Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Research - Freight Car Fleet Development; ATSF and C&N

One of the things the model railroaders and miniature gamers share is a love of research. I have this need to get things as close to being right as possible, at least in some areas. Both hobbies require a certain amount of "compression" because of space and we have to adjust what is available to us to fit inside that window of what is right and what is practical. In miniature wargaming we adjust the size of forces to fit the action, because we can't deploy and entire battalion 1 for 1 on table top battlefields, we must compress the forces to fit the table but still be able to have the capabilities of a battalion. 

Model railroaders face the same compression needs. We don't have the space to model the entire railroad nor do I have the means or the will to model every freight car that the ATSF owned. So I must take the information and compress it so that the freight fleet I develop has the look and feel of the ATSF without modeling the entire fleet. The LA Warehouse district is set in the 1970s, I'm feeling that 1975 feels about right so that's the "feel" I want to hit. On the flip side I could model the C&N almost car for car. There were only about 25 Boxcars, 4 Gondolas, 4 Flats, 40 Ore Cars and 2 Cabooses, along with a selection of passenger cars. That could be accomplished although its far larger number than I would need for the small layout I have planned. I could even manage the entire stable of steam locomotives. I would need four 2-8-0s (almost impossible to acquire on the market these days), one 2-6-0 and one 2 Truck Class B Shay. I could never hope to acquire the number of diesels I would need for the ATSF in 1975. But I digress.

While the C&N freight car fleet is easy, even easier when you consider that it didn't actually do interchange business the ATSF freight fleet is a bit more difficult. Again the goal is to make it feel "right" which means not doing the "rare" cars but sticking to the more common cars that would be seen everyday. So I have acquired a couple of research items to try and make this happen. The first was a CD from Tap Lines that I acquired off of Amazon. It contains 11 PDF files of "The Official Railway Equipment Register".  It included both 1972 and 1975 so I thought that would be a could purchase. This register shows a complete inventory of the freight cars of, almost, every railroad in the United States. My thoughts are that I can work out the proportion of the different box and refrigerator cars that would appear in 1975 on the layout. While I haven't worked out the industries I want to include I'm thinking that it would be mostly box and refrigerator cars so I'm going working on those numbers first.

The second are some books from the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Inc.. During the first thoughts about the LA Warehouse District I acquired their "Mechanical Refrigerator Cars and Insulated Refrigerator Cars of the Sana Fe Railway 1949-1988", reference book. It has the kind of detail that I can really get into. The next two are recent acquisitions; "Santa Fe Box Cars The Shock Control Era 1954-1995" and "Santa Fe Railway Listing of Freight Cars by Class and Car Numbers, 1906-1991". I'm still waiting for the second book (which is out of print) to arrive. Which brings up a point, if you are going to produce a series of reference volumes why do you let them go out of print? I was able to find the Listing of Freight Cars on Amazon but there is another volume that I want that has been out of print for a long time; "Santa Fe Boxcars; 1869-1953" published in 2001 and out of print for long enough that it has become a collector's item.

So between the various reference works I should be able to figure out what ATSF box and refrigerator freight car types would appear and in what numbers and I can work out the percentages and narrow down my purchasing requirements to get the ATSF "feel" that I'm looking for.

I like the spiral binding, the book lays nice and flat.

Lots of information on the different type, including the series numbers but not the quantities. That's where the Official Registry comes into play.

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