Re: Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual, Vol. 3 and FOFC re-prints

Tony Thompson

Bob Heninger wrote:

Focus on Freight Cars is simply a collection of volumes of freight car photos that were in a collection that Ted was given access to. Although the collection of negatives belonged to a man named Michael Urac, I don't believe he was the photographer. The photos were all taken in Southern California, the Los Angeles area, IIRC, in the mid to late 1930s. At any rate, the photos are all clear, well exposed shots showing to good advantage the details of the cars. There is no discernible rhyme or reason for what got photographed, but as I understand the photographer took the pictures with the intent of building models. So they are very much the type of photos I wish I could go trackside today and obtain. Most of the cars are clean, no doubt to show the lettering to good advantage. Although the paint schemes have sometimes changed by my modeling era, oftentimes the details of the cars have not, so I find these books very useful.

      Good summary, Bob. As it happens, I recently wrote a blog post about these books, and I entirely share your positive view of them. If you want to read the blog post, it's at the following link

In contradistinction, the Reference Manuals are much more comprehensive in scope, although they are not exhaustive in their coverage. The boxcar and tank car volumes cover the most numerous types of cars for the largest railroads in the US and Canada. These volumes provide an economical and comprehensive overview of the freight car types they cover, for a good portion of the steam era. They are excellent reference sources.

      Again, I think Bob has it right. The tank car Reference Manual, Volume 2, is extremely useful, with a wide variety of car pictured. It's like having a terrific photo collection of your own. They are basically Xerox images, but as Bob says, comprehensive and certainly useful.
       I'm glad Bob posted about these books. I expected Ted to do so, as he's reading the list, but Bob's summary is right on target.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

Join to automatically receive all group messages.