Saturday, December 8, 2018

Card System - Operating Session Setup - Part 2

After the car cards and shipment cards needed for the card system are prepared you can begin to use them for car movements on the railroad.   We will first look at the preparation work needed to makeup trains on the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company.  I use an Operating Session Setup check list to keep track of the steps needed and completed.

Simple check list to help  prepare an operating session.
(Click or tap on any image to enlarge)

The setup checklist shows what has to be done prior to making up waybills.  The second item on the list is Train packs that contained waybills and train orders that moved trains in both directions between Minneapolis (east end of railroad) to McGregor (west end of the railroad) from the last session have to be moved back to their starting locations.

Train packs in bottom row have been moved from Minneapolis back to McGregor.

Waybills in town pockets have to be advanced to the next pocket due to time in the system.  Therefore, in each town, a waybill put in a 2 days pocket will advance to the 1 day pockets and a waybill in 1 day pocket will advance to the pickup pocket.  When a waybill is moved to the pickup pocket the shipment card is removed, turned over to side two, and reinserted in the plastic sleeve (cards are never turned by operators during a operating session).  The waybill now has new information for the car destination after it is picked up.

Interchange tracks, GN in Minneapolis, CNW in Little Chicago, and MILW in Eureka Center, have to have cars spotted on them in the last session removed, boxed, and moved to the interchange cabinet in which all interchange cars off the railroad are stored.  Waybills for the boxed cars are removed from the Interchange pocket and shipment cards are removed and filed in day of origin.  The car card now without shipment card in filed in the car card file.

Shipment card file on left and car cards file on right.

You are now the yard clerk getting car movements, new day waybills ready for the next operating session (system day) on the railroad.  You open your shipment card file and pull out the shipment cars for an operating day.  The shipment cards are the calls from the industries served by your railroad (blue cards) and the industries served by connecting railroads via interchanges which each have their own color: orange MILW, yellow CNW, and white GN.  So you are yard clerk for your railroad and for the connecting railroads.

Several shipment cards pulled from shipment card file.

Let us take several of the calls for system day two and fill them by matching them with cars to create the operating day waybills.  I want to begin with a home road shipment card first.

Upon reviewing the home road shipment card, a Request  For Empty, you find that Lester Feed Mill located in Tunnel City, Minn. with a blocking number of 21 has requested and empty box car to be delivered to door 2 to be unloaded and picked up in two days.   An empty box car can be found in Minneapolis or McGregor yard.  Home road cars are stored in the yards and their car cards are in car card pockets with one labeled for each track.  I will look at the box cars available in the McGregor yard on the various tracks and choose a car to fill the order.  Which box car do I choose?  A good yard clerk knows his customers and their car preferences such as should it be a wood or steel car, single or double door, etc.  After selecting a box car I find the car card for it in the card box for the track it is located on and I slide the shipment card into the car card car sleeve to create the waybill needed to move the car.

McGregor yard pockets for yard tracks and for Train packs.

Now l want to look at the CNW shipment card, a Freight Waybill, pulled for day 2.  Upon reviewing the shipment card I can see I need a flat car that has a pipe load that will be placed on the CNW interchange track that I know is located in Little Chicago where it will be picked up by the Minneapolis & Northland, and moved to the M&N Team Track with a blocking number of 29 located in Sussex, Minnesota.  The shipment card for day 2 is and older car card in the system which used letters  to represent days, "B" was 2 days, rather than on newer shipment cards which now have 2 days for the Setout ( see newer card above).  

Older cards used a letter to represent days.  Here setout "B" equals 2 days.

I go to the car card file and choose a flat car and slide the shipment card into the sleeve to create a waybill.  

A waybill is created when shipment card in combined with car card.

Interchange cars are not stored on the railroad; they are stored in boxes stored in a cabinet on a shelf that contains the CNW cars.  In the same cabinet are shelves with the cars for the MILW and GN (on other railroads these cars could be located on staging tracks).  I now go the cabinet and find the flat car in the box on the CNW shelf.  I take the car out of the box and place the box in the storage box location for cars moved to interchanges.  The CNW flat car is now placed on the CNW interchange track in Little Chicago and the car card is place in the CNW interchange box.

Car card placed in CNW Interchange pickup pocket.

I am not done yet as the car empty flat car needs a pipe load.   So off to the drawer holding car loads and choose a pipe load for the flat car and take it to Little Chicago and place it on the CNW flat on the CNW interchange track.

An old Varnery plastic flat car still in service waiting pickup on CNW Interchange.

