2004 Winter Caboose Project - 7/8 Scale

Every year on the 7/8 list, someone has a construction series. This past year,Steve King did an excellent set of instructions for building SR&RL Caboose #554. For a while, it was hosted on another website, but I've been allowed to host it here. Its an excellent article, full of great tips, even if you're not in 7/8.

SR&RL Caboose

last update 2004/4/30

2004 Winter
Car Building Project


This is a compendium of the Steve Kings e-mail to
the 7/8ths group for the construction project. Provided here for easy
reference. This site may not always have the most recent instructions that
Steve has posted to the group.

SR&RL caboose #554 started out as an
B&B excursion car, built by Ranlet Car Co in 1876. Purchased by Sandy
River in 1879 as their #1 (but leased to the F&M). Rebuilt by the
Sandy River in 1906, then re-numbered to #5 in the 1908 consolidation.
SR&RL re-numbered again in 1913 to #554. Gary Kohler reports that this
caboose was destroyed by a fire in 1920.

Drawings provided can be
used for your personal model making only.

If the PDFs provided by Paul Stump do not print
full scale, confirm
your print settings.

Scans included from Two Feet Between the Rails Vol I and II by Robert
Jones are only provided as low quality thumbnails to protect

**Anybody up for a
winter on-line car building project??

This is primarily directed at the 7/8n2 train
list but posted on the Maine two foot list as well in case anyone there is

Some may remember a couple of years ago I did a 4 wheel boxcar where I laid out
the materials and construction step by step in a series of emails with in
process photos.

I am looking to do the same thing again, if I can get a quorum of interested
participants. The subject will be a small Maine caboose from the F&M, later
known as Sandy River #554. This is similar to the later, larger 556-557 cars.
The reason for choosing this model, other than that I want one for myself, is
that anyone following the project will be able to use standard fractional-inch
dimensioned hobby wood, and the car is shorter than the others, with the
finished model being about 24.5" long. It also takes standard common
bolster trucks.

So...let's hear from anyone who would like to build a caboose! We'll take it
slow and easy, and try to keep the level of difficulty at a minimum, so even the
newer folks in 7/8" scale can try to build. I expect to stretch this out
over a couple of months.

only pic I know of for this car is the attached lifted from page 307 of Jones
Vol 1. It shows the car, with no cupola, sometime after 1904 (loco pulling train
was built in '04. Since is a link and pin coupler on the loco I would guess it
to be before the 1980 consolidation of the two footers. The car was originally
built in 1877 with the B&B roster so in this pic it was already over 25
years old. The basic design has a center (baggage) door, three windows one end
and two on the other, with the opposite side three windows only. There are no
end windows, nor glass in the door. Personally I will build the no cupola
version, as a logging caboose, but we will provide instructions and drawings to
do the cupola. It would be possible to make this car a "convertible"
and switch out the cupola or plain roof.

I do not think the car survived to the end of the SR&RL. It is most
certainly not in any of the existing collections. The closest surviving cousin
is the B&SR caboose #101 at Portland which was literally rotting away when I
saw it in 1995, but is currently being restored.

More background information from Wes Ewell

This has been a favorite car of mine for years.
It actually took me quite a few years to get the drawing right. I had a lot of
help from Peter Barney, who first clued me in to the B&B connection. When
I laid my drawing over the drawing of the B&B excursion car, it was a
perfect match, except for the roof height, of course. That change in roof
height, by the way, explains the extra wide fascia on this car.

Those of us who have been trying to figure out this car generally agree that
it probably had freight trucks with leaf springs like the excursion cars and
the F&M baggage car. Will the model trucks have leaf springs?

In its last incarnation, this car had a longer roof, with roof walks and end
ladders like the other SRRL cabooses. My Sn2 model has the cupola and complete
interior detail.

There are at least four photos of this caboose around, three of which have
been published. Volume II of Robert C. Jones' Two Feet Between the Rails shows
the caboose with cupola on page 55. This photo shows that there were windows in the doors at this stage
of its life. It also shows that the ends were sheathed diagonally like the
F&M flanger. Wes Ewell provided this blown up portion to the
right of the caboose from his collection. It is linked to a larger scan.

On page 182 is a photo of the final iteration of this car,
with longer roof overhangs, roof walks and end ladders. Most sources show this
car as being scrapped in 1913, Gary Kohler reports it was burned in a fire
1920. I think it probably had five windows on both
sides until the cupola was added. The interior had horizontal siding, plain
board trim around the windows and doors, and
benches like the other cabooses, with front panels that
slanted inward at the bottom. The benches had leather covered seat cushions that were held in
place by decorative metal rods at the ends. (Note:
there is a picture of the interior of #554 on M2FQ

2003/12/15 In an earlier post,
I noted that the SRRL cabooses and baggage cars typically had 1-3/4"
sheathing inside, and that this caboose probably had the same. After studying
the interior view on M2FQ Photo CD Vol. 1, however, it is clear that the
interior sheathing, roof and benches in this caboose were all made from
5" beaded siding, which looks like 2-1/2" boards. To be more
accurate to the prototype, then, you might want to sheath the interior in
3/16" scribed wood instead of 1/8". For what it's worth - Wes Ewell

is an earlier picture of SR#1about 1905-06 in Two Feet Between the Rails Vol1
page 333.

And for anyone interested, the original B&B excursion

Thanks, Wes

Welcome to the 7/8" list, and thanks for the
additional information. I am planning
to construct our model in general
accordance to your drawing, and those who want
to change the roof overhang or add ladders, etc may
do so when that stage in the project is reached. With
so many building the same car I expect and welcome
"personalization" of the cars. I also will include
the diagonal end siding as it will be a challenge
and will give the car a unique appearance. We
will begin soon. Steve

Caboose building - part 1

Thanks for your interest and support.

Basically we will be able to build the car body with standard materials which are
available from Micro Mark, or a good hobby shop if you have one nearby. There
are not many hardware parts on the car, but we shall see what we can make from
materials readily available, or alternately from Ozark Miniatures 7/8"
parts line. As mentioned before, the trucks are the common bolster type
that I carry. I plan on offering a pair of trucks to bona fide builders at
a discount.

I will also try to keep copies of the instruction emails and pictures, which can
be made available to late comers or to those who miss a step.

View groups progress at Yahoo

Steve King

Caboose building - part 2

Before we begin, I want to thank Wes Ewell
for sharing his prototype data on this car. Wes loaned me a partial, unpublished
plan of the car, based upon his knowledge and input from Maine expert Gary
Kohler and other sources. (Wes has
revised some of his initial assumptions upon re-examining information to prepare
this project.)

Since this is more complicated than our earlier online project, I am redrawing
the car on CAD using Wes' plan as a guide, but making changes that are
consistent with 7/8" scale carbuilding as I have practiced it. Also on the
CAD I can check the fit of the parts and hopefully will spot errors before I
have everyone else duplicate them :-| The finished car should be a fair
representation of the prototype, but there will be differences, particularly in
adjusting to our common materials...and we want it to be FUN, and not to
frustrating, even for the newer builders in the group.

As Wes Ewell explains, this car was built by Ranlet (Laconia) as one of the
original Billerica and Bedford open excursion cars. It later came to the
Franklin & Megantic, and was modified several times apparently. The roof was
raised from the original car and it either did or did not have a cupola at
different times.

The construction of this car was much lighter than the later Maine two foot
equipment, but that works in our favor with the model as the actual wood sizes
are very close to standard dimensional stripwood.

More later,


Caboose builders - part 3

Ok we are about to gather up some of the materials and tools we will need, and cover some computer related
issues. I want everyone to know also that I have not yet built this car, and am actually flying blind, as
all the planning and construction has not yet been done. But that's part of the fun - railway car
construction in real time...almost.

I am going to try posting some of the CAD drawings as .bmp or .jpg picture files. That means those who
don't have CAD can at least see the drawing and the dimensions. I prefer to post any drawings or pics with
the email as an attachment, so you will have to set your preferences to receive all emails from the group.

The easy way to clear this stuff from your inbox, is to save the text using the yahoo "printable view"
selection and save to a document file as a .txt. With pics or drawings, set up a file on your HD and right
click the pic to save it. I think that should be within the capabilities of most here, given the
different types of ISP's used. I can also send .dwg or .dxf attachments for those with CAD.

Anyone having problems with receiving pics, or wanting CAD files, etc., please contact me off list so we
don't clutter up the list with technical issue emails. I'll work with you individually to solve any problems
of that sort.

Initial tools needed:

Several large sheets of paper, brown paper will work,
needs to be approx. 30" (76 cm) X 18" (46 cm)

A ruler at least 24" (60 cm) preferably metal

A caliper (dial or digital)

sharp pencil (duh)

Wood glue such as Elmer's carpenter glue

Dremel tool with various drill bits

Fine toothed razor saw

sanding materials: sandpaper, wood block

A small square

Small hammer

Small nails, wire nails about 20 gauge x 1/2 or 3/4 lg.

Razor knife or hobby knife

various small clamps

I'll think of some more later.

I will try to give a material list next time to cover most of the car construction, especially for those
having to order their wood by mail.


Caboose builders- part 4

Beginning construction

The frame and platforms are constructed entirely of 1/4" x 1/2" stripwood. If you are buying wood, the
typical length is 24", so that will be fine as in this

car there are no pieces longer than that.

Metric: can you get .50 cm x 1.0 cm x 60 cm wood? - that is about .46" x .92", and you can adjust the
drawings that will follow.

For experienced car builders, yes this is smaller than the sills we normally use in 7/8" scale , but going by
Crittenden's drawing for the B&B cars, these sizes are nearly dead on.

Fit and finish: I think many of the newer builders will get a great looking car, as well as the more
experienced ones. We will take particular care to getting parts to fit properly especially in the early
going. Corners need to be square, and dimensions need to be adhered to within about .010". That may sound
difficult but remember the carpenter's old adage "measure three times and cut once".

The car will be built in a modified board by board fashion, which seems involved but really adds to the
fun. The walls will have sills and studs (simplified) and you may sheath outside only or both inside and
out. There will be may opportunities to personalize your car so it doesn't look like all the others, if

that is your wish. One reason that I prefer to do board by board, is that the construction is more stable. Using sides of
plywood or sheet sheathing invariably has problems with warping, etc.

Initial Materials:

You will need strips of 1/4 x 1/2 wood, and 1/8 x 1/2 (.3 cm x 1.0 cm). Floor boards will not be applied at
this stage but for floor, siding, and roof we will use 1/16" x 3" x 24" (.16 cm x 7.6 cm x 60 cm) scribed
sheathing. If you are buying wood, you will need 16 sheets. Get it with 1/4" spacing, though we will be
slitting some of the sheet wood to make individual strips. I find it is much less expensive to slit
strips from these sheets than to pay 75 cents for each tiny 1/4" wide piece. Slitting can be done with a
knife or a hobby table saw if you have one. I would not use a table saw for this operation.
Those cutting their own wood are not likely to be able to get a consistent 1/16" thick, but if you can get to
about .094" (3/32) it will suffice, though you will have to make a few adjustments.

The wall framing is 3/16" x 1/4" x 24" stripwood. (.48 cm x .64 cm x 60 cm)

So we are looking at:

10 1/4 x 1/2 x 24

2 1/8 x 1/2 x 24

16 1/16 x 3 x 24 1/4" scribed sheathing (allowing for waste and inside walls sheathing)

16 3/16 x 1/4 x 24

wire nails 18 or 20 ga x 3/4"

glazing material .030" clear plastic

Wes Ewell provided the following dimensional
sizes for anyone who maybe building in different scales.

Exterior siding and floorboards are 3" and
interior sheathing, roof and benches in this caboose were all made from
5" beaded siding, which looks like 2-1/2" boards (revised

Floor timbers on this model are only 3"x 6", with a single
2"x 6" down the middle.

suggestion from Bill Cooke - Northeastern
Scale Lumber produces a "bead and board" scribed sheet which might
be just the ticket. I used this on a dollhouse for wainscoting once, and a
quick check shows the size to be very close to these dimensions (a little
over since its 1/12 scale). Should be available from the larger
dollhouse supply shops (Oakridge Hobby etc.).

Follow up to e-mail questions

I anticipate slitting a good deal of the
scribed sheets. I may
have said it was 3" long. I meant to say that
we will be using standard sheets that are 3" wide x
24" long. The grain goes long ways. If some of you have
1/16" scribed sheets with narrow scribing left over
from other scales, etc, we can use that up. We'll just
turn it over and use the plain side. As
to the number of sheets which will be used whole (un-slitted)
probably the inside wall sheathing, and the
roof covering. That could run about 6 sheets. I am
uncertain about the ends as they are uniquely diagonally
sheathed (won't that be an eye catcher!) and to
match the sides we'll do that board by board most likely.
However, anyone who wishes may side their car
using uncut scribed sheets
(saves time, less fiddly) Either way
will look fine, and I'll get into all the details later.

As far as types of wood I will use basswood and
pine. Store
bought wood would be basswood. Balsa could be used
if you are building for display and just want to get
a feel for 7/8" scale. Balsa can be distressed easily for a weathered
look but IMO does not have the strength to withstand handling on an outdoor
railroad. (Another post also recommended popular for durability)

Also there is always that old
standby...cardboard! Don't
laugh...Thin cardstock could be laminated into 1/16"
thickness for boards, etc. However I think most will
prefer to work in basswood. Since
we have a following of a wide range of geography and
experience, I plan on limiting the commercial components
as much as possible, and use materials that can
be acquired easily.

Steve K.

Caboose builders - part 5

Regarding trucks for the model, I plan on offering common bolster trucks to
all those building the model. With the possibility of 20-plus modelers
building the car, I am having to increase my inventory of the trucks, as I do
not have that many sets in stock at present. To get the special discount
(on one set) of trucks that I will be offering to caboose project builders, I will advise when the
special truck sets are ready, and the offer will have a limited time frame.

Our passenger truck leaf springs were made to fit the common bolster trucks
also. The trucks to be provided will be a special version of the common
bolster with leaf springs and matching spring planks. There are still some
details to work out on this. I expect to have trucks ready in 4-6 weeks.

For couplers, I have a Maine-scale sized link and pin, which is the original
coupler on the car. I will have a special price on these when ordered with the
trucks. Others may use couplers of their choice (Kadee 830 comes to mind)
Visit Steve's website for
more pictures.

Paul Stump's unbiased and unsolicited testimonial about
Steve's trucks.

Hello all,

I have some of the caboose trucks ready now.
This is a

special product that is made from the common bolster

truck kit and some parts from the passenger truck

I am making a special offer to those building

caboose for one pair of trucks at a discount. This

offer will only be for truck orders received in my

hands by April 1, 2004. Any additional trucks may be

had at the regular price. I am also offering the

caboose trucks with or without the truck mounted


The only trucks that are shipping now are those

without the brakes. I have been having problems with

my laser cutting supplier for steel parts, (they

doubled and quadrupled some of my costs!) so the

brakes will be delayed for another 3 weeks. I will

ship brake parts later at no additional shipping cost

if you want to get the rest of the truck kit now.

Part number: 20012BR caboose truck w/ brakes

$4.00 S&H. (Price after 4/1/04: $76.00)

Part number: 20012 caboose truck with no

$57.00+ $4.00 S&H.

Outside the US shipping will be at actual cost.

I accept Paypal to my seven8n2@yahoo.com
address, or

heck/M.O. to 54 Claybrook Rd Rocky Mount, VA


I realize that this is a bit confusing, so if
you have

any questions feel free to contact
me off line.

If you are an owner of previous version of this

I can offer conversion parts, leaf springs etc.

on special request.

Part numbers & costs for additional caboose parts:

78029 cored brass turnbuckles $ 2.75 /pr.

12600 white metal link & pin coupler

w/draft gear $ 7.00 / pr.

12505 Metal bolster set $ 4.00

51005 11" steel brake wheel

w/ratchet & pawl (2 ea) $ 3.50

Shipping for the above if sent separately $3.00

no additional shipping if shipped with trucks.

That's all the parts I have. Ozark has end railing

castings, but I'm planning on showing how to scratch

build them. Also I am not using the metal bolsters on

my car, but some may wish to add them.


