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Atlas O Trainman line Chesapeake & Ohio caboose

Read this review from the September 2020 Model Railroader
Atlas O Trainman line Chesapeake & Ohio caboose
caboose end cage
The end cages feature a mix of molded and separately applied details.

A steel cupola caboose based on a Chesapeake & Ohio prototype is the latest addition to the Atlas O Trainman line. The injection-molded plastic model features see-through plastic running boards, interior lighting, and die-cast metal trucks and couplers.

Prototype history. The Chesapeake & Ohio ordered 150 cabooses from Amer-ican Car & Foundry in 1949. The cars, built in July and August, were divided between the railroad’s Chesapeake and Pere Marquette (PM) districts. Ches-apeake District class C-20 cabooses were numbered 90200 through 90299, and PM District class C-21 cars were numbered 90300-90349. The key exterior spotting difference between the two groups was the position of the end ladders. They were to the right of the coupler on Chesapeake District cabooses and to the left on PM District cars. Placement and types of interior accommodations also varied slightly between the two groups of cabooses.

The model. The Atlas O model is based on the Chesapeake District cabooses with the ladder to the right of the coupler. The caboose is part of Atlas’ budget-oriented Trainman line and features a mix of molded and separate, factory-applied details. The side, end, and cupola grab irons are molded, with the curved grabs on the sides painted yellow. Separate details include the window awnings, see-through plastic running boards, smokestack, ladder grab irons, end cages, and brake wheel.

The caboose consists of a plastic body with a separate cupola. Four tabs, two on each end of the body, lock into slots on the plastic underbody. To separate the body from the underbody, first disengage the tabs. Then release the bottom corners of the end cages from the tabs on the outside corners of the stepwells.

A 115⁄16" x 47⁄16" painted steel weight is attached to the top of the underbody. The weight accounts for most of the car’s 11.3 ounces. This is 1.2 ounces too light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.

The printed-circuit board is secured to plastic posts with a pair of Phillips-head screws and features four white light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The interior lighting is compatible with direct current, Digital Command Control, and MTH’s Digital Command System. The model lacks interior details.

Underneath, the caboose has a variety of molded details. The model also has a pair of separate, factory-applied brackets. On the full-size cabooses, these were used to carry rerailing frogs.

The end platforms have molded, but not see-through, grate detail and tender-style steps. The caboose rides on die-cast metal solid-bearing trucks with separate plastic brake-beam detail and correctly gauged 33" metal wheelsets. The body-mounted metal couplers are at the correct height.

By the numbers. I compared the model to prototype drawings in Dwight Jones’ Steel Cabooses of the Chesapeake & Ohio 1937 to 1987 (The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society Inc., 1987). Virtually all of the major dimensions follow published data. The one discrepancy was the distance over the strikers, which is a scale foot short.

The Atlas O Trainman line Chesapeake & Ohio cupola caboose accurately captures the look of its full-size counterpart. Whether on the end of a solid coal train or a manifest freight, the caboose would look right at home on any O scale C&O-themed layout.

Facts and features
Price: $67.95
Atlas O
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205
Era: 1949 to 1980s
Road names: Chesapeake & Ohio, Boston & Maine, Burlington Northern, Chessie System (C&O reporting marks), Monon, and Virginian Ry.
• 33" metal wheelsets, correctly gauged
• Die-cast metal couplers, mounted at correct height
• Die-cast metal solid-bearing caboose trucks with plastic brake beam detail
• Interior lighting with on/off switch
• Weight: 11.3 ounces (1.2 ounces light per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1)

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