Delmar Caboose Restoration #4

  • Advertise with us
Project by Karson posted 08-15-2008 06:47 AM 7037 views 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve had a few comments and questions about the restoration of the City of Delmar DE / MD Train Caboose.

One of the local businessmen who has a bar across the street from the caboose got a restoration committee going to spearhead some work in the city of Delmar.

The city was an old railroad town with a switching center and repair facility in town. Delmar is about half way from the northern border of Delaware where a link with Philadelphia /Baltimore trains would be connected to and the southern tip of Virginia where it is in the Delmarva Peninsula. (That Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, that make up the three states in the peninsula.) The peninsula is a gigantic sandbar that covers the area between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Many years ago the town was given the caboose and also the train station. No one wanted to maintain the train station and it was torn down. A real loss because I understand that it was beautiful and had a second floor because of all of the train employees that were in the area.

The caboose needed some repair work. The restoration committee contacted the Mason-Dixon Woodworking Club (Toy workshop) to see if we could help. Our workshop that we use is about 3 blocks from the caboose. I offered to build what was necessary in my shop at home.

It started with the windows.
Click for details

I was suppose to make two windows but before I got completed with all of the work a vagrant climbed up on the roof of the caboose and put his foot through a window and climbed inside to sleep on the cots inside. The police caught him some time following that. So a third window was required.

Then I needed to make a door.
Click for details

It also had been destroyed by vandals.

Weather had not been kind to the caboose and some siding boards needed to be made. They were tongue and groove and I made them out of Popular. Window molding was made to look like the original profile. A couple of pieces were still present on the caboose.
Click for details

A facia board was also required because the original was split and falling apart. It was on the left end of the caboose.

All the assorted parts were provided to the painter who had been contracted to install the parts and to paint the caboose.

The paint color that was selected was the original color that was used on the Pennsylvania Railroad, who provided the caboose. The color is quite different from the previous color.

The restoration was completed last fall and a dedication ceremony was held. We got no recognition at that ceremony for the work that we completed, but the painter got thanked and he got paid.

Here are some additional pictures from inside the caboose if you have never seen inside. And if you have seen inside a caboose they are still here.

The door on one end with two cots. Notice the missing panel where feet and bodies got inside.

Standing by those cots and looking the other direction was a water tank and sink. It drained through the floor.

Behind the sink is a compartment that had picks, shovels, pry bars, wrenches etc.

Between two compartments were steps that led you up to seats above that allowed you to look out the windows and look at the train in front of you or track behind you. Unless you were facing the other way.

Standing by the steps you see the stove and coal box for your storage of heating supplies.

There was a small table for eating or filling out the required reports of the days activities.

Looking back to the first door you see another desk and another cot.

The steps are lightly visable on the right between the two compartments. I believe that one of those was the outhouse (Water Closet, Privy, Restroom) The transportation laws were changed to stop the dumping of raw sewage unto the train tracks, a holding tank was required.

The seats for the observation tower was on top of the storage compartments.

It was a lot of fun to do this project and it was my first set of windows and my first passage door.

I know this isn’t a caboose, but, it is a great picture from many years ago. A great shot

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

20 comments so far

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3727 days

#1 posted 08-15-2008 12:12 PM

Looks great!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 3786 days

#2 posted 08-15-2008 01:03 PM

Karson thanks for the tour. I`v never seen inside a caboose before. Looks like you did a great build.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 3740 days

#3 posted 08-15-2008 01:41 PM

loks great, beautiful job

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4003 days

#4 posted 08-15-2008 01:54 PM

Nice blog Karson;

Funny how we acquire our experience in woodworking.

Restoration work is a very good way to learn carpentry / construction methods.

Much of my early General Contracting Business revolved around Historic restoration, although in my case it was buildings. I’ve never been a caboose man. Well actually…

Nice job;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3791 days

#5 posted 08-15-2008 01:56 PM

Thanks for the update Karson. Thank you for helping preserve a bit of American history. I grew up close to the Burlington Northern railroad and a railroad tie plant.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3736 days

#6 posted 08-15-2008 02:00 PM

Cool project. Great result, too bad they didn’t acknowledge the effort. Thanks for the post.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3806 days

#7 posted 08-15-2008 02:16 PM

Too bad you did not get any recognition for all your time & expertise in restoring a piece of American history.
My Father spent 33 years in Cabooses just like this one & believe me they did more than just this at “(There was) a small table for eating or filling out the required reports of the days activities.” many a poker or cribbage hand was delt across these tables. LOL

Thanks for sharing & bringing back memories that our children will never have.


View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4323 days

#8 posted 08-15-2008 02:17 PM

Nice job Karson, too bad your club wasn’t recognized for all of your fine work.

I’ve lived close to railroad tracks all of my life, & I miss the old cabooses.

The cabooses in our area were line with tongue, & grooved car siding.

One of the brakemen, or conductors used to play a tune with the whistle while going past our house.

Things have really changed. No more puffing, & smoke from the steam locomotive,

just the droning roar of the diesel.

I have a caboose lantern in my cabin, that’s used for a light above our snack bar.

I attached a reflector shade to the bottom, & electrified it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#9 posted 08-15-2008 02:31 PM

Great job, Karson. Thanks for the tour!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3738 days

#10 posted 08-15-2008 02:50 PM

I like to take something old and make it new… great job on this! I really enjoyed the tour!

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 3757 days

#11 posted 08-15-2008 04:03 PM

Karson, great job! Kudos to you and your woodworking club.

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4185 days

#12 posted 08-15-2008 04:17 PM

bravo, Karson!!! Bravo.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Maddhatter's profile


126 posts in 3601 days

#13 posted 08-15-2008 04:32 PM

Well done Karson, I will have to stop in and check it out,

Thanks for keeping our DE History alive for all to enjoy

-- Norm (AKA - The Maddhatter), Middletown DE

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4045 days

#14 posted 08-15-2008 06:05 PM

Thanks Karson:
You folks should be very proud!


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4424 days

#15 posted 08-15-2008 06:16 PM

I was told about a different design caboose. it was a Bay Window Caboose. This is a picture of one for sale on the internet for 19,999. It was part of a train home that someone had built. All of the rooms were train cars and you walked from one car to the other to get to the different rooms.

It is for sale here

I don’t know how long this link will be active.

I would think that two bay Window cabooses passing each other would be quite close together. Not the time to do a high-five.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

showing 1 through 15 of 20 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics