Some Thoughts about Part Swapping…

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Of late, I’ve been messing around with old Model Die Casting/Roundhouse caboose & Overton passenger car bodies to create some “unusual” MoW cars.  It’s been a lot of fun and, quite frankly, a break from being too focused on “actual” railroad stuff.  There’s an old adage out there that says that there’s a prototype for everything so who knows what railroad might have patched up a hole in a caboose roof where a cupola once was located, made some minor changes and all of a sudden, had a makeshift yard office or even a bunkhouse for crews.  Lots of old cars got repurposed into something else just to preserve their usefulness to the railroad for a few more years.

As I added, plugged and otherwise modified some of these old cars, I got to thinking that MDC/Roundhouse was a kitbasher themselves.  As I’ve worked with different bodies, roofs and floors, I realized that many of the parts that they made were interchangeable with other parts so a simple swap made for another style of car.  As shown above, a different roof and the deletion of the standard cupola converts the old time wooden caboose into a transfer caboose… one which would have seen action around the yard and on very short runs.  Everything else is pretty much the same in the way of detail parts.  Why, they even used the same box insert; they just didn’t open the notch for the cupola.


Here’s another example.  The car on the top is the staple 34′ Overton combine.  So MDC simply swapped the clerestory roof for a standard caboose roof & cupola and BINGO!  They have a Drover’s caboose.  Again, all of the other detail parts are pretty much the same.

Since Model Die Casting made four different Overton cars, at least four different wooden caboose bodies and four different roofs that are all interchangeable, you can begin to create a huge variety of unique, one-of-a-kind specialized cars for your railroad.  Don’t forget that many of these cars also had different floors as well.  Oh, and did I mention they made at least three different cupolas that I’m aware of?  The combinations are almost endless.

Look, model railroading is supposed to be fun.  So let yourself think outside of the box a little.  Be a little creative and remember all the while that the prototype railroads did the same thing.  I’ve shared the story behind the NKPHTS 2017 Model of the Year originally being a wooden boxcar converted to MoW service.  And some of those same wooden boxcars were also modified to become cabooses when the railroad was really pressed for them.  Even the “Standard Railroad of the World,” the Pennsylvania converted old boxcars to cabooses when the need arose.  Above all else, remember that it is YOUR railroad and if it satisfies you, that is what matters most.  Now go have some fun!




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