Like Anthony and his inner math geek, I find that I, too, have an inner geek that still gets excited at times.
While I was growing up in the dark ages before the Internet, most of my information came from books. My family owned a library of encyclopedias which covered one wall of our living room, and I often spent time in our local library looking up whatever odd information that struck my interest at the moment. I learned early on that anything I ever wanted to know could eventually be found in a book.
Of course, times have changed, and we now have information literally at our fingertips. I still find occasionally, though, that what I really want is in a book.
While search for information about icing platforms today, I stumbled across a blog post linking to the Google Books scan of the 1909 edition of Railroad Structures and Estimates by John Wilson Orrock
In my case, the information in Chapter 5 is a gold-mine. I've been trying for months to find good information about both roundhouses and coaling towers. Not only are those two structures shown, but a slew of others. There is also information about bridges, track work, and landscaping. In short, if you model the steam era, this is a great book to use for both inspiration and reference. After just browsing through quickly on my lunch break, I now have lots of ideas for new models to build.
Fortunately this particular book has been scanned and made available online. Something to keep in mind when looking for modeling information, however, is not to limit yourself to online searches. Books and magazines are still out there in plenty, and they are full of information that will never make it to the Internet. Also keep in mind that old books aren't necessarily outdated. Being written closer to the time period that you may be researching, they are often better than currently available information. Remember, books are your friends, and libraries are the pubs that they hang out in.
For those who are too modern for the library, Google Books
is incredibly useful. Turns out they also have a scan of the 1918 second edition of Railroad Structures and Estimates
My inner book geek is pleased.