Custom Painted P-2000 units

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Caboose Project

Greetings All,

I was recently rummaging through a box of old trains that I had accumulated over the years and came across two Life Like A.T.S.F. Cabooses. I seemed to have acquired quite a few of these but couldn't remember how or why. I believe these are the last two not repainted and re-purposed.

So with two bright red Santa Fe cabooses I took a look to see what if anything could be done with them to spur on some future usage and usefulness for the N.Y.C.T.L. Searching various printed media and internet resources I came across the "Penn Central Caboose Photo Archive" and noted the PC N5G class of caboose resembled these A.T.S.F. units  .

According to the website the N5G class were built by the Lehigh Valley and 16 were sold to the Penn Central in 1968. Looking for additional information on the PC caboose fleet in general and the N5Gs I came across this fine tutorial from 2009 on Big Blue Trains titled "Ralph's Caboose Thread"   This is the same Ralph from the Kings Port Division Blog, PC Ralph videos and the Virtual Ops that I often post about. This is a photo and information bonanza for anyone wishing to kitbash some easily found model cabooses into convincing PC units.

Other sites I checked included the Penn Central Fallen Flags site. What became clear to me was that the PC N5Gs were painted in quite a few different styles for only having 16 on the roster. So I cobbled together some decals to try and closely approximate the N5Gs for my layout. Let's take a look at the caboose project;

The two A.T.S.F. Caboose shells.

Both shells spent the night in a container of 91% alcohol. Paint on the caboose on the right came right off. Paint on the caboose to the left was unaffected. A night in a container of brake fluid solved that problem. Note the difference in the plastic. The caboose to the left is almost translucent and the one to the right is much more solid. Both units were then thoroughly washed, rinsed and ready for painting.

Here are the cabooses after a trip to the N.Y.C.T.L. Paint Shop which is my patio. The cabooses are painted with rattle can Jade Green from a company called American Slings. and rattle can flat black.

Some of the N5Gs had round porthole windows on there ends and I added them to once of the units.

Here they are lettered and numbered. Both schemes are pretty close to the prototype and the best I could do with the materials on hand. Getting the lettering to snuggle down over the pronounced rivets was a challenge and applying Walthers Solvaset sparingly did the trick.  Both cabooses will receive a coat of Testor's dullcote and some clear plastic window "glass"

PC 18401 gets a look over from the usual suspects as it is pulled out of the paint shop at Terminal Yard
This unit used the bigger PENN CENTRAL lettering found on locomotives and other freight equipment. 

The porthole windows, large PC and small number and reporting marks are close to the prototype
                    Here is the prototype 18401

The 18418 gets a roll by inspection and it sports a look far different from the 18401. 
The PENN CENTRAL is smaller and this unit had COTS stencils and ACI labels.

I believe the yellow steps are prototypical for this unit but could be wrong.
Here is a photo of PC 18417 that I used for guidance.

18418 on it's test run on the upper level

18401 on it's test run on the lower level.

So there it is.  An enjoyable paint project that rescued two cabooses from languishing in the bottom of a box and resulted in equipment that will now get track time and be enjoyed. Are they exact replicas? No. Will anyone visiting the the N.Y.C.T.L. know that when looking at them? Probably not.

Thanks for Reading!


  1. Very nice work transforming a pair of languishing-in-the-box cabooses into a fine couple of PC N5Gs! Thanks for posting about the American Slings paint. It looks like the right shade for PC modeling. The variety of coloring,lettering,and numbering schemes on PC cabooses makes modelling them interesting and fun. I like your two variations on the theme. There's just something really appealing about those port hole windows!

    1. Thank You Ralph! It was a fun project and as you state the variety among the caboose fleet does make them fun to research and try and replicate. Spot on about the portholes! Had to have them!

  2. What a great job on transforming both cabooses! I do like the rivet and other details on #18418. The PC would be proud of the work you've done. The end windows you put in are reminiscent of the old PRR, which I like as well. Great job John!

    1. Thank You 1:1 Sir Neal! The 18418 did come out much better than I expected. The 18401 was my favorite going into the project but the 18418 does look very PC to me with the black roof and yellow steps.