Recent Project: Penn Central N5G 18403

According to information that I’ve gleaned from a number of sources, including the Penn Central Caboose Archive, Penn Central was experiencing such a desperate shortage of cabooses that they purchased a number of them from the Lehigh Valley, of all roads. They classed these cabooses N5G, and put them in yard and transfer service.

My model of 18403 represents ex Lehigh Valley car #95119, which Penn Central purchased in 1968. I have no evidence of this caboose ever operating in the Niagara area. Regardless, it makes a nice addition to the caboose fleet.


My model of 18403 started as a factory painted Proto 2000 Northeast Caboose. Here’s what it looked like out of the box.  IMG_9542

I had a hard time imagining how to tone down the glowing plastic appearance, and I’m just not a fan of the way it was lettered. The lettering is correct, by the way, but the whole thing just wasn’t sitting right with me.

After I did some research, I discovered that there are some discrepancies between the model and the prototype. The end windows at the platforms are wrong, and the steps should have three rungs instead of two. There are other issues as well, but to my eye, the colour, lettering, and those particular issues with the carbody are the most glaring. I decided that a simple repaint of the model might produce a satisfactory representation of the prototype, and perhaps I could live with the other issues.

After the car was disassembled and stripped, I repainted it with a colour that I mixed from Polyscale Penn Central Green and NYC Century Green. Incidentally, Penn Central used NYC green on the earliest caboose repaints. The photos don’t capture the difference in colour between this car and the ones painted with Polyscale Penn Central Green, but it’s apparent in person.

After painting, the car was lettered with decals from Microscale and the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society. I replaced the knock-off coupler with a Kadee “scale” coupler and weathered it with a combination of airbrushed colours and powders.

This model was finished a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have time to post about it until now. Here’s a photo of the other side.


3 thoughts on “Recent Project: Penn Central N5G 18403

  1. Hunter,

    Love those PC “greenies”. I also like the amount of weathering you apply to your rolling stock. Around the block a few times but not two steps from the junk yard eather. Very nice work.

    Best, Scott

    • Thanks Scott. I think this particular caboose will likely be my most weathered. From checking photos, it looks like the N5B and N5G cabooses were the grimiest in the PC fleet. That might have been because they were typically relegated to lower priority assignments. In some cases, their sole purpose might have been to provide a local switch crew a toilet and a sheltered place to eat lunch. As such, I don’t think they would have been cleaned very often. The CASO cabooses were the exception, it seems. A bunch of N5Bs were assigned to St. Thomas, and those cabooses seemed to have been washed more often.

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