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So You Want to Own a MoPac Caboose?

So You Want to Own a Caboose?
A Missouri Pacific Caboose Owner's Guide

Sharing experience and advice to all those interested in preserving a piece of railroad history.
All MoPac Caboose Owners are Welcome to Share!

This page is a cooperative effort of the
Missouri Pacific Historical Society, Doniphan Branch RR & Screaming Eagles

The MPHS has been working to put together an information package for folks wanting to restore their caboose or other equipment. We will post additional info on this when it becomes available.

In the meantime, you may contact an MPHS officer at: Contact DBRR - Elvin

All photos - Craig Meador
Click on thumbnails for a larger image

How Do You Move a
20-Ton Caboose 1,000 Miles?

By Rail of Course
Poplar Bluff Cab is prepped for Rail Trip to Maryland Owner

Photos courtesy of Craig Meador
Written by Todd Greuter
Information provided by Elvin Klepzig

So you just bought a genuine "wide vision" caboose once owned by the MoPac RR, you'd like to restore to it's former granduer, but you need advice... Who you gonna call? Why, the Missouri Pacific Historical Society's Restorations Information Committee, a team of dedicated volunteers interested in such matters, of course!

Such was the case for old #13577, a forgotten cab located in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The town of Poplar Bluff (a.k.a. "PB") just so happens to also be home rails to MPHS members Elvin Klepzig (on the MPHS restorations team) and Craig Meador. MP 13577 had been purchased by a private interest in Maryland, and the new owner worked with these two Society members who were there to assist in the weighty task of it's initial move to Maryland and hopefully its future restoration.

On a bright Wednesday, July 31, four sets of rusty wheels were set in motion and the old caboose, slowly but surely, began the first leg of its journey.

After being loaded and tranported by flatbed, the caboose was placed for the first time in years on active rails. After being inspected by the Union Pacific RR for road-worthiness, the 13577 waited two weeks to take to the rails one more time to its new Maryland home.

On August 25 the caboose finally rolled out of Poplar Bluff headed for Chicago on the UP. It should be in Chicago by 5 on the 27th. It then goes to CSX on the 28th and its on through Willard, Ohio, crosses over into Cumberland, Maryland and onto the nearest yard by Rockville, Maryland.

By the 29 it was in Proviso, Illinois, where it was tagged a "Bad Order" (meaning in RR-speak that it wasn't going anywhere while awaiting repairs) for a bent or broken uncoupling rod. This wasn't the railroad's fault, the crews have to maintain strict regulations for safety's sake in a hazardous job. 

Finally, on September 19th, Bob Herbert of Rockville MD called to let everyone know that CSX finally delivered the goods.

They put up one more block but Bob was on top of it before they could foil him. CSX was to deliver the caboose Monday evening on the local but of course it didn't arrive. Bob called the next day to find out that it was on hold because the shipping hadn't been paid. Bob's response was of course not, I haven't received a bill. They talked a while and Bob got a phone number of a person to call to take care of it. He came to find out he was transferred to a voice mail box of an employee that had left back in February. Bob made more calls until he finally found someone to take his money. After a wire transfer on Tuesday, the caboose was delivered Wednesday evening about 8:30. 

He's been dragging his feet on getting the track down to set it on so it may not be in position for a week or two. His excuse was something about "earning enough money to pay for this". Go figure . Barring a crane collapse or CSX jumping the tracks and running over the caboose, this should have a happy ending after all.

November 11th, 2002 - The #13577 was set at it's new location in Rockville, MD today.  The move
went off without a hitch and cost less than expected. 

The story caught some press attention and was featured in the Washington Post on November 21st and 25th.

April 4, 2003 - More on the successful caboose adoption and the impression it can have on others, as emailed to Screaming Eagles:

"...We decided to look at what was on the "team track" in Rockville. We rolled up to the lot, A big red Missouri Pacific caboose. I had never seen such a thing. I had my camera on me, and took a whole roll. I figured that this would be the last time I would see this caboose..."

"I noticed a local contractor had placed track in his facility. I made the connection at once, and sure enough, the big day came. It was in the papers, and I saved the article. Now, everytime I take a picture of a train in Washington Grove, the caboose is always in the cornor of my picture. I have the pleasure of passing the caboose daily, and I am happpy to report, the owner decked it up with lights, out lining the caboose's shape. Any way, the oddity of a MP caboose here in CSX territory has sparked an intrest with me, and the MP. (But CSX is better!!!)" - Jeff

For the complete photo series of MP 13577's Poplar Bluff move
       DBRR - Craig Meador's photo index
DBRR - Elvin Klepzig's photo index
Caboose on the siding near it's new home

Another Tale of
A Successful MoPac Caboose Adoption

MP12062 in Naples Florida

Written by Elvin Klepzig

Carole V., is a proud new MP caboose owner in Naples Florida, has been through the experience of getting her own caboose home. We asked her for advice before the move of MP 13577. Here is her reply.

"You want advise from me???? I would say tie a rocket on it... attach several hundred parachutes... and point it in the direction you want it to go."

She really has been through a lot but is keeping her sense of humor. Here's some more.

"I got enough of the peeling paint off so the buzzsaw and the caboose number is visible on both sides... #12062. I put a silly looking mannequin head in the top window yesterday. One of my neighbors goes for walks in the evening with her dog. There was some lightening off in the distance and it lit up the copula windows. She thought it was a ghost or a bum staying in the caboose and ran home. I never was predictable."

She has them on the run in Naples. It's visiting with folks like her that makes this part of the hobby so much fun. You can't get this stuff any where else.

Here's more from Carole as she talks about the background of, and how she came to buy #12062:

"I just bought Caboose #12062. From what I was told, it was born around 1950 and the prior owner here in Naples, Florida had it shipped to his restaurant parking lot through a shipper in Danville, IL. I have a picture of it being unloaded into the parking lot in 9/1982."

"This was an impulse buy, as I knew there would never be another opportunity for me to buy one. There was a by-the-way comment in the newspaper from the property owner saying that he was listing the commercial restaurant property for sale... and the caboose for $5,000 if anyone is interested in buying the caboose. Three hours later, I gave him a check and there were people behind me wanting that caboose."

Proper Care and Feeding for Your New Caboose
Here's Some Tips on Caboose Moving, Set-up and Upkeep

Written by Elvin Klepzig and Todd Greuter

Moving the caboose
The caboose won't weigh over 40,000 pounds total and about half of that will be in the trucks.  The body will go as a load and the trucks as a load.  They usually use a low boy and load the caboose and haul it.  Keeping them from bending or cutting something off will be the biggest challenge for you.

The Foundation
Setting the caboose back on the track won't be a problem. You will have to set up the track correctly though as you won't be able to move it again to fix anything. Pick a level location for your foundation area (it wouldn't do to wake up one morning and find that your caboose has rolled into your bathroom wall). A possible "foundation" idea is pouring a large concrete slab.  If you don't want to do that then consider first laying down some weed guard material that allows water to drain but grass won't grow through it.  On top of this put down the ballast say 6" deep, lay the ties on that and then the plates and rail as former Mopac engineer Bob Currie describes below. 

"You need two 39-foot lengths of rail and about 15-20 crossties. A maintenance of way man could help you with that, but just about anyone could do it if they wanted to. Basically, track is constructed like this: crossties are layed on top of the road bed (you don't need to build a road bed) about a foot apart, tie plates are placed in the crossties (the rail rests on the tie plates), the rail is placed on top of the tie plates, and then it is spiked into place. The inside of the rails should be about 56.5 to 57.5 inches apart (56.5 inches is standard gauge). The space between the ties is then filled with gravel or crushed rock (we call it "ballast"). The ballast keeps the crossties from shifting out of place. You can get by without ballast between the rails as there will be no trains running over the track (heh heh). Any smooth material like pea gravel wouldn't make that a ballast, but a coarse-surfaced hard stone is ideal. "

The ties need to be treated real well as they will be hard to replace.  Once the caboose is set then weld stops on the rail to keep the caboose from rolling around.  

