Ed Bommer models the B&O Staten Island line in O scale. He recently shared photos and notes on his O scale scratch-built B&O C-721, modeled as the prototype looked in 1950. Here’s Ed with the story.
I built this caboose model a long time ago, in March 1983. I was somewhat familiar with the prototypes as I would see them on Staten Island Rapid Transit freights as a boy and young teen. I even got to ride in one for a few miles.
Eight K-1 four-wheel cabooses came to Staten Island in 1890. Photos of New York Terminal assigned B&O K-1 cabooses have revealed C-587, C-648, C-721, C-733, C-845, C-1060 and C-1198. The eighth caboose has been camera shy so far. All the K-1 cars were scrapped in 1952 and replaced with five B&O I-1 class eight-wheel cabooses.
I scratchbuilt the model using Northeastern wood and Walthers cast pedestal journals. I did not take any photos of it under construction, but I did make some notes. I do this for most of the models I’ve built.
My main references were some prototype photos found in books and this B&O equipment diagram for that class of caboose.
I modeled the frame as-built and installed full underbody brake piping and rigging. The brake shoe carriers are made with HO rail, which closely resembles the steel bars of the prototype. The end platform railings follow the B&O design used in the 1950’s, made with brass strip and rod.
The corner steps are built up with styrene and brass strips. Grandt Line doors and window frames were added. The window glazing was lightly scribed with diagonal cuts both ways using a single-edge razor blade, to imitate the 1920’s and 30’s chicken wire safety glass B&O installed in them.
The caboose also has a detailed interior as best I could recall. The inner faces of both doors have flares mounted in holders. There are three bunks – a bit unusual but that is what I recall. There wasn’t a table or seats for the conductor to work or crew to eat. Instead, the end of the bunk opposite the stove and sink had a small wooden desk over it. A lamp and conductor’s brake valve are on the sidewall by the locker.
With the Grandt Line stove is a coal scuttle with some coal in it and, an ash pail. A safety railing is around the stove and sheet metal heat shields behind and under it. A small sink with a water tank above is included. Two lanterns stand on the floor by the conductor’s desk; one clear and one red.
My model follows a B&O K-1 caboose of the New York Terminal operation as it appeared in the late 1940’s. Many of these cabooses had their cupolas removed. The cupolas were victims of time and rot, and there was no need for them on a terminal operation.
This isn’t my first B&O K class caboose model. I rebuilt an old Train Craft four-wheel caboose kit I got when I was 14. I bought it with my hard-earned allowance money. The kit cost a hefty $5.15, with New York City sales tax. My father thought I spent my money foolishly. It’s now 68 years later and I still have it!
In rebuilding it for the third time a few years ago, I found a set of original Train Craft B&O caboose steps on EBay, from a closed hobby shop in Hungry Horse, Montana. I matched it to another B&O K-1 on Staten Island as it looked in 1940 or so. It still had its cupola and had been fitted with a replacement steel underframe.
I finished this model as the prototype appears in the period photo above. The caboose wears the B&O’s pre WW2 paint scheme with a browner shade of paint. I wrote an account on that model for the O Scale Kings website. However, I did not model a detailed interior or underbody for this car.
I hope my models, photos and notes have been helpful. – Ed Bommer
Wow! I thank Ed Bommer for sharing his impressive work and notes. I will need a few of these K-1 class cabooses as my next layout project develops. Did anyone else notice the note for 900 cars in the freight car diagram? That’s a lot of cabooses!
Thank you for visiting the blog. You can share a comment in the section below. Follow the instructions so your comment can be posted. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear. Please share the blog link with other model railroaders. To subscribe to this blog, add your email address to the function at the bottom of the right column on the main page.v