Purchasing An Authentic Caboose Stove On eBay

More often than not, when browsing the catagories for Antique wood and coal stoves on eBay, you will see "Genuine Caboose Stove" in the description, usually pertaining to a little Pot Belly Cast Iron Stove, with 4 spindly legs. Almost always someone, usually described as an old duffer that they were Lucky to buy it from, has informed the Seller that this was used on the Such&Such Railroad Line, back in the good 'ole days. I see it every week. If you are indeed looking for a True Caboose Rail Road Stove, here's what you should know:

Look closely at the front of this loading door, you will notice that it has a double latch system, or a safety. This is because caboose stoves were largely left unattended, and if you've ever been on an old train, with the side to side motion and bumping around, it would be too easy to have a simple door catch spring open and spill forth hot coals on the floor of the train. The rocking motion of the train brings up my next point, these stoves did not have legs, but were built to be directly bolted to the floor. A stove with 12" legs sitting on the floor of a moving railroad car would simply fall over before it got out of the rail yard or depot. And finally, in almost all cases, the stoves had a Lipped Top, a solid ring of cast iron above the top cook surface, usually 1" or more, to keep the coffee pot or pan of chilli from sliding off while under way. Also, in almost all cases, they where coal stoves, as that is what the train's locomotive was burning. Coal must have draft from the bottom of the fire, thus it has to have draft controls below the firebox. There are many different manufacturers of caboose and rail stoves, one of the more famous being Smoke Consumer, with an embossed wheel and wings to each side. Often you will see the embossed description "If I am good, please tell others" This isn't an advertisement, but a warning to inform all that worked on the train that the stove was safe and sound in the caboose.

Please note that literally thousands of these Original stoves where cannibalized for their cast iron content during our country's War Efforts, and a True Caboose Stove should and does command a rather substantial price, in working condition. Use common sense when purchasing these wonderful examples of yesteryears' railroad heating, and beware of the catchy sales pitch. There are indeed Authentic Examples of Pot Belly Style stoves used in this application, But NONE had spindly legs that were not bolted directly to the floor. True examples are rare and hard to find. Because I am enlightening Buyers about this subject, I am sure I will receive non-helpful votes by the Sellers attempting to sell their non-authentic items. So be it, after 37+ years in the Antique Stove Business, I know what I'm talking about. And now, so do you.


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