Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An update on Car Cards and Waybills

Between other modeling projects I have slowly been finalizing my car cards and waybills. As mentioned before, I was intrigued by the more prototypical waybill and especially the plastic sleeve mentioned in Model Railroader’s Feb. 2012 issue. I did order some plastic sleeves and these worked well with the car cards I already had once I trimmed off the fold up pocket.

Next I turned to the waybill. Using the template provided in Excel on the MR web site, I started adjusting boxes in the document and removing things I did not like. The result was a 2” x 2-1/2” area to identify the shipper, receiver, their locations, the commodity and any special instructions. It follows the basic left-right concept of the prototype template, but eliminates a few things to allow larger printing of the data that mattered. I found that I could group 4 waybills in a block and by folding them I could get all 4 steps, one at a time, to be displayable on the front, simply by turning the waybill front to back, then folding it and doing the same again. Kind of hard to describe but the pictures below should help. Once cut out and folded, it was inserted into the plastic sleeve, overlaying the car card.

I printed these on white paper but used Blue print for the variable data and highlighted the box representing the destination location as this is usually what an operator is most interested in knowing. After doing a few of these, I was satisfied that this would work, so I went ahead and ordered enough plastic sleeves (vinyl actually) for the rest of my rolling stock and set forward on the task of creating waybills.

In excel I created new sheets for different cars and routings and printed these out, matching them up with likely freight cars. For example paper will move in MEC boxcars,  appliances will move in my D&RGW HyCube boxcar, etc. This takes time, and can really get to you, so it is best to do a little at a time I find. So far I have done a little more than half of all my rolling stock. I have been keeping track of how many waybills I create for each siding and staging track as recommended in the article I referred you to in the last post.

One thing it quickly identifies is where I have a need for certain freight cars, and maybe too many of another. For example, I doubt I need any more boxcars (although it will be tough not pick up new ones that come out) but I have no oil tank cars that I need for the MEC to interchange with the B&M at Whitefield for the paper mill to the north. So this will help me focus a bit on cars I should be looking for in the future.

Here are some pictures. The first shows the waybill printed and cut out. You can se the fold lines. Also note that I used a highlighter in the boxes for step 3 and step 4.This was something that I picked up operating on someone elses layout. The color coding can help yard operators quickly identify how to route cars. An orange highlight is for cars heading on the MEC to Portland. A Green highlight is for cars heading up north on the CP. I also have blue for southbound cars on the CP/BM and Yellow for cars destined for the CV St. Albans yard. This can help an operator who may not be sure how a car should be forwarded.

Next is a picture showing all phases of the car card and waybill. You can see the plastic sleeve, the sleeve with car card and finally also with a waybill. Above that is the waybill before and after folding.

Finally here is a look at the completed product for a number of different car types on the layout. I color coded the car cards to help crews identify them .

The car cards in their plastic sleeves with waybills inserted.

So far I am pretty happy to have found a way to address this need to move me closer to operations. I know once we start I will probably need to tweek the waybills, and possibly fix some errors. But this has me on a good start. Now, to finish waybills for the remaining cars…oh yeah, and I need to print some car cards for the freight cars I picked up at Springfield in January…


Unknown said...

Mike, I really like your card system. Any chance you could share a download link to the excel or word docs? I'm on a mac, so I'm not sure how that will convert. but worth a shot. Love the cards and bills. very cool.

Mike McNamara said...


Thanks, I appreciate that. Yes, I can gladly share my files with you. I put them up on a web page:

The Waybills files are in Excel. The Car Cards print using Pages, the Apple word processor and the roster that the Car Cards draws upon is in Numbers, the apple spreadsheet program. To print the car cards I also have a little instruction document to remind myself how I do the merge each time.

I manually cut everything out and insert into the sleeves.

You could play around with things as you see fit to make it work for you.

Let me know how you make out.

jmschlottman said...

Tried using the link above and I had no success. :(

Mike McNamara said...

Let me check the link. There were some web site changes, so I should be able to get the proper link and update the info here. I'll let you know!

Mike McNamara said...

Justin, use this link below:


Mike McNamara said...

I should also mention that I have a couple of posts that update the basic waybills I presented here, with refinements learned from actual op sessions.