Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; First Edition edition (November 1, 1995)
Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 10.2 x 1.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #110,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #15 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Civil & Environmental > Transportation #17 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Transportation > History > Railroads #26 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Transportation > Railroads
My god! This is the definitive tome on the freight car. How thrilled I am after all these years to have a singular reference work to which I can go for scholarly an "in the trenches" notes on everything from nuts and bolts to the wheels, frames, cabins, and hardware of all kinds of freight cars, including rare, rare photos of beautiful cars, perfectly evolved to their purposes. John White is an engaging writer, and in The American Railroad Freight Car, he brings a mundane subject with a prosaic title to life and fills it with the sounds of cattle, the loading of coal, the sloshing of liquids in vertical and horizontal tanks, and the voices of those working around them, sometimes incredulous with the fact that a design works at all, sometimes admonishing "i told you so" that it wouldn't work, and sometimes thrilled to be working on a state-of-the-art railcar. This was in the 1830s to the 1930s, roughly. Another book is sorely needed from roughly 1910 to 2015.White's attention to detail may set a standard for railroad writing. For example White doesn't merely tell us that the link & pin coupler was dangerous and flawed, so it was replaced by the Janney Automatic coupler after a Congressional mandate to standardize an automatic coupler that would not kill people. That much you can read anywhere. White explains that in 1893 there were 11,710 coupler incidents were reported by the ICC, and inventors all over the world knew that whoever's patent got chosen would become rich and famous almost overnight. It was the contest of contests. Within a few years, there were 6500 patents for "automatic couplers," some of which may have worked, but which all together comprised over 1% of all US patents ever issued.
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