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Walthers HO scale Great Northern standard-cupola caboose

By Cody Grivno | September 24, 2021

Read about the features on this Mainline series model

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Great Northern caboose

Great Northern caboose

A standard-cupola caboose is the latest addition to the WalthersMainline series of HO scale rolling stock. The ready-to-run car is offered with two cupola window styles, see-through plastic running boards, and body-mounted Proto-Max metal couplers.

The prototype

The WalthersMainline model is based on a Great Northern (GN) prototype built by the International Car Division of Morrison International Corp. under lot no. 845. The cabooses were constructed in two batches. Cars X66 through X85 were built between November 1963 and January 1964. Cabooses X86 through X95 rolled off the production line in January and February 1964.

Our sample is decorated as GN X84. A photo in Burlington Northern Cabooses 1970-1995 by Robert C. Del Grosso (Great Northern Pacific Publications, 2006) shows the former X84 freshly repainted Burlington Northern Cascade Green with yellow ends and numbered 10244 in June 1970. Images from the late 1970s show other cabooses from this group still in the original red scheme but with patched reporting marks and road numbers.

The model

The standard-cupola caboose has a plastic body with a separate cupola. The cupola has a tab on each end that locks under the bottom of the roof. Clear plastic inserts, one each for the body and cupola, serve as the glazing
for the windows. Up on top, the model features a Stanray overhanging diagonal-panel roof; plastic running boards; and a separate, factory-applied toilet vent and smokejack.

The underbody, which has tabs that lock into slots on the interior of the carbody, consists of molded center sills, two
crossmembers, body bolsters, kingpins, and draft-gear boxes with separate, screwmounted covers. The air reservoir, brake cylinder, and control valve are separate pieces with plastic piping. The GN model has a toolbox, a feature added as appropriate. The end platforms have molded grating; the steps are smooth. A 11 ⁄16″ x 4″ steel weight is attached to the top of the underbody with two Phillips-head screws. Molded end cages with ladders; handrails; gates; brake stands; and separate, factory-applied brake wheels are glued to each end.

There are molded drill-starter points on the sides and ends of the carbody, the lower corners of the end cages, and the corners of the cupola roof for grab irons. These are available as separate-sale kit from Walthers, item no. 910-201 ($9.98).

By the numbers

I compared the model to a prototype photo of X84 in Great Northern Equipment Color PictorialBook Three by Scott R. Thompson (Four Ways West Publications, 2000). The lettering placement matches prototype photos. The lightning bolt by the Radio Equipped stencil looks too short; the window with the rounded corners on each side should be trimmed in black; there should be 12 sill stripes; and the safety slogan should be The Best Way Is The Safe Way.

The red and black paint is smooth and evenly applied. Information in Great Northern Ry. Historical Society (GNRHS)
Reference Sheet no. 99 indicates the toilet vent and smokejack were originally painted silver. The smokejack had weathered to a rusty black color in the prototype image in Thompson’s book.

The end cages lack the filler screens found on the prototype cabooses. The gates should have the GN Safety First
logo. These can be found in Microscale decal set no. 87-285.

The caboose’s dimensions closely follow published data in GNRHS Reference Sheet no. 99. The model rides on Barber roller-bearing caboose trucks with correctly gauged 33″ metal wheels mounted on plastic axles. Great Northern cars had
solid-bearing Barber swing-motion trucks. The Proto-Max metal couplers are at the correct height. At 3.5 ounces, the model is properly weighted per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.

I tested the caboose on our HO scale Wisconsin & Southern staff layout. It operated without incident while being
pushed and pulled in a train.

I’m a fan. The International standardcupola caboose is a welcomed addition to the WalthersMainline, especially for a BN modeler like myself. The model is fine out of the box, but leaves plenty of opportunity for extra details if you want to take the caboose to the next level. I already have both GN road numbers. Here’s hoping I’ll be seeing some Cascade Green in the next run!

Facts & features

Price: $39.98
Manufacturer
Wm. K. Walthers Inc.
5601 W. Florist Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53218
walthers.com
Era: 1963 to 1970 (as decorated)
Road names: Great Northern, Boston & Maine, Maine Central, Norfolk & Western, Norfolk Southern, and Northern Pacific. Two road numbers per scheme. Also available undecorated.
Features
• 33″ turned-metal wheels on plastic axles, correctly gauged
• Proto-Max metal couplers, at correct height
• Weight: 3.5 ounces, correct per National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1.

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