Any railroad modeling project benefits from prototype info, even if all one does is find a couple of photos on the internet. Of course, the further one digs into prototype history, the more one risks opening the proverbial “can of worms”.  I think you know what I mean. Each modeller must decide on how far to go.

For the NKP 1000-series wood caboose project, I am fortunate to find some good sources of info:

1. Kit instructions – while not in-depth, they do give some good prototype information and I think a very competent model can be made from them.  This was a nice surprise to me.

2. Mainline Modeler – the following issues have helpful info:

  • March 1986 – very good prototype history on the 1000-series caboose. Some photos and a drawing (K-brake).
  • February 2003 – more history and some pre-war/wartime photographs. Drawings with AB brake.

3. The Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society’s Modeler’s Notes are available on their website ( free to download (as PDF files).  These are very fine publications with large clear photos.  I will use the following issues:

  • Summer 2011 – two builds (in styrene) of 1000-series cabooses (great prototype, detailing, & painting info).
  • Fall 2011 (not 1000-series, but related NKP caboose info)
  • September 2014 (not 1000-series, but related NKP caboose info)

Like most craftsman kits couplers, coupler boxes, trucks, wheels, air hoses, weight, and decals are not included.  Here’s what I will be using:

  • Couplers: Kadee #158 (I cut the trip pins off) with coupler boxes #242
  • Trucks: Tahoe Model Works TMW-204 Bettendorf Swing Motion (with semi-scale code 88 wheels)
  • Air hoses: Kadee #438
  • Weight: coated lead in 1/4oz and ½ oz segments from my local train shop (sorry I do not know the manufacturer).
  • The kit comes with resin AB brake parts, but the pre-war/wartime photos in the Mainline Modeler references show these cabooses with K brakes and that’s what I will install – Tichy #3005.

The decals…

Microscale offers a decal sheet (MC-4243) for NKP cabooses which looks good for the 1935-45 era, but it is sold out at the time of writing.  Hopefully they will reprint these.

Fortunately, K4 Decals offers a set which is what I’m going with.  However, this set is missing the NYC&StL small lettering up high on the left end of the letter board for this era.  In fairness though, the set is intended for the post-war “High Speed Service” scheme which does not have this lettering.  I will have to cobble something up for this. I do have NYC&StL from the Microscale Nickel Plate Road 40′ and 50′ Boxcars (87-189), which looks a little small, but I may probably go with that.

I’m not sure if I will follow a specific caboose or just make a general composite. Here are four choices that match the kit and the trucks I have. Other trucks used were Arch Bar (Kadee #1583) and Barber-Bettendorf Swing Motion trucks (TMW-205) – these images are from Mainline Modeler, February 2003 – Jay Williams collection.

The unique roof light on 1165 and 1199 was found on the former Lake Erie & Western Railroad in my era of interest. The Fall 2011 NKPRH&TS Modeler’s Notes, listed above, shows how it can be built.

As for paint, any of these crummies could be in either one of two possible colors at this time. NKP cabooses up until ~1940 were “medium-dark brown” then going to a redder brown (“medium red”) 1940 to 1948 (after that, the orange-red “High Speed Service” scheme appeared).* I will use my standard Van Sweringen/AMC paint for the medium-dark brown scheme: AK Interactive Real Colors RC068 Rotbraun.

And to be clear, this isn’t going to be a super-detailed and ultra-accurate build. I will make improvements and add details, but I won’t sweat the tiny stuff. These posts should provide insight on how a hacker like me can hopefully build a nice model from an AMB laser cut wood kit. OK let’s see how this goes…

*Per NKPRH&TS Modeler’s Notes Summer 2011, pages 23 & 24.