Southern Pacific C-50-7 Bay Window Caboose #4612, With Lights
The little red caboose behind the train.
So ends the chorus of a popular children’s song celebrating the caboose. Cabeese (as many use for the plural of caboose) were favorites of popular culture. To this day many railfans rue their departure from trains in the U.S.
Southern Pacific C-50 Bay Window Caboose
In 1968, Southern Pacific subsidiary Cotton Belt (officially the St. Louis Southwestern Railway) received 20 cabooses from International Car Company. These were the first SP cabooses to use 50-ton trucks, starting the C-50 series of cabooses. In 1970, 1972, and 1974 SP returned to International Car Company for 181 cabooses, plus 16 for Cotton Belt in three groups.
For the next four years, SP did not acquire any new cabooses. Instead 207 older cabooses were rebuilt by the Sacramento Shops. In 1978, SP bought cabooses again. By then International Car was a division of PACCAR (formerly Pacific Car & Foundry). The 50 cars of the C-50-7 class were built at the same Kenton, Ohio plant as the previous C-50 series cars. In design they were similar to the previous C-50 cars with only a few changes. Their paint differed by having the roof painted the car body color, the road name was moved to the right of the bay window, and they featured an axle-end generator connection. They were also the first new cars in the 4000 series. In 1979 50 cars of the C-50-8 class were delivered, with some minor detail differences when compared to the earlier C-50-7 cars. In 1980 the C-50-9 class of 75 cars was delivered. The C-50-9 class was unique in that they were delivered without any windows in the car sides, in order to increase crew safety and reduce repair costs. They were also the last group of new cabooses delivered to SP.
SP car classification, such as C-50-7, indicate the type of car (“C” for caboose), the capacity of the trucks (50-ton), and the sequential order number (7).*
At the bottom of this review are four photos of an SP C-40-5 caboose. It can be used for reference.
HO Bay Window C-50-7 with DCC & Light, SP 4612
Currently Athearn lists 78 choices of Genesis bay window cabeese on their website. They also offer it without DCC. This sharp model features the type of detail that, until about a decade ago, was only found on brass imports.
Athearn pride shows in their packaging. Athearn Genesis models are packaged in a sturdy glossy blue box with a cellophane window and decorated with gold Genesis branding. The caboose is securely held in a form-fitted cradle with a snugly fitted formed clear top; models are protected from scuffing by a soft sheet, and the end railings are supported by foam blocks. This model is well protected from shock and jostling.
Documentation includes a DCC quick-start guide, an Athearn advertisement, and an exploded-view parts diagram and parts list. Athearn includes much appreciated guidance for removing the body shell.
The DCC quick-start guide lists web sites for referencing further information. Athearn lists the different body shells and detail sets unique to a specific version. Currently Athearn offers the C-50-4, -5, -7, -8, -9, and Western Pacific 481-class variants.
• New truck tooling including axle-mounted generator
• Fully detailed underbody
• Prototypical details like antenna, marker lights, smoke jack and vent
• Separately applied wire grab irons
• See through end platforms and steps
• Etched metal window screens
• Detailed interior with seats, bunks, tables, etc.
• LED marker lighting installed
• Onboard lighting system by Soundtraxx supports advanced consisting and adjustable lights
• Directional roof-mount marker lights
• McHenry scale knuckle spring couplers installed
Your caboose is fully assembled with an interior and lighting. Athearn includes a small pack of optional photo-etched screens to protect the six clear windows from vandalism by hoodlums. The basic model is an injection-molded body shell set upon a metal floor weight. This model is somewhat modular to allow for six different versions of the C-50 design. Bodies have different window configurations and other components, such as end platform decking, battery boxes and supports. It is molded with openings for each bay extension, allowing the modeling of different caboose versions. Each end door is molded shut.
My inspection finds the model to be in conformance with NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices
, with RP-25 wheels and couplers at acceptable height. It weighs 3 ounces, which is a half-ounce light compared to RP-2O.1 Car Weight. The model is 39 scale feet long, and 43’6” from coupler to coupler.
