Research drawings [was} 1934 AAR twin hopper blueprints

Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...>

On Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 06:56 AM, Ed Hawkins wrote:
A general drawing of the car was published on p. 263 of the 1937 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia. This drawing shows a vertical-staff hand brake that few, if any, cars actually received. For developing a scale a model it provides the basics. It’s the version having straight side sills between the bolsters and an upward bend towards the corners.

The thought occurs to me that this might be a good time to have a discussion on how to find research drawings in this day and age. I date back to the days when we all relied on the general arrangement drawings of the generic "standard" car desgns published in the Car Builder's Cyclopedias, the followed photos to try to determine what exactly was different on the prototype we intended to model. After decades of this, we are all used ot asking for sources of drawings of standard designs.

The problem with this is in the past couple of decades, so much more material has become available from different archives; not only general arrangement drawings, but additional drawings all the way down to the component level. As an example, a general arrangement drawing of a boxcar will give a pictorial representation of pressed shape of the ends, without any dimensions. The component drawing of the ends will include dimensioned sectional views, and include all the information to model the surface in CAD, which can then become the basis for either CNC toolpaths or a 3D printed part. However, you'll never access these drawings asking for drawings of a "1934 AAR twin hopper". The drawings aren't labeled that way, and therefore aren't cataloged that way.

The various "standard designs" all allowed variations of component parts and fittings. Because this variation would likely affect mounting hole locations and the like, the car builders treated each and every order as a custom job. They may have done the base drawing by tracing older drawings of a standard car, but they prepared a full set of drawings for each order, and rarely do these drawings reference the underlying standard. All of this is a long way of saying that if you want to access these more complete archival drawings, you need to know the builder, and the builder's lot number, unless you are dealing with one of the railroad specific archives.

At the moment, the gold standard of drawing archives is that which is maintained by the Norfolk & Western Historical Society. The3y are well funded and are actively scanning the drawings in their collection. Their web site is easy to use and provides thumbnail images of the drawings, so you can determine if any particular sheet will be useful for your project. Ordering is on-line. Reproduction costs aren't excessive, and the drawings are mailed in a couple weeks. If the N&W had examples of the car you are interested in, this is a good place to start.

I believe the NP and Southern Ry. historical societies also have extensive drawing collections, but I have no experiance with them. Perhaps someone else can comment.

The Pullman Library at the Illinois Railway Museum has a massive collection of Pullman-Standard and predecessor company drawings. Not quite as easy to use as the N&W collection, as the Pullman Library faces the constraint placed by the owner of the drawings that they NOT be made available until a license agreement is signed, which precludes putting useful thumbnails on their web site. They also have less funding, so there is no continuing scanning program. Drawings are scanned as reproductions are ordered. That being said, the library will scan anything that is ordered. Continuing work mostly involves cataloging the collection for easier access. The key to easily finding materials held by the Pullman Library is the lot number. Let me repeat, the key to finding materials held by the Pullman Library is the BUILDER'S LOT NUMBER. These are often to be found in other railroad historical society rosters and equipment diagrams. The library does have some of the Pullman-Standard hard copy indexes, which typically show the lot number, date of order, railroad that placed the order, kind of car, and possibly the number series assigned, if it was known at the time the order was placed. What the index DOES NOT SHOW is any relationship to any "standard design". For that matter, the drawings themselves will not reference any standard design, either. Knowing that you are looking for hopper cars built in 1934 may be enough to locate drawings, if you know the railroad that ordered them, and having the number series will help confirm that they are really drawings of the car you want. As I said before, builder's lot number is better. The index of Haskell & Barker and Standard steel Car Co. drawings are much less complete. Here is contact and general collection information for the Pullman Library:

Apparently the National Museum of Transportation in the St. Louis area has some archival American Car & Foundry drawings, but I have little experiance with that collection. Best take Mr. Hawkins up on his offer of help if AC&F drawings are involved.

I hope some find this information helpful.

Dennis Storzek

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