LPD Non-Revenue Equipment

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

lpd drgw 029 derrick Here’s a photo of Derrick No. 029, a Brownhoist wrecker crane originally built for the D&SL in 1916. I started with a Tichy kit (great details, a serious commitment of modeling time) and modified it to enclose the operator’s compartment as on the D&SL derrick. Since this hides many of the neat interior details, I rigged one of the doors on operable hinges so you can see inside. (Since this photo was taken I have added the numbers.)

The flatcar to the right is an old AHM flat that I painted and decaled for MOW service. It’s not a true boom car but serves in that stead for the time being until I can locate some decent photos of 029’s boom car (and build it).

1982-18 Here’s my operating Fairmont track inspection car.  I scratch-built the body around a Bachmann gandy-dancer.
DRGW-AX3274 Have I mentioned that sometimes I scratch-build things?  Here’s Diner-Kitchen-Sleeper X-3274, a former Exposition Flyer lounge that’s been relegated to MOW service. It’s the bunk car for the 029 wrecker train. (This was featured in the Prospector magazine.)
MOW-TroopSleepers Here is a pair of former Pullman troop sleepers from WW2 that were bought by the D&RGW and converted to bunk cars for MOW crews. Made by Walthers but I painted and lettered them for MOW service.


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.

lpd 01489

lpd 01489

My pride and joy– this totally-scratchbuilt model of caboose No. 01489.  It’s a welded-seam car that has had the side windows plated in.  There is no accurate commercially-available version of this car, unless somebody’s made one in brass. Not only does it look great, but it operates amazingly well, even with helper sets shoving on the rear. Atlas trucks.
drgw01505  Here’s a wide-vision Athearn hack that I detailed.  I realize that it’s too short for a proper D&RGW caboose, but it’ll do for a stand-in. I weathered it to give it character (and to look like the real ones).
caboose01500 This is an Atlas model of caboose 01500.  I added roofwalks and built accurate end-ladder details. Evidently the cupolas sit too low on the Atlas model to be 100% accurate for the D&RGW, but I decided to live with it.
DRGW01453 Proto West caboose model of one of Rio Grande’s riveted-body cabooses (No. 01453). I dressed this one in the all-black scheme and have weathered it extensively (although honestly I’m not happy with the weathering and might re-do it someday). I have more of these kits but they’re not a trivial undertaking to build.

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.