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Thread: Why are cabooses so charming?

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    Question Why are cabooses so charming?

    Is it the interesting word "caboose" that gives this little wonder such widespread appeal?

    Why are cabooses iconically red?

    Even today, when I see a freight train go by, it somehow seems incomplete without a cute little conductor's office on the tail end.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXySG3i2Apw

    Whatever happened to the caboose?
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; July 11th, 2018 at 11:10 PM.
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    Most were red, so they could be easily seen, I'm sure the first ones were the cheapest available color painted iron oxide wood design.

    Since there were at one time 2-3 personnel in a caboose, and another 2-3 in each loco cab, redundant job titles got abolished. And the cost of maintenance on caboose's, and storage problems, not to mention that modern technology and computer waybills, made crew members that rode along inside a "Crummy", "Hack", "Bobber" on the tail end of a train, were now obsolete un-needed job titles, and were abolished.

    I remember as a kid I walked up to a caboose with a train sitting at a signal, on the Nittany & Bald Eagle line in Milesburg PA, and chatted with the old fat caboose crew, who told me to: "Stand Back, brakes are releasing, we're on the move, we'll probably tie up in the Williamsport yard, and that will be the days work". I don't even think RR crews had 2 way radio's way back then, and hand crank trackside phones were used for communication to the dispatcher.

    Most caboose's had an 11" poured concrete floor, to add weight, so they wouldn't get whipped off the track on high speed curves. I'm sure the many rear end collision fatalities of caboose crew members, also led to their abolishment, deadlining, and scrapping

    A colored flag, a flashing amber Star Marker, or a flashing red EOT FRED soon replaced the cabeese

    Trains are not cute, charming, pretty, nor sexy (unless one is sexually titillated by the sight of choo choo's) ... They are but a lowly means of transportation device ... I was told: "It's just a job, you're not supposed to actually like the job, as a hobby" !
    Last edited by cascaderailroad; July 12th, 2018 at 02:16 AM.

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    Were cabooses really CRUMMY things to ride in for the crews assigned to them? I can say absolutely yes if there was no a/c in one of those things in the desert since I am prone to heat injuries.
    I wouldn't even want to work on board a locomotive sans air conditioning and clean toilet. One might think that RR unions would call for safe and comfortable working conditions for train crews.

    Technically, a locomotive is not a "revenue vehicle" for a railroad or is it? It, like a caboose, also can't carry freight directly on board it.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; July 12th, 2018 at 03:00 AM.
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    At one time there was no AC ... I once went 5 years without opening a workplace bathroom door, as I knew it was truly disgusting inside ... It's not supposed to be like your home, all spiffy and clean inside ... You wear work gloves, and get the job done ... A loco or caboose is not the place for those suffering from IBS, or having the screamin' mee mee's from too much hot sauce and taco's the night before

    You go to work there, and try hard not to get seriously kilt' on the job, and get to go home at the end of the day ... and get up and do it all over again the next day ... not because it is a pleasant workplace environment ... but because it is just a job, a way to make an income
    Last edited by cascaderailroad; July 12th, 2018 at 03:38 AM.

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    Even so, many people think it's the job of the union to ensure that its members' workplaces are fit for humans. Don't UNIONS take good care of RR employees?

    It makes me think the RR culture is that of dirty slobs. I feel shoddiness and squalor has no place even on a railroad.

    As a soldier, my workplace, barracks and unit latrines were supposed to be clinically-clean at all times. Even on field maneuvers, troops were required

    to sanitize their hands before eating meals at the mess tent. Railroads, like all industries, should be subject to strict health and safety inspections at all times

    by government officials including OSHA. I was an an Amtrak train as a passenger in 1986. The California Zephyr from Oakland to Denver.

    I was not impressed that the interiors of the cars were sanitary like hospitals. Mold odor was common even though thankfully the air conditioning worked through the summertime deserts of Nevada, Utah and Colorado.

    Perhaps, today, some of past dishevelment of railroads has improved. Perhaps MODERN trains aren't as barbaric or medieval as they once seemed.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; July 12th, 2018 at 05:28 AM.
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    I don't know about the USA very well but I think your railroad isn't seen as a great place to work compared to the UK? Our train driving jobs are really sought after with 1000s of applicants for one job, mainly because the money is the best money you'll get for a job that requires no qualifications and the working conditions and benefits are fantastic.
    Over here I can decline to take a train into service if the AC isn't working. I don't have to get on with it because it is "just a job". Working conditions have to be good. We have rules and standing orders that protect us. Everything is defined, even how much time you have to walk from one train to another, or from your train to your break location.

    Our unions are pretty strong though.

    But back to the subject and taking it on a UK tangent. We don't use guards vans (cabooses) anymore, all freight is one train that is rarely split up enroute. The reason we had guard/brake vans over here were more used for extra breaking as wagons were often non braked except a handbrake. It also helped the signaller tell that the train hadn't split on it's journey and was a complete train by seeing a brake van on the back... That's gone these days as most signalling is done in a control centre so can't really look out of the window to see if a train is complete.

    I think they're appealing because they look like little homes.
    Here's one on my route, It's been stuck there since the 1980s!

    Last edited by Davie_UCF; July 12th, 2018 at 08:34 AM.

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    YAPT: Yet Another Pointless Tread

    Face it ... US Railroads are: "the RR culture of that which are dirty jobs"
    Last edited by cascaderailroad; July 12th, 2018 at 09:17 AM.

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    It makes me wonder which transportation industry has the dirtier jobs vs pay/benefits vs lack of home time vs safety issues: rail or trucking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cascaderailroad View Post
    YAPT: Yet Another Pointless Tread

    Face it ... US Railroads are: "the RR culture of that which are dirty jobs"
    It makes me wonder which transportation industry has the dirtier jobs vs pay/benefits vs lack of home time vs safety issues: rail or trucking?
    Neither train driving nor Class A truck driving are occupations that I can see as conducive to good physical health, sound mental health, good diet and lack of obesity.
    I do know truckers face nasty truck stop food, nasty truck stop restrooms and nasty truck stop showers. I can't imagine railroad grub is any more appetizing.
    How do train crewmen in America plan washing their laundry, eating their meals, shaving, showering and doing the other important S, sleeping their bedtime schedules?
    Do locomotive engineers and conductors stop in at train stops for dinner? Without the caboose, there are no sleeping and cooking provisions on the road.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; July 12th, 2018 at 11:46 AM.
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    And the answer to your ever so broad question(s) would come to what earthshaking conclusion ?

    And how would that earthshaking conclusive answer, in any way, affect the world around us ?

    Let me see ...

    Trains: Hmmm ... Absolutely ever so Charming to choo choo buffs
    vs
    Trucks: Hmmm ... Not so Charming at all, to anyone

    I would think it is a personally packed thermos lunch pail box, and laundry is done in a hotel or motel

    The caboose rarely cooked any full meals, for even themselves, and the the stove was for heat and coffee

    Music, books, newspapers, radios, cooking, are prohibited by the RR rulebook, as they cause a distraction from duty
    Last edited by cascaderailroad; July 12th, 2018 at 01:03 PM.

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