Restoration, Upkeep & Maintanance
Most owners want to restore or keep their cabooses in its original condition, and take great pains to be true to history. The sun does a lot of damage to the paint so some folks set-up their cabooses under the shade of trees.  That's fine but remember that tree sap can strip paint too.  Setting it out by itself is probably the best choice.  If you plan on being in it much then think of painting the roof white.  Most MoPac cabooses never had a white roof (except for some MP short-bodied bay-window cabooses) but you should be able to use and enjoy your investment.  Done right, you shouldn't be able to see the white paint from ground level.  The body and trucks will all be the same color.  Depending on your caboose and the paint scheme you choose to apply, the railings can be the body color, black or white.  The wheels and the couplers are left in bare metal due to FRA regulations.  Don't worry, they rust very nicely and won't be a problem for you.  The interior would have been either a medium gray or pale green.  Do some research.  Find a caboose on the Preserved Missouri Pacific Cabooses page at DBRR that looks like yours and see how it is painted.  Not all examples are painted correctly, but we will steer you right.

The MPHS Restorations Information Committee
We are in the early stages of compiling accurate RR information so that decals can be produced for preserved cabooses, as part of a restoration packet... unfortunately it will take some time before we have enough to help.  In the meantime you may want to take some steps to better prepare for your restoration effort. Become a good restorationist. Copy down all the detail information (such as the stencils or decals) that you may find on the caboose if you want to replace it.  Measure and record the height of the letters and numbers so they will be correct when reapplied.  These cabooses were all painted to a standard but that standard was interpreted by the paint shops and so they weren't all exactly alike, which makes up your caboose's historic character.  The more information you can save on your caboose the more we can help get it back for you plus we can save it in our files for future reference.

Last but not least, I appreciate the opportunity to help you in your efforts.  Feel free to ask all the questions you have.  Keep us updated on your progress and I'm looking forward to seeing photos of your new project.  Would you please supply us an address where the caboose will be located for our records?

Elvin Klepzig
Board of Directors member
Missouri Pacific Historical Society
Chairman of the Restorations Information Committee

About the MPHS Restorations Information Commitee
Restoration Projects need your Help.

This well-maintained caboose is a source of pride for the town of Rich Hill, Missouri. Many publically-owned R.R. cars are not so lucky as their privately-owned counterparts. - T. Greuter photo

A committee has been formed to gather information on various pieces of Missouri Pacific Railroad equipment/structures to assist restoration efforts with an information package. The committee - made up of Michael Havey, Dana Jackson and Elvin Klepzig - is looking for:

  • line drawings
  • photographs
  • paint diagrams
  • paint numbers
  • contact information for paint companies
  • lettering diagrams
  • number stencils
  • decals
  • decal suppliers
  • a history of the type of equipment
  • and a list of reference material available.

Anyone who collects such MPRR materials or who may be able to help is asked to contact a committee member.

Related Links

For more information on the MPHS Restorations Information Committee:
       MPHS - Restorations Information Committee

To Contact the MPHS Restorations Information Commitee:
       Contact Elvin Klepzig

For the most complete listing of preserved MP Cabooses:
       Doniphan Branch RR - Preserved Missouri Pacific Cabooses

For Other Examples of Preserved MoPac Cabooses and Locomotives:
       MPHS - Preservations

       Screaming Eagles - Preserving the Past

MoPac Cabooses For Auction:
        Union Pacific RR - Seeking Offers for Cabooses
       (try this link if the above link does not work)

MoPac Caboose Types & History:
       Doniphan Branch RR - Caboose List
       Screaming Eagles - Cabeese, Crummies & Hacks

Resource Materials:

MPHS - "Cabooses of the Missouri Pacific Lines" by G. J. Michels, Jr 
A must-have for any MP caboose owner

Caboose Owner Sites of Interest:
Doniphan Branch RR - Elvin Klepzig's photos MP 13577's Poplar Bluff Move

       Doniphan Branch RR - Craig Meador's photos MP 13577's Poplar Bluff Move

       Doniphan Branch RR - (get addy) Mulvane, KS Caboose Move

       Broken Bone Ranch History
       David and Teresa Schmidt caboose, in Medina, Texas.


Latest Update: 16 April, 2008

Elvin Klepzig, Craig Meador, Todd Greuter

Recommended Links:

All photos, graphics & text on this page are copyright © 2002-2003 by
Missouri Pacific Historical Society,
Doniphan Branch RR
& Screaming Eagles
All Rights Reserved.