Raritan River Railroad

Caboose #8

Located in Ivyland, PA

October 22, 2004






On October 1, 2004 I stumbled across a new search engine on the Internet named www.clusty.com.  As always, when I need to test something on the Internet, I do searches for “Raritan River Railroad” and see what comes up.  This time, I saw something different. The searches were organized in categories.  And “cabooses” was a category.  And thus my next search was on.


According to the link, there was a Raritan River RR Caboose nearby.



""Ivyland PA DL&W 723 ex-Raritan River?, Apartments,
Wilson Avenue, from Depot Restaurant, Philadelphia""


That wasn’t much to go on.  I knew where Ivyland was, and knew of the New Hope and Ivyland RR, (http://www.newhoperailroad.com/) so I figured I could find Wilson Ave and I could find the tracks, and take it from there.


Arriving in Ivyland, and reaching the end of the block, behind the big former feed and seed warehouse, YES, hidden in the back, was an old beat-up green caboose.


At this point, before jumping to any conclusions, I needed to identify the caboose and try to get some facts first!


Caboose in Ivyland


Here are some photos of the Caboose.  They are all large, 1024x768 to preserve as much detail as possible, but the JPEG compression is very very low, so each photo is less than 100k, and should load fairly quickly. 





Picture 1

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Front Side







Picture 2

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Front Side Shot





As I was outside taking pictures, Tom, the guy who was restoring the caboose for his friend Cos, moved his truck for me.  This allowed me to get better shots.  Needless to say I was shocked to see he was painting it red!





Picture 3

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Side Shot 1

Tom is working on clearing off the wood

that was protecting the side





Picture 4

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Side Shot 2





Picture 5

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Back Side 1




Picture 6

Caboose in Ivyland, PA Oct 22, 2004

Inside Shot 1



History of the Green Caboose


The current owner told me he bought the caboose 8 years ago from a restaurant in Philadelphia.  The last owner told him it was a Reading caboose, but the new owner had no road numbers to back it up. 


He recently decided to start fixing it up, and that required that all the old wood sheathing on the outside get replaced and painted.  On the one side, the old wood sheathing was in pretty bad shape, as most of it was rotted and allowing water to get on the inside.  The side closest to the warehouse was in great shape, as it probably was up against the house in its last location, and thus has always been protected from the elements.


He picked the red paint, by taking a toy HO scale RDG caboose to Home Depot, and they matched the color for him.  He had hoped to paint it Reading Red? And then get some lettering on it.


The owner’s name was Cos, he is the manager of the Fireplace and Seasonal goods store that currently occupies the old Seed and Feed Warehouse.  Tom is in the pictures; he was the handyman who was doing the work for Cos.  As I was taking pictures, Tom came out and introduced himself, and told me as much as he knew about the green caboose.


The interior of the caboose had been completely gutted and redesigned for restaurant use.  This involved everything from installing fiberglass insulation in the walls, running electricity, and hanging lights and fixtures from the ceiling.  There were holes on the outside of the caboose where it looked like someone had mounted outside lights on the side.  On the back of the caboose, a larger set of steps seems to have bee added to increase access. 


When I looked underneath the frame, I could see where an air vent had been installed, complete with silver flexible pipe.  Tom pointed out where the frame had been cut, and where parts of the trucks were not attached.  Parts of the bottom still had some type of foam insulation that looks like it was sprayed on.  The doors we replaced with fire code doors that can be pushed open, and all the windows were replaced with thermal insulated glass. 


That last fact had Tom in a roar.  He needed to replace some of the windows, as they were leaking, but couldn’t gain access to them, as the edges were all “walled in”.  He also agreed that the third window in the cupola, since it was also made of thermal glass, was probably added later.


Understanding the history of this caboose will help explain why certain distinctive features were missing or changed.  It seems that a lot of modifications were made by the last owner to ensure fire code safety and heat retention for his customers.  As I will note later, some of these modifications were made by the RRRR, and not the Restaurant owner!


Tom was equally confused by the lack of any stovepipe, or hole for such in the ceiling or roof.  Even looking at the roof, it was noted that it was all replaced and very well weather proofed.


That being said, there were a lot of things that still helped prove the ownership of this little caboose.  I don’t know of any place that builders added numbers or building plates on cabooses.  I expect they never did, as cabooses were viewed as just extra weight by management.  The workers, of course, loved them. 


