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.



Now on to Brian.

“Hi Al,

A very good friend of mine asked for advice on building an Engine House like the one that I built for my layout previously (see bottom photo), to put in the logging area of his layout.

It will be quicker for me to build one for him rather than explain and demonstrate it to him.

Photos below show the start of the scratch built one in HO scale without using plans or instructions, just measurements from his track already placed on his layout. (I have built so many of these in the past that I could almost do it with my eyes closed).

Time from starting it using a scribed siding sheet until the third photo was about two and a half hours.

The magnetic clamps if anyone wants to know are called right clamps (2 per set) available from Micro Mark in the USA and extremely useful in squaring up a building before and during the gluing process.

I will send more photos of the construction as I forge ahead on it.

All the best


Cape Town South Africa”





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

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming, I enjoy your mails as much as you lot.

And if today is the day when you press the button on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

42 Responses to Bill’s Kit Bashing

  1. Clark says:

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

  2. Ray says:

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

  3. peter benson says:

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

  4. joe, k says:

    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. builder Kim says:

    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. builder Kim says:

    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. John Fuller says:

    Excellent mimicry on the caboose.

  8. Jerry (Mitch) Michnewicz says:

    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. paul Otway says:

    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. Don says:

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

  12. Ian Brown says:

    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. Ken Gokdenberg says:

    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. Herb Ahrens says:

    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. Ian Mc Donald says:

    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. Steve from Exeter NSW Australia says:

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

  17. Ed Clark says:

    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. Ric S says:

    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. Rod Mackay says:

    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.)

  20. Jim Richards says:

    WOW…. and incredible model copy of the real caboose. An excellent job doing that. Looks very real. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Dick Woodward says:

    Bill, this is very well done! Congratulations?
    May I ask where you are located? UK somewhere?

  22. Terry Miller says:

    Read an interesting article on caboose’s –but can’t remember exactly where–which said each conductor had his own caboose. I always thought they just used what ever was available. who knew!

  23. Warren Ferguson says:

    Great job, Bill! I miss the cabooses, too. I can remember, as a lad, yelling up to the guy in the rear they had a ‘hot box’ on one of the cars. Thanks for the memories!
    Warren, AL, USA

  24. Victor Koyano says:

    Bill: l saw shoving platform at Seattle. Bought AtlasO BNSF 2rail version….
    Dave: Nice video. I remember sounds were in power packs and not on board. We all drooled at PFM generic diode sounds. Started Oscale, 1993 with AtlasO loco. No sound then. Thanks!


    The on campus cabooses at the University of South Carolina numbers over 50 where they are permanently parked and connected so that partyers can stroll through their elaborately decorated interiors and enjoy their fellow graduates and friends at the football games.

  26. Robert Brady says:

    Dave I see ur strictly passenger oriented Which I am 50/50 passenger/ freight
    Love both actually.Like ur old greasy dirty tracks as opposed to ur rust coating but that’s me. See you next time on your commercial free station!
    R Brady

  27. Tom Nichols says:

    Nice job on the caboose.

  28. Douglas Harley says:

    The caboose is very well done,I like the accuracy of the paint scheme. The only problem is the archbar trucks-they were outlawed in the 20s. they should be roller bearing! the dirst train I saw without a caboose was in Kansas in the mid 60s.
    I’ve been watching Daves layout for years now and am amazed at what he has done!

  29. Will in NM says:

    Nice work Bill & Dave, I miss the cabooses too. Does anyone know exactly when they stopped being used on the freight trains here in the US?

  30. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great Job on the caboose!!

  31. Stephen White says:

    Dave, I don’t know if you or anyone had this thought, but what if the ‘high’ tracks around the outside were about half the height they are now? The access sidings would then be very gentle and the problem of ‘pushing’ locos would be eliminated.

  32. Rod Mackay says:

    Dave, your pronunciation of Bont y Bermo was fine first time, its an “i” or “ee” sound. W and Y are vowels in Welsh, and the name translated means Barmouth Bridge.

    I dont think reversing down a gradient would make much difference as the weight of the train would be pulling on one end rather than pushing on the other, the effect is still slightly to try to push the worm against the teeth of the pinion, on the grade on Borchester Market (where some of the locos were very old and the worm being jammed like this was not uncommon) the trick was just to go over the top of the grade very gently and keep accelerating slightly down the hill. If modern stock is too free-running for that to work, a strip of plasticard sprung lightly against an axle or two in each rake should help hold them in check so the loco can haul them down the hill.

  33. Erick says:

    Pretty neat!!!

  34. Al, Thanks again for what you do. I archive every post that I see. If I may offer a comment, …I have not seen, adding a internal camera to see what the engine
    man sees, HO gauge. How about a wheeled container mover (RC) in S gauge?
    Maybe a kit bash of two 4-6-2s to make a compound ” Bib Boy ” ( it’s been done)
    A 50 amp DC power supply might help, built out of repurposed trans. and rect..
    I personally believe there is no limit to what can be done Thanks for letting me
    put this stuff out….RJL ….retired Conrail locomotive electrician, UAW Master
    Industrial Electrician to 7.2K VAC

  35. Dave Karper says:

    Red Caboose Lodge was very enjoyable when my wife and young son stayed there years ago. It’s very convenient to the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum and the Strasburg Railroad. By years; I mean my son is now a retired Amtrak engineer.

  36. Gordon Valentine Jr says:

    Dave, I enjoy your vid’s and have learned some of why GB and Europe do not have some of the US transport problems.
    How is this? On your vid’s there are more passenger trains than freight trains. We in the US use the auto over the train, you us the train over the auto.
    We in America need to look at what GB has done and think about how to move forward with our transportation in the future.
    Keep on sending the vid’s

  37. TJK says:

    Bill, that caboose is “spot on” great job.

  38. Mr. Ron from So Mississippi says:

    Back when I was growing up in New York City, a caboose was needed to house the crew that oversaw the rear of the train. Before 2-way radio, the caboose was necessary when backing up a train. They used “track torpedoes” that were stored in the caboose. When the engineer needed to know when to stop backing up, the trainman at the rear would strap a track torpedo to the rail. The track torpedo was a high explosive charge with 2 lead straps that wrapped around the rail head. When the caboose passed over the torpedo, it would go off with a sound loud enough to be heard by the engineer, telling him to stop reversing. Us kids would steal track torpedoes, strap them to a heavy rock and throw them up in the air. When they hit the ground, they would explode sending rock fragments all around. It’s a wonder we were not hurt or killed. This was around 75-80 years ago. I wonder if the UK or Europe used these devices.

  39. stan ries says:

    on daves railroad I saw some bridges from one platforum to another, how does a person in a wheelchair make that crossing?

  40. In the 1960’s my Uncle John was a brakeman for the B&O here in Baltimore. He worked at the Camdem Yard now Orioles Park. I was able as a youngster toride the yard in a B&O Cabose. Sad they’re all gone. I do travel to the B&O Museum with my grandchildren each year.

  41. Winston says:

    FRED = flashing rear end device not flashing red end device.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *