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ARA / AAR Standard Letters and Figures for Freight Car Marking

Charlie Vlk
 

All-
I happened to run across Tony Thompson's blog "Prototype Lettering, Part 2".

In comparing the figures that are presented as "AAR" vs. the CB&Q ARA ST'D
LETTER set originally drawn Chicago 10-05-09 and retraced 9-23-22 (on
account of the original tracings being destroyed in the Chicago HQ Fire in
1922) the SP M, C, B, 8, 7 and 2 are identical and must be the ARA original.
Note that the letters Tony presents below the AAR letters on graph grid,
while similar, are of different proportion.
Charlie Vlk

Tony Thompson
 

Charlie Vlk wrote:

I happened to run across Tony Thompson's blog "Prototype Lettering, Part 2".

In comparing the figures that are presented as "AAR" vs. the CB&Q ARA ST'D
LETTER set originally drawn Chicago 10-05-09 and retraced 9-23-22 (on
account of the original tracings being destroyed in the Chicago HQ Fire in
1922) the SP M, C, B, 8, 7 and 2 are identical and must be the ARA original.
Note that the letters Tony presents below the AAR letters on graph grid,
while similar, are of different proportion.
For those who may not have seen it, I provide below a link to the blog post that Charlie cites in his message:

https://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2019/12/prototype-lettering-part-2.html

The point of that blog post was to observe that the SP lettering, the letters shown below on the graph grid, were NOT at all the same as the MCB/ARA/AAR letters. The earliest MCB version I found in a Cyc was exactly the same as AAR letters 50 years later, as Charlie says.
Someone observed earlier that CB&Q mostly observed the AAR lettering but not entirely. I can't find that email to see if they identified which characters used by CB&Q differed.
I would also point out that although the MCB/ARA/AAR lettering is often described as "standard," it was never required, nor have I even found a mention of it being "recommended practice." Someone on the list may be able to provide such a citation.

Tony Thompson
tony@...

Dave Parker
 

I am not sure that I am completely following the discussion here, but it is a topic that has come up before.  At the risk of repeating myself, the "standard" MCB/ARA/AAR Roman letter diagram dates to 1906.  I have seen it reproduced a number of time in several places, and it always contains just three letters (M,C,B) and three numerals (2,7,8).  If anybody as ever seen a more comprehensive character set, I would be glad to learn of it.  But, based on what I have seen, no railroad could have actually conformed to standardized MCB/ARA/AAR lettering because it didn't exist  -- beyond those six example characters that seem only to convey a rather general style of lettering that was adopted as an industry standard.
--
Dave Parker
Swall Meadows, CA

Charlie Vlk
 

All-

I misunderstood the point of the blog….I thought the “AAR” lettering was as adopted by the SP and the lettering below was a further variation.

I would be interested in seeing ARA / MCB full sets of characters and numbers and believe that they existed even if they did not appear in the Annual Proceedings.  As far as I am aware no other “Railroad Roman” freight car stencil drawings have surfaced and the L&P drawings refer to “ARA Standard” lettering without any drawing number reference.  There are, however, two distinctly different in stroke and weight CB&Q “Extended Railroad Roman” styles for passenger equipment per photos but again no drawings have surfaced beyond a  few drawing references.   

I have attached a jpg of the letters that I prepared from CB&Q / ARA drawings along with a sample of one of the original CB&Q drawings.

Charlie Vlk

 

And, of course, there were various interpretations and variations to fit particular applications of the “standard”.

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Dave Parker via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, January 18, 2020 7:34 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] ARA / AAR Standard Letters and Figures for Freight Car Marking

 

I am not sure that I am completely following the discussion here, but it is a topic that has come up before.  At the risk of repeating myself, the "standard" MCB/ARA/AAR Roman letter diagram dates to 1906.  I have seen it reproduced a number of time in several places, and it always contains just three letters (M,C,B) and three numerals (2,7,8).  If anybody as ever seen a more comprehensive character set, I would be glad to learn of it.  But, based on what I have seen, no railroad could have actually conformed to standardized MCB/ARA/AAR lettering because it didn't exist  -- beyond those six example characters that seem only to convey a rather general style of lettering that was adopted as an industry standard.
--
Dave Parker
Swall Meadows, CA

Tony Thompson
 

Charlie Vlk wrote:

I misunderstood the point of the blog….I thought the “AAR” lettering was as adopted by the SP and the lettering below was a further variation.
I would be interested in seeing ARA / MCB full sets of characters and numbers and believe that they existed even if they did not appear in the Annual Proceedings.  As far as I am aware no other “Railroad Roman” freight car stencil drawings have surfaced and the L&P drawings refer to “ARA Standard” lettering without any drawing number reference.  

    I have seen one reference to "AAR Manual" for the complete character set drawing. I have never seen any edition of the Manual, but Guy Wilber may have one -- or know of one.

Tony Thompson



Dave Parker
 

Charlie:

I would be as happy as anybody to see a complete character set unearthed, but I remain dubious that one exists -- at least for the MCB/ARA years (the AAR is in the future for me).  There are several reasons for this. Here is the relevant text from the Special Ballot in the 1906 MCB Proceedings (pp. 547-548):



On the one hand, while "until a full set of drawings could be submitted" is suggestive, we can't know what is meant by "full", nor whether this objective was actually ever achieved.

On the other, the language in (1) "of the designs" can be interpreted to mean in the general style shown in the attached drawing.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with Google digitizations, the drawing itself cannot be consulted here.  But, in the adopted Recommended Practice on page 660, we are referred to Sheet M going forward.

In 1911, the practice was elevated to Standard, and the relevant drawing became Sheet 27.  By the time of the 1918 MCB Drawings of  Standards and Recommended Practices (which should be the gold standard here), the drawing had been renumbered to 26B.  It, like every iteration of this drawing that I can track down, shows just the three letters (M,C,B) and three numerals (2,7, 8).

My take is that the primary intent of the 1906 ballot measure was (1) to push every railroad towards a similar, but not identical, typeface, i.e., a Roman one exemplified by the drawing of just six characters, and (2), to standardize the lettering sizes at 1,2,4,7, and 9 inches, and to specify what size to use where on the car.  Until someone can produce an actual drawing showing all 36 alphanumeric characters, that is the only explanation that is supported by the available evidence (IMO).

--
Dave Parker
Swall Meadows, CA

Bob Webber
 

I admittedly haven't paid much attention.  But... The Pullman library has complete sets of lettering or stenciling drawings for a lot of cars from 1890s on. As does the acf collection in st Louis.

I doubt you're going to see a standard set aside from by customer.  If there were a common set, why would so many cars have their own specifications and drawing sets.  Yes, some do reference standard drawings, but they are railroad specific standards, not aar, ncb, Ara or other organization.  There are common usra and USA sets.

That is always a frustration... The drawing simply says per railway standards.   Having said that, there are brake, cylinder, truck, capy and other stencil drawings by railroad car, or by railroad... And specifies type of car(s) and lot.  

Smaller roads are more likely to see full sets, systems typically refer to system standards,  large railroads a combination.

I recall the data sets by champ... Rr Roman data.  But inevitably, applying them to cars was a compromise as the set wasn't quite right in some dimension compared to photos.   Or the car was already compromised... Board width being somewhat inaccurate.


Curt Fortenberry
 


Here's the CNW stencil from 1929.  Was for 3" letters so presumable for CAPY lettering and such.  The CNW drew full size letters, 9", but only for the letters they needed, not a full alphabet. 

Curt Fortenberry

Tony Thompson
 

Curt Fortenberry wrote:

Here's the CNW stencil from 1929.  Was for 3" letters so presumable for CAPY lettering and such.  The CNW drew full size letters, 9", but only for the letters they needed, not a full alphabet. 

   Thanks, Curt, exactly what was needed. These characters DO NOT match the MCB-ARA-AAR letters. The "M" in particular is much more condensed. One would need to look at the drawings for other sizes to be sure, but these 3-inch letters certainly are not exactly the ARA lettering.

Tony Thompson