After creating the two waybills above I continue to complete creating the waybills for the remaining shipment cards.   If you go back to my "Card System - paperwork"  blog  post that contained the “Number of Cards in System Day” report you will find in addition to the two waybills created above there are eighteen (18) more to prepare for system day two.  Once all waybills are created and in their appropriate train pockets and cars are located on interchanges on the railroad you as the yard clerk are ready to create the train consist lists used by yardmasters to makeup trains for moving the cars to their location.

The new waybills for the day that you put in card pockets in a yard, an interchange pocket or in a pickup pocket are now listed on a consist list for a train.  You the clerk have to decide from experience working the railroad as to which trains, an extra or scheduled freight, to assign a waybill to enable a car to get to the customer in the most efficient way.

Train Consist  Form used by yardmasters to build trains.

Your work as a yard clerk is now done.   It is now time to call for an operating crew to move trains.

Yardmasters use the consist list to makeup a train and call the dispatcher for a crew.  Upon reporting the crew receives a train pack consisting of the waybills, clearance form, train orders, and instructions as to what their train will do while moving on the railroad such as consulting the timetable if a scheduled train.

Train pack contents: instructions, clearance form, train orders, and waybills.

I have covered only the basic waybill car movements of the industry based system.   Various other movements can and are made on my railroad.  One example, when filling a home road call for a “Request for Empty” the empty car rather than come from a yard could be filled with an empty home road car being returned to the railroad from a foreign road via an interchange (home road cars that leave via an interchange are returned after 3 days/operating sessions).  Therefore, an empty car being returned by the GN that was set out on the interchange track in Minneapolis, normally returned to a M&N yard, could be used to fill a call (shipment card).  In this case, an empty home road car is directly moved to an industry rather than a M&N yard prior to being used to fill an industry call (shipment card for a Request for Empty).  Another example, an empty car at an industry rather than being moved back to a yard is used to fill a call at another industry.

The industry card system I have described, in my opinion, provides visiting train crews to my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company with an experience of moving cars in a prototype manner.   The system does take time to install if you should choose to use it and continues to take time to setup each operating session.  On my railroad it takes about four hours plus to setup an operating session using the system.   Only you can decide if you want to use this industry based card system to have fun running trains.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.

Lester Breuer

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Card System - Paperwork Setup - Part 1

After you purchase or finish a kit to add another piece of rolling stock to your car fleet, what do you do with it?  In my case it goes into service on my Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company railroad, reporting marks are M&N, operating in late spring of 1955. The M&N is a short line railroad serving local industries and connecting to three major railroads via interchanges. You can find more about my railroad at the following website   and once open clicking on "layouts" and finding my railroad there   I define in-service as moving rolling stock on the model railroad in a prototype fashion. To accomplish prototype movement I use an industry based card system I developed with a friend in the late 1970's.  The card system I use is different from others as it has time built into it.  I want to share the card system paperwork and how to create it with you here.

The system uses four types of car movements: online to online, online to offline, offline to online and offline to offline.  Online is defined as an industry, team track, or yard facility as a sand house or stores building on your railroad and offline is a customer off your railroad reached via an interchange.  Therefore, an online to online shipment is from one industry on the railroad to another industry on the railroad and an online to offline is a shipment from an industry on the railroad to one not on the railroad via an interchange railroad.

Car movements are controlled by a waybill consisting of a car card and a shipment card which identifies the car movement as a "Request For Empty" or "Freight Waybill."  My car cards are 3x5 cards printed on 40 lb. paper enclosed in an open ended plastic sleeve into which a shipment card, half a 3x5 card printed on both sides, is inserted. The shipment card is the two sided type which has car movement data printed on both sides. As a result there are times when a second shipment card is needed to complete a car movement which is not the case with the later developed four sided waybill.  I still use the two sided waybill rather than the new smaller four sided waybill very common today because my system was developed prior to these waybills coming into existence.  The waybill can be simple like mine or an exact copy of a prototype.  A Microsoft (MS) Excel spreadsheet was used and still is to make and print the car cards and shipment cards as well as other needed paperwork. And, I do not want to redo three hundred and seventy plus waybills.

Car Card
Shipment Card
(Click or tap on any image to enlarge)

Waybill  - card card with shipment card above inserted with reverse side showing.

What information does the waybill have?  First a car card is printed on 40 lb. paper for each piece of rolling stock when put in service on the railroad.  The car card has the following information printed on the left side of it: car type ( BOX ), car reporting marks ( M&St,L ), number ( 53738 ), name of railroad ( Minneapolis & St. Louis ), class ( XM ),  car capacity ( 50 Ton ) and at times information about car (steel, 1937 design).  A home road car it has a blue line added around the outer edge.

