Alliance Ohio Caboose

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holtzmac
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Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby holtzmac » Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:46 am

I am new to railroad research, so please forgive my ignorance of train vocabulary.
Alliance Ohio has a train caboose that became marooned in a downtown parking lot, when rail lines were removed decades ago to make way for free parking downtown. The caboose sits in a parking lot that all locals refer to as The Caboose parking lot. The mayor and civic groups converted the caboose into a small stage for community concerts. The farmer's market committee uses the caboose to house our supplies. Each week, our volunteers are bombarded with questions about this lonely train car, far from any railroad. The townspeople seem to love the thing, and we can't keep curious children from climbing all over it when we open it up on Saturday mornings during market. Asking locals and oldtimers around town, if they have knowledge of how it came to be here, has produced either general information that applies to all cabooses, or vague memories of things they might have heard about but can't verify.


I am looking for specific and accurate information about this specific car.
I would like to know where and when it was manufactured. I would like to know where it might have traveled during it's active service years.
Do train cars have identifying serial numbers? If they do, where can they be found?
If i do manage to find serial numbers, is there a directory to see what names are attached to the caboose?
Does anyone in your forum already know something about the caboose inn the parking lot in downtown alliance? Please come to the alliance farmer's market and enlighten us!

We suspect that the caboose may have been part of a LArge auction that occured in the 1980's. would the auction house retain records?
Any kind of clue for investigation or direction about where to look would be helpful. Thanks!

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Tom Davidson
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby Tom Davidson » Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:33 pm

One of the first things to check is the cast-in lettering on the trucks. The original railroad initials are often cast into the truck side frames. Of course, this is not a 100% reliable source of information because trucks were sometimes replaced. If the original owning RR merged or changed identity, or if the car was sold, then the truck lettering might be inconclusive.

It's a safe bet that this is not an AC&Y caboose, but it very likely originated on an Ohio RR that interchanged with the AC&Y. Among our membership we have a number of people with a fairly deep knowledge of the equipment of those roads, so we might be able to help. From reference to online maps, it appears that the car is located at the corner of Market Street and Mechanic Avenue, near the old alignment of the now-abandoned New York Central branch through Alliance. An overhead view indicates that the car has a cupola that is at or near the center of the car. If someone can provide info on this car, it would be nice for us to help out our Alliance neighbors. If anybody can post photos, that could also be very helpful.

Tom

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Tom Davidson
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby Tom Davidson » Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:40 pm

You might also want to look around under the car to see if there are vestiges of numbers or lettering on the underframe or the truck bolsters. These areas generally had the identifying data stenciled there when in regular service. In the event of a derailment, the trucks were often separated from the car; so this stenciled info helped investigators to reconstruct the events of the accident. However, this car has been there a long time, so it's quite possible that this data has been removed, worn off, or painted over.

Tom

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Tom Davidson
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby Tom Davidson » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:00 pm

Since we don't have any answers yet, I looked up "Alliance, Ohio Farmers' Market" and found a site with 40 photos, of which 2 show the caboose. It's a rather modern steel car that looks like those built by International Car Co., although I can't confirm that without closer examination. It has a standard-width cupola (i.e., not a wide vision model). I believe similar cars were built for N&W and several other RR's, but I'm not sure. I'll be traveling to Ohio next weekend, and hope to visit the site to learn more.

Tom

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Tom Davidson
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby Tom Davidson » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:18 pm

On my recent trip to Ohio I drove about 50 miles out of my way & checked on this. Arrived at the Farmers Market around 1:00 PM Saturday Sept 6, and immediately recognized the car as being the same general style as AC&Y's pioneer International cabooses, but more modern, with an all-welded body. As I suspected, the trucks bore cast-in raised N&W lettering. Journals were of the type used for plain ("friction") bearings. The car was painted red overall, with no visible lettering on the carbody, frame, or trucks. Nobody was around. The Market seems to have closed a bit early, possibly due to a light rain. A man pulled up in a pickup truck to ask what I was doing. After I gave him satisfactory answers, he suggested I visit Rob's Trains, which is a nice little hobby shop about a city block or two away. Lars, the man behind the counter at Rob's, said the shop was operated by him & his son. Told me the son was instrumental in obtaining the caboose, that it arrived in Alliance in full N&W livery, and there are probably photos of it in that condition, although he didn't have any with him. The original number should be easy for any interested party to find.

We haven't heard anything from the O.P., but I wonder why he contacted us instead of contacting his far more knowledgeable neighbors. If he reads this, I hope he (or someone) will check the wheels on that car. I saw no evidence that the wheels had been welded in place; and I saw no chocks, skates, or any other devices to keep it from rolling. My guess is that the hand brakes are the only thing keeping it in place. Since the car appears to be on a grade, this could present a problem.

I can say the trip was not a total loss. I discovered a nice little hobby shop that has a very broad selection of small HO detail parts, with a friendly guy working the counter. Bought a couple magazines from him.

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Tom Davidson
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby Tom Davidson » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:48 am

Just one thing: I may have been wrong about the hobby shop clerk's name. :)
Tom

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holtzmac
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Re: Alliance Ohio Caboose

Postby holtzmac » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:10 am

Thanks so much for visiting downtown, alliance! Your unexpected enthusiasm is greatly appreciated.
As suggested, I crawled around underneath then caboose with a spotlight and my camera. I photographed every inscription I found. I did not locate any stenciled serial numbers on the wooden parts of the floor or undercarriage. My behavior baffled the farmer’s market community. They wanted to know what I was looking for down there.
This alone produced some helpful leads, which confirm your suggested leads. Alliance residents finally filled in some of the gaps in a few informal interviews. I still have more questions about the car, but now I have leads to work on.
The Alliance parking lot caboose was donated to the Mayor’s office between 15 and 20 years ago from the Norfolk Southern Corporation as a gift, when they acquired the alliance yards. The Mayor’s event commission, in cooperation with an association of downtown businessmen repurposed the caboose into a multipurpose event venue/ railroad tribute during the late 1990s. The story surrounding the placement and use of this caboose was widely covered in the local newspaper.
Events commission participants recall that the caboose was moved from the rail yard to the parking lot it currently sits in. The caboose was in a terrible state, but people remember that it was blue before they painted it red. Other residents note that the undercarriage parts this particular caboose are Alliance Ohio produced products utilized by the Northern and Western Lines….
I have several avenues to investigate further, but l have some help now… Thanks so much!
PS I mentioned the need for securing the wheels of the caboose to the Mayor’s assistant secretary.


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