John Miller wrote:
“Since I don't have a layout, my only opportunity I have to make up and run a consist is at the club or show. I'd like to get as close to right as possible when running at these events. I've thought about finding a photo of a train during the period and building the models to match the photo...”
Why NOT model a specific consist from a photo? If you have a favorite locomotive that you run at the club or shows, why not use it as a starting point for your research and find train photos of that locomotive or ones in its class? It doesn’t need to be a particularly good photo either - you’d be surprised what you can figure out from those fuzzy cars in the background.
“I really want to focus on a specific era....1943-44 ish (at the height of the war effort). “
Have you browsed through the Library of Congress’ FSA/OWI collection? Quite a few wartime photos were taken on the ATSF.
“So far I've learned that all new ATSF cars built after 1944 didn't have poling pockets. That helps me in determining that any new Boxes in a consist without poling pockets would automatically advance my modeling year after 1944. This is the type of information I was fishing for....specific information to help me narrow down my car specific search. I hope that makes sense.
Actually, it doesn’t. Tony Thompson pointed out the problem with this approach:
“Individual railroads began to order cars without them, but other railroads continued to buy cars with that feature. You need to know which is which, not what PROPORTION of all cars had pockets.”
So while your new Santa Fe cars may not have poling pockets, this may not be true for other railroads. Additionally, many in your audience have trouble knowing that that Santa Fe “Shock Control” boxcar doesn’t belong in your WWII era train, much less call you out whether or not a certain cars have or don’t have poling pockets. (Don’t believe me? Go to past articles on Sellios’ layout and see how many times you can find that Athearn Santa Fe Shock Control boxcar on a supposedly Depression-era layout.)
“I guess what it really comes down to, is not getting ridiculed by an OVER-ZEALOUSLY LOUD ‘Experts’ at the club or show saying ‘that car never had Poling Pockets after....’ or ‘that cars ladder had 8 rungs instead of 9’....well I think you get my point. .....I get so sick and tired of ‘those experts’ trying to impose their reality at club meetings and shows, that I've almost stopped going to them.”
It’s only ridicule if you let it get to you. Besides, have you ever asked these “experts” to back up their assertions? Have they actually bought models of their own? How good are their models? Do they even model or work on the club layout? To me, no models of their own = zero credibility.
I really think you’re failing to see the forest for the trees.