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