Re: Foobies

Richard Hendrickson

On May 13, 2011, at 9:46 AM, soolinehistory wrote:

--- In STMFC@..., jerryglow@... wrote:

Isn't that the truth! And they came out how many years before
those other highly touted ones who had the benefit of more
research and technology.

Jerry Glow
I suppose, just for history's sake, I should point out that at the
time the car was tooled, we had essentially nothing, so ANYTHING
was better than what we had. While the were people who wanted
prototype models wandering in the wilderness, they were hardly the
driving force in the market, and it was easy to assume, "build it
and they will come."

Bill Gould was a small shop, and he was still on the uphill side of
a very steep learning curve. This was not a situation where
Megabucks Corp. just throws money at a problem; Gould was looking
for projects that he could do in-house, with the equipment and
expertise he had in his possession. The four plate tank
construction of the proposed USRA car was a significant factor; it
made all the difference between doing a tankcar model, or not. No
matter how many people pointed out that no cars were actually
constructed to those plans, and I know several people did just
that, unless they were prepared to offer an alternate prototype
WITH FOUR PLATE TANK CONSTRUCTION, and had as complete a set of
drawings of their proposal as what were published in the CBC, it
wasn't going to make any difference. If those people had been
successful at getting around the interference Bob Hundman was
running, they only would have been responsible for the project
being dropped, not changed to something more common.
Not true, Dennis. The obvious four-horizontal-course tank cars that
were built in the thousands, and for which excellent drawings were
available, were the AC&F 10K gal. Type 21s. When rumors spread that
Gould was planning a tank car model, several of us who had
considerable expertise about tank cars volunteered to help and were
told that Gould had his own expert and was well supplied with
prototype information. The "expert" was Bob Hundman, who reinforced
Gould's belief that, because the USRA drawings existed, the cars had
to have been built. In fact, Hundman continued to maintain that was
true even after the model was released and reviews (one of them mine)
pointed out that, excellent as it was, it was a foobie.

Give the man credit for having the stones to develop a new product
that was going to retail at two or three times the price of his
competition. The fact that it sold at all proved that there was a
market beyond what the big players of the day were serving, and
paved the way for all that has come since.
The fact that it sold at all was a tribute to its brilliant
engineering and precision molding. But it would certainly have sold
better, and would still sell better, if it had represented a real
prototype instead of a tank car design that was proposed but never
built. A few minutes of research on the history of the USRA by Gould
or Hundman would have revealed that fact, as would a few minutes of
reflection on the fact that there were no, zero, nada photographs of
a USRA car, whether built by the USRA or anyone else. In fact,
though Bob Hundman believed that drawings were the ultimate evidence
(a curious conviction, given that his own drawings so often contained
errors), any manufacturer who devotes a lot of time and money to
developing a model without photos of the prototype is sliding rapidly
down a slippery slope. Bill Gould's intentions were the best, but we
all know what the road to hell is paved with. Frankly, I'm tired of
hearing people make excuses for the fact that the model had (and has)
no prototype, because it easily could have had a prototype if it had
not been for Gould's obsession with secrecy and his dependence on a
magazine editor who fancied himself the ultimate authority on

Richard Hendrickson

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