Books: Pullman-Standard Freight Cars - 1900-1960

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Signature Press - Pullman-Standard Freight Cars - 1900-1960

by Edward S. Kaminski
Pullman-Standard was for some years the largest freight car builder in North America, though the Pullman name is perhaps more famous for passenger cars. This long-overdue book fills a gap in builder history, and provides an overview showing a selection of the many cars built over a 60-year span.

The Pullman Company began to build freight cars in the 19th century. Merger with Haskell & Barker Car Company in 1921, and with Standard Steel Car Company in 1930, greatly expanded the capacity of Pullman, as both those companies already produced many thousands of cars per year. To reflect the latter merger, the name of the car manufacturing company became Pullman-Standard.Pullman-Standard was particularly noted for pioneering the use of welding in freight car construction. Starting with experimental cars in the late 1930s, by 1947 new, standard designs would be introduced. First was the PS-1 box car, which sold in the tens of thousands, then came the PS-2 covered hopper, the PS-3 open top hopper, and finally the PS-4 flat car and PS-5 gondola. All benefited from Pullman-Standard's conversion to assembly-line techniques of mass production.

At different times, Pullman-Standard had plants in Chicago; Hammond and Michigan City, Indiana; Butler, Pennsylvania; Bessemer, Alabama; and Worcester, Massachusetts. The book coverage extends to 1960, by which time the heavy freight car construction demands of the post-World War II period were ending. This work accordingly addresses the great bulk of Pullman-Standard's output in the 20th century.

Ed Kaminski is well known as an authority on freight car builders, and this book takes its place alongside his earlier work on American Car & Foundry, Magor Car Company, and the Gregg company. It contains a rich trove of some 418 photographs, most never before published, from Pullman and Pullman-Standard, and also from predecessors Haskell & Barker, Standard Steel Car Company, and Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company.

Like Ed's previous works, this book is an authoritative historical survey. It will be of interest to anyone who likes railroad history, but it will be of particular value to those whose enthusiasm is freight cars. This is an important complement to other books on this subject, and also stands as a fascinating history in its own right.

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