Heralding the "Hack"Atlas
has re-released another group of their popular Trainmaster NE-6 Caboose
in N and has kindly provided us with this colorful patriotic Bicentennial scheme of the Monongahela
Railroad, item 50 002 517
. This run features new road numbers and one new paint scheme: Monongahela Bicentennial
. These Trainmaster "hacks" (slang for a a caboose) are offered in two body styles, the New Haven style and the Nickel Plate style.
This Atlas N scale model is based upon a standard caboose design of the International Car Company of Kenton, Ohio that was used in the 1940s. It is typically associated with the New Haven Railroad but this body style was in fact used by other rail lines as well. The cabooses showed real longevity and were found in operation well into the diesel era. - Atlas
Monongahela's Bicentennial caboose, No. 64, served into at least October 1990.
I have read that NE stood for North Eastern
. I have also read that NE was the AAR code for caboose and that "North East" is a model railroader misunderstanding. Regardless, the NE caboose was an all-metal design by the International Car Company of Kenton, Ohio. The -6 was a standard that entered service in 1947-48. It is typically associated with the New Haven Railroad but this body style was in fact used by other railroads as well. The cabooses showed great longevity and were found in operation well into the diesel era.
Length over Strikers 34' 0"
Carbody Length 27' 4"
Truck Centers 18' 10"
Carbody Width 9' 5"
Carbody Height 11' 6"
Cupola Height 13' 10"
Typical Weight 47000
Sources : Field measurements of Walt Gosciminski's NH 705
NE-6 cabeese have five steel panels separated by four vertical ribs on each carbody side.
Master Line NE-6
Atlas' NE-6 is a sharp looking model with excellent molding. The windows are clear without distortion.
Molding is crisp. The car body features the five riveted panels per side and a steel roof with raised rectangular panels. Small diameter components like chains and brake gear are reasonable thin.
The car is pulled with knuckle couplers but ride on plastic wheels. They are dirty-rail brown. Atlas promotes these features:
Finely detailed end rails, smokestack and ladders
Weights and measures and performance
Brake line detail
Friction-bearing or roller-bearing caboose trucks as appropriate
Factory-equipped with AccuMate® couplers
Accurate painting and printing
Railroad specific features
Two different body styles:
New Haven Body Style: windows spaced closer to the cupola
Nickel Plate Body Style: windows spaced further from the cupola
This model weighs 9/10 oz, within NMRA RP-20. I measured the model at 34 feet from striker plate to striker plate. It is 39.5 feet from coupler to coupler.
An easy nudge across Atlas code 80 track sent the caboose freely rolling through an Atlas turnout with no problems.
This model features good detail for the scale. Starting from the top, a closed rectangle of hand rail runs around the cupola edges. A well molded open grid running board spans the roof from the ends to the cupola.
Fine rivet detail runs along the edges of the roof and side panels.
Down on the body, the sides have fine rivets along the edges of each panel. Shallow tabs along the otherwise straight sill hide the crossbeams. Minuscule bolt detail is molded next to the end grabs.
The ends have no detail except for the open windows and a molded door. However, the end platforms feature fine and sharply molded diamond tread decking on each of the decks. Those steps are also molded with gaps in the backs. That treading looks so good that it is hard to complain that the decking is not molded open. Photo-etch would solve that but for a RTR injection-molded model, making them open would no doubt make the model very fragile, and expensive. The each end platform is completed with a nicely formed part featuring end rails, 5-rung ladder, hand brake stand, and safety chains guarding the aisle between the brake stand and ladder. The ladder and end parts are molded in a flexible plastic and one end is pushed in slightly.
Underneath the caboose is an air brake system and re-railing frogs. The AB includes hangers and rods, which are molded hanging down from the frame, which greatly enhances the trackside-view of this N caboose. Otherwise the AB system is molded on.
Plastic wheels rest within Barber-Bettendorf Swing Motion caboose trucks.
Atlas' NE-6 caboose offers good detail for N scale. If one is a Monongahela purist, then this model No. 64 lacks the prototype's "opossum belly" (tool box). I also found no photos of it with the re-railers.
This colorful Monongahela Bicentennial sample is sharply printed with smooth, opaque paint that doesn't cover detail. I can even read WATCH YOUR STEP and the body number on each end. I have yet to be anything other than enthusiastically amazed by Atlas' paint and printing. This release of the HO NE-6 caboose offers seven railroads, including a new scheme:
Family Lines (CCR)* (Red/White/Black)
New Haven (Red/White/Black)
Norfolk & Western (Red/White/Black)
Penn Central (Green/White)
New Paint Scheme
Monongahela Bicentennial (Red/White/Blue)
All of the cabooses have two road numbers except for this Monongahela.
Atlas offers undecorated cabooses in both body styles.
Atlas' NE-6 caboose is a very detailed and sharply molded model. Molding is first-rate. It looks good even without the optional separate parts attached. The model scales and weighs out precisely.
I think that this N Monongahela Bicentennial caboose will look great on any N layout. Recommended.
The Monongahela Railroad, incorporated on December 31, 1900, was a jointly owned venture by the Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh and Lake Erie railroads to tap the rich coal fields south of Pittsburgh. The Monongahela funneled coal north to its parent roads, which grew to include the Baltimore and Ohio in 1926.
While many railroads of this size fell victim to bankruptcy or merger in the 1960's and 1970's due to dependency on coal for survival, the Monongahela continued to thrive and grow. Split ownership ensured the road's independence and the growing demand for high BTU, medium-sulfur content coal brought prosperity. In 1984, a 15-mile branch line was built to serve Consolidated Coal Company's new Bailey Mine, now the largest underground mine in the country. The Monongahela, just 177 miles long, became the nation's seventh largest coal hauling railroad.
Situated in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, the Monongahela's mainline followed its namesake river into the coalfields of Appalachia.
In 1993, the P&LE and CSX Transportation, successor to the B&O, sold their interests to the line and the Monongahela was finally wholly merged into Conrail.
Caboose No. 67:
Like all railroads, safe operation of the Monongahela's trains required a caboose on the tail end. The Monongahela purchased ten new cabooses from the International Car and Equipment Company in Chicago in 1949. Previously, the railroad had relied upon cars provided by its three parent railroads.
In addition to providing a vantage point for the conductor or brakeman to watch the train, the car also provided office and living space for the crew. Cabooses would often lead on trains returning from coal mines where there were no tracks to run the locomotive around to the front of the train. In the late 1960's, No. 67 struck a coal truck at a grade crossing. An air whistle was added to the roof of the cupola, probably as a result of that collision.
As cabooses began to vanish rapidly from regular service in the 1980's, the Smithsonian Institute began a search for a typical example of such a car to add to its collection. The Monongahela refurbished and donated No. 67 in 1989, and it was placed on long-term display here in Strasburg.
Recently repainted and donated to the Smithsonian, No. 67 arrived at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in 1988.
Just three years after the Monongahela purchased No. 67, it also purchased its first diesel locomotives, 27 Baldwin S-12 switchers in 1952. **
* Railfan.net. Conrail Cabins & Cabooses
. [http://crcaboose.railfan.net/classes/NE-6.htm] July 14, 2000.
** Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. Monongahela Railway No. 67.
Several photos of MGA 64: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/rsPicture.aspx?id=45249
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