What brought me to this car, modeling Wisconsin prototypes, was fallen-flag Chicago Madison & Northern Railroad's #80. They owned this single example in the late 70's, and Circus City Decals now makes a CM&N set for it. I haven't found any further history of this specific car though.
I found this manufacturer when an internet search turned up a mention in the B&O Historical Society’s website regarding modeling the wagontop cabooses in HO scale. I then visited Spring Mills Depot’s booth at Trainfest in Milwaukee in November 2015.
I have chosen the undecorated kit. There are many decorated versions for the long history with the B&O and C&O.
From the manufacturer's website:
In the 1930’s the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began experimenting with new car designs in an effort to save money and keep their own employees employed. One of the more successful designs, and one that became a signature design for the B&O, was the wagontop design.
In 1935 and 1936, the B&O applied this design to about 7 cabooses and each had its unique traits. These first designs were classified as I-5. In 1941 the B&O applied an improved wagontop design to a new, all steel caboose and it became known as the I-12 wagontop caboose. In all, the B&O had 125 of these cabooses constructed in two separate batches. In 1941 the Keyser, WV shops built 100 I-12s and numbered them 2400 – 2499 and in 1945 the last 25 were built in the same shops and numbered
2800 – 2824.
Throughout the life of this fabulous caboose several changes were made to improve or enhance its function on the railroad. The caboose, in 1941, was constructed with a wooden roof walk, wood sash windows, a slack adjuster, an early style smoke stack, “C” style grab irons on the corners and lanterns. Later in its service it would see the grab irons change to a more “J” shape, the roof walk change to metal, the disappearance of the slack adjuster, the wood sash windows were replaced with sealed windows, the stove changed to an oil burning stove so the addition of an oil fill pipe and the replacement of the smoke stack, the introduction of a toilet vent, toilet tank, battery box, the lanterns changed to an electrical “peep” light and then later in the Chessie years to a more square shaped light, the addition of stimsonite reflectors and lastly vandal screens. Some cabooses were also fitted with a red light added just under the end of the roof running board.
Spring Mills Depot is proud to be able to offer all of these variations on its cabooses and specific to the era and paint scheme as per the prototype.
The packaging consists of a plastic cradle within a cardboard box. The kit is molded in light gray, black, and clear styrene. The plastic responded well to Testors cement for plastic models. The parts consist of a main body shell, a dozen or so styrene detail sprue trees. Plastic trucks with metal wheelsets, steel weight plates, stiff black wire grabs, Kadee #5 couplers, and all necessary screws are included.
There are choices of cupolas (window slides or none), body ends (with square or rounded windows), end rails (earlier or later), smoke jack, side grabs, and roof walk (“wood” in styrene or “steel” in photoetch). The wire grabs and cut levers seem complete per prototype, but require patience and a steady hand to apply with cyanoacrylate cement.
The parts are very well engineered, with strong connections and fantastic fit. For example, the end rails piece attaches along the width of the roof in a curved, angled joint that fit perfectly and glued solid.
There was minimal clean-up needed for styrene flash, and sprue connections were easily managed. The parts breakdown made it easy to paint the body ends and rails separately and apply the windows afterwards. With so many choices, consult your prototype photos often!
The instructions only include an exploded view. The underside is well detailed with very fine plastic brake cables and components, but someone like me with no experience working underneath the prototype wouldn’t know what goes where except to study the exploded view and determine what fits which holes. During construction, I had several components left over that I just couldn’t identify to place correctly, but what I have is sufficient underbody detail for me. There are brake connection chains that extend over the end, up to the brake wheel, and care must be taken during construction not to lay the subassembly on this delicate detail. This detail also extended into the path of the trucks, so I cut these short of the wheel swing, to allow free movement during operation.
This kit used every bit of my skill as a modeler, and it is not appropriate for new modelers. Likewise, the higher price is appropriate for the quality and detail incorporated into this kit.