SN 1632

Wooden Caboose





Note: The following history was copied from a placard provided by the museum for the benefit of visitors.

“In 1916, the Western Pacific Railroad took delivery of 1000 wood boxcars with steel underframes built by the Pullman Company. As boxcars, they served well for many years. However a California State mandate for steel underframe cabooses (which withstood wrecks better than wood frame equipment) in the mid-1930s created a shortage of these important cars.

The WP responded by rebuilding almost 100 of the 1916 boxcars into cabooses in their own shops in Sacramento, California.
These home-built cabooses, which came in both cupola and bay window versions, became icons of the railroad. Some remained in service long after most other major railroads had forsaken wooden equipment for steel. Many, such as the 1632, were sold to WP subsidiary railroads as they became surplus to the WP.

SN 1632 was rebuilt from WP boxcar 15451 in 1937 and renumbered WP 617. On June 28, 1956, it was sold to the Sacramento Northern. The 1632 was one of 10 similar cars that went to the SN during the 1950s, a time when the former interurban railroad was ending its electrified operations and modernizing. It served for nearly 20 years, finally becoming the last surviving cupola caboose on the SN. In October 1973, it returned home, sold back to the WP for work train service.

The FRRS acquired this well-travelled veteran in 1984 and repainted it in the green and yellow colors it wore during its final SN years.”
Evidence points to additional internal modifications after the initial conversion. The original crew toilet facilities appear to have emptied with a straight discharge on to the tracks. At some time this was modified by the addition of a holding system. The original toilet closet, an adjoining cold locker, and a storage locker were all gutted and a six foot long holding tank installed.

A new toilet area was constructed from plain paneling just forward of the “A end” of the cupola. The original interior was all tongue and grove paneling. To go along with this upgraded waste management, a new car water supply was installed along with an air operated flushing system.
There were two folding bunks, one on each side of the car, that have been removed but the associated canopies still remain. Caboose WP614, at the museum, still has its bunks installed.
A comment on the interior wood work. It was very well done with all joints/seams covered with ¼ round ¾” molding. Mitered joints were used throughout. No seams or cracks were visible except those caused by many years of hard use. Kudos to the WP shop force.


Photo by Brian McCamish - used with permission


Photo by HG Reb Stout photo, FRRS Collection

Links to Train Sheet articles about SN 1632:
Train Sheet #120, Page 4:  Equipment Trade Announced
Train Sheet #070, Page 5:  Freight Car Restoration Report
Train Sheet #062, Page 4:  Blue Flag...FRRS restoration notes
Train Sheet #061, Page 5:  SN Caboose
Train Sheet #013, Page 3:  Wheel Report - Window Frames for SN 1632
Train Sheet #009, Page 7:  Sacramento Northern Caboose 1632
Train Sheet #008, Page 2:  The Wheel Report

The Western Pacific HEADLIGHT articles about SN 1632:
Headlight # 29, Page 18:  SN 1632 Caboose
Headlight # 29, Page 24:  Sacramento Northern Yuba City Depot and SN 1632 Caboose