IntroductionPiggyback & Container Traffic
is a new book from Kalmbach Publishing
. It is Item #12804
in Kalmbach's catalogue and has the ISBN 9781627003834
. Authored by Jeff Wilson, it is a 8.25" x 10.75" format with 128 pages and boasts 200 color photographs. As Kalmbach tells us:
In his all-new book, Piggyback & Container Traffic, modeling expert Jeff Wilson provides a comprehensive guide to railroad intermodal equipment and operations, tracing the development of piggyback (trailer-on-flatcar) and container traffic from the steam era to today.
You will learn:
What equipment and operations are appropriate for a specific era.
How trailers and containers are loaded onto railcars.
How piggyback containers and terminals work, and much more!
A must-have reference guide for model railroaders and rail enthusiasts alike!
One of the models that hooked me into model railroading was a Tyco piggyback set with trailers similar to the ones on the book cover; that they are in Minneapolis & St. Louis Rwy livery makes this book hard for me to not love.
Author Jeff Wilson has penned many books and articles. Piggyback & Container Traffic
should be an informative and enjoyable title. We will learn about the general history of intermodal
transport through 10 chapters:
Chapter 1, History of container and piggyback traffic
Chapter 2, Piggyback trailers
Chapter 3, Containers
Chapter 4, Trailer and container flatcars
Chapter 5, Double-stack container cars
Chapter 6, Spine and skeleton cars
Chapter 7, Roadrailers and Flexi-Vans
Chapter 8, End-loading temrinals
Chapter 9, Modern intermodal terminals
Chapter 10, Intermodal operations
I found the history of TOFC (trailer-on-flat car, or "piggyback") interesting, especially because one of the early haulers was so unlikely, the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina, a.k.a, "The Tweetsie". While running loaded wagons on railcars can be traced as early as the 1870s, TOFC as we know it today started c.1921. The book presents Interstate Commerce Commission and their 1954 ruling for those interested in rule-making, as well as the impact of the later Staggers Act and the resulting impact of containers.
The reader will also learn about spotting features of particular trailers and trailer types. Did you know that there were even auto-rack trailer TOFCs? Ever wonder what a "pup trailer" is? Or the lengths of trailers? This explains those topics. It covers leasing companies, reporting marks and numbering, and how modelers can chose the correct model to represent their era and area. Next, the book presents the many facets of containers. Much of this chapter is similar to the trailer chapter although it expands to cover international and domestic containers.
Chapter 4, Trailer and container flatcars
presents aspects of the industry that I never thought of, like special rails or wheels under semis to allow them to operate more efficiently on the flatcar. One innovation was the Clejan system; another was the rub rail. How the trailers were secured to the car is also detailed. Purpose-built flatcars came along to haul TOFC, and hitches were designed for the various types, too.
Flatcars have succumb to container cars and chapter five covers these: Southern Pacific's 513300; Budd/Thrall; Gunderson; Trinity; rebuilts. Ownership is discussed as well as their reporting marks. Car loading is explained and modelers can make their layouts look more authentic. Chapter 6, Spine and skeleton cars
explains why these curious cars came to be and how the oil embargoes of the 1970s influenced their design with Santa Fe's Fuel Foilers
. How spine and skeleton cars evolved is presented as well.
Doing away with railway cars altogether as a concept resulted in the compelling Roadrailers and Flexi-Vans
, covered in Chapter 7. This book holds many fascinating stories including that those interesting cars first ran in regular service through my hometown, albeit for a short time, and while I was away in college and military basic training. For readers interested in labor relations, the book offers minor insights in how TOFC and their revolution affected railroad work forces and economics. Such is abundantly clear when reading about Norfolk Southerner's success with their Triple Crown Services.
Chapter 8, End-loading terminals
and Chapter 9, Modern intermodal terminals
describe how those trailers and containers get onto rail cars. This is an excellent section for modelers wanting to incorporate this service into their layouts. Modelers and ferroequinologists can find expanded information on this subject through Kalmbach's book Waterfront Terminals and Operations
, which you can access via Click here for additional images for this review
Finally, in Chapter 10, Intermodal operations
, we learn how we can incorporate TOFC/containers into our model railroad operations in a realistic manner. Designing a schedule, interchange, hotshot trains, those are a few topics covered.
The text is informative and easy to follow. The book features many sidebars and text boxes to highlight information that needs more emphasis or is supportive of the text, e.g., side loader forklift-style specialty vehicles.
Graphics and Photography
There is plenty to support the text. This is a highlight of Kalmbach books. Kalmbach draws upon their expansive resources of their publications such as Trains
and Classic Trains
magazines, among other sources. Kalmbach boasts of 200 color photos in this book and while I did not count them, I am sure there are that many, as well as a similar number of black-and-white images. While some original shots from the 1920s and 30s are not Pulitzer quality, they are not blurry reproductions from magazines, either. Most of the images are sharp and detailed.
Original tables and illustrations are provided, as well as those borrowed from Kalmbach's other publications. These include:
Two-page examples of trailer components and markings
Typical international container schedule
Major U.S. intermodal routes and terminals, 2012
Busiest U.S. rail intermodal ports/terminals, 2013
Largest U.S. container ports, 2014
BNSF Chicago-area intermodal facilities
* RoadRailers and Flexi-Vans
*Trailer Train memberships
Flexi-Van service, early 1960s
Triple Crown RoadRailer lines, 2011
Trailer Train spine and skeleton cars in service
Number of Trailer Train flatcars in service
Trailer Train flatcar descriptions
TTX paint schemes
Intermodal carloadings by year
Container and chassis numbering
Trailers in service
Types of trucking companies
Trailer numbering -
Railroad TOFC equipment, 1954
Typical of Kalmbach books this title is a wealth of visual support.
ConclusionPiggyback & Container Traffic
is an excellent primer for historians and model railroaders interested in this significant category of railroad business. I remember piggybacks and I wonder where in the world one would have to go not
to find an intermodal container? The author introduces the book with comments about just how enormous of a task it would be to write a full history of the subjects, and ends the book with a large bibliography of sources, as well as the sidebar Finding train information
This book is full of photographs and other graphics. The text is very detailed and yet easy to follow. I have no meaningful complaints and happily recommend this book.
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