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


Ted Culotta
 

Apologies if you've received this elsewhere....

It's been about a decade since the last Steam Era Freight Cars Reference Manual was published. The wait is over. I am happy to announce the next volume in the series: Volume Three: Refrigerator Cars. Like the previous titles, it is intended to be a go-to reference to understand the major prototypes roaming the rails during the late Steam Era (1920s to the early 1950s). Information may be found at http://speedwitchmedia.com

There is a pre-order discount period that runs through March 10th.

For those who may have missed them, Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Three: Refrigerator Cars and Volume Four: Steel Box Cars, are being re-printed. There is a discounted pre-order for those two titles, as well.

Thank you.
Cheers,
Ted



culturalinfidel9@...
 

Ted (and others),

For those of us who have not (yet) invested in the Focus on Freight Cars series, could you talk a little bit about what differentiates it from the Reference Manual series?  Is the format of the two series largely the same?  I imagine that the Focus on Freight Cars series provides more comprehensive coverage; are there other benefits to the Focus on Freight Cars series?

Thanks,
Dan Miller


Robert Heninger
 

Dan,


Seeing that no one has answered your question, and having a little time here over lunch, I'll give you my impressions.


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.


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.


The paper quality and photo reproduction is much better in the FOFC series, however the photos in the Reference Manuals are perfectly usable for modeling. The Reference manuals are much thicker volumes, and would cost much more if printed to the standards of the FOFC books.


The volumes are complementary in my opinion. I buy both series as they become available, and many on this list do the same.


Regards,

Bob Heninger

Minot, ND




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         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






Bill Welch
 

I think hearing reviews from consumers are arguably more helpful in this kind of situation since for the publisher it is hard to be objective about your product or publications. I echo what Bob and Tony have said. I will add that especially in the "Focus on Freight Cars" series in each volume Ted really drills down in both the Introductions and photo captions to provide technical details. For example some of the cars feature relatively rare brake housings and brake wheels and he always seems to know what they are. Every time I reread one the volumes I see something I missed before.

Bill Welch


Ted Culotta
 

I'm replying Dan's original message. I tend to collect the daily digests and go back to them every few days so I am seeing Dan's message and the replies all anew. Thanks to Bob, Tony, and Bill for their succinct and well reasoned answers. Also, thanks to Tony for his blog posting. I'll add my two cents.

The Reference Manuals are intended to be something that sits on the workbench or desktop and is a quick go-to reference to understand the basics about major prototypes. What was the major house cars type on the Central Vermont? It's in there.

Conversely, as great as the images in the FOFC series are, they are completely governed by what's in the collection. Coverage of prototypes was amazing, but there are gaps in terms of significant prototypes (albeit not many). If it's in the collection, it's in the books. If it's not, then it's absent. I'll refer to but not rehash the comments about the photos being intended for modeling, hence the detail shots are incredible fodder for us. Also, except in rare instances (no other photo of the prototype exists or a detail cannot be referenced any other way) the FOFC images will not appear anywhere else.

If anyone has more questions, I'm happy to answer.

Thank you.

Cheers,
Ted


culturalinfidel9@...
 

Ted, Bob, Tony, and Bill,

Thank you very much for your helpful responses on the Speedwitch books.

Dan Miller