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Ask MR: Did Penn Central cabooses have stripes?

By Steven Otte associate editor | July 20, 2021

Though uncommon, this is a prototypical scheme

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A black-and-white photo of a Penn Central caboose with a white side stripe
A black-and-white photo of a Penn Central caboose with a white side stripe
Penn Central class N8 caboose 23232, seen in a black-and-white builder’s photo shot at the railroad’s Altoona, Pa., shops on Sept. 24, 1968, bears a white stripe down the middle. Louis A. Marre photo from the Trains Magazine collection

Q: I am a fan of the Penn Central RR.  While visiting my local hobby shop, I saw a model of a PC caboose with a white stripe down the middle. Is it prototypical? And why the white stripe? – Mark Kroll

A: Yes. Although it was uncommon, that was a prototypical scheme. I’ve seen it on a few steel cabooses originally built to Pennsylvania RR designs, including the N5A and N8. In fact, there’s a picture of an N5 wearing the white stripe scheme on the cover of Robert Yanosey’s book, Penn Central Caboose Color Portfolio (Morning Sun Books). Bowser and Atlas Trainman have both sold HO scale models of them in the past, and several manufacturers offer decals appropriate for decorating your own. As for why? The white stripe might have been intended to make the caboose more visible in the headlights of cars at grade crossings. Or maybe the designer just thought it looked good.

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Do you have a question about model railroading you’d like to see answered in Ask MR? Send it to associate editor Steven Otte at AskMR@MRmag.com.

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