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Restoration Update - July 8, 2004

Since the last update, the X201 has had a complete mechanical overhaul - brakes and trucks. 

As you may or may not realize, all (at least I believe this to be true) local "yellow-belly" cabooses in the X200 series were equipped with older, previously used friction bearing trucks, since they normally saw only yard service or short-trip road service on local trains. 

The friction bearing trucks were in fair shape considering their age (40's era) and the wheelsets had plenty of tread and flange left. All the journal brass was in place and in good condition as well. However, since X201 is going to be returned to service, I chose to sacrifice a bit of originality for a more modern, less maintenance set-up. I wanted to swap the friction bearing trucks for a pair of Barber-Bettendorf swing action trucks by Standard Car Truck Co. that were built especially for cabooses. This is the truck that all of the Southern's modern era road cabooses received and used until their retirement. 

Southern caboose X458, owned by and stored at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum, was the candidate for the swap. The Museum graciously agreed to let me have the roller trucks since they agreed the more modern set-up would better suit their train operations. (I truly appreciate the generosity of the Museum and plan to make a donation.) The roller trucks appeared in decent shape. 

Before making the swap, I used a pair of old car jacks to lift one end of X458 and remove one truck.



With a backhoe, I disassembled the first truck to inspect for stress cracks, worn wear plates, and other common truck problems. I found that many of the wear plates on the truck transom were loose or missing due to broken welds. 

I also found several stress cracks in corners of the transom. 

I imagine that most of these problems were caused by slack action at the end of the train and the bolster slamming against the transom repeatedly. 

With the help of my father-in-law, the cracks were burned out using a torch until only good steel remained, and then filled with E70 weld. 

Burning out the stress cracks

The Final Wear Plate

In a particular note of interest, an examination of the roller trucks from X458 proved that one of the trucks had seen service under at least two different cars. I found stencils on the bolster reading X458. Under the X458 stencil, a second stencil reading X604 can be detected. What happened to caboose X604? Was it scrapped, was it wrecked? I plan to re-stencil both trucks to read X201 since they have found a new home.


Southern Railway Historical Association