News & Reviews Product Reviews Getting small: the Bobber Caboose comes to Lionel

Getting small: the Bobber Caboose comes to Lionel

By Chris Montagna | February 2, 2023

This O gauge model might be tiny but it’s loaded with detail

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The Bobber Caboose comes to Lionel with the 2022 Volume I catalog. Although new to the Orange & Blue, these models aren’t an entirely rare site on O gauge layouts since they were previously produced by MTH Electric Trains.

Bobber Caboose comes to Lionel side view
Lionel has produced a run of highly detailed bobber cabooses in a colorful variety of roadnames.

Lionel purchased the tooling for these cars from MTH during the latter’s sell-off a few years ago. The new owner kicks off its first batch of bobbers with six road name offerings: Baltimore & Ohio (No. 2226690); Lehigh Valley (No. 2226700); Maryland & Pennsylvania (No. 2226710); Northern Central (No. 2226720); Strasburg (No. 2226730), and U.S. Military Railroad (No. 2226740).

The Bobber Caboose comes to Lionel

As one might expect, Lionel’s bobber feels similar to one from MTH. However, the new models come in a fraction of an ounce lighter than the MTH production. The Lionel model weighs in at 13.8 ounces and the MTH from 10 years earlier at 14 ounces.

Lionel Strasburg bobber caboose end view
Plenty of railings, grabirons, and ladders adorn the caboose, along with illuminated marker lights.

The heft of these diminutive railcar models comes from the die-cast frame. This weight helps these two-axle caboose track nicely behind a longer freight train on your layout, easily cutting through switches or crossings without issue.

Lionel boxed this model in a smaller container without a window to see the model. While functional for the size, the shopper has to trust his local hobby dealer has one out, or he can look online look online to see exactly what the model looks like.

Love cabooses? Want to know more about them?

Small package, big detail

For something that is only 6⅝ inches long, it sure has a lot of detail. Starting at track level, the side frames appear to be die-cast with molded-in suspension detail, toolboxes, and journal boxes.

Lionel box for bobber caboose
Get a look at the bobber caboose now; it comes in a box like this with no window.

The end platforms and steps are die-cast with the frame. Each end features add-on hand rails, a ladder to the roof, and brake wheel. A black chain hangs between the yellow railings, creating a nice contrast.

The body of the car features molded-in wood grain and metal bracing detail. The end doors are molded into the plastic body. There are red marker lights that illuminate on the sides of the caboose along with curved corner grabs.

Heading inside

Each window has clear plastic inserts allowing you to see the interior of the car. Inside is a molded bed, cabinets, and seats; this is all shown to advantage by the flicker-free LED lighting.

power pickup rollers under the caboose
Power for the marker lamps and interior lighting comes from this pair of rollers underneath.

The cupola features windows and a painted crew figure. There are molded-in window sills on the side and add-on rooftop grabirons above. The lower roof features a smoke jack and add-on walkway. The car picks up power through an opposing dual pick-up roller mounted in the center of the car.

Not a smooth ride

Coming to popularity in the 1860’s the bobber caboose received it’s name due to the fact that it seemed to bob behind freight trains like a bobber on a fishing line. The fixed 2-axle truck provided little forgiveness on uneven trackage and it was not uncommon for crew to get jostled around, injured, or even killed during travel.

Furthermore, with only two axles, if a wheel failed there was no backup support to keep the caboose from derailing and crashing. Due to the safety concerns they disappeared from larger railroads in the early 1900’s, although some survived on shortline railroads into the 1960’s.

Lionel’s offering has an MSRP of $119.99; however, if you look for one at a dealer you can probably find it for under $100.

Since the 2022 Volume I Big Book, Lionel has only offered two other bobber cabooses. One was part of the Lehigh Valley Camelback Set (No. 2322010) and a Christmas Bobber Caboose (Lehigh Valley Camelback Set (No. 2322010) and a Christmas Bobber Caboose (2326660) 2326660) from the 2023 Volume I Big Book.

Get more O gauge action on the Chris’s Trains & Things channel on YouTube.

 

Lionel Bobber Caboose

MSRP: $119.99

Roadnames:  Baltimore & Ohio (No. 2226690); Lehigh Valley (No. 2226700); Maryland & Pennsylvania (No. 2226710); Northern Central (No. 2226720); Strasburg (No. 2226730), and U.S. Military Railroad (No. 2226740).

Website: Lionel.com

 

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