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Although we use a number of products and web sites related to the railroad industry, the ones listed below are those that we feel are especially interesting.


A Field Guide to Trains of North America, by Gerald Foster.  This highly portable 4.5" x 8", 146 page guide is an extremely valuable tool for identifying various locomotives. The book's format is modeled on the nature identification guide "genre" and locomotives are grouped by appearance rather than manufacturer. Rather than photographs, this book uses hand-drawn sketches to clearly highlight features which can be used to differentiate among the various locomotives currently on the rails today. The book also contains a couple of paragraphs on each locomotive.  Available from Barnes & Noble.

Modern Diesel Locomotives, by Hans Halberstadt.  This book is full of beautiful photographs of modern day diesel locomotives (mainly western US railroads), and is a frequently referenced source at Spittler Engineering.   The book is great reading for those interested in an introduction to locomotives and interviews with those who run them.  This book is fairly popular, and should be available from numerous sources, including Amazon.com.

The Railroad: What it is, What it Does, 4th Ed., by John H. Armstrong.  This book is a must for anyone who want to get a broad background on railroads.  It provides an overview of all aspects of railroad operations, and is used as a textbook in many community college programs for railroad career training.  It covers everything from track design to intermodal traffic.  This book is available on Amazon.com (which sometimes also advertises used copies), or direct from the publisher at TransAlert.com.

From the Cab: Stories from a Locomotive Engineer, by Doug Riddell. This book is a collection of true stories following the career of an east-coast locomotive engineer.  If you want to get a feeling of what life on the rails is like, this book is an interesting read.  Available from Barnes & Noble.

Simulators & Add-Ons:

Sky! Conductor.  A fully functional shareware add-on utility for Microsoft Train Simulator that adds varied clouds and weather to the program.  Highly recommended.  Developed by "How in the World".

Train Dispatcher 3.  This realistic simulation places you into the role of a train dispatcher, the "air traffic controllers" of the rails.  This well designed software is clearly a simulator (rather than an arcade game) and was developed by a company that provides products and services to the railroad industry.  "TD3" is easy to use and understand, and has a comfortable user interface.  Arguably the best "features" of Train Dispatcher 3 are the large library of available territories and the existence of a free, fully functional demo version.  (Each time you run the demo version, it will "time-out" after from two to five hours of simulation time, though you can run it as often as you want.).  By the way, one of the downloadable territories is Columbia Falls to Cutbank.  So now you can view the region covered by Train Simulator from a different perspective.  Developed by Signal Computer Consultants.

Web Sites:

Train-Sim.com.  Probably the most popular web site supporting Microsoft Train Simulator.  This site has a huge collection of downloadable files, and an excellent collection of forums, each covering a different aspect of train simulation.

Train Artisan.  Train Artisan is a group comprised of artists and modelers who share a passion for creating top quality rolling stock for MSTS.  In the unlikely event that you have never been to their site, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

3DTrainStuff.com.  The team at 3DTrainStuff.com develops routes for Microsoft Train Simulator.  Their routes include the legendary Cajon and Tehachapi Passes of Southern California, as well as some British steam routes.

Al Krug's Home Page.  Al Krug is a railroad engineer with BNSF.  The highlight of his site is his collection of "RR Photo Essays," which chronicle his life on the railroad in scenic Wyoming.  His site is also a source of interesting technical pages, such as an excellent explanation of how air brakes work.  Krug's home page may not be fancy, but it is a favorite distraction among the more obsessive rail fans.

TransAlert.com.  An amazing source of books related to railroading, TransAlert.com is the retail arm of Simmons-Boardman Books, Inc., a publisher of books marketed to various transportation industries.  The site is primarily oriented toward industry professionals, but covers the full spectrum, including children's books.

George Elwood's Locomotive Operator Manual Site.  If you want to dig into locomotive details, this is the place.  George has an extensive collection of operator manuals for various diesel locomotives new and old, which can be read online.  You may also want to visit Elwood's main site.

BNSF Timetables and Rules Web Site.  BNSF's site is an excellent source of PDF documents on various areas of railroad operation.  Documents include timetables (which are the rules governing a specified section of track), and rules related to dispatching, air-brake use, and locomotive operations.

JuddSpittler.com.  This is the host site for "Spittler Engineering". JuddSpittler.com is the web services organization created to showcase the special projects and adventures undertaken by Judd Spittler.


 Judd Spittler

Questions?  Comments?  We are always interested in hearing from you.