Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Speedwitch freight car books

The title refers to a series of books published by Speedwitch Media, Ted Culotta’s company, with the series title Focus on Freight Cars. These present an excellent collection of very high-quality photographs taken in the Los Angeles area in the late 1930s, reportedly by one or more persons planning to develop scale model railroad products. Accordingly, many of them emphasize details of the cars along with portrait views.
     Below is a list of the eight volumes published to date. The only ones that I know are out of stock are Volumes 3 and 4, and I understand both are going to be reprinted shortly. Further, a friend of mine recently was able to find copies of some of these volumes used, on the internet, so any not currently available from Speedwitch can be sought in that way. For more information or to purchase, you can visit Speedwitch at: .
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume One: Single Sheathed Box & Automobile Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Two: Double Sheathed Box & Automobile Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Three: Refrigerator Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Four: Steel Box Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Five: Steel Automobile Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Six: Refrigerator Cars 2
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Seven: Rebuilt Box and Automobile Cars
  • Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Eight: Refrigerator Cars 3
You will notice that there have been three volumes on refrigerator cars, and the forthcoming Volume 9 will be a second volume on single-sheathed box and automobile cars, following Volume 1. Most of these list for $42, though new ones (several more are planned) are often offered at an advantageous pre-publication price. It’s worth keeping an eye on the Speedwitch site to learn of new additions to the series.
     The first two volumes were written by Richard Hendrickson, and all the ones published subsequently are by Ted Culotta. Were Richard still alive, I strongly suspect he would be continuing as author, but Ted is doing the job in Richard’s absence.
     I don’t wish to present all of these publications, but want to show a few covers just as illustrations. Shown below are volumes 3 and 5.

Following on to those volumes, as shown below were volumes 7 and 8. All these books are perfect bound, 8.5 x 11 inches in size, and contain 84 to 104 pages.

     These books are a marvelous resource for modelers of eras from the middle to late 1930s, until at least the end of the 1950s. You simply will not see better quality photos nor anywhere near this level of detail. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in freight cars. Likely I need not even mention these titles to true aficionados, who will not only know of these books, but will own the full set, as I do. But for everyone else, do consider buying a volume or two and see what you think.
Tony Thompson

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