My job now was to prove that this old and green caboose was Raritan River!








Here is a picture of both RRRR Cab #6 and the caboose in Ivyland.


Picture 7

Caboose in Ivyland and RRRR Cab 6


These two photos show may similarities, but we need to go deeper into the analysis before we could ever state that this is a RRRR Caboose.  Let’s start with the history of RRRR Cabooses. 




RRRR Caboose History


As noted in Rails up the Raritan, Page 58 explains that the first two 8 wheel ex-DLW Cabooses were purchased in 1937.  These two cabooses were 8-wheeled wooden body with steel underbody, numbered #5 and #6.  Two more of the same class were purchased in 1951 and 1954.  They were numbered #7 and #8.  At this point the RRRR now had 4 wooden 8 wheeled ex-DLW cabooses, numbered 5-8.  At the time, all cabooses were painted yellow with black or red trim.  It wasn’t until after 1954, with the arrival of the red and grey diesels, that the cabooses were repainted red and white.



1st RRRR Caboose #7 – 1951

painted yellow and black



Then in 1965, the Vermont Railway was sending ex-Rutland, ex-NYC caboose to the Pine Creek tourist railroad located in Allaire State Park.  The Raritan River Railroad took one look at the Rutland caboose and realized that it was in better shape then their own cabooses, and swapped their #7 with this one from Vermont.  So the ex-DLW, ex-RRRR #7 went to the Pine Creek RR, in Alaire State Park, NJ, where it still sits today.  And the ex-Rutland, ex-NYC Caboose became RRRR 2nd #7.  Today the ex-DLW ex-RRRR Caboose #7 sits at Pine Creek, as it has no trucks, and sits on the ground, as of the summer of 2002.


In 1968, poor #5 lost its braking and road all by its self almost 3 miles from Parlin to the South River Draw Bridge.  Since no one was expecting an un-manned caboose to come by anytime soon, the South River Draw was open, and poor #5 went into the river.  Pulled out the next day, vandals were reported to have set her on fire, and old #5 was officially no more.


Two more cabooses showed up in the summer of 1969, but this time they were all steel and came from the New Haven RR.  They were numbered #9 and #10.


On Page 60 of Rails up the Raritan, it states that “Later, caboose number 6 suffered irreparable drawbar damage and has been converted to a single-coupler unit for spraying weeds”.


Page 60 also shows some pictures of RRRR cabooses and lists a photo of an un-numbered MWC car as “Number 8 (bottom photo) is seen after conversion to a maintenance-of-way car.


It is my belief that only one car was damaged and only one car was converted to a single coupler weed spraying maintenance-of-way car.  I expect that this is a typo, and the author meant to say that #8 suffered irreparable drawbar damage, or that the photo of the MWC was really #6 and not #8.  Either way, it is clear that the RRRR had a number of issues with their cabooses, and re-used them if they could.


When Conrail took over the RRRR in 1980, the wooden cabooses were the first to go, as I’m sure they didn’t sit will with the union work rules for safety.


Here is a copy of the caboose roster from Rails up the Raritan.  It shows the history and demise of all the RRRR Cabooses.




Page 82 from Rails up the Raritan

Caboose Roster



Of the ex-DLW body style,


RRRR #5 – Burned up

RRRR #6 – Sold

RRRR #7 – Pine Creek RR

RRRR #8 – Sold


This implies that only 2 of the 4 ex-DLW ex-RRRR Cabooses are un-accounted for at this time, being #6 and #8.




Could this really be the long lost #6 or #8????





Caboose Format


I don’t know exactly what to call it, so I used the term Caboose Format.  This refers to the style and shape of the caboose including the placement of the windows.  The older DLW cabooses all looked like this caboose.  And since RRRR Cab #6 was also ex-DLW, it would be difficult to prove that this was RRRR and not just ex-DLW. 





The one thing I tried to prove right away, is that this was not ex-RDG as Cos had said.

I started I noticed right away, that when looking at RDG cabooses, is that the placement of the side windows were almost always close together.  Another words, they were like this:”__oo____oo__” and not like this “_o_o_o_o_ “


See the two pictures below for actual examples.