Steve King

7/8n2 SR&RL Caboose #554 Winter 2004
Car Building Project

Caboose builders - part 2
- the frame

We will get started on the car frame. As mentioned before all parts of the frame
will be made from 1/4" x 1/2" wood. Historically this car had a light
frame timbers, about 6" high at the sills, which scales to .44". For
simplicity sake this will be rounded to .50". Another interesting feature
of the Billerica and Bedford car frames built by Ranlet, was that they had a
single center sill, not the double sill we are used to. Since these features are
not generally visible we will cheat a bit and do a double center sill. My reason
for doing this is to provide a place to hide a 1/4" x 1/4" x 12"
piece of steel keystock (hardware store item) to add some weight to the car. A
piece of 1/4" round bar could also be used. Attached CAD drawing is a .dxf
file which is used by guys with drafting software (right click to download dxf
file). This shows the basic layout
of the car frame. Thanks to Ferd Mels who translated Steve's drawing into
a black/red lines for the JPEG.

(right click to download jpeg

For those not used to running 7/8n2 rolling stock on a track, note that I
generally move the intermediate sills to the outside a bit, and keep the center
sills as close to the center as possible. Since a proper 2 foot gauge car has
the wheels well up into the sill area, this allows us to take some tighter
curves without having to grind away parts of the sills later on. So that's why
the frame is done as it is.

The car frame does not include the end platforms. The end platforms are held to
the car frame by 4-40 screws. Since the basic car frame is equal to the B&B
rame shown in Crittenden's drawing, I presume the platforms were an add-on, and
we will treat it as such on the model. It's a fun exercise to go thru and allows
you to build and detail the platform off of the car.

Frame sills: (1/4 x 1/2 unless noted)

Cut 6 pieces 20.25" long. If you cut
these together, the can be bundled with masking tape to get all exactly same

Cut 4 pieces 5.38" long (2 are for the platform)

Cut 2 pieces 3.0" long (center sill spacers

Cut 8 pieces .75" long blocking

The last 4 blocks are approx 1.06" long, but cut these to fit snug at the
time of installation.

If you are using a paper pattern, draw a rectangle 20.75" x 5.38"
(52.7 x 13.7 cm). Draw a centerline long ways. Find the car frame center and lay
out parallel lines across the frame 4.33" and 15.18" on the car

While we're cutting let's also do the platform pieces:

8 pieces 1.60"

2 pieces 3.63"

4 pieces 1.85"

all 1/4 x 1/2 stock

and 2 pieces 1/8 x 1/2 x 5.38"

On the following parts: (2) 5.38" L, (2) 3.63" L, lay out and drill
two 7/64" holes (.109") on 2" (5.1 cm) centers. These will be for
the screws which will attach the platform to the car body.

We are using some spacer blocks glued to the end sills to form with a squared
and sturdy frame. Using a scrap piece of 1/4 thick stock, space and glue one
.75" long block on each end of one side of two of the 5.38" long end
sills. The block is set in 1/4" from the end. Let glue set.

Assemble/glue the two center sills with 3" long blocks at each end. When
laminating beams such as this use a small wood block or square to keep the ends
nice and even. Glue four each of the 1.60 long pieces side by side to make a 1" wide
coupler block (this is big enough to mount a Kadee 830)

Each of these sub assemblies can be laid aside to dry. You may wish to
clamp some of these but watch that the clamp does not disturb the alignment of
the pieces. This happens to me all the time, as the glue joint is slightly
slippery until the resin starts to set. I am using carpenter's wood glue
(aliphatic resin) here.

Continue on gluing the two platform side beams (1.85" long) to the inner
beam (3.63" long). Note that the side beams go outside the end beam. Keep
your square handy during this step, check and re-check squareness.

Now we go back to the end sills. I don't trust glue alone, so we'll add some
small 3/4" brads to the end sill joints. The holes in the end sill must be
pre-drilled, about #60 (.035") drill 1/8" in from the ends of the end
sills so that your nails will hit the center of the side sills. **If you can't
find small nails, short pieces of stiff wire, or even cut-off sewing pins can be
used** I also drill part ways into the side sill to avoid splitting. If some
folks are using hardwood the holes need to be completely drilled. Now you can
add glue to the end sill-outer side sill connection, fit up the boards and with
the parts on an flat surface drive the nail. Do this for all 4 corners and you
have a rectangle of the frame. At this point check all corners for square,
AND check that the unit lays very flat on the table. We don't want any high
corners. Assembling the frame over the drawing (cover with wax paper or sheet of
clear plastic) will help, but check measurements and squareness regardless.

Note on the drawing a .063" gap between the frame and platforms. This is to
allow for the siding on the cabin ends, which will come later.

At this point you can easily add the intermediate sills by gluing and nailing
(optional) using the inside of those small blocks as spacing guides. Check again
for square and flatness. Lastly, find the center of the end sills and make a
mark, and glue in the triple center beam. If you are satisfied with the fit, set
the frame aside to let the glue set. If by some chance some of your sills are
too long, sand the ends to fit. If they are too short, don't despair, slip a
small chip of paper or cardstock in the gap and glue it, any excess can be
trimmed later.

Moving back to the platform. We will be laminating a 1/4" and 1/8"
piece to get 3/8" wide end beam. This will be sanded later to rounded and
tapered ends. Do not laminate yet, but first take the 1/4 x 1/2 x 5.38"
platform end beams and center them on the side of the platform opposite the
inboard end, and glue to the side rails. When this glue has set drill and pin
all four corners. Make sure that the nail heads on the end beam are flush with
the surface, so when we laminate the 1/8" outer end beam, it will not have
a gap. Do this and the platform frame is complete.

On the car frame, mark the truck centers. They are 2.79" from the ends of
the frame, and 15.18" between each other. Check measurements both ways. You
may also mark for the inside edges (4.33" on the car center) of the needle
beams (for truss rods) though they will not be installed for a while.

