Train Shed Cyclopedias



Thanks for asking this question - after sitting in on clincs at the
San Jose national and seeing the large attendance by modelers fairly
new to prototype modeling and listening to some of their questions,
I've been working on an article (intended as the first in an ongoing
series on a systematic approach on building a steam era boxcar fleet
for the modeler just getting into prototype modeling). My
premise: "If I was starting from scratch in prototype railroad
modeling and wanted a research library, which items do I absolutely
need that I can readily find at a reasonable price?" As Byron's
detailed in his excellent post, there is a lot out there. Over the
last fifteen years, there has been an explosion in the quantity and
quality of freight car information available - unlike fifteen years
ago, where you were searching for a needle in a haystack because
information you're looking for isn't readily available or surces
haven't been identified yet, today it's the opposite problem - you
have so much information out there that things sometimes get lost in
the volume (this problem I'd much rather have). The challenge for
the new prototype modeler is to "get the most bang for the buck" for
his research material. Unfortunately, there isn't anything nearly as
economical as the Squadron "In Action" series (I also started as a
scale modeler, and still keep a shelf of them when I feel the need
for a change of pace). Byron hit many of the really good pubs out
there - here's a few more:

NEB&W Guide to Steam Era Freight Cars: Even if I weren't a member of
the RPI society, I'd still give this series my highest
recommendation. These represent almost 20 years of research towards
creating a realistic freight car fleet for the NEB&W, growing from a
series of notes made by Todd Sullivan on which prototypes are
represented by which kits. From this beginning, John Nehrich has
expanded and updated these into 4 sizable volumes of information
covering everything from suitability of kits, paint schemes, freight
car evolution, developing a model freight car fleet, etc., etc..
Even though these contain no color photos (an unfortunate by-product
of operating on a shoestring budget provided by the Institute), the
sheer amount of information makes these a great bargain for the
price. One nice feature of the guide is that John takes pains to
reference articles in the hobby press, which makes sifting through
the pile of magazine back issues much less painful. For more info
(an an online guide to steam era freight car kits), go to .

Official Railway Equipment Registers: Once only available as
originals on a catch-as-can basis at railroadiana shows (at a premium
price), many of these are now available on CD (various issues -
August 1888 to Janauary 1959, PRR 1893-1926, PRR 1927-1950) from Al
Westerfield (, and the January
1953 issue in paper from the NMRA
( These are listings for all
railroads operating of freight cars in revenue interchange service
and contain a treasure trove of information from number series,
dimensions, specially equipped cars, and interchange connections.
These are not stand alone publications from the modeler's point of
view because they do not contain diagrams or pictures, but they
multiply the effectiveness of the rest of your references because
they give you the big picture. I highly recommend obtaining a copy
of an ORER for the years you're interested in modeling.

Equipment Diagram Books: Many historical societies offer
reproduction equipment diagram books, and Wayner has PRR diagram book
as well. Again, these aren't stand alone because the diagrams are
not scale drawings but general arrangments, but they are an excellent
representation of a particular road's fleet.

Westerfield Data Sheets: Al offers his outstanding decals
separately, and he includes his data sheets with them, which are
easily worth the price of his kits, much less the decals!

Judging from your last post, you're on the right track with the L&N
Historical Society. As for other roads, I'd pick up the first volume
of the NEB&W Guide, a copy of the ORER for the year(s) I'm interested
in from Westerfield, and start with learning more about the roads
that connect with the sections of the L&N, NC&StL, and TC that you're
interested in, as well as the roads with major car fleets (PRR, NYC,

Welcome aboard! (I also came to the same conclusion about my
aircraft and ship models - I very well couldn't refight the Battle of
Midway with my 1/72 aircraft collection either).

Ben Hom

P.S. - Comments welcome from the list at large - ask yourself the
same question!

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