Wayne Roderick, 3rd Division, PNR, NMRA (life)

03/22/03 rev 01/15/07

Over the many years that the TETON SHORT LINE has been in existance we have tried many operating schemes to extend the interest beyond the building. As you work through the years to build a great layout with all its infrastructure, novel scenes, little people and perhaps some signals and animated scenes, you will eventually come to the point where you ask "is that all there is?" You may reach this point earlier or later but I believe we all get there. You are either going to fade away from this great hobby or take the next logical step.

The next step is OPERATION! This is where life enters our empire. The TSL has tried it all, time schedules, dispatchers, movement tags on the cars, software programs, fast clocks, car cards, etal. The most successful scheme, as evidenced by continued interest, has used a software program that I wrote in ancient (computer time) times but today we're going to go back and use a car card system. Why? Because STAGING is adding a big new dimension and the old software program FRTMGR would require too much overhaul to make it work well with staging. We will still be making up trains at Malfunction Junction (MFJ) in addition to the Thunder Mountain (TDM) staging yard. TDM will initiate trains from both ends of the TSL where connections are made with UP and GN. These trains may return or terminate elsewhere.

What have I got to offer for car card operations? Very little, so much has been written already and you can find it very easily on the internet. Put "model railroad" and "car cards" into the Google search and you'll be off to a good start. A quick check of the Model Train Magazine index using the search word WAYBILL generated 28 hits. I must thank my good friend Lee Nicolas of the Utah Colorado Western" for the current stimulus to reconsider car cards. He has some good info on his site. My small contribution is to show you how Auto-Cad and perhaps other CAD programs, can be a very useful tool to create your various pieces of paper. You can buy this material from Old Line graphics but buying is a nasty word on the TSL. Our policy is to always look over the roundhouse rubble to see if we can build it, besides I'm still emulating a physician with my handwriting so I needed it all pre-printed.

With most car card system the Engineer/Conductor is going to receive a packet that describes his train and what he is to do with it so lets take a look in the packet.


My packet is in a clear view envelope with the Train Description card (TD), fig (A or B) visible on top. Inserted in the TD pocket is the call sheet (D) that tells you your loco number and car count. The dispatcher is going to ask for this before he lets you on the mainline. Other info such as the cab to use, DCC consist code or Railynx channel number might be added to the call sheet. The call sheet is the only document that needs handwriting. Unique instructions such as a business car on the end of a freight can be added to the call sheet.

My TDs are printed in three colors, Green for staged trains, Orange for Malfunction Jucntion trains and Red for specials that require unique handling such as the Directors Special or a Steam Excursion. Figures (B&C) show you how we use an additional insert, printed on both sides, to replace four cards with just one.

In the packet, behind the TD is the yellow individual car cards, fig E, one for each car in the train. The car card with it's waybill is always left with the car while the customers load and unload. If the car is removed from the tracks in the staging yard, the card goes with it. Use the card for a BAD ORDER sheet if repair is needed. A single car card, or possibly none, is used for a unit train such as a coal drag with no setouts enroute.

A four step waybill, fig F & G, is in the pocket of each car card. The waybill directs the car movement starting with the customers call for an empty to loading, delivery and what to do with the empty. It may describe the load and although that information is usually superflous, it adds some fun. Most of my load descriptions have evolved from friends, family, books and even political statements. While some folks use a two step bill, I prefer a four step one very analogous to our old FRTMGR program. In fact the bills came directly from the FRTMGR waybill list. The layout owner/manager rotates or flips the waybill between operation sessions to generate new work. The operating crew DOES NOT DO IT!

The waybills require printing on both sides and/or upside down and that can get tricky. With my four part bills, I would have to do both. I experimented with common 20 pound paper, printing on one side only and folding but that left snagging corners and it was obvious the bill would soon become ragged.

Enter ACAD! Printing upside down or at any angle is effortless. The text can be scaled to any desired size and the precision in printing easily permits printing of both sides with near perfect alignment. Notice in the following picture how we have accurately defined the printer limits, 7.94" x 10.44" for my HP870. Fit your work into the print frame, then do it for the back side and everything is aligned. You are virtually unlimited in text styles, color etal.


Notice that the paired sheets, front and back, will make two copies of six bills. You could rearrange them of course and get twelve singles on the pair. The paper I use for the TD and car cards is 65 pound in various colors from Kinko or OfficMax, about 10 cents/sheet. The waybills are printed on 36 pound HP inkjet photo paper. Its hard matte finish should make it last long without getting curly corners. Looks like a lot of work- not really- one of the beauties of using ACAD is the ease of repetition. You make one card, COPY it into an ARRAY and simply edit the text. ACAD lets you lock your format in LAYERS so text editing doesn't disturb the form and layout.

Download Teton Short Line Car Card ACAD files

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