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I use Railbase from Albion Software to inventory my layout rolling stock. Contained in this software package is an area to catalog information on the Prototype of my miniature car. The information that can be entered is the Car Manufacturer, Manufacturer Type, Color, Truck Type, Car Length, Date Placed in Service, Rebuild Date. Most of the information I could garner off the side of my replica of the car. Is there an internet site that may have the information for the prototype that I can not determine such as Car Manufacturer and Manufacturer Type, I do not believe this to be the AAR nomenclature as there is another area for this information. Also I am not a One to One Scale affictionado so I am at a loss to know one style of truck versus another. So a site that would show various truck would also be a benefit to me. I know this could be considered busy work, but it fills my day and knowledge base.

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The info you are seeking can be as varied as the number of prototype railroads to be found in the universe.  For example, if you model the Pennsylvania Railroad, I would start by joining the PRR Technical & Historical Society and then acquiring back issues of their quarterly magazines.  Current issues will be free with membership.

You can also search the net using terms like "PRR boxcars" and "PRR locomotives."  You will find that most, if not all, PRR equipment is given a "class" designation.  For example, steam locomotives with a 4-4-2 wheel arrangement are "E" classes ranging from E1 to E6, I believe, on the PRR.  Other railroads using the same steam wheel arrangement freely used different classifications.

Diesels are a different story.  In PRR's case, all of these classes were assigned by the railroad so that diesel classes rarely, if ever, matched the manufacturers classification.  For example, a PRR owned EMD F3 (manufacturer's designation) was actually class EF15 in the PRR books.   I believe most other railroads just used the manufacturer's classification.

In this historic search, you will find that some PRR equipment was provided by third-party vendors (Baldwin, ALCO, Pullman, etc.) and some was actually manufactured in-house.  If in-house, PRR will be your actual manufacturer and the PRR's class will be the equipment's designation.  For third-party manufacturer's, you may have to search their records once you find out who they were from the Pennsy records.

Finally, just so you know, the data on most O gauge car sides is not accurate and may not even represent a real car number that the prototype even used for that type of car.  So the question you must answer for yourself is: Do you want your database to include model data, authentic data, or some mix of the two?  And with respect to trucks, just search railroad rolling stock trucks for info.  You might even specify freight, passenger and caboose trucks if you so choose.


Thank you Curt and Chuck,

I, as I stated, do not consider this productive effort but busy work to fill my days. And yes I realize that the information on the side of a toy is not what any purist would deem historically accurate. This is particularly evident with Lionel cars as the date is the date the model was created. K-line and Atlas, with the latter may being more accurate, are to some degree more realistic as the year portion of the date is representative of when the prototype may have traveled the railways. Again busy work but I was hoping that a site would be suggested that described the various types of trucks would be discussed or if there was a difinitive explanation for the Manufacturer's Type.


The mechanical data for every car in the North American rail network is recorded in UMLER. This used to be available in a thick, pricey paper volume but, was migrated to a pricey software subscription version about a decade or so ago. The current annual subscription cost for UMLER is around $2,000 which would certainly serve as a dampener on my train related budget.


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