Logging Caboose
Nelson Riedel, Nelson@NelsonsLocomotive.com
6/06/2012, last updated

Last year I made a flat car and mounted a large toolbox on it to carry all the tools, spare parts and fluids necessary to keep the steam locomotives operating.  The concept worked great but the tool box was way oversize (out of scale) so I decided to remake the car with a smaller custom toolbox.  I mentioned these plans to Mike Green and he suggested I consider making a logging caboose along the lines of those made by Rayonier.  Mike later emailed some photos of several of the cabooses ---- each seemed to be different and each later one seemed to be more refined.  The general scheme seemed to be to take a flat car and build a wooden caboose on it that took 50% to 75% of the length and leave the remaining part as a flat car to carry logging tools such as chains, log binders, etc.  I was able to find a photo of Rayonier Caboose No 3 on the internet at http://wasteam.railfan.net/?level=picture&id=110.   That photo has a copyright so I was unable to copy it here.   (I would welcome a photo a photo without copyright that I can place here) 

A requirement for the caboose is that it carry a fuel container, an air compressor with small 12V battery, a small toolbox, lubrication containers and several small plastic boxes with spare parts.    It must also be arranged so that a brakeman can ride on the caboose. The drawing above shows a design that meets these requirements.  It is very similar to Rayonier Caboose No 3 with the high section made a little longer so that to could hold the fuel container.   The roofs will be hinged to permit easy access.   A cushion will be provided for the brakeman to sit on the lower roof in comfort.  The cushion will be stored in the caboose when not in use.   Two sets of foot pegs will be provided so that the brakeman can sit facing either direction.   

Much thought was given to selecting the material for the caboose sides.    Thin strips of oak would probably work great but I've seen car decks made of such strips and they suffered from expansion and contraction due to changes in moisture.  High quality marine plywood could be used with saw cuts made to simulate the joints of individual boards but that sounded like too much effort.  I finally settled on 1" X 1/8" HRS bar stock simulating 8" wide boards.   These 1" wide strips will also be used for the exposed sections of deck.  The deck strips will be welded to the frame tubes from the under side using a recently purchased small MIG welder.  The caboose will have a welded steel frame made of angles.   The siding boards will be welded to the frame.   The roofs will use steel sheets and steel frame simulating the prototype composition roll roofing over a wooden sheeting and frame.  The roof sections will be flat like the first couple Rayonier Cabooses rather than curved like the later versions. 

Flat Car:

The frame was made like the skeleton log cars made last year with a couple exceptions (see Skeleton Log Car).   A single 1" X 2" X 11 gauge  tube was used in the center rather than the three 1" square tubes used on the log car. (The couplers fit inside the tube.)    Solid 3/4" X 1" bars were used rather than the 1 1/2" I beams under the mid section.  The ends of the truss rods were attached to 3/4" angles welded between the frame tubes just toward the middle from the center of the trucks.  

The stairs were made by welding 2 3/4" lengths of 3/4" X 1/8" angle to 1" X 1/8" stringers.   The welding was done on the under side and hence not visible from the top of the car.   The end with the stairs was finished with a 2" X 7" piece of 1/4" steel notched for the center tube. 

The foot pegs are screwed into tabs made of 2" lengths of 1" X 3/8" bar stock welded to the inside of the side tubes and centered about 1" behind the end sills.  The foot pegs are the same type as used on the log cars.   The ride is comfortable when facing forward.   However, it's helpful if the brakeman has long bow legs if facing backwards.  (I may move those rear foot pegs toward the center far enough so that they won't interfere with the rear truck to accommodate shorter legs.)    

I didn't take any photos of the bare frame or flat car but did take a couple with the partially complete structure setting on it.  This is the view of the front end.  The deck was finished with  9/16" square bar stock around the edges.   The exposed part of the deck is made of 1" X 1/8" flat HRS stock.  A piece of 11 gauge HRS was used for the deck under the structure. 

The trucks were made using the latest castings from Ken McCauley with tabs to attach the brakes to the arch bar supports.   I used ball bearings this time.   In hindsight, I now wish I would have used ball bearings on all the trucks I built.
This photo shows the end with the stairs.  I was especially pleased with how this turned out. 

The expectation is that this car will get lots of hard use so it was decided to not add anything such as railing that would likely get knocked off. 


Structure:     The two sides and three ends were made first and then everything was welded together.   A frame of 3/4" X 1/8" angle was made for the sides.   The drawing above shows the framing angles in red.   The angles under the windows are 1/2" X 1/8" and were added as the strips were welded in place.    Note that 1/4" was cut off the angle leg at the top of the windows so that the angle wouldn't be visible through the window.   Also note that the strips at each end stick out 1/8" beyond the fame --- the ends fit inside the sides. (The frame is 36 3/4" long.)

