Operating Paperwork

nbrodar's picture

The Penn Lake uses several type of paperwork for operations.   Although set in the early 70s, most of the operating forms are based on the current forms I use everyday.

Instead of TT&TO, PL's dark territory uses track warrants, based on the NORAC Form D:

To operate on signaled track the crew needs a Release Form:

I don't like carrying a fistful of waybills, because I don't in real life.  I have a printed work order.  PL uses a blank work order, filled out by the "agent" prior to the crew leaving the yard:

There is also a related Wheel Report form to report the train standing order.  The Wheel Report has the same information as the Work Order, arranged in a different manner:

And finally I have Bad Order tickets.   The are large enough to wrapped around the defective car, so the ticket & car can go to the repair track together:

Penn Lake's Employee Timetable is also based on the modern graphical ETTs rather then the period text based ones.

Also included in the Timetable are Consignee Spot Diagrams:


kcsphil1's picture

Great stuff!

Nicely done, and knowing it matches your prototype forms is also cool.  On my Friend Lee's WM layout, this Timetable serves as a starting point for orienting new operators, though the last time we actually ran trains we used switchlists based on the timetable.  Once he completes his rebuild, we'll see which way the wind blows.

Philip H. Chief Everything Officer Baton Rouge Southern Railroad, Mount Rainier Div.

Operating Paperwork

Great Stuff Indead!  I like the idea of how "Realistic" all your paperwork looks.  I guess it took a while to develop this.  How do you "generate" your traffic for your layout, for say pickups and set-outs?  Random?  Dice? Manually? Computer?  How do you determine what type and how many cars are in your train, set outs etc?


David Cameron White

Aromas Pacific Railroad Company

A Proud Partner in Pacific Rail Transportation (PRX) 

rfbranch's picture

Off Spot Cars

Thanks for sharing these images.  It has me thinking through how I want to handle things on my layout as I'm on the verge of putting some sort of car forwarding scheme in place. 

Using your system how do you handle off spot cars?  The reason I ask is that I envision my railroad having cars destined for certain industries delivered in groups larger than the industry can handle in one session so a lot of what my operators will be doing is spotting cars for storage for a session or two while they work through the cars that need to be loaded/unloