specific to those eras. The cabooses are loaded with fine details and are available with working interior lighting and roof-mounted marker lights. The lighting system works under direct current or Digital Command Control (DCC).
Thin wire grab irons seethrough etchedmetal steps and platforms and reversing lightemittingdiode marker lights are standout features
Thin wire grab irons seethrough etchedmetal steps and platforms and reversing lightemittingdiode marker lights are standout features.
It measures up. The models matched dimensions on a drawing reproduced in Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol. 2: Cabooses by Anthony W. Thompson (Signature Press, 2002). That book also has builder’s photos of no. 4600, which match window, marking, and detail placement on our model.

All three of our samples were neatly painted, with white lettering legible even on the COTS (Clean, Oil, Test & Stencil) panel. The Watch Your Step lettering on the stairs was well done. Our model of no. 4600 bore Gothic reporting marks and car numbers, as delivered; the SP later repainted these to Roman lettering, as seen on our other two samples.

The model has rotating wheel bearing caps and a journal-mounted generator on the B-end truck. (This was introduced with the C-50-7 class and wouldn’t be on all versions.)

The model comes with four etched-metal screens for the bay windows. Since these were sliding on the prototype, the modeler can install them in any position desired. Other details include wire grab irons, etched-metal screens on the side windows, the metal disk antenna on the roof, and detailed underbody brake gear that matches prototype drawings.

Two of our review samples were equipped with lighting circuits, though all three had all-wheel electrical pickup. The interior lights and marker lights are light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Both the markers and interior lights shone steadily when I placed the caboose on powered track. The lighting board inside the model includes capacitors that kept the lights on after track power was removed. Using a DC power pack, the direction of the marker lights changed with track polarity; under DCC control, this function is programmable.

The metal wheels match National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) RP-25 and are mounted in gauge. The plastic McHenry knuckle couplers were mounted at the correct height. With or without lighting, the cars weigh in at 3.5 ounces, which matches NMRA RP-20.1.

Athearn has hit a homer with this impressively detailed, accurate model. And the available lighting is a winner, too.

Price: $69.98; with lighting, $99.98

Athearn Trains
1600 Forbes Way, Ste. 120
Long Beach, CA 90810

Road names: Southern Pacific class C-50-7 (mineral red with orange ends, Roman or Gothic lettering, nine road numbers available), SP class C-50-5 (red/orange, four road numbers), SP class C-50-9 (red/orange, six numbers, or “Kodachrome” pre-merger scheme, one number), St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) (red/orange, four numbers), and Western Pacific (caboose red, six numbers). Also undecorated.

Era: 1974 (C-50-5) / 1978 (C-50-7) / 1980 (C-50-9) to 1990s

  • Available interior lighting and working marker lights
  • Clear window glazing
  • Detailed interior
  • Etched-metal details
  • McHenry scale knuckle couplers, mounted at correct height
  • Metal wheelsets (with all-wheel electrical pickup and rotating bearing caps), in gauge
  • Weight: 3.5 ounces (correct under NMRA RP-20.1)
  • Wire grab irons

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