The Lionel 2682 – Caboose from 1938-42. Features include tinplate construction, tinplate trucks with journals, a solenoid coupler, metal wheels and axles.
What is a caboose?
A caboose is a manned North American railroad car coupled at the end of a freight train. Cabooses provide shelter for crew at the end of a train. They were long required for switching and shunting. Also to keep a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and overheating axles.
Originally there were flatcars fitted with cabins or modified box cars. They later became purpose-built with projections above or to the sides of the car to allow crew to observe the train from shelter. The caboose also served as the conductor’s office, and on long routes included accommodation and cooking facilities.
A similar railroad car design, the brake van, was used on British and Commonwealth railways. These provided the additional function of serving as a supplemental braking system for trains not fitted with a continuous braking system.
Cabooses were used on every freight train until the 1980s, when safety laws requiring the presence of cabooses and full crews were relaxed. Developments in monitoring and safety technology such as line side defect detectors and End of Train Device resulted in crew reductions and the phasing out of caboose cars. Nowadays, they are generally only used on rail maintenance or hazardous materials trains, or on heritage and tourist railroads.