WP 484 represents the Western Pacific's final order for cabooses. While boasting the latest accessories when it was built, overall the 484 differs very little from the first steel cabooses the WP acquired 25 years earlier. You can compare it to Western Pacific 428 in our collection, a member of this first order from 1955.
The "bay window" caboose was developed in the early 1920's, reported on the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad in Ohio. Crews found that the bay windows allowed them to view farther up the sides of the train, making it easier to spot problems such as dragging parts or derailed wheels. It also proved to be a safer design. A caboose, being at the very end of a train, is subject to bone-jarring "slack action", caused when the slack in each coupling between cars is taken out as the train starts moving. By the time to slack runs out at the caboose, the cars is often jerked forward, throwing unwary crew members out of their seats. If thrown from a tall cupola, the result was often serious injury.
Western Pacific was an early convert to the bay window design, building their first version in 1942. Neighboring railroad Southern Pacific discovered bay windows in 1949 and both railroads made them their standard caboose design. In contrast, fellow California railroad Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe remained true to the cupola design until the end of widespread caboose use.
We have two soucres that differ on the weight of this caboose. One source says 49,500 lbs. The second says 55,700 lbs. More research needs to be done to clarify this.