Re: Caboose restrictions

Eric Hansmann

While passed in 1913, the Ohio caboose act did not take effect until July 1919. You can read the full text here.


Section One outlines the main points of the Act.


>>> Except as otherwise provided in this act it shall be unlawful from and after the first day of July 1919 for any common carrier operating a railroad in whole or in part within this state or any manager or division superintendent thereof to require or permit the use upon such railroad within this state of any caboose car or car used for like purpose unless such caboose or other shall be at least twenty four feet in length exclusive platforms and equipped with two four wheel trucks suitable closets and cupola. <<<

Read the full Act through the link above. It’s not long.


As for a Federal law or ICC mandate, I’m unaware of any specifics. I was discussing this with Charlie Vlk at lunch yesterday. He had thought there was a Federal law but I haven’t had time to search for it. I do know the Western Maryland had 137 NE cabooses in the 1926 ORER, and all were 4-wheel bobbers. The WM didn’t get new cabooses until their 8wheel steel cars arrived in 1935.


Ed Bommer notes the B&O usage of their K-1 bobbers deep into the late steam era. The B&O lists 549 4-wheel cabooses in the 1926 ORER, a decent proportion of the overall 1286 cars. Bruce Smith noted the Pennsy use of the ND and NDa cabin cars.


I suspect the main issue was the wood centersills and underframes. Installing a steel centersill on the older 4-wheel cars assured a level of crew safety, but probably didn’t make the cars ride any better. As time went on, these bobbers were relegated to yard, branch, industrial switching duties, and MoW work away from the mainline trains.



Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN




From: <> On Behalf Of Edward
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 9:41 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Caboose restrictions


While not in your region of interest, the State of Ohio passed a caboose law in 1913 that affected every railroad  operating in or through that state.
It specified a caboose used in main line service in Ohio must have a frame length of at least 30' and ride on four-wheel trucks.

In compliance, B&O  designed and built their I-1 class cabooses in 1913, which also had steel underframes.
The better known B&O I-5 class caboose was a 1920's development of the I-1.
Cabooses not meeting Ohio requirements were moved to other locations and downgraded to branch or terminal service.

The earlier B&O K-1 class four-wheel cabooses built between 1878 and 1913 were 23' long overall with wood under-framing.
Several survived into the 1950' in terminal service with some getting replacement steel under-frames.
On the B&O the K-1 cabooses last worked to about 1953 on the B&O Chicago Terminal and the Staten Island Rapid Transit (B&O New York Terminal).
On the SIRT the K-1 class worked interstate freights between Cranford Jct. in New Jersey and the Arlington and St. George yards on Staten Island, from 1890 to 1953.
They were replaced by I-1 class cabooses built in 1913. The assigned K-1's were burned for scrap later in 1953.
C-587 seen here in 1940 at St. George, has a replacement steel underframe. 

The PRR in 1913 also had four wheel cabooses working in Ohio. These had longer underframes.
PRR converted some by putting pair of trucks under them in place of their two wheel sets.

Ed Bommer

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