Sunday, March 17, 2019

Another Kalmbach “industry” book

In recent years, Kalmbach Books has published an impressive array of books about railroad-served industries and the rail equipment involved in that service, most of them written by experienced author Jeff Wilson. The latest one is an excellent addition to the series. The cover is shown below.

As you can see from the banner at the top of the cover, Kalmbach regards this as part of their “Guide to Industries” series, and it’s a most useful kind of information.
     The automobile industry has long been a central part of railroading. Carriage of high-value cargo with time-value shipping naturally means a good rate of return, and railroads have long given priority to automobiles and auto parts shipments. This makes the industry interesting for modelers, and offers many ways in which the modeler can represent auto traffic.
     This book divides its topic into nine chapters. These cover the history of rail and auto traffic; manufacturing plants; automobile box cars;  auto carrier containers and trailers; open auto racks; enclosed auto racks; distribution and reload centers; auto parts cars; and operations. Though history is given its due, the chapter topics clearly show the relatively modern content of the book.
     The new Wilson book has several strengths. As always, access to the Kalmbach photo archives and to  many rail photo collections means that this book is very well illustrated, many of the photos rewarding close inspection for details. Wilson does his usual good job of boiling down an immense amount of information into the essentials for modelers, while keeping the writing interesting. It’s a pleasure to browse, or to sit down and read whole chapters. And there are a great many useful modeling tips.
     As I have posted before to this blog, there has been for some years a very valuable Walthers book, entitled America’s Driving Force, a book with a strong content of promotion for Walthers structure kits related to the auto industry, but also with a tremendous amount of good information (see my post at: ). This 1998 book is long out of print but is readily purchased on-line from used book dealers.
     Some of the material in the Walthers book naturally is contained in the new Kalmbach volume, but most of the new book contains fresh material, and helpfully for modern modelers, brings the subject up to the current era. Unfortunately for transition-era modelers like me, that means somewhat less information about our chosen era, bu the book is so solid and complete, that I would recommend it for modelers of any era.
     In recent months, I have presented several times a talk about how we can effectively model the traffic that our model railroads may (or should) carry. One of the industries I discuss is the auto industry, and I recommend in the resources part of that talk, and in the talk’s handout, both the Walthers book and this new book from Kalmbach (my handout for that talk can be found at: ).
     I believe all, or nearly all, modelers need to learn more about the industries the railroads served — and that includes me. That’s why I like this book. It is a distinguished addition to Kalmbach’s “Guide to Industries” series, and I strongly recommend it for modelers of any era.
Tony Thompson

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