Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Five: Steel Automobile Cars


We are getting into something of a groove now with the FOFC series. Vol. 4 hard copies arrive this week and will be shipped immediately. That is a nice segue to the news that pre-orders are now being accepted for Focus on Freight Cars, Volume Five: Steel Automobile Cars. Pre-orders placed through August 10 will be at a discounted price of $36.00 (regular price is $42.00). The purchase includes a free digital copy of the book, as well. For more details and ordering information, please click here.

What is Focus on Freight Cars?

There appears to be some confusion about the Focus on Freight Cars series such that I thought it a good idea to pen a brief synopsis of the books so that people have a better understanding of the scope and extent. The series is the brainchild of Al Hoffman, who found the negatives through his friendship with Michael Urac, the owner of the collection of negatives. Al conceived the idea of the books and approached Richard Hendrickson about writing the accompanying text and captions for volumes one and two.

As most of you know, both Richard Hendrickson and Michael Urac have passed, leaving the torch to be carried by me, albeit in my lesser capacity than Richard, given his encyclopedic knowledge of freight equipment.

An extremely common misconception about the books is that they are the result of careful sorting and culling of subject matter. In reality, the books include only photos in the collection and none that are not part of the collection. This is one of the appealing qualities of these works; the images have not been published in any other format, with a few exceptions where they were shared for use in prototype data sheets for freight car kits and similar uses. To reiterate and reinforce, only what is in the collection is included in these books. The books are not intended to be interpreted as an all-encompassing study of freight equipment. They are merely what was captured by the photographer. Since the photos were to be used to create models, they include many exceptional detail images that are of great value to modelers and researchers alike.

Segueing from the previous paragraph, it bears reiterating that the work collectively is not intended to be the definitive look at freight equipment of the era. A common query is why such and such a car from a specific railroad is not included. The reason is simple: if there is not a photograph of a car in the collection, it is not included. The reasoning is that basic. There are no slights or omissions intended.

Looking to the future, there are still many volumes to be presented, including another on single sheathed cars, steel automobile cars, rebuilt steel box and automobile cars, several additional volumes on refrigerator cars, a volume on head-end equipment, plus a “catch-all” volume covering what is left over that in and of itself is not enough to present in a single volume, including tank cars, stock cars, flat cars, and gondolas.

Ted Culotta

Mea culpa

I’m sure that many people are coming to the site checking on Focus on Freight Cars, Vol. 3. I expected to have everything shipped last week. However, I also messed up the cover file by using a Pantone spot color instead of a CMYK color which popped the project out of the print queue. That means most of you will see them next week and a few of you maybe the beginning of the following week. My apologies for my error.

Custom decals

We are in the process of completing a test that will allow us to produce custom freight and passenger car decals in runs as small as one set. That stated, if you have a decal you would like to have, please send a message to get the ball rolling. A quotation can be provided along with a preview of how the finished product will look. One additional note is that this custom work applies to all scales, not just HO. If it is a road where there is existing artwork, it can be a relatively quick process. If it is a new project, the timeline may be longer, possibly several months depending upon complexity.