The window trim pieces are 1/2" X 1/8" HRS strips held in place by a couple small head 2-56 screws each.  The trim extends beyond the edges of the siding about 1/8" to form a lip to retain the acrylic window panes.     



The end frame members are shown in red above.  The frame members along the roof edge are 1/2" X 1/8" HRS and the other frame members are 1/2" X 1/8" angle. The door trim pieces are 3/4" X 1/8" HRS strips held in place by a couple 2-56 screws each like the window trim.   The doors were cut from 14 gauge steel plate.   The siding boards are all 1" X 1/8" HRS strips except the center two which are cut down to 7/8" width each to accomplish the 13.75" overall width.

Photo above shows the bare structure after it was painted. The angle above the front door is for the hinge on the front roof.  The front roof is hinged on the front and the rear roof is hinged on the side.   Note that there  is a small section of the front roof at the rear that is attached and panted red in the photo.  The front roof must be able to clear the window frames and rear roof overhang when it is opened so it can't extend all the way to the wall.   The 3/4" wide fixed section of roof solved that problem.  It was later painted aluminum color to match the rest of the roof.  

The drawing above shows the design of the roof trusses.   The upper pieces are 1/2" X 1/8" angle and the other two pieces are 1/2" X 1/8" HRS strips.    I made a fixture to hold the three pieces in position when they were welded together.   The truss shown here is 1/2" wider than the one I used (1/4" wider overhang on each side).  I had a problem with the fascia board hitting the side of the caboose when the rear roof was lifted; the additional 1/4" should provide sufficient clearance.  

This is the underside for the two roofs, the rear on the left and front on the right.   The roof sheeting is 11 gauge steel.   That is probably overkill.  I'm not much of a welder and I was concerned that I would distort thinner sheet when welding it to the trusses.    The number of trusses is also probably overkill.   The front roof is also a seat for the brakeman so it must be sturdy.   There is a 1/2" X 1/8" HRS fascia strip along the sides and a 1/2" X 1/8" angle fascia on the two ends of the rear roof and the exposed end of the front roof.   There is a 1/2" gap between the top of the side wall and the under side of the roof sheeting to provide ventilation.   (It was also easy to make that way.)  

The finished caboose elevated on the transporter outside the shop doors.  The foot pegs fold in parallel and partially under the outside frame bar.

  A slightly different angle.    The center bars in the windows are 1/8" wide pin striping.  The 3/32" acrylic window panes are held in position with super glue.  

The 9/16" rail around the deck at the front helps hold tools on the deck.  I had the 9/16" bar stock and no planned use.  1/2" or 5/8" would work as well.  Note the Clippard Minimatic quick connect fitting for the air brakes in the sill.   

This shows the roofs in the open position.

The tall compartment holds the fuel can and the propane lighter.   The area below the lighters holds a coiled air hose, air regulator, water hose and spare propane tank.   The brake air compressor is just to the front of the fuel container.   The lower section holds lubricating oils and other fluids, grease gun and small tool box.   The brakeman's cushion can also be stored there.  

This is a close-up view of the compressor system.   The tank is a spent propane cylinder.   These  tanks are threaded 10-32 and have a Schrader valve.   The valve was removed and the area above the valve drilled larger to accommodate a  Clippard 1" long nipple threaded male 10-32 at the bottom and female 10-32 at the top.   A barbed hose fitting was treaded into the top of the nipple.  The compressor is from Harbor Freight.    The compressor output tube was sawed in half and connected to the 1/8" NPT brass tee with a 1/8" NPT to 5/16" compression fitting.  That is a Clippard Minimatic  quick connect silver soldered into the left side of the tee; that is the air output.   A 10-32 hole was drilled and tapped in the hidden side of the tee to accommodate a Clippard pressure switch which controls the compressor.  The battery is a 12V -7.6AH sealed lead acid (Battery Mart).  I intend to try to charge the battery with a Harbor Freight float charger.      There is a second Minimatic quick connect through the car floor in the lower left hand corner of the photo.  This second quick connect is tied into the car brake air line.    The plan is to build a hand held brake valve that will connect between the two quick connects.        

 Photo above shows the caboose with shay and a couple log cars.  The scene is the turntable at point Hawk at the end of the Mill Creek Central Logging Line.   The prototype logging railroad would back the locomotive down the mountain but that's too hard on the neck for us old guys so we built the turntable.   Photos suggest that these logging cabooses were often positioned directly behind the locomotive possibly to keep it clear of the loading-unloading operations.      

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