Sometimes research and fact-finding for an article/story is harder than pulling teeth. Such was the case with finding information for this short story. Penn Central transfer cabooses, as with most railroad’s transfer cabooses, were used primarily for yard to yard transfers and short switching runs, especially runs where numerous back-up moves would be made. Thus the reason for the large “porches” at either end. Carrying just one desk and one bunk, they weren’t constructed for long freight runs.
New York Central originally constructed 189 transfer cabooses starting in March 1966 using 1942-1946 era 40″ boxcar frames with welded bodies attached. A second lot was built in 1967. NYC classified these as N6A. These cabooses originally had roofwalks and ladders, and in some photos in research it appears that some had wooden decks.
Penn Central then constructed the first of their transfer cabooses starting in 1968-1969 at Despatch Shops in upstate New York. Classified as N9 and N9E, a total of 140 were built. These were built at first with two 100 pound propane tanks at one end for heat, no roofwalks, nor ladders. Some photos, in fact many, show a small roof overhang over the end doors, and what looks like a “rain guard” over the propane tanks. The N9E class and N11E class had 6v electrical systems, hence the “E” designation.
Penn Central starting in 1969 through 1970 constructed 75 class N11 and 75 class N11E transfer cabooses, again at Despatch Shops. These cabooses were the last PC built. These classes had a wider platform step, no roof overhang, simpler handrails, and were only 32″ in length, but carried the same dimension body for the crew.
As far as research can determine, except for wrecked cabooses, all NYC transfer cabooses made in into Penn Central, and all PC built units made it into ConRail. A few of these classes are preserved today.