Maintenance-of-Way (MOW), Cabooses, and Other Cost Centers
Hauling freight is how railroads make their money, but there are certain necessary overhead costs to keep the track operating. Among these are maintenance and repairs. One can add the caboose to that list of cars that are (were) required but produced nary a cent of profit– one of the main reasons railroads got rid of them in the 1980s.
Economics aside, MOW equipment and cabooses are great fun to model, and I have had my share of said great fun on the La Plata Division.
Maintenance of Way Equipment
I only roster Rio Grande cabooses on the La Plata Division, due to era constraints. Rio Grande cabooses present some unique challenges. The largest class of cars on the roster (numbers 01400-01490) were built by the railroad in its own shops. There are a couple of commercial models available but they are expensive and can be hard to find. The other type, the wide-vision cabooses built by International Car, came in two sub-classes, and nobody makes a completely-accurate version. The modeler is left with a decision to make: How accurate do I want to be?
Answer: as accurate as possible.
I intend to add some UP MOW stuff as time and energy permit (translation: don’t hold your breath!). I really enjoy the non-revenue scene. If you’re in the planning stage of a layout, be sure to include some house tracks where you can park this kind of equipment. I should have done more.