USA Trains has finally released their bay window caboose. There is also a wide vision version. The caboose comes with internal lighting, a flashing red light to the rear and metal wheels. There is no internal detail. Hook and loop couplers are installed, a pair of USA knuckles are provided.
Power is picked up on two axles with carbon type brushes.
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Overall, the paint and details on the model are excellent, right down to the no-slip grid on the end platforms. Unlike most other USA products, all the detail comes attached.
All the hand rails, guard rails and ladders are metal wire. The downside is that the wires are soldered to form the desired structures and some of the solder joints are not too well made. One of the ladders literally fell apart in my hands while I was removing the roof to install a battery.
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A Kadee #831 truck mounted coupler is fairly easy to attach to the caboose. The supplied hook and loops are removed with one screw. To properly fit the Kadee, the end of the coupler tang should be cut off right through the middle of a circular mold mark near the end of the tang. The Kadee will then screw right on with the screw that held on the hook and loop. The height will come out just right and the car to car spacing to other cars will be acceptable as well.
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The lighting on the caboose needed a little work. The interior lights are much too bright when powered from DCC on the track. To gain access to the lights, the roof must be removed.
This is the schematic of the lighting circuit. The interior lights run directly from the track. There are three bulbs that really want to run about 10 volts for reasonable brightness. I added two 43 ohm 1 watt resistors in series with the lights to tone them down. The resistors were installed on the end of the circuit board in the roof where a contact strap was soldered to the board.
All the circuitry on the board drives the flashing rear light. The circuit is designed to flash when there is track voltage. If a 9 volt rechargeable battery is installed, the light will come on with constant intensity when there is no track voltage.
Once the roof is off, the battery cover can be released by pushing on the clip under the floor. However, the cover wouldn't fit back over the battery and clip down. I had to trim about half of the little tab spacer at the corner in the cover to allow the clip to engage.
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This page has been accessed times since 6 Nov 1999.