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WalthersMainline HO wide-vision caboose

Read this review from the November 2019 Model Railroader
WalthersMainline HO wide-vision caboose

A newly tooled model of a steel International Car Co. extended wide-vision caboose is available from Walthers. Part of the WalthersMainline series, the value-priced model features accurate dimensions and is solidly built, but doesn’t feature all the factory-applied separate detail of a WalthersProto model. For those who wish to add grab irons and handrails, the caboose body shell includes molded drill starter points, and Walthers sells a detail kit (part no. 910-201) for $9.98.

Prototype and model. Soo Line purchased 145 wide-vision cabooses from International Car Co. in seven batches to replace its aging wood cabooses, starting in 1966. Each batch varied slightly in roof pattern, window placement, and other details. These differences are outlined in prototype diagrams drawn by Model Railroader staff artist and Soo Line fan Rick Johnson, printed in the fall 2000 issue of The Soo, published by the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society.

Our review sample models Soo Line no. 65, one of a batch of 10 built in 1973 under lot no. 1913. Like its prototype, the model has a low cupola two scale feet forward of center, X-panel roofs, single windows on the right side of both car sides, and red stripes along the car sills. The model’s major dimensions also match the prototype diagrams.

The model would make a good starting point for a superdetailing project. In addition to the Walthers detail kit noted above, a modeler could add the strobe light, firecracker antenna, and fuel filler of its Soo prototype. Many of these detail parts are available from manufacturers such as Details West and Cal-Scale.

The paint on our sample was smooth and opaque, and the edges between the white and red were sharp. The black printing was likewise crisp. However, the typeface of the large, black “SOO” wasn’t as bold as compared to prototype photos and drawings. Also, the billboard lettering should have been centered under the cupola on both sides; on the model, the right side’s lettering is about 2 scale feet off. The car number is the wrong font, a scale foot too high, and on the wrong end of the car on the right side.

Test run. The car is one of the freest-­rolling I’ve ever tested. I set it on the rails at Skyridge, a 3 percent grade on our HO scale Milwaukee, Racine & Troy house layout, and gave it a nudge. As it raced downgrade I was worried it would fly off the track at the end of the peninsula, but it stayed on the rails, rolling along more than 60 feet of mainline before stopping.

I also tested how it would roll when coupled to other cars on our Virginian Ry. project railroad. The 18" curves and no. 4 turnouts on that layout provided the caboose with no difficulty. The couplers, which are at the correct height per National Model Railroad Association S-2, mated effortlessly with other Kadee-compatible knuckle couplers.

I squeezed the ends of the cupola to disengage the tabs that latch it to the roof. Inside, a metal slab weight that runs the length of the floor brings the car weight almost up to NMRA RP-20.1 recommendations. There’s plenty of space inside to add a lighting decoder and interior lighting, though the modeler will have to add wheel power pickup.

The WalthersMainline wide-vision caboose would look the part, bringing up the rear of an HO scale freight on a railroad set in the 1970s to 1990s.

Price: $34.98 (detail kit, part no. 910-201, $9.98)
Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
Road names: Soo Line; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; Burlington Northern; Canadian Pacific; Chessie System (C&O reporting marks); Conrail; and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range.
Era: 1966-1990s (as decorated, 1973-1992)
• Blackened metal National Model Railroad Association RP-25 contour wheels, in gauge
• Flexible plastic end platform railings
• Molded drill starter points for grab irons (not included; detail kit sold separately)
• ProtoMAX metal knuckle couplers, mounted at correct height
• Weight: 3.4 ounces (0.1 ounce too light per NMRA RP-20.1)

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Two great beginner layouts.

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