Now install blocking across the truck center lines. These blocks are laid
flat and flush with the bottom of the sills. Start with the four .75" long
blocks and finally cut-to-fit the longer blocks. Watch that the side sills don't
get sprung out by the blocks being too long. Recheck the width measurement.

That's about all for now...let me run ahead a bit on my pilot model.



I think this photo of Paul Stump's method of keeping everything square will be
of interest to most builders

Caboose builders - part 7
- the floor

Now it is time to begin slitting floor boards, if
you are planning on using individual planks. (not required if you will use full
scribed sheets.) Cut all floor boards .22" (scale 3 inches) wide from
1/16" sheet. Cabin floor boards are 5.38" long except they will be
longer for the approx 3.25" door opening. Platform deck boards are about
4.18" (allowing a bit of overhang on the ends.) Begin gluing your floor
boards. On the platforms do not
put flooring over the outer end beam. When using individual boards that you have
slit or cut on a hobby saw, it helps to round the top edges by scraping with a
razor knife as you install the boards. This improves the board-by-board
appearance. If you are really adding detail, nail marks may be added. See
Paul Stumps hint at end of section.

If you wish to use sheets of scribed wood for the
floor and sides, I strongly recommend that the scribed lines be
"enhanced" In models of this size, the factory scribed lines are less
noticeable, so they should be widened and rounded slightly...try dragging the
point of an awl or scriber, or the point or edge of a small file, along the
scribed lines until you are satisfied with the result.

As Wes as suggested, I plan on using horizontal
1/8" scribed siding on the inside walls, and that may be used as
manufactured. see
revision to Wes's initial notes on interior

Another note on scribed wood sheeting...when
attaching to floors, sides, etc., it is best to work flat and clamp the parts
until the glue is dry. If scribed sheets are not glued well they can buckle
later on, as they tend to absorb moisture easily. Before we finish the car, I
will recommend that most of the parts be sealed with shellac or satin urethane
varnish. However this step cannot be done as long as there are other parts to
glue on, because the glue sticks poorly to varnished parts. Steve K.

Question of floor answered by Wes

I too wonder why the flooring would be longer at the side doors. My

interpretation of this caboose structure is that the flooring
extended across the frame members under the walls. The exterior
sheathing under the door openings then extended up to cover the ends
of the floorboards, and the siding was then capped with a threshold
that also sealed the bottom of the sliding door. The doors were
centered on this car. Most cabooses and passenger cars had two
layers of flooring, with the upper layer running either lengthwise
or diagonal. This car was originally a B&B excursion car, which
appears to have had only one layer of flooring, probably 1-1/2 to 2
inches thick.

Paul Stump hint on
highlighting floor boards

I wanted to suggest a way to darken your
scribed sheet floor cracks using a 0.7mm Pentel lead pencil. Pic attached,
also in my Files section.

Caboose builders - part 8
- roof ribs

We can get started making roof ribs, as this will
take a some time, although not all at once. We will be forming 3 ply ribs over a
curved wooden block, as we did with the 12 ft. boxcar project. The radius of the
block is fairly critical, and is slightly under the actual dimension, as I have
found that ribs made in this manner tend to spring back slightly, so we are
taking that into account on our forming tool. You will need a supply of 8"
long (20 cm) 1/16" x 3/16" stripwood. I slit mine from sheets. These
are over length to get a clean roof curve and allow for clamping. Also it would
be helpful to have spring clamps as shown in the pic. Ribs made in this manner
are surprisingly strong and keep their shape, and they are near prototype in

I figure on using 15 ribs on the car and probably
2-3 on the cupola, so we will set up to make 18, which calls for 54 strips of
wood. This operation is not difficult but I allow at least 8-12 hours for a good
cure for the glue before removing the rib from the form. That's why it takes a
while to make 18. This is a 3 minute job you can do a couple of times a day,
then go on to something else.

Make the form from a piece of 3/4" pine. Cut
and sand the correct radius. I'd draw it out on a sheet of paper first and glue
it to the board. The notches at each end keep the clamp from sliding off.

When you're ready, put a bead of glue on 2 of
three strips and line them up with your fingers clamp at one end, then the
other. Make sure there is good contact all along the arc. If the wood pieces
slide a bit out of line (and they will..) unclamp one end at a time and line
them up again. Wipe off excess glue from the sides, and careful not to glue the
rib to the form. If this is a problem, apply a piece of masking tape to the form
first. Download 1:1
of Steve's rib jig by supplied Paul Stump

As the ribs come off the form check to see that
they are fairly equal in curvature. They should be within .030". We will
trim them later. If you make a really bad one, try breaking it once dry and
you'll see how strong they are.

Have fun! Steve K.

From Wes Ewell 2003/12/18

Steve's method for forming roof ribs is
brilliant, and a lot easier than
it looks. Here are some techniques I used that may be helpful:

I cut the form very carefully at the
top and ends where the is clamped,
but sanded the area in between a bit flat. That
way the stripwood can form a natural curve without influence from
inaccuracies in the form.
After finish sanding the
form, I covered the top surface with Scotch tape to keep any excess glue
from sticking to the wood. It works
great - the dried glue peels right off.
Instead of using 3/16" wide
strips, I used 1/16" x 1/8" stripwood.
The prototype roof ribs were quite narrow, probably about 1-1/2"
to 1-3/4".
After the ribs are dry, I sand them
to smooth out any differences in
the plies. I lay them on a sheet of sandpaper to keep them from sliding
around, then sand them with a sanding block. After sanding you
can't tell they are built-up.
Before taking the dried ribs off the
form, I mark them with a pencil
to show approximately where they will be cut and which direction
they were on the form, so they will all be the same in case my
form is not perfectly symmetrical.
I use Irwin 1-1/2" Quick-Grip
clamps instead of spring clamps to hold
the wood strips in place. That way I can control the clamping pressure
and avoid crushing the wood.

