Monday, January 2, 2023

Another fine new freight car book

In 2022, another really interesting and instructive book was published by Kalmbach Publications (now called Kalmbach Media), authored by Keith Kohlmann. This one is about loads for open-top freight cars, and as one would hope, is very plentifully illustrated. Us freight cars guys are delighted! and for anyone else, there is really a lot to learn here. 

It’s the usual Kalmbach softbound format: 8.5 x 11 inch size, 110 pages, $21.99 price point. And as we’ve come to expect, very handsomely produced. Here’s the cover:

Inside are eight chapters, organized by the type of material that is loaded. Beginning with “Steel, metal products, and scrap,” the list continues with “Farm machinery and heavy equipment,” “Cranes, shovels, and hoists,” “Vessels, transformers, and oversize loads,” “Buses, trucks, autos, and other vehicle loads,” “Forest products and building materials,” “Military equipment,” and finally “Maintenance-of-way and railroad service.”

Author Keith Kohlmann has included a considerable number of good model photographs of these various loads, sometimes a way of getting a color photo to accompany the many archival black-and-white images. But the collection of prototype images is really excellent. Here’s an example (Bruce Meyer photo, Joliet, Illinois, 1958):

These are Allis-Chalmers oil circuit breakers, on a Pennsylvania flat car. The box at the near end of the car is an electrical cabinet; the radiators are packaged at the far end of the car. And in the background is one of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern’s big Baldwin center-cab diesels. This one, no. 920, had been repowered by EMD by the time of this photo.

And many of author Kohlmann’s N-scale model photos are excellent too. An example is below, a Micro-Trains model modified to represent a Pennsylvania Class F35 flat car.  The boiler section load was made with various scrap parts. And the blocking and tie-down arrangements look very good also.

There are also a number of photos that contain information that can aid realistic operation. One of them, accompanied by a prototype waybill for a similar loading situation, is this Southern Pacific Class F-70-7 flat car, photographed in Ithaca, NY on April 16, 1950 (credited in the book to “Kalmbach Media,” but the print I possess is from the Arnold Menke collection):

The partial load indicates that part of the cargo was already unloaded, and that the remaining six Allis-Chalmers tractors will head off to another destination for final unloading. Note the wires hanging over the car side where the first four tractors have been unloaded and dunnage left on the car. (You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.)

Really a wonderful book, one that I continue to page through and enjoy the photos over and over. And it certainly gives me additional ideas for loads I can model.  I think anyone interested in freight cars would feel the same. Highly recommended.

Tony Thompson

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