Picture 8

Steel RDG Caboose 92857

NEW HOPE PA - 12/00/1988 - {GARY STUEBBEN Photo} from rr-fallenflags.org




Picture 9

Wooden RDG Caboose 92960

Norristown PA - 04/17/65 - (WT Chaplik Photo) - {Bill Phillips Collection}

from rr-fallenflags.org


These references could be classified as “signature RDG cabooses”.  They look nothing like the caboose in Ivyland. 









Here are some pictures of “signature DLW cabooses”.  It’s clear from these pictures, that the caboose in Ivyland is definably ex-DLW.




The only known official Raritan River Caboose #7 located at Pine Creek RR at Alaire State Park, NJ. 







Picture 10 – Ex-DLW, ex-RRRR Caboose

Pine Creek RR

Located at Alaire State Park in NJ.



Picture 11

DLW Cab 700 – from rr-fallenflag.org


Chet's Caboose at Utica . This was an old Lackawanna 700 series wood caboose that was involved in a wreck at Uitca Yard - Shoved up over the bumping block - and converted into a carknockers shanty. This relic was burned in Feb 1981 several days before Stanley Crane came through on the inspection train for the first time so that he wouldn't see it. The burned out frame was for years later on top of a scrap pile across the tracks from Union Station - 10/14/80 - {Doug Ellison Photo} 10-14-80




Picture 12

DLW Cab 738 – from RR-FallenFlags.org

Horsehead NY - 03/93 - {Greg Dickinson Photo}




At this point I feel pretty confident that the Body is absolutely ex-DLW.  Even the placement of the break wheel and the metal guards and the ladder matches perfectly.

Compare Picture 11 to Picture 2.




Being honest with everyone, my heart sinks every time I look at the next picture.  Seems like the only justification for anyone calling it a Reading Caboose:


Picture 13

Wheel on Caboose in Ivyland


Its pretty clear from the photo that the wheel says Reading Co.  The orange stuff is the spray on insulation.  Is it possible that only the wheels are from the Reading?  The RRRR was ½ owned by the Central New Jersey, who was also owned by the Reading. (Who was controlled by the B&O)  So it is possible that this could be handed down from the parent company.  Did the RRRR or the CNJ ever have their own wheel shops?  Where did the RRRR get most of their equipment?  We know they did most of their interchange traffic with the CNJ in South Amboy.  Isn’t more likely that most of their parts came from the CNJ too?  And would those parts have been Reading owned?




When comparing the trucks side by side, they look almost identical to me.


Picture 14

Ivyland Trucks vs RRRR Trucks


From this picture I am to believe that these are the same type of trucks that were used, but are they Reading or DLW?


When looking at the RDG trucks in the photos above (pic 8-9), it becomes clear that they may have used “leaf springs”, where the DLW used “coil springs” (pic 12).    I have to believe that these trucks are ex-DLW, and not RDG.


But here in Picture 15 is a DLW with leaf spring trucks just like RDG in pic 8.  So I have to say that they were interchangeable, and maybe it doesn’t prove anything. 


Picture 15 – DLW 811

DLW Caboose with Leaf Spring Trucks like RDG

UNK - - {Matt Forsyth Collection} – RR-FallenFlags.org



One last thing about the trucks.


The back left truck clearly had some lettering stenciled on to it in the center of the bar.

4 letters.  I don’t believe it says Reading or RDG in any way.  I’ll let you all decide if it says RRRR or not!


Picture 16

Trucks on Caboose in Ivyland

Stenciled with RRRR?  Or Reading?


Did the RRRR ever stencil their trucks?  I’ll need some really good resolution photographs to determine that one.  So this one will require more homework.


Update October 28, 2004

Thanks to AudioJim and PennsyJohn for this information:


BTW, RPKD is shorthand for Repacked. The bearings in the journal boxes were actually running in an oil soaked "waste" product. Every so often, the packing had to be replaced. This was called "repacking". If you didn't oil them so often, the waste would overheat and cause a "hotbox" (Small smoldering fire in waste, causes bearing failure) Roller bearings were introduced to stop this. the RRRR, as far as I know, never did get roller bearings on its caboose stock. The rental boxcars, 400 series, did. It was necessary for interchange service. I wonder every so often what happened to them.”

And just because I took the pictures, here is a small shot of the journal boxes that John refers to!








Interior and Exterior


Here are some interesting shots of the interior of the Caboose.  As stated by Tom, the interior was gutted and tables and chairs probably installed by the last owner.  There isn’t much in here of any historical significance.


