Re: Freight Cars in Action - USRA DS Boxcars



I've been giving our discussions this past weekend much thought, as well
as your recent posting to the STMFC list. Here are some of my thoughts,
for whatever they're worth:

I The "In Action" series as Squadron-Signal publishes them now are
strictly prototype data books, or more correctly, monographs. They don't
cover any modeling directly and because of this they never become
obsolete! S-S also publishes a series called "Detail and Scale." This
group does has references in it to scale models. When the series started
the modeling section was very long. Over the years it has been shortened
considerably, to no more than a brief paragraph on the better models, a
brief sentence on the shorter ones. Five years from now those short
paragraphs and sentences will seem way too long. So will any modeling
remarks in a book on freight cars. Unless you cover all models in all
scales, past and present and even future, you will have some people avoid
it because it doesn't cover their scale. And if your book is worthy,
most of the models available will be corrected, withdrawn, or replaced by
better models, making that entire section obsolete. Think about it. I
know I'd be upset paying good money for page after page of photos of F&C
models when there could be even more prototype photos printed instead.
Besides, why provide free advertising?

2 Look at the Prototype Cyclopedias that Ed Hawkins publishes, I think
that he has hit on an Ideal format, especially after he stopped taking
advertising. The vertical format with square binding allows for normal
width bookshelf storage and a readable title. The photos print at about
7 1/4'" wide, ideal in my eyes for quality photo printing and the ability
to see small details on car sides. He even gets a small amount of color
in each issue. His magazine sells for 20 something bucks; about half the
number of pages and cost would be ideal. I've heard that he prints
between 2000 and 3000 copies each and has had a semi hard sell of the 5
issues to date. That said, I think Ed may be the perfect person to deal
with for getting started, either as a source of information or as a
publisher/partner. Unless you feel you can bankroll it by yourself.

3 Come up with something other than "In Action" for your title unless
you want to start by doing battle with Squadron-Signals lawyers. They
have been using that title for 20+ years for 5 or 6 different series
about planes, armor, boats, etc., and I suspect they have it tied up in
law. Besides, you are not actually discussing anything about freight
cars that needs to depict action. Besides a better title could be then
used for other areas of railroading: like passenger cars, turntables,
bridges, and stations. I'd hate to think of a book called "Stations in

4 Unless you destroy the concept and print the photos too small, don't
try to squeeze too much into this first book. I think you'll find that
just the original USRA cars will fill a nice first volume. Save the
clones and rebuilds Whatever you do, don't stop with only pictures. Get
drawings, from the modeling magazines if necessary, or pay to have a set
drawn. The info is out there. Be sure to include everything that a
modeler could and should have to build a good model, such as brake
rigging, differences in details between the cars built by the various
builders or for the various railroads. Just the differences in AB brake
rigging added by the various railroads will fill a full chapter. Include
all those neat little sketches that will show the detailing differences.
Another big help would be a photo gallery of detail shots from one or
more of the several USRA d/s cars still in existence.

5 Try to think of your efforts as the first of many by establishing a
flexible format that others can add to and create a library covering a
wide range of railroad subjects.

5 There are a lot of photographs out there. Sometimes it may take a bit
of digging to get at them. Don't count on just the members of this list
to provide everything you need. Contact all the relevant historical
societies for whatever they can provide. Many of them have access to
drawings, builders and insurance photographs, dates, car and lettering
diagrams. In case you haven't discovered it yet, this will be one hell
of a huge undertaking.

Good luck.


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