Today I received my Heartland Drovers caboose. So I thought I would share my impressions of it with you. It’s a plastic model, with a very shiny paintjob. The lettering, especially on the letter board, has some bleed to it,. The body is held onto the floor with 3 screws on each side. The screws are very visible, and detract from the appearance of the car. When I repaint the car, I will have to figure out how to disguise them so they aren’t visible.
The windows are frosted, but that helps to hide the fact that there are no interior details, except for a large rectangular protrusion molded on the floor behind the door on the back end of the caboose. Without taking it apart, I suspect it may house the wiring for the marker lamps. The marker lamps do light up, nice touch, but the lenses in them are all red. The interior lights up a bit too, but in daylight it was hard to tell. The end doors open out, and are not spring loaded, so they don’t spring close.
The wheels are the typical Heartland, ribbed backed, metal wheels on plastic axles. I have a few cars with these kind of wheels and they haven’t given me any problems, once I set them to the proper gauge. I put my wheel gauge on the caboose’s wheels and found one set was spot on, 2 sets were tight to the wide side and one set was wide. Actual measurements with a dial caliper showed 1.57, a bit over 1.58 for 2 of them and 1.59 for the widest of them. That may or may not be a problem, but when I run her through the shop, that wheel set will get fixed.
The caboose comes with hook and loop couplers, and I will upgrade it to KaDees when she is run through the shop.
The end ladders are plastic, and they have pins that fit into holes in the end beam and roof. One of the ladders has a definite bend to it. The pins the fit into the holes in the roof are too long for the blind holes they are to fit into. I think if I shorten the pins a bit, the ladder will fit just fine. The ladder hoop extensions are metal, but they are just press fit into holes in the ladder and roof. One of them fell out when I was taking wheel measurements. So they do need to be glued in before they get lost.
The grab irons on the car sides and cupola roof are plastic, but the railings on the car ends and end beam are metal. The brake wheel is plastic, on an unpainted brass staff.
I compared the Heartland caboose to the old Kalamazoo Drovers caboose, and they are the same size. I also compared the Heartland caboose to an Aristo caboose, see the pictures.
This caboose will be a nice addition to my railroad, once I repaint her and fix a few minor things. I also want to put an interior in her and clear glass in the windows. I am not sure if I will change out some of the marker light lenses for green ones or not.