From Academic Kids

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Two cupola cabooses, a transfer caboose and a bay window caboose in Ohio.
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The interior of an Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad caboose in January 1943.

A caboose (US railway terminology) or brake van or guard's van (British terminology) is a manned rail transport vehicle coupled at the end of a freight train.

The purpose of the caboose is to allow the train to be supervised from the rear and ensure that cars from the train cannot separate without the crew's knowledge. Should the train part in the middle, the crew on the caboose can apply the brakes on the trailing portion and signal for assistance. This allows the locomotive crew to concentrate on events ahead.

The caboose is also used to monitor the cars and load making up the train, making sure there are no problems — load shifting dangerously, overheating axleboxes on the cars (hot boxes) that could cause fire, and suchlike. A caboose is also fitted with red lights called markers to enable the rear of the train to be seen at night. This has led to the phrase bringing up the markers to describe the last car on a train.

Until the 1980s laws in the United States and Canada required that all freight trains had a caboose. Technology eventually advanced such that a caboose was unnecessary; improved bearings and lineside detectors to detect hot boxes, better designed cars to avoid problems with the load, and electronic end of train devices that could be attached to the rear of the train to detect the train separating and allowing the brakes to be applied from the rear by remote control. These days, use of a caboose is rare, being used only on maintenance trains and the like.

Similar situations prevailed in other parts of the world, so that these railroad cars — under whatever name is used — are almost obsolete.


Caboose types

Just like passenger cars, there are several types of cabooses. Some of the more common types include the following:

Cupola or "standard" caboose

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A cupola caboose at the National Railroad Museum, Green Bay, WI

Above the roofline of the caboose is a small area for the crew to ride in, called a cupola, where they can see over the train in front of them. The cupola was usually offset toward one end of the caboose; different railroads had standard practices of always running the caboose with the cupola either at the front or the rear, but for all practical purposes, they could be safely run in either direction. Some railroads in the eastern US built cabooses with cupolas directly in the middle of the car to alleviate confusion over whether the car is turned in the right direction.

After World War II, US railroad car manufacturers began building cupola cabooses with cupola walls that were cantilevered beyond the side of the car by several inches. This allowed the crew riding in the cupola to get a better view of the side of the train when the train was on a straight (tangent) section of track without leaning out the side windows. The crew could ride more safely and stay out of the weather. This subtype of cupola caboose is called a wide-vision caboose.

The cupola caboose was the most common type of caboose in American railroad use.

Bay window caboose

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A bay window caboose at the Illinois Railway Museum.

On a bay window caboose, the crew monitoring the train sits in the middle of the car in a section of wall that is extended to the side up to about a foot. The windows set into these extended walls resemble architectural bay windows, so the caboose type is called a bay window caboose.

Transfer caboose

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Conrail 18065, a transfer caboose

A transfer caboose looks more like a flat car with a box bolted to the middle of it than it does a standard caboose. This type of caboose did not require sleeping, cooking or restroom facilities because it was used at the end of trains transferring cars between nearby rail yards. Such transfer runs seldom travelled more than 30 miles and were usually of much shorter duration. The ends of a transfer caboose were left open with safety railings surrounding the area between the crew compartment and the end of the car.

Drover's caboose

Drover's cabooses looked more like combine cars than standard cabooses. The purpose of a drover's caboose was much more like a combine as well. On longer livestock trains in the American southwest, the drover's caboose is where the livestock's handlers would ride between the ranch and processing plant. The train crew rode in the caboose section while the livestock handlers rode in the coach section. Drover's cabooses used either cupolas or bay windows in the caboose section for the train crew to monitor the train.

The word "caboose"

The first usage in print of "caboose" in its railroad sense was in 1861 [1] (, at which time it must already have been in circulation among American railroadmen. The railroad historian David L. Joslyn, a retired Souther Pacific draftsman, connected "caboose" to an older, nautical usage (1747) is derived from Low German kabhuse, a "wooden cabin" on a ship's deck, giving the Middle Dutch word kabuis, the compartment on a ship's deck in which cooking is done. This usage is now rare, as the galley moved belowdecks, whereas the Dutch word transformed into kombuis.

The first cabooses, not unlike the nautical originals, were wooden shanties built on flatcars, as early as the 1830s. [2] (

External links

Template:Freight carsde:Kombse fa:واگن خدمت


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