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  • NP Caboose Color Schemes

    by Todd Sullivan

    Photo by Cordell Newby, from the collection of Todd Sullivan
    Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 61 Prototype Modeler - August 1977 - Page 62

    Several NP fans have brought up the question of Northern Pacific caboose paint schemes in the light of the conflicting data by Ambroid and Northwest Short Line. It is hoped that the following will answer those questions.

    Now here, I thought, was a question with a somewhat simple answer. I couldn't have been more wrong! To simplify the answers, let's adopt a coding scheme (stolen in concept from NP Diesel Editor Dick Buike), and call each of the paint schemes C1, C2, C3, etc., chronologically.

    C1: Entire car box car red, except black underbody and roofs; all lettering white. Road name in stylized gothic lettering on letterboard below roof eaves; legend "CABOOSE" and car number beneath it in railroad roman, centered below cupola. Dates applied: 18008. 1900s. Cabooses delivered in scheme: 33' side door cupola type, Nos. 1014-1493 (scattered), Peninsula Car Co., 1886-1890. Others receiving this scheme: unknown.

    C2: Same as Cl paint scheme except "CABOOSE" legend and number replaced by number only in same style as road name, centered on car side below windows. Dates applied: 1912 or earlier - May 1951. Cabooses delivered in scheme: 26' cupola type, Nos. 1 141-1193 (scattered), 1 5071 546 (scattered), N.P.Ry.Co., 1901-1902; 26' cupola type, Nos. 1335-1347 (scatter ed), N.P.Ry.Co., 1903; 24' cupola type ("1200" design), Nos. 1000-145 1, 1 85 01895 (scattered), N.P.Ry.Co., 1907, 1909, 1913, 1939; 24' cupola type ("1600" design ala old PFM model), Nos. 16001699, 1905-1999 (scattered), N.P.Ry.Co., remodeled from 19' 4-wheel cabooses, 1910; 24' cupola type ("1700" design), Nos. 1700-1789, Pacific Car & Foundry, March, 1921; 30' steel cupola type, Nos. 1000-1049, unknown builder, early 1951. Others receiving scheme: 33' side door cupola type. Variations: 31' bay window type, Nos. 1505-1532, 1534-1594, N.P. Ry.Co., converted from 36' steel under frame boxcars in late 1930s - car number on car side to left of bay window, center ed in side panel below window.

    C3: Entire car box car red, except underbody and cupola roofs and yellow curved handrails on sides; all lettering white (except herald). Red/Black/White herald with monad and "Northern Pacific" legend inscribed, located as follows: 24' wood cupola types - on side with cupola to the left of center, centered between the two side windows, and on side with cupola to right of center, centered below cupola between large window in middle of side and small window at right end; 30' steel cupola type, 31' steel cupola type - centered beneath cupola on both sides. "Main Street of the Northwest" slogan in script style, located as follows: 24' wood cupola types - on side with cupola to left of center, centered below the herald, and on side with cupola to right of center, placed below herald such that right end of slogan is vertically aligned with right edge of

    herald; 30' steel cupola type - on side with cupola to left of center, left end vertically number in white, herald Red/Black/White, aligned with left edge of window on left end o side, with mirror-image arrangement on opposite side with cupola just to left of center, left end aligned with right edge of small window to left of cupola, and on side with cupola just to right of center, centered between and below two large windows on either side of cupola. Initials "NP" and car number in stylized gothic located as follows: 24' wood cupola types - centered over truck on left end of each side, with initials centered over number; 30' steel cupola type - on one line, centered over truck at right end of side; 31' steel cupola type - on one line, centered over truck on left end of side. Car number in stylized gothic over end doors. Dates applied: May 1951- late 1960s. Cabooses delivered in this paint scheme: possibly the last 30' steel cupola type cars, Nos. 1000-1049; 31' steel cupola type, nos. 1100-?. International Car Co. (?), unknown date. Others receiving this paint scheme: all older surviving cabooses in 1000, 1200, 1300, 1600, and 1700 series. Variations: most 24' wood cupola types and some 30' and 31' steel cupola types that were radio equipped had such a legend with two lightning bolts located above the initials and number, some cars had platform steeps and part of the end hand rails painted yellow; sometime in the mid or late 1960s, the practice of painting the roof black was apparently dropped in favor of an all-box car red carboy.

    C4: Entire car box car red, except yellow platform steps, side curved handrails, outer end platform hand rails. Initial and number in white, herald Red/Black/White, both placed as with the C3 paint scheme. No slogan. Car number in white above end doors on most cars. Dates applied: unknown, but in late 1960s. Cabooses delivered in this scheme: none. Others receiving scheme: none. Others receiving scheme: scattered cars in 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1600, and 1700 series, as repainted during the period.

    C5: Carbody and cupola BN green; roof sliver, body ends, end platforms, railings, side curved handrails all yellow; black underbody and trucks. on right end of each side, the yellow is carried around from the car end to the side to form a 60 degree wedge with the sharp corner at the top corner of the side. This is bounded on the right sloped edge by a 6" green stripe then a 6" yellow stripe before giving way to the remainder of the green side. The curved handrail on this yellow corner is a contrasting BN green color. Red/Black/White herald with "Northern Pacific Railway" inscribed, centered below cupola. Car initials "NP" and a nubbier in modern gothic style at left end of car side, inside curve of curved hand rails, in white. ACI label placed just to the front (on long end side ) of cupola, centered vertically with the bottom edge of the cupola extended side. Scotchlite patch of alternating 3" red and white 60 degree diagonal stripes, 2" wide, placed on roof end facia panel, below end of running board. Small herald on black non-functioning protective "end gate" at center of end railings. Dates applied: 1969(?). Cabooses delivered in scheme: 31' wide vision cupola types, Nos. 10400-?, International Car Co (?), unknown build date. Others receiving scheme: none.

    A few additional notes: During the C4 scheme era, the NP undertook a renumbering program in preparation for the BN merger. The 30' steel 1000s became low 10900s, the 31' steel 1100s became 10300s. The various 24' wood types went into the 10800s and 10900s, and the 10400 31' wide vision types were delivered with the new numbers. Sometime in the mid-1960s, the NP changed their herald by adding "Railway" to the inscribed road name. Most cabooses had the new herald (as described in the C5 scheme) by 1970. Finally, the 1000s/10900s and 1100s/10300s also had heralds on their platforms railing sheet metal end gates; the gates were brown on the former and black on the latter. If you're looking for decals to match up to these various schemes, the Champ set No. HC-243 (HO)/CN-243 (O) is far and away the best. It has the appropriate material to do the C2 and C3 schemes, and the herald supplied is of the "Northern Pacific" variety. For the later "Northern Pacific Railway" herald, you'll have to turn to the decals supplied with the Ambroid kit. With the later herald, you can do the C4 scheme. The C1 scheme can be done using the Champ set plus materials from Champ's railroad roman alphabet set No. LW03 (1/8" white) or private road name word "Caboose". The C5 scheme requires the Ambroid kit's herald, smaller heralds (available in Champ set NO. EH-70 and BRH-7 diesels, or Micro-Scale set No. RH-46 NP diesel), and a small gothic alphabet set for the initials and number. It's quite possible that Walthers also has the later herald in some of their NP sets; unfortunately, I haven't explored their line.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Todd Sullivan
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date August 1977

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