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N Scale - Aurora Postage Stamp - 4887-225 - Caboose, Cupola, Steel - Penn Central - 3287

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N Scale - Aurora Postage Stamp - 4887-225 - Caboose, Cupola, Steel - Penn Central - 3287 Image Courtesy of David K. Smith


Stock Number 4887-225
Secondary Stock Number 4887
Brand Aurora Postage Stamp
Manufacturer Roco
Body Style Roco Caboose Cupola Offset 8-Window
Prototype Vehicle Caboose, Cupola, Steel (Details)
Road or Company Name Penn Central (Details)
Road or Reporting Number 3287
Paint Color(s) Green and Black
Print Color(s) White
Coupler Type Rapido Hook
Wheel Type Injection Molded Plastic
Wheel Profile Deep Flange
Release Date 1968-01-01
Item Category Rolling Stock (Freight)
Model Type Caboose
Model Subtype Cupola
Model Variety Offset
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era III: Transition (1939 - 1957)
Scale 1/160



Model Information: This model was first produced by Roco for Minitrix for import into the USA by Aurora as part of the "Postage Stamp" series of models. It is a model of a generic steel offset-cupola caboose. Unlike the similar model made for Atlas by Roco at the same time, this version carries a total of 8 side windows (five on one side and three on the other) whereas the Atlas version has three and three. Interestingly, when Atlas decided to make their own tooling for an offset cupola caboose they went with the five/three layout similar to the Minitrix version. It has also been imported by Model Power.

Prototype History:
The origins of the railroad caboose appear to date back to the 1840s when Nat Williams, a conductor of the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad (a later affiliate of the New York Central) became fed up with cramped and uncomfortable quarters to do paperwork (a common job of the conductor, whose responsibility is general oversight and control of a train, passenger or freight), which was usually done in either a free space of a passenger car or combine/baggage car. To fix this problem, Williams found an unused boxcar and using a simple box and barrel, as a seat and desk, set up shop in the car to do his duties. Not only did he find out he had plenty of room to work but also figured that he could use the unused space to store tools (flags, lanterns, spare parts, etc.) and other essentials to have on board whenever needed (such things become commonly stored on the caboose).

Perhaps the most striking feature ever applied to the railroad caboose was its cupola. According to the story, conductor T.B. Watson of the Chicago & North Western in the 1860s reportedly used a hole in a boxcar’s roof (which he was using as a caboose) to get a better vantage point of the train ahead. It is said that Watson was amazed by the view afforded from the position being able to not only see the train ahead but also from all sides, and to the rear as well. He apparently convinced C&NW shop forces to construct a type of open observation box onto an existing singe-level caboose with windows all around where one could sit and view their surroundings. The rest, as they say, is history and the common cupola was born.

Steel Cabooses replaced their wood-sheathed brethren after the second world war when the steel glut made the production and maintenance of steel cabooses far more efficient than wooden models. With the advancement of the End-of-Train device, cabooses slowly began to fall out of favor. However, in the early 2000’s, “shoving platforms” began to appear as a place to safely house a crew when a reverse move was required. Instead of riding on the side of a freight car, the crew member now has a safe place to stand, while guiding the rear of a reverse move.

Road Name History:
The Penn Central Transportation Company, commonly abbreviated to Penn Central, was an American Class I railroad headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that operated from 1968 until 1976. It was created by the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was added to the merger in 1969; by 1970, the company had filed for what was, at that time, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The Penn Central was created as a response to challenges faced by all three railroads in the late 1960s. The northeastern quarter of the United States, these railroads' service area, was the most densely populated region of the U.S. While railroads elsewhere in North America drew a high percentage of their revenues from the long-distance shipment of commodities such as coal, lumber, paper and iron ore, Northeastern railroads traditionally depended on a mix of services.

As it turned out, the merged Penn Central was little better off than its constituent roads were before. A merger implementation plan was drawn up, but not carried out. Attempts to integrate operations, personnel and equipment were not very successful, due to clashing corporate cultures, incompatible computer systems and union contracts. Track conditions deteriorated (some of these conditions were inherited from the three merged railroads) and trains had to be run at reduced speeds. This meant delayed shipments and personnel working a lot of overtime. As a result, operating costs soared. Derailments and wrecks became frequent, particularly in the midwest.

The American financial system was shocked when after only two years of operations, the Penn Central Transportation company was put into bankruptcy on June 21, 1970. It was the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history at that time. Although the Penn Central Transportation Company was put into bankruptcy, its parent Penn Central Company was able to survive.

The Penn Central continued to operate freight service under bankruptcy court protection. After private-sector reorganization efforts failed, Congress nationalized the Penn Central under the terms of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976. The new law folded six northeastern railroads, the Penn Central and five smaller, failed lines, into the Consolidated Rail Corporation, commonly known as Conrail. The act took effect on April 1, 1976.

Read more on Wikipedia.

Brand/Importer Information:
In 1967, Aurora Plastics Corporation started importing the Minitrix N Scale product line. These trains were marketed as Postage Stamp Trains. It was a bold entry into what would become a very active market in the new N-Scale model train market. The basic starter set took advantage of N-Scale’s small size by packaging everything necessary for a small model railroad in a book-like box. The larger starter sets were packaged in more conventional boxes. Aurora went out of business in 1977.

The Body styles of this product line were made in Austria by Roco, imported into the United States by Minitrix and then rebranded by Aurora. Some of the exact same molds were also produced by Roco for Atlas who branded them using their own name.

A lot of information can be found on All about Aurora Postage Stamp Trains web site by David K. Smith.

Manufacturer Information:
The company was founded in 1960 by Ing. Heinz Rössler and started with a plastic Minitanks series of military vehicles. After export to the USA became successful, the model line was expanded with model trains in HO scale and the smaller N scale. TT scale was also subsequently added to the product line. The model rail product line covers many European countries including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and also the USA.

On July 15, 2005 ROCO Modellspielwaren GmbH was declared bankrupt. From July 25 the company continues as Modelleisenbahn GmbH, but still uses the Roco brand and associated logo. On October 1, 2007, distribution of the 'Minitank' product series was assigned to the German model car manufacturer Herpa.

Since February 2008 Modelleisenbahn also owns Fleischmann, which like Roco had gone bankrupt. The two companies continue as separate brands under Modelleisenbahn GmbH, while benefiting from economies of scale through joined development projects, marketing and procurement.

From Wikipedia

Item created by: gdm on 2017-03-19 16:31:34. Last edited by gdm on 2021-01-05 18:06:01

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