Bill’s Kit Bashing

“Hello, Alastair:

I thought I’d share my first kit-bashed piece of rolling stock – it sort of qualifies as scenery, because it mostly sits on a siding in a BNSF classification yard in Spokane, Washington.

North American railroads have abandoned cabooses, as I’m sure you know, having replaced them with FREDs (flashing – not the original word – red end devices). Those cabooses still on working rails are “shoving platforms” or “ride platforms.” They are completely boarded up and only serve as a platform for yard workers to ride on when putting together trains, etc.

Anyway, I’ve attached a picture of the prototype, a shot of the original Bachmann HO model caboose I bought for $3 at a thrift shop, and the end result. As I said, it is my first attempt, and it was a really good learning experience.


BN 12518 Dec 14 Right Side


Green Caboose

“Hi Al,

Just uploaded another video with a couple of tips.



Big thanks to Bill and Dave. I have no idea where Dave finds the time – but I’m thankful he does.

Ebay cheat sheet still going strong: latest one is here.



19 Responses to Bill’s Kit Bashing

  1. Nice work 🙂 Did you do the graffiti with an airbrush or hand brush?

  2. Dave,
    Just an amazing layout. How big is your room?
    Please keep sending your videos!

  3. well done dave always a pleasure to watch and hear you.

  4. wow bill that’s a really nice, very inspiring job on your caboose,, it makes me want to get back going on my modeling since the move we just went through. thanks for sharing !! And Dave is always amazing !! ( he must be retired ) 🙂 to be able to do so much in such a short time,, simply amazing,,, keep those awesome vids coming Dave I watch them all in awe !!

  5. Hi Bill. That’s a pretty good first try. Im in quebec Canada and we have done away with the caboose as well. Guess it’s a cost thing for the railroad’s. Wont have to pay the 3 to 4 guys sitting in there. One reason they were a good idea was they watched the line of car’s as they travel and normaly spot thing’s out of place .Such as derailment’s and such. I been in one before traveling. You can see right up the line all the car’s and can spot if one seems to be out of alinement. Now with that fred thing it’s a good idea and a bad idea. engine guy cant see spit or know if there is a problem and normaly it be tolate to react.So getting rid of the caboose is a bad thing and a sort of good thing. cost affective I think. good job Bill thanks for the photo and build.

  6. Hi Dave. Thank’s for the hint and video. I look forward to each one you send in. Like usual I watch each video a bunch of time’s to spy lol. I appreciate Al and yourself for sharing .Thank’s very much.

  7. Excellent mimicry on the caboose.

  8. Dave, exceptional work on everything. I like detail and you are getting there. I like what I call “stopped scenes” when it comes to highway traffic to make it seem more realistic. Example: have a highway accident with backup traffic standing still instead of autos and trucks with no driver or passenger on a roadway not moving but a viewer is suppose to imagine that the roadway traffic is moving. That’s my comment..more next time.

  9. verry koool caboose
    and wow…I didnt realize the railroads had X’d the cabooses
    dumb move
    and yeh …..Dave rawks!!!!

  10. In NEW Zealand and Queensland they have just a light at the end of the goods train after guards vans were axed. In New Zealand some guards vans were converted into observation cars. they can be seen on the Tranz Alpine and Coastal Pacific trains.

  11. Hi Bill, Excellent piece of work. But please tell us how you did the white text on the caboose?

  12. The best thing about cabooses going away is that decent ones are available for conversion to cabins etc. Works best, (cheapest), if there is an abandoned siding nearby you can halve the ‘boose shoved into. Having one hauled over the road is so expensive you might as well build a replica on site.

  13. Bill, great job on the caboose, and a great find for only $3! Keep it up! I miss cabooses too. I grew up in the San Francisco area and SP used the bay-window style of cabooses which made even more sense because you could see the sides as well. There were two reasons they are gone : cost and liability.
    That was a dangerous position at the end of a 100-car freight if there was a derailment several cars ahead at 70 mph!

  14. Bill – Great job on the caboose.. HO, I assume. Usually abhor the graffiti one sees on most everything these days, but you’ve done a nice job on that, too. Herb (New York)

  15. i think that is an amazing paint job on the caboose Bill. i think they make the train looked finished when on the tracks. now these comments have been made maybe a lot of cabooses will end up on ebay. ha ha .thanks Dave for your tips very nice full shot of your layout. keep the videos coming. thanks also to Al.

  16. Magnificent as always Dave. I am in awe of your skills!

  17. The University of South Carolina uses old cabooses for their pre game party fans. Each is booster owned and decorated individually with party in mind.

  18. There is a motel in PA made up of old railroad cabooses called the Red Caboose Motel. I plan on makeing a small onre for my layout based on it.

  19. I have recently qualified as a guard on a heritage railway, equivalent to the conductor’s role in the US, and came across this little poem from the days when every freight over here had a brake van on the back:

    “The guard is the man, asleep in the van,
    the van at the back of the train,
    the driver, up front, thinks the guard is a c***
    and the guard thinks the driver’s the same.

    The guard is the man, asleep in the van,
    dreaming of making a fiver,
    when he awakes, he screws on the brakes,
    and blames the delay on the driver!”

    I promise you I’m not that desperate for half-an-hour’s overtime! (Not that we volunteers get any.)

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