Scratch Building a Transfer Caboose

Transfer Caboose built April 2012
This project will not be a lesson on building a craftsman level model, but it does show that you can build a simple model, that will fill a need, with not too much effort.

For the chassis on this project, I used an Atlas Trainman Cupola Caboose. I started by removing the body and cutting the ladders from the original unit. I then removed the steel weight by cutting off the tabs that were holding it in place. After filing the floor to get a flat surface, I cut the tool box off the underside. This box was part of the original caboose unit that I did not need in my version. This left a hole which I filled it with putty.

I cut a wood block to a size slightly smaller than the size that I wanted the new body to be. This block served two functions, one was as a weight for the car and the other was as a frame to glue the sides and end walls on to. I painted this block of wood black because is will be showing through the door and window openings I would be making in the walls.

The rest of the project was made using Styrene materials which come in sheet as well as other pre formed shapes. I used plain .020 sheet material to make the side and end walls, and .010 to make the roof. I cut out the doors and window openings and then glued them to the wooden block using Walther Goo. In order to make the curved roof, I cut the size needed and placed it in hot water to soften it. I then clamped it around the handle of a screwdriver, till it was bent to the curve shape I needed. Once the roof had been glued to the body, I added channels for the seem ribbing. I added square strips on the side walls to simulate seem, sill, and sole ribs of the body. The floor decking was made out of .010� sheet material, that had lines molded in, to look like wood planks. The kick side boards on the decking, were made by cutting thin slices from .010 styrene sheet. The window and door frames are made from .020 square material placed on top of the walls. Stacking these on top of the cut openings gave me a deeper depth appearance I wanted. The body was finished off by gluing .060 angle pieces to cover the end joionts of the wall panels. I drilled a hole in the roof for the stove pipe, which I made from .020 round rod made into a tee shape at the top.

Hand railing was made from .020 round rod, again using hot water to help soften it before bending. I drilled holes in the deck frame to hold the railing posts upright while gluing. The hand rail posts were made from .020 square. Where the railings meet the caboose body walls, I made L-brackets to fasten them, to give a more finished look. The L-brackets were made by slicing a thin section off a .020 channel, and then splitting it into 2 right angle pieces.

For paint, I decided to mix Red with a little Brown, for the body color. The roof, kick plates, and handrails were painted gray, and deck was painted black. For weathering, I mixed some Sienna Brown with some black, to do the rusty blotches. I first dabbed on a few dark spots, then I thinned the mixture, and dabbed over the first spots to soften the edges to look more like rusting metal. After all paint was dry I washed the entire car with as very thin mix of Sienna Brown to give it a dulled look.

For this and other projects, I used "The Chopper" made by Northwest Short Line. I found this tool to be very useful when needing several exact size pieces. The glue I used for the styrene was Plastruct's "Plastic Solvent". To glue the wood block to the frame, I used Walther's Goo.

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1) Started by cutting panels for walls. Then cut out window and door openings. Then cut and glue .060" strips to make wall panels

2) Glue wood block to frame. Glue and clamp side walls to wood block

3) Image of sides walls glued to block and frame

4) Image of sides walls glued to block and frame

5) Image of sides walls glued to block and frame

6) Side view with roof cut from .010" material, and glue to sides walls

7) View shows red putty placed to fill voids in joints

8) End view

9) View showing roof ridge caps made from .060" channel

10) View showing clamps holding roof ribs

11) View showing clamps holding roof ribs

12) View showing clamps holding additional roof ribs

13) First ribs broke free and had to be re-glued

14) Post cut from .020" square stock to be used as railing posts

15) Side view with railing made from .010" round rods

16) Another view showing railing & vent pipe

17) Final view before painting

18) Finished model

19) Finished model

20) Finished model