Southern Pacific Cabooses

The page was last updated on April 5, 2003. (will not be updated)

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SP had an eventual total fleet of 265 steel cupola cabooses, all delivered in 1940-1942 as the C-40-3 class. In 1947 SP received the first of a total fleet of 974 steel bay window cabooses, in three classes: 180 in the C-30 class (new in 1947 and 1951), 412 in the C-40 class (new in 1961-1967), and 392 in the C-50 class (new in 1968-1980).


SP Wooden Cabooses

Southern Pacific's wood caboose fleet shared many features with UP's wood caboose fleet. This was due to the Harriman-era Common Standard that were used for both road's cabooses. The SP cabooses follow the four-window design, with both vertical sided cupolas and slope-sided cupolas.

Southern Pacific used the four window design, with rounded roof and cupola situated towards the end of the body. An existing diagram sheet, received from an SP historian but unidentified by railroad company name, shows a car designated as "Common Standard Caboose Car, Class CA, Specification CS-59A, Eight Wheel, Narrow Cupola" and a later wide cupola version designated as CS-59B. The cupolas in both specifications are the sloped design. This is UP's CA class wooden caboose.

Historians of SP's caboose fleet have separated that road's cabooses into three distinct groups: the pre-Harriman Common Standard, class CS-15 (with its high, sloped cupolas, built as late as 1902); the Harriman Standard CA class (dating from 1909-1913 and identical to UP's CA class); and the C-30-1, -2, and -3 post Harriman classes with steel underframes.

The original SP CA cabooses were built without truss rods, and included steel platforms and wooden center sills. By 1916-1918, SP became dissatisfied with the strength of the cars' underframes and began applying truss rods to strengthen each car's wooden frame components. Like UP, in 1914 SP adopted its own steel underframe caboose which was given the class of C-30-1. This car was comparable to UP's CA-1 design, but none were actually built until 1917, with others built in 1922. These were SP's first steel underframe cabooses, compared to UP's first steel underframe cars, the CA-1 class, which were first built in 1914.

SP's final wooden cabooses were completed as two classes of "replacement" cabooses, being numbered into the vacant number slots of previously retired cabooses. The first class, C-30-2, were completed in 1928 by SP's Los Angeles General Shops. The second class, 26 cabooses in the C-30-3 class, were also completed in 1929 and 1930, also at Los Angeles.

Truss rods were added to SP's wooden cabooses in 1917-1919. For its solution to the same problem of needing to strengthen the end platforms and end frames, UP chose to add longitudinal steel beams.

SP Steel Cabooses

Southern Pacific received its first 50 steel cupola cabooses in 1937. SP had an eventual total fleet of 265 steel cupola cabooses, all delivered in 1940-1942 as the C-40-3 class. In 1947 SP received the first of a total fleet of 974 steel bay window cabooses, in three classes: 180 in the C-30 class (new in 1947 and 1951), 412 in the C-40 class (new in 1961-1967), and 392 in the C-50 class (new in 1968-1980).

In 1937, as Southern Pacific began receiving its first steel caboose cars, the railroad had a fleet of 690 wooden caboose cars, in both all-wood and wood with steel underframes, and subsidiary Texas & New Orleans had another 213 cars.

Southern Pacific's steel cupola caboose fleet consisted of 265 cars, including 30 cabooses built for its T&NO subsidiary. The first 50 cars, class C-40-1, were built in 1937 with numbers 1000-1049. These first 50 steel cabooses were 35 feet long . The remaining 185 SP cars, all in class C-40-3 (there was no C-40-2 class), with numbers 1050-1234, were all built in 1940 to 1942. SP subsidiary Texas & New Orleans received an additional 30 cars, with T&NO numbers 400-429. These 215 C-40-3 cars were 36 feet, 4 inches long. Five were built in 1940; 40 were built in 1941; and 165 were built in 1942, the same year that UP received its first 100 steel cabooses.

Between 1947 and 1951, 180 C-30 class cabooses were delivered: 135 SP cars, with numbers 1235-1369; and 45 T&NO C-30 cabooses, numbers 500-544, in 1947 and 1949.

With higher cars becoming more predominant by the late 1940s, SP changed from the top mounted cupola design to their now familiar bay window design, which were assigned the C-40 class. SP's steel bay window caboose fleet consisted of 974 cars in the C-40 and C-50 weight classes.

The 412 C-40 class cars were built between 1961 and 1967, including 400 for SP, with numbers 1400-1799, and 12 for subsidiary St. Louis Southwestern (SSW). During 1973 to 1975, SP rebuilt 203 of the C-40s, upgrading them with the necessary features needed to address the safety and environmental concerns of the mid 1970s. Of the planned 475 cars in the rebuild program, with a intended 4000-4474 number series, only 120 cars were actually completed, with numbers between 4000 and 4403

There were a total 392 cars in the C-50 class: 20 were built for SSW in 1968; 181 were built for SP between 1970 and 1974, and carried numbers 1800-1980; 16 more were built for SSW in 1974; and 175 (with numbers 4600-4774, and the newest cabooses on the railroad) were built for SP between 1978 and 1980.

St. Louis Southwestern (SSW, or Cotton Belt) received 45 wide vision all-steel cabooses from International Car between 1959 and 1963, with numbers 1-45, numbered before its 12 1967-built, SP-design C-40 cars, numbers 46-57. Following the C-40s on the SSW roster were the 20 SP-design C-50 cars, numbers 58-77, built in 1968, and 16 more, numbers 78-93, built in 1974.

In 1955 SP rebuilt 24 steam engine tenders into transfer cabooses, for service in the Los Angeles and Bay Area yards. In 1964 five flat cars were rebuilt to five more transfer cabooses, followed in 1966 and 1967 by five more for service in the Houston area yards. These last five made a total of 34 steel transfer cabooses.

In a test of a new caboose design, in late 1980 a wreck damaged bay window caboose was rebuilt to a modern, short body bay window caboose. This departure from traditional caboose design may have been inspired (as was UP's CA-11 class) by the much admired Missouri Pacific's 13700-series home-built examples, completed in 1977 and 1978. The new SP caboose was given a new class, C-50-10, and a new number, caboose number 1.

These totals gave SP full steel caboose fleet of 1,264 cars: 265 cupola cars; 974 bay window cars; 34 transfer cars; and a single, modern, short body bay window caboose.