Back in the early 1980's I came across an article in Model Railroader about the wide vision caboose fleet of the Soo Line. There were numerous photos and several drawings of the various versions of the cabooses. What was most noticable about the different versions was the changes in window placements. Some had two windows on the side, some had one, and some had none. There were also different window arrangements on the ends. At the time I was just developing the caboose roster for my railroad and I decided to modify some Athearn wide vision caboose kits in a similar manner to the Soo. In addition to providing some variety to the fleet, the changes could represent different orders acquired at different times which would help lend credibility to the free-lanced railroad.
The major changes to the kits included changing the windows, moving the truck bolsters closer to the ends and trimming the bottom of the cupola. In the photo below you can see the original kit and the modified version.
In studying the photos of the Soo Line cabooses, it became apparent that the kit needed some modifications to more closely represent the wide vision cabooses of the era. That lead to moving the truck bolsters out toward the ends and trimming the bottom of the cupola. Other changes included the addition of Cal Scale cushioned underframes, removing the cast-on grab irons and replacing them wire brass wire, and adding a few additional details such as firecracker antennas and vents. New end railings were fabricated using brass wire and styrene for the kick plates.
I also decided to model several different classes of cabooses in order to add some variety to the fleet. In the photos below you can see the Class C6, C6A, and C7 variations.
The small windows on the sides of the C6A and C7 class were cut from the ends of a spare wide vision kit and spliced into the side. The original Class C6 were delivered with roofwalks and ladders, and I added an etched brass roofwalk along with ladders on the end. Note also the different placement of the stacks on the two classes.
In addition to changes in windows on the sides, I also changed the end window configuration on the C7 class as you can see in the photo below.
Once operations started on the layout I needed to expand the size of the wide vision caboose fleet. While the Athearn cars were fun to do at the time, they were a significant amount of work. I had seen numerous photos and reviews of the Atlas wide vision caboose and it seemed like a logical candidate. I purchase three of them on EBay, stripped the paint using 90% isopropyl alcohol, and added a few details. I also blanked out the middle window on each side to give them a slightly different appearance and because the road name wouldn't fit anywhere else. The photo below shows the Atlas and Athearn kits together.
Here's a close-up of the Atlas kit.
The three Atlas cars were weathered in varying degrees as you can see in the photo of the two cars below.
I used overhead photos of Chessie System wide vision cabooses that I took from the Hopple Street Viaduct in Cincinnati back in the early 1980's to weather the roofs.
The photo below shows the whole fleet of wide vision cabooses.
The Atlas kits are beautiful, and I plan to add more to the fleet as operations expand further.