Picture 18 - Interior of RRRR Cab 6 looking back.


Note the insulation coming out of the wall on the left side.  Note the door cut into the right side by the previous owner.  Note the mysterious third window in the cupola.  Note the odd railing on the rear deck visible out the back door. 








Picture 19 - Interior looking forward


Note the push bar doors and the lights mounted to the ceiling.  Note the mysterious third window in the cupola.





All over the front side, an older red paint could clearly be seen showing through the green paint.  Could this be original RRRR red paint?


Picture 20 – Red paint shows through the green paint.



Picture 21 - Caboose Roof


Picture 21 clearly shows how the roof was patched and tarred for weatherproofing.  The location of the removed ridge vent that used to exist on the roof can clearly be seen.  The mysterious third window can be clearly seen.  (Please note, to make things even more confusing, that RRRR Caboose #7 2nd, did actually have a three window cupola, but that caboose was ex-Rutland and doesn’t apply to our research here)  Also considering that all the glass was replaced with heat efficient glass, my only conclusion is that the restaurant added the third window, maybe to add more light to the seating areas.



Here is a close up of the side where Tom was working on repairing the rotting wood.


Picture 22 - hole in the side of Caboose


Note the fiberglass and electrical wiring done.  According to Tom, the rest of the wood frame appears to be original. 








During the day Tom pointed out the major structural damage he noticed.  The first was this really big cut of the frame near the rear.


Picture 23 - showing frame cut



The frame was cut on both sides, and the centerpiece of the frame was extended out to hold the rear deck.



Picture 24 - undercarriage

Under carriage part of the frame has been disconnected at this point.












Tom thought the previous owner added this deck to make access to and from easier.




Picture 25 – Close up of Added Rear Decks


I agreed with Tom that it didn’t look original, and it didn’t match the front steps.


We also noted at this point that there was no rear coupler.  That’s didn’t seem right.




Here is a shot of the Front steps:


Picture 26 - front steps




Now compare them to the rear steps.


Picture 27 - rear steps




One thing that I noticed at the time was a small pipe that was in the center of the back deck. 


Picture 28 – small pipe located at rear



I had thought that this pipe was just a break line or something, but then it occurred to me, that you didn’t need a break line, if there was no coupler.  And it was a pipe, and not an air hose.  A pipe?  No coupler?


Remember on Page 60 of Rails up the Raritan, it states that “Later, caboose number 6 suffered irreparable drawbar damage and has been converted to a single-coupler unit for spraying weeds”.


Could this be RRRR caboose #6?



Then I noticed something in my copy of Rails up the Raritan on page 60.  Looking at the cabooses I noticed the final proof I needed.


This was indeed a Raritan River Railroad Caboose! 


100 Percent Sure!


Absolutly no doubt about it.


Look at the following picture of RRRR Caboose #8.


Picture 29 – RRRR Caboose #8



Look closer at the rear deck!


Picture 30 – RRRR Caboose 8



Now look at the Caboose In Ivyland!


Picture 31- Rear Deck



The restaurant owner didn’t add that deck; it was added by the Raritan River Railroad!



To prove my assumption, I looked as hard s I could for more pictures of #8 after it had been modified by the RRRR.



I found one.


Picture 32 – RRRR Caboose #7 with back side of RRRR Cab #8


Yes this is a picture of RRRR Caboose #7, but look at the left side, and you will see the back end of RRRR Caboose #8.  See the white stripes that were painted on the bars.






Picture 33 – showing location of white stripes on rear deck


Now look at this picture of the Caboose in Ivyland.  After all these years you can still barely see the stripes painted on the back railing. 



It is official!


This is Raritan River Railroad Caboose #8, Located in Ivyland, PA on October 22 2004.




A few weeks after this was posted, a friend of mine, John, offered me the following picture.  I was speechless when I first saw it, and continue to be amazed by all the detail.


Here is a picture of Raritan River Caboose #8 from 1969.


On platform, left to right   Ray Stockton, Roundhouse Supervisor / Track Supervisor

Unknown name - President, CRR of NJ

Robert Kipp - General Manager, RRRR

Charlie Miller - Freight Supervisor


On the ground

John Toth - Conductor


Picture 34

RRRR Cab#8 with President of CNJ on Deck!