The shipment card contains the following information: the system day with the name of the railroad where the car is coming from next to it ( this information is printed in a color section assigned to my home road and each interchange railroad to help operators quickly identify the railroad where the car originated: blue M&N, orange MILW, yellow CNW, White GN , next is the car movement, a "Request For Empty" or "Freight Waybill,"  To ( station and state where the car is going), Consignee ( customer) and consignee blocking number, Route ( how is the car going to get there), Car Type, Contents, and Setout ( tells operator where to place waybill after car is delivered ).  The two sided shipment cards are printed in a group of three on one side of an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet, each is cut out, folded in half and rubber cement is used to glue the folded sides together and rolled with a wallpaper seam roller creating a shipment card.

Sample shipment cards
(Click or tap on image to enlarge)

We now know what information is found on the shipment card; however, we now need to know where to find that information to fill out a shipment card.  I began by creating a blocking report.  The blocking report identifies each industry and interchange on the railroad in each town from one end of the railroad to the other and assigns a number to it used by operators to block trains.  Each town has a group of block numbers assigned to current existing industries and should allow for numbers to be assigned to industries added in the future.  On my blocking report I also show door spots for industries that have them.

Blocking Report
(click or tap on image to enlarge)

Once the blocking report was finished I moved on to the industry report prepared for each industry.   The industry report is the most important one in the system for it is the information on this report that is the basis for an industry based operating system.  Before looking at the information on the report you need to choose a period (time) for which industries will ship product or receive raw materials.  I chose a period of 14 days for my industries.  Therefore, since my railroad operates at least once a month, if you came to each session during the year you have a unique session that does not repeat itself.  On other railroads where I have helped the owner install the system they decided on a shorter period.  Then research for what each industry ships and receives is done for the time prior chosen.  My research for some industries was done by visiting the industry and speaking with management or employees to obtain the ship and receive information.  During these visits I also found the average time a car spent at an industry for loading or unloading was one to three days.  Therefore, that is the time I used in my industry reports for a car to be at located an industry.   If I could not visit an industry to gather information I used various sources to obtain the information for products received and shipped.  One such source is historical society with members that worked for the railroad that can help with that information.  Another source is railroad manuals such as the one I have for the Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern titled “Information and Data Pertaining to Industries.”  One example of the information found in this manual.  It has the industry number, 3091, ( I call the blocking number) the industry name, Security Warehouse #6, address, contact person, and a description, “Unloads box cars coffee, sugar, etc., switch on south end holds six cars – placarded door on north side to unload.”  In these cases I had to guess what could come in and go out in the 14 days.

Now we can look at how an industry report is filled out. At the top of the industry report is the industry name, the blocking number found on the blocking report created above, the town where it is located, the siding capacity, and the total number of days used by car movements in and out.  The “total days” number is calculated by multiplying the siding capacity by the time period which in my case was 14 days.  Following this information is the car movements out (ships) and car movements in (receives). Here is where the research information you gathered on the industry is recorded. Specifically the information shows: car contents, car type, route, to or from (is the customer or interchange), and the town. The report also shows the time, the number of days, a car will be at the industry and the system day you assign the car movement.  On the industry report below the ship and receive information you see a chart which I use to plot the receipts and shipments of  see what is to be happening each day ( operating session ). An entry on the chart consists of the system day ( an operating session) separated by a hyphen from the number that is time, the days car will be at the industry.  An entry begins on the day a car arrives and advances each day until it is picked up.  I can check an industry using this chart to see if the anticipated movement is there.  In doing this check I can tell if the railroad and operators are working in an efficient manner.  Of course, it is not necessary to fill out and this section and it does not have to be used.

Commander Elevator Industry Report

Once the industry report has some car movements entered (ships or receives) a shipment card can be filled out. I will fill out one shipment car using the first car movement (first line under Ships) on the Commander Elevator industry report.  The shipment car needs to be a “Request for Empty” for an empty box car from the Milwaukee Road to be loaded with grain and delivered to Lester Feed Mill in Tunnel City by the Minneapolis & Northland Railroad Company. I go to my computer, open an Excel spreadsheet which has the shipment car for the MILW setup on it and enter the information from the industry report.  The completed shipment card  added to car card to create waybill (that will need a second shipment card inserted for the final car move) is shown below.

Waybill  for day 5 is a car card with side one of completed shipment card added.

Waybill 2 days (ops sessions) later with shipment card turned over.
(Shipment card is turned over when waybill is moved to pickup box)

Waybill 1 day later (ops session) with a 2nd shipment card added
to return empty car to yard..

After I complete a shipment card I enter it on report I have named “Number Of Cars In System Per Day.”  The report as others is created in MS Excel using a spreadsheet.  The upper section of the report shows the number of cards (car movements) the system is currently using in a day (operating session) while the lower section shows on what railroad the movement originates. This report again is one that is not necessary to install this system.

Number of Cards in System Per Day

You now have a collection of card cards and shipments cards that need a storage place.   I store the card cards in a cabinet drawer that was designed for such cards and the shipment cards are stored in a receipt card file box.   Industry reports and other reports are stored in a 3 ring binder.

After reading and digesting the material above I hope you can create a card car, a shipment card, and combine the two to make a waybill that will be used by you and your train crews for industry based car movements on your railroad.  How to use the waybills to match them with rolling stock to makeup train consists and get them to their location I cover in  "Operating Session - Setup - Part 2" on my blog.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer

Monday, November 26, 2018

Dental Tools Or “Picks”

At almost every train show I attend, a tool vendor is there.  Being a tool collector, I have to see if they have a new tool I can obtain to make my modeling easier.  Among my favorite modeling tools I have purchased from the various tool vendors are dental tools or “picks.”   I have also obtained used dental picks from my dentist for a great price - free.   My son Michael, who passed recently, helped me to build a fairly large collection.  To my surprise, when he was in elementary school, he told his dentist his father was a model railroader in need of used modeling tools which resulted in him bringing home an envelope of ten or more each visit for several years.

Dental picks collection.
(click or tap on photos to enlarge)

I use dental picks to help build every freight car I work on.  At first glance, the dental picks all look alike; however, that is not the case.  As you look close at various dental picks made from high quality steel, you can see dental picks come in various handle sizes with various ends.  I will share with you several of my favorites.  I do not know the specific name a dentist uses to identify each dental pick type I will share here; therefore, I will identify them with names I use.

The first dental tool I want to share with you is one with a simple straight or slightly curved tapered tip. I use this tool in a model session if I need to open a closed tip on a CA glue bottle or cement tube.  Being made of a high quality steel, it is strong enough to quickly open a closed tip without bending or breaking.  The tip on the pick with the yellow band in the following photo, I attempted to straighten with a pliers.

A strong tip to reopen closed tips on CA bottles.

 Another very useful dental pick type has ends shaped like hooks.  A dental tool with this tip I like to use to help grab wire to assist treading it on a model such as the train line through underframe members on a freight car.  In addition, this dental pick with hook is very handy for pulling out an underbody or floor assembly pressed too far into a freight car body during assembly, especially on plastic freight cars.   The thin hook goes in easy under the underbody or floor to pull it out.

Dental picks with curved tips

I have used the dental pick with hooks to make uncoupling tools .  I combined the dental pick with a hook with a pen barrel and added a screw eye for hanging.  The dental tool with hook works very well to hook trip pins on Kadee and other coupler types to uncouple them during operation sessions.

Uncoupling or load removal shop made tools

Screw eye for hanging for easy access.

Another neat use for a dental pick with hook is to remove loads from freight cars like coal loads from hoppers.  I have drilled a tiny hole in the corner on one end of each load through which the hook passes easily to slip under the load to pull the load out of the freight car.

Coal load being removed with dental pick.

When I scratch build a model or upgrade a plastic freight car  I almost always use a scriber.  On a plastic wood sheathed freight car I will use it to scribe grooves between boards back in the area where I have removed molded on detail such as grab irons or ladder rungs.  Here you see ones I made using dental picks.  I ground a 60 degree angle on each side of the tip.  The scriber cuts a fine curl as it should when pulled across material such as styrene plastic.

Note the curl a sharp correctly ground scriber should produce.

Dental picks shown below have different tips I use to apply putty for fillings flaws that need filling.  For example,  on a resin freight car there are times a tiny gap may occur after gluing a car end to side or when roof is glued to the basic freight box of car side and ends.  The dental tools shown here are excellent for the task.

Dental picks with good tips for use with fillers.

Dental picks in this photo have different scraping tips.  I use this type of scraper to clean up areas on cars I have carved off grab irons and ladder rungs and to clean off burrs in an area where I used a scriber.  I use them to clean off glue.  Another time I will use them is to help level putty that was applied to an area.

Dental picks with tips I like for scraping.

Finally, dental picks with another type tip I use for scraping and shaping areas.   I like the smaller tips on these dental picks to get into areas where the above tips do not fit well.  In addition,  I use a dental tool with this type tip to shape putty or MEK Goop, (plastic melted in Methyl Ethyl Ketone) applied to model areas.

Dental picks with smaller tips for scraping and shaping.

I have shared with you some of my favorite dental picks in my dental tool "picks" collection.  And, I have tried to provide a use I have for a particular tool with a particular end.  I hope I have peaked your interest in dental tools to give their use in your modeling a try.

Thank You for taking time to read my blog.  You can share a comment in the section below if you choose to do so.  Please share the blog link with other model railroaders.
Lester Breuer