For what it's worth - Wes Ewell

7/8n2 SR&RL Caboose #554 Winter 2004
Car Building Project

Part 9 : side framing

elevation bmp
jpeg dxf drawings
(right click to download)
framing pdf
bmp jpeg
drawings (right click to

Drawing to be replaced with corrected

Update 2003/12/15 from Wes Ewell.
Today I laid out the roof ribs based upon the spacing in the original B&B
excursion car drawings published by the Railroad Gazette in 1879. There were
16 ribs (with 15 spaces) between the end walls. The caboose would have
two more ribs for the end platform overhangs. The interior photo looks right
for this layout. Based upon this layout, and subsequent review of the photos,
I think the cupola shown on my drawing is too long. It should be 60"
instead of 69". That would place the ends directly over roof ribs, which
makes more sense. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this
error may have caused anyone. This is one of the reasons why I never published
this drawing. -Wes Ewell Note from editor of this document, Wes no
apologies required, appreciate the effort and material you are providing
for this project.

Question from Ron Knepp re: if building cupola

The drawing for the later caboose also shows a

copula seat on one

side only with no windows on that side. Would there

have been two windows on the other side from the seat? It would

seem that the

windows would have been broken if the conductors

feet would have been

part way down the window.
Any ideas of interior color?

Steve's answer :

You are correct, if you are doing a
cupola, omit the windows under the "seat". The seat side will
have only 3 windows, all on the other end. Wall framing
remains the same regardless as it will permit any
window arrangement. Both ends are the same,
no offset.
As for interior color, the MaineOn2FAQ
has the answer. A
very good approximation of the light green used inside engine cabs and cabooses
on the Maine two-footers is Polly Scale No. 505254 Br. Sky (Type S).
Wesley J. Ewell

Hello all,

Now we are ready to frame the sides and ends of
the car. This car is
ideal for easy construction since all
four side wall sections are identical as far as the
framing is concerned. We will frame all sections with
three windows and simply cover up those we don't need.
Once the basic framing is done, we can apply and trim
out the inside horizontal sheathing, and then the
ends both inside and out before mounting them on the
car. I will assume that most will have the inner walls
on their model, and that they will be using 1/16"
thick scribed sheathing with 1/8" boards.

this horizontally really strengthens the sides. I
am suggesting another Dave Cummins trick in making a window
"plug" from scrap 1/16" sheet and glue a small block
to handle it with. You can set this in the window
openings as you glue the framework and it keeps all
the windows as exact as you will need. So,
the car walls consist of six sub assemblies: four half-sides,
and two ends. All the framing is done with
3/16" x 1/4" stripwood. You will need two of the roof
ribs to make the tops of the ends. The wall frames
are 3/16" thick plus 1/16" inside and 1/16" outside
boards for a total thickness of about .313".

This is in line with Maine car building practice.
It is surprising that
many of the framing members of these
cars were less than todays' 2x4. Typical was
2.75" x 2" or so, but they
used hardwood, and held it together
with long iron tie bolts. Once
we get all our framing done it will be completely covered
by the inner and outer sheathing, and one could
argue that we could have used wall core of 3/16 or
1/4 plywood, but occasionally I like building a framed
wall. It's the sort of thing that you can say "been
there-done that" and then build your next car the
quicker way.

Note that the drawing calls for each side section
to be 8.77" long.
I made mine 8.75", to allow a bit of extra
space at the center door opening, which
can always be shimmed
out later on. Start
on the sides, we'll address the ends next time.

Here are the drawings
bmp jpeg
more pics will follow. It's gonna
snow here again tomorrow so we need to keep our winter
project going, because the outdoor railroad season
is pretty much over here as in other places. However
I am hoping for a chance to take some snow shots.

Paul Stumps clamping set-up for the side framing.

Paul's 1:1 pdf templates side
wall, end

Part 10: side & end

Hello all,

Sides: When constructing the sides, check
squareness of the
components as they go together. The key here is
to get all the vertical studs the same length. Between
each window opening is a double stud which can be
pre-glued. Note also that the 1/4" side of the wood is
laid flat. Use a scrap of 3/16" wide stock to space
the top of each window frame from the top wall sill.
When the side framings are complete,
construct the end frames. Note that
one of the 3/16" wide ribs will form the
top of the end wall. Trim the rib so that there is about
.25" overhang on the ends, which will allow the end
of the rib to match the others that will rest on top
of the car sides. Note the door "plug" in the pic.
Photos show application of the inside
sheathing. At this time
arrange your side sections so that they will end
up correct when you install them on the platform.

might mark an "A" and a "B" end and inside/outside.
As in the pic, leave a 1/4"
unsheathed at the ends of the
inside walls. This is where the end wall fits. Glue
and clamp horizontal sheathing. It may be easiest
to sheath right over the window openings and trim
the holes after the glue cures. I used up some shorter
pieces of sheathing so my walls have some joints
in them. The blocks at each end anchor the sheathing

pics of the end show the framing and the inside sheathing
already applied, and the diagonal siding being
applied. OOPS, I placed my diagonals in the wrong
direction...will anyone notice? To be more correct,
do yours running the other way. I used individual
boards, .22" wide x 1/16". IMPORTANT: make sure
there is a full 1/4" extra of the siding extending
left and right and a full 1/2" at the bottom.
The end sheathing will run over the ends of the
side walls and the end of the platform frame. Trim
to these dimensions after glue has cured. I also let
the sheathing run over the top rib and trimmed afterwards.