Fine recessed and relief detail is molded onto and into the body: weld seams, vents, fittings, bolts and rivets, window combing, etc. The molding is smooth and sharp. I found no noticeable flash, ejector marks nor sink holes. Some seam lines are noticeable on small parts like the fill-water nozzle. Also, the assembly team was rough removing some parts from their spruces, leaving noticeable gouges on some parts; fortunately the attachment points were apparently small and the scars are not easy to find per “The Three-Foot Rule”. A styrene underbody frame is attached to the metal floor weight, featuring open steps and deck.
Those components have fine holes pre-drilled to accept the wealth of detail parts, even in the undecorated model; unlike my Walthers undecorated cabooses, which even lacked the advertised installed wire grabs.
Into those holes are mounted an exceptional assortment of well molded parts. Most pieces are injection plastic and there are also a lot of photo-etch on the steps and decks. Some two dozen wire parts are mounted for grabs and railings, including little eyelets. Both sets of end frame railings, brake stands and supports are molded as a single piece, including a roof end fascia plate. Separate hand brake wheels and brake end actuator rods and chains, cut bars with brackets, and air hoses round out the detail.
Your interior features 17 parts: a plastic floor, seats, cabinets, bunks and bulkheads. What little flash and few ejector circles I noticed are on the chairs and floor.
Fourteen parts detail the underframe hardware, including belts and pulleys for the axle-powered generator. The AB airbrake system is represented by a mix of separate and group parts: separate quick-release, triple valve and reservoir, a wire train line, and a single part with the cylinder, brake rods, levers, chain and retainer brackets.
Detailing the topside are some 20 photo-etched plates for the steps and walkway deck tread, disc antenna, and window screens. Other metal parts include the stands for the marker lamps, antenna, and smoke jack stays. The open smoke jack and marker housing are styrene, as is a small ‘firecracker’ antenna. Despite all of these parts, I found no glue smears or other blemishes.
This superstructure assembly is carried by a pair of plastic trucks straddling blackened machined metal wheels. The truck frame surface shows an authentic roughness and manufacturer data cast on. Three types of trucks are made for these models, including early and late-generator types. The blackening of the wheels is better than most, cutting down a fair shine. Brass wipers pick up power from the wheels for the electronics within.
Soundtraxx is used for the onboard lighting system. It automatically senses and adjusts between DCC and analog power. The lighting emits a bluish-white glow, illuminated via function 5 with DCC. Although the windows are relatively small, I can see chairs and other interior detailing when they are on.
Athearn’s instruction sheet tells you how, by removing two screws and gently pulling the shell off. I did so with an Athearn N bay window caboose to show the interior, and damaged some end detail.
Marker lights operate and are directional. For those who crave more control, the DCC guide explains CV settings. These lighting features are demonstrated in the short video review.
Smooth opaque mineral red and orange paint covers the model without obscuring the fine detail. My Espee caboose has crisp, sharp opaque lettering. You can read the Southern Pacific Transportation Company Equipment Trust information and other data. The first 24 of these units were delivered in 1978 with this gothic style of white lettering. Data stenciling is legible. I only found a couple of flaws under magnification, and the blue generator sets are not completely painted.
Roadnames offered are Southern Pacific
, St. Louis Southwestern-Cotton Belt, Undecorated, and Western Pacific.
Well, I am most definitely impressed with this model. Not being an Espee expert I cannot pick out any possible errors. What I see is an exceptionally well detailed model, assembled to a high standard, with excellent paint and markings. The wealth of detail parts is super. As expected with Genesis models, the wire grabs and the etched walkway treads are sharp. I have only a couple of minor concerns, burrs from removing parts from sprues, overspray on the generator gear, and the bluish cast of the interior lighting.
Overall I am very enthusiastic about this model caboose and happily recommend it.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here – on RailRoadModeling
* Athearn. HO BW C-50-7 CABOOSE W/LIGHTS, SP/GOTHIC #4612. Web. July 2011.