Source for Railroad Basics

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by Bongo Boy, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    I'd like to learn some real basic stuff about how rail companies own, operate and/or share track. I assume this has a lot to do with mergers & acquisitions, government regulation and era.

    But for example, I'd like to know at least enough so I can at least ask intelligent questions. As it is, I don't even know if "Did Southern Pacific and Union Pacific service the same cities?" is a stupid question or not. I know it's an uninformed one. :D

    So I guess what I need is a "How Railroads Work" book, but one that deals more with the use and building of infrastructure, and less with the specifics of the technology.

    I already suspect I'm using terminology incorrectly, so a detailed glossary would be great, too, if you'd like to recommend one. I'd like something closer to an encyclopedia rather that a glossary with one-liners for things. As always, thanks so much for your patience, folks.
  2. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    The Railroad: What It Is, What It Does by John Armstrong from Simmons-Boardman would be a good book to start with. This book has been around for years; I think the most recent publication was in 1998.
  3. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    GREAT title! I'm already intrigued. Thanks man, I'll check availability--what could have possibly changed with the railroad since '98, anyway? :D
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    There are far better books then John's that will answer your questions..I will recommend a official railroad guide(buy old ones at train shows.) This gives you everything in the line of interchange points,maps and so forth.A second choice is Jane's Guide to all the world railroads..This can be found in most larger libraries in the research room.Also contact your State's Department of Transportation and request a railroad map.This can also be done on line by simply by going to a given states web page..Look under transportation.
  5. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Excellent. Thanks to both of you. Now, moving more toward the technology, do any of these sources also discuss what the various pieces of equipment are used for? Simplest example I can think of would be, "What does a 'switcher' do and how is it used?"...that sort of thing.

    You've given some great places to start, thanks again.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    John Armstrong has several other books, some of them old and venerable. Track Planning for Realistic Operation will tell you much about how they operate and how to model it. All About Signals is, I'm told, used by the prototype railroads as a text. (Prototype == the original == the real thing.)
  7. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Thanks David. Isn't Brampton just a stone's throw from Sarnia? I grew up in Port Huron, and used to walk over the bridge to Sarnia to buy Export A's as an underage lad. Thought Brampton was nearby, for some reason. Eh?
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Bongo,BTW I am a former Brakeman with 91/2 years experiance..I should be able to answer some of your older era questions..
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Sorry, Bongo, but Brampton is over 3 hours from Sarnia, just outside Toronto. My wife finished her high school there, though.
    You'll find that model railroaders share some vocabulary with the real railroaders, but we have plenty of our own, as well as some in-jokes (cabeese as the plural of caboose).
  10. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    You guys are so helpful, thanks. I think I can now remember the sound of Grand Trunk trains in the distance, blowing through the Michigan back-woods.

    So...anyone remember the band "Grand Funk Railroad"? My goodness...strap me into the wayback machine!
  11. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    I remember Grand Funk, saw them at the Atlanta Pop Festival in 69 or 70, that era is a bit foggy if you know what I mean? :eek:
  12. belg

    belg Member

    Scott were there some medicinal herbs involved???
  13. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    yes, I think so???
  14. LIRR

    LIRR Member

    Theres nothing funky about Grand Funk Railroad, buncha white guys singing about being an American band. More like Grand HONKY Railroad
  15. robt46

    robt46 Member

    Geez Scott, that brings back memories, kinda!!!. I know what you mean. So we gotta be from the same " long hair generation". I saw them too. My favorite though was the Band. You know --Pulled into Nazarith---! Robt.
  16. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    I've read about 60% of this book now, and just wanted to thank you again for the recommendation. Besides the fact that is very well printed, it's a great intro, covers a lot of ground, yet isn't so shallow that you get nothing out of it. I'm sure for experienced rr guys it's not too impressive--for someone like me who hasn't any idea, it's a good read.
  17. Hey, Bongo...

    I just finished up 'Railroad Signaling' by Brian Solomon. I came out last year and is a great, understandable explanation of RR signals and their history. It covers semaphores, position lights, colored lights, etc. I highly recommend it! :wave:

  18. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

    Thanks Russ! I'm on top of it. :D

    I've got so much stuff on my To Do list as far as rr reading goes, I'm going to be into 2006 before I have the slightest clue. This is a whole New World opening up. Man, what a bunch of fruit-balls in THIS hobby!! I'm totally On Board!!!

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