Regarding Wes' observations on ribs, you will
still need a pair of
3/16" ribs for the ends even if you use 1/8"
elsewhere. Sanding them to get correct width matching
the end framing is essential. This
is getting a bit complicated - any questions? Regards,

7/8n2 SR&RL Caboose #554 Winter 2004
Car Building Project

Caboose Building
Part 4 : attaching car sides to platform

Hello all,

Now we are ready to mount the car sides and ends
to the platform. There
are several photos here to show
details. Mount the sides
first. Drill and nail thru the
bottom wall sill into the platform
sill. I used NO glue here in
case I goofed up and wanted to remount the
side. Note that the end is about
3/16" higher at the
corner than the side. This space will be
taken up by the top side

Make sure your sides are square and the door
opening is per the
drawing. It's OK if the opening is a bit
larger as we can shim it out, but it
should not be smaller. If it
is too small, you may sand or cut some off
the upright at the door frame.

Note that the end sheathing will be trimmed
to be even with
the side sheathing (not the framing) Once the sides
are in place
the ends are glued and
pinned. I pinned mine thru the
corner side wall stud, with a small
nail with the head cut off and pushed in flush. Again
you might want to spare the glue so you can "work"
the parts into place. On
my pics the inside sheathing is not all there, but the
inside should be sheathed before installing the walls.

you are satisfied with the wall alignment, add a 1/8"
x 1/4" stringer along the top of the side wall, tying
the two sections together. I drilled
and pinned (with glue) down
thru the vertical wall studs at several
locations. Use no-head pins again. Important...the
1/4" top stringer in flush to the
inside and sticks out 1/16" on
the outside of the wall.
You will butt the wall sheathing against it.

The pics show sheathing
the sides with individual boards
.22" wide x 1/16" thick. I sheathed "rough " around
the windows and cut/filed/sanded
the opening after the glue has
set. Note that over the window I simply
used a wide piece of scrap sheathing. This will
be hidden under the
fascia. If you are using individual
boards, the appearance is improved if each board
gets the edges chamfered a bit. That makes for a
more of a marked separation between boards.

If you are
using scribed 3" wide sheathing I also recommend enhancing
the scribe marks before you apply the siding.
Using scribed sheathing, take special care to put
some extra clamping where the joint is between the sections.
Scribed sheathing has a tendency to curl concave
to the scribed surface, so we don't want our joints
to "pop" or be raised. I would place a piece of
scotch tape along the joint, then clamp a wood strip
over it.

You all have nearly caught up to me, so I need to
get my roof
started...Cheers, Steve

Hello all, This
is to answer questions of individual builders, but
others may have the same situation.

Those using individual siding boards will
invariably have an uneven board somewhere in on the
sides. In my case I also noticed that it was
impossible to get all the boards perfectly parallel
so I have to jigger them around like puzzle pieces
to keep the edges basically vertical. If
you start at one end of the side sections and work straight
to the other end there may be the odd width board at
the door opening...not a problem. I would recommend
starting with full width boards at the center (door
opening) of each side section, and also from the
opposite end, and let them meet under one of the
windows with the odd space. I think that is least noticeable.
I also boarded around the window opening allowing
full-width boards to overlap the window opening then
cutting and filing out the unneeded part of the
boards. Regardless of your method, when you get
done, the inside and outside sheathing of the sides
should be flush with the center door rough framing.
We will add trim or spacers here later.

For those that are running ahead of me, I
will post instructions on making the side
windows and end doors,
as this is a fiddly job that will keep you busy until
I catch up. The windows will be fixed, non-sliding, and
the end doors may be openable or fixed-your choice.
Anyone needing detail photos of these areas please advise
what you would like to see. Cheers, Steve

7/8n2 SR&RL Caboose #554 Winter 2004
Car Building Project

Part 5 - Windows

Hello all,

Let's get started on windows. Depending on which
version of the car you are making you could have 8
or 10 windows. For glazing I suggest thin
clear plastic sheet, acrylic or polycarbonate
in thickness from .020" to .060"
depending on what you can find easily. You
will need about 9" x 12" of the material including
the doors and cupola windows later on.

There are many different methods of making
windows and you are free to use your favorite
method. I find that it is easiest to make a
rectangular inner and outer window sash frame
then glue it to the glazing. I have not had
much luck with CAA type adhesives in gluing cardboard
or wood to plastic sheet, so I use 5 minute epoxy
so that my windows don't delaminate later on. If
you have any concerns on adhesives, try a test piece
first. Perhaps someone will know a better glue
and share it with the group.
Using epoxy is a fiddly job as you have to
make sure not to get any on the actual window
'cause it makes a mess. It is worth masking
the glazing both sides with masking tape to keep
them clean before gluing.

The rough window openings are 1.50" wide and
2.56" high. If yours turned out slightly
different then you will have to vary the
dimensions to suit. Use 3/8" wide wood
strips on the sill and sides of the window opening.
The sill is 3/32" (.093") thick and the frame
sides are 1/16" (.063"). It's important to note here
that the wall is 5/16" (.313") thick, so the window
framing strips will be flush with the inside wall
of the cabin and stick out about 1/16" on the outside.
You may wish also to chamfer the outside edge
of the sill just a bit.

The drawing
(jpeg bmp
dxf) shows wood
dimensions. Frame up the window openings
first with the sill: 3/32" x 3/8" x 1/50",
the add the vertical side frames: 1/16" x 3/8" x
2.47". I am not using a frame piece across the top because
the facia board will tie into the vertical side
frame pieces.

Making the windows: Start by cutting your
glazing. The glazing pieces are the size of
the framed window opening, which on the
drawing is 1.375" x 2.47".

Window sashes: My favorite method is
to find some heavy cardboard. In a pinch I
have used the grey chipboard from cereal
boxes, but a better material is "mat
board" used in framing pictures. This is thicker than
chipboard, and can be had in colors. If you have a
picture framing shop nearby perhaps some scraps may be
had cheap. You will need two each frames, one inner and
one outer. Cut them out carefully with an xacto knife.
We are allowing 1/8" on the sides and top and 3/16"
on the bottom. An alternate method is to use individual
pieces of 1/32" thick stripwood. All of the
sash material can be pre-painted... OR you if you have
masks both sides of the plastic, and cut away the masking
around the edges where the sash frames will be glued.
Then after gluing sash frames on both sides, the
assemblies may be painted and the masking removed for
a very neat job.

I usually make my windows (sashes) slightly
oversized (.010 to .020") and then sand
the completed sash to fit each opening so
there are no big gaps. The windows are glued
in-line with the center of the wall (not on
center of the framing strips.)

We have not discussed painting the caboose yet,
but if you have painted the body, and
interior, then do the sashes to match. If you
have not painted anything yet, leave the
masking tape on the windows until the car is finished
and all the paint work is done.

Thanks to Dave Cummins who worked out the doors
and windows back in '01. He and I never did
get on with the project at that time but I am
still using his notes. Cheers,

up from Steve with additional pictures about window framing

and icy here and I spent some time framing out the windows and doors. Pics are
attached for your viewing. The vertical pieces on the
windows and end doors are 1/16" x 3/8", all flush with the inside
wall, and sticking out 1/16" +/- on the outside. the window sills, end door
sills and side door vertical pieces are 3/32" x 3/8". I added a
1/16" x 3/8" sill for the side door, and it is also flush with the
inside wall. Once this piece is in place you can add the little short siding
pieces under the door opening. I cut 'em rough length and trim when glue has

Note the pic of my car interior, where I used
1/2" x 1/16" strips between the windows on the inside. I think it
looks nicer than short sections of horizontal sheeting.

Window operation from Wes Ewell

Anyone considering making the caboose windows
operational should know that the prototype probably didn't have operational
windows. They might have been made to drop down into the wall, but
could not go up, as was usual practice, because the top plate of the
original wall was in the way. The unusually wide fascia board on this
car covered the added height on the wall when the roof was raised.

Window glazing gluing hint from
Dick Williams

Hi Folks: Steve raised a very valid
question about adhesives in the window section that
was just put up. I have built structures and cars
for years ( mostly ON2 and lately in 7/8's) and several years ago
I came across an article by Gordon North about building passenger cars
with a styrene core and laminating wood siding to it using craft glues
(tacky). I obtained some and tried it and worked great. Since then
I have built windows using Steve's method of cutting the glazing material
to size of the opening and gluing the framing on the glazing material
with the tacky glue. This adhesive has several advantages;

It is a white glue - water based; it is
quite tacky and sets fast yet you have plenty of
time to adjust things; it dries clear and is flexible;
it produces a very strong bond between 2 dissimilar materials
- porous and non porous eg: wood/plastic, wood/metal, cardstock/plastic,
cardstock/metal. I use it to attach metal and plastic
detail parts to car under frames (once dry it is a bear to get these
off). In short - good stuff and worth trying for these applications.
There are many brands and they are available in craft shops
or craft sections in the "big boxes". While there also check out
the acrylic paints - Apple Barrel is one brand. I used Floquil/Polly
S exclusively for years then just recently I was introduced
to the craft market and cannot believe the quality of this stuff
and the low price in comparison. Color selection is fantastic and
again there are many brands. These apply well, mix nicely to get just
the right shade and thin well for use as a stain. I have found the
craft stores a real resource for ideas and detail parts.

I have been using something called Instant
Grrrip by Bond industries for several years. Was getting a little thick
(after 6-7 years - 4 oz. bottle) so the last time I was at a Michaels
store, I saw a new product by Elmers called Craft Bond and picked it up.
Works just the same and will probably last just as long. By the way -
these things can be used just like white glues on porous materials also and in
the same vein you must be just as careful with them on sheeting as they are
water base - use clamps and weights until thoroughly dry. There are many
other brands also. Most Walmarts have craft sections in them and I have
noticed 5-6 other brands of craft glues but these are the only 2 I have had
occasion to use. Hope this helps.

After my last reply I was putting the
bottles of glue away and noticed the label of the Elmers product indicating
for porous/semi-porous materials. Did a quick experiment of gluing a piece of
wood (porous) to a piece of acrylic (non porous) with both glues. I knew
that the Bond Grrrip would work and surprise surprise - the Elmers product
failed. Lesson - in buying a craft glue read the label as to what it will do
and look for one like the Bond product that will glue porous to nonporous
materials. Sorry if I have caused problems with the initial
misinformation. Dick Williams

Part 12b - Doors

While we're working with the plastic glazing, we
can build the doors. There are two of each, side and ends. The doors are a
lamination of three layers of stripwood and plastic sheet. The outer layers are
built up from 1/16" stripwood, the odd sizes of which can be made from
scraps of your scribed sheathing. Turn the scribed side inward of course. If you
are printing out the drawings, simply cover them with some waxed paper and build
on top of the plan.

There is some 1/32" thick wood needed for
certain parts of the doors. This to match the .030" thick clear plastic
that I am using. If you use 1/16" thick glazing then the thickness of the
wood should match. Measure your rough openings and figure any adjustments

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