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Greenberg Marx errors: The Union Pacific 3824 caboose

Let’s pick up again with another error in the Greenberg Marx Trains Pocket Price Guide: The UP 3824 6-inch caboose. The guide lists the 3824 as a brown and yellow caboose, available on both a black or brown frame, valued at $20 in good condition and $30 in excellent.

The description is correct, but the price is only half right.

The black-frame 3824 is extremely common, surpassed in commonality perhaps only by its contemporary New York Central 20102 red and gray caboose, or the NYC 556 red caboose. Marx made hundred of thousands (if not millions) of inexpensive windup and electric sets, headed up by a basic steam locomotive and either a NYC tender and caboose or UP tender and caboose.

The brown-frame 3824 is a bit of an oddity. Right after World War II, Marx had a surplus of UP M10005 diesel streamliner engines and not enough passenger cars to make up complete sets, so Marx created double-headed freight sets, using a windup M10005, a dummy M10005 running behind it, an assortment of freight cars, and a brown-framed caboose at the end. Perhaps Marx thought the brown frame complemented the M10005’s looks better, though all the rest of the cars had conventional black frames. The brown-frame variation was only sold this way.

The $20/$30 price in the Greenberg guide seems fair for this uncommon variation of the UP caboose.

But for the common black-frame version, $20 is much too high. A nice 20102 or 556 caboose is barely worth more than its frame, wheels, axles, and coupler are worth as spare parts. I have several black-frame 3824s, and if I offered them for sale for $15 each, I wouldn’t expect to be able to sell all of them.

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