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  • Build a "Bobber"

    A SIMPLE-REWORK OF READY-TO-RUN CARS CAN PRODUCE THIS FOUR-WHEELED CABOOSE IN N, HO, OR O SCALE.


    1. This four-wheeled "bobber" caboose can be built in N, or O scale using one of the ready-to-run European prototype four-wheeled gondola cars for the chassis and almost any plastic caboose for the superstructure. We used Rapido's N scale caboose and gondola.
    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 63 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 64

    The most interesting piece of railroad rolling stock is the caboose and the little four-wheeled "bobber" is the "favorite child" of all among both modelers and real railroad fans. There are surprisingly few models of this small caboose even though the design was as popular with full-size railroads as the now-common eight-wheeled version in the early nineteen-hundreds. The railroads changed over to the larger style to offer the crew the greater comfort of the longer wheel base and better springing that the eight-wheeled design provided. Fortunately, we modelers don't have to consider the "working crew's" comfort in selecting a caboose for our trains. The short length and style of the "bobber" make it ideal for the modeler looking for greater numbers of cars in a single train without having the train too long for his relatively tiny layout. The "bobber" is most appropriate when used with the simulated-wood side freight cars of the early nineteenth century, however, a number of short line railroads continued to use the four-wheelers well into the post-war years. The smaller of the two four wheelers shown here is available ready to-run in N, HO, and O scales. Rapido makes the N scale version; AHM one in both HO and O scales, and Tyco had one in HO scale. We used the Rapido German-prototype four-wheel gondola for the four-wheeled trucks on our N scale model. HO scale modelers will find similar trucks in the cars in the Marklin line of European prototypes and AHM has a series of O scale European cars with four-wheeled trucks. The thumb tack-shaped end bumpers used in European railroad couplers will have to be sliced from the ends of any of these cars. HO modelers will want to replace the extra-deep wheel flanges of the Marklin cars with Central Valley-brand wheelsets for operation on American track. The body we picked for our "bobber" is that used on the Rapido N scale "wood" caboose; Trix has a nearly-identical version of this same caboose. HO scale modelers can use the plastic bodies from any of the MDC-brand "wood"-sided plastic caboose kits or, if you can find one, Revell's old plastic caboose with the same lines and style as the Rapido and Trix models. The new AHM "Combination Caboose" is a plastic version of a similar style (but longer) car in O scale.

    Working on a project like this "bobber" conversion points up the ease with which the newer plastic kits and ready-to-run equipment can be reworked to provide "custom-built" models unlike any you're likely to find on another model railroad. The only tools required are a razor saw, flat jeweler's file, and needle nose pliers. Walthers' "Goo" glue and Plastruct "Plastic Weld" cement will put the pieces back together. If you're careful the car won't even need to be painted although the finish will be far more realistic if you do spray on a quick coat of one of the model railroad paints. Decals from Micro-Scale or Walthers will be needed to renumber the "bobber" and letter it for your model railroad.


    2. Use a razor saw to slice the European-pattern "buffers" from each end of the four-wheeled gondola to give it an "American" look.

    3. Remove the plastic gondola superstructure from the cast metal or plastic chassis. Rapido uses a single nut on their N scale cars.

    4. The superstructure from the eight-wheeled caboose must be removed as well. Rapido and Trix N scale just snap off if end or sides are pried out.

    5. Slice the tool box from the bottom edge of the body. Cut slowly and parallel to the side so you can save the toolbox for later.

    6. Slice through the roofwalk at a point to give as much overhang for the roofwalk as on the long end (about 1/2-inch on the Rapido caboose).

    7. Cut in from the sides of the roof to within 1/32" of the sides of the roofwalk. Make the cuts parallel and 1/16" further in from the cut just made all the way across the end of the roof and roofwalk.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 65 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 66



    8. Slice in toward the second cut from the end of the caboose body. Keep your saw cuts about 1/32" away from the final line for now.

    9. Cut the end from the sliced off portion of the caboose. Cut roof and sides off with the razor saw, leaving that 1/32" next to the end.

    10. Use a flat jeweler's file to file the underside of the roof overhang, the cut ends of the side, and the door end to exact size. The door end must be filed to fit inside the sides and curved roof.

    11. Place the door end inside the body, carefully squaring up the two corners, and flow in liquid Plastruct "Plastic Weld" cement.

    12. Cut the end railings and ladders from the caboose chassis. Keep the saw blades as vertical as possible to slice away the lower part of railing.

    13. Glue the eight-wheeled caboose's end railings and ladders to the ends of the chassis and roof with Walthers' "Goo."

    14. Glue the toolbox, sliced from the bottom of the original body, to the center of the "bobber." Entire car, except the wheels, can be spray pain ted and remarked with decal numbers and letters for best appearance.

    15. Our custom-built "bobber" is a bit longer and larger than the four-wheeler available from Rapido (#0479) in N scale. AHM offers a caboose similar to the #0479 in both HO and O scales ready-to-run.

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 67 1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 68



    13. Glue the eight-wheeled caboose's end railings and ladders to the ends of the chassis and roof with Walthers' "Goo."

    14. Glue the toolbox, sliced from the bottom of the original body, to the center of the "bobber." Entire car, except the wheels, can be spray pain ted and remarked with decal numbers and letters for best appearance. 

    15. Our custom-built "bobber" is a bit longer and larger than the four-wheeler available from Rapido (#0479) in N scale. AHM offers a caboose similar to the #0479 in both HO and O scales ready-to-run. 

    1001 Model Railroading Ideas - Summer 1971 - Page 69

    Article Details

    • Source 1001 Model Railroading Ideas
    • Publication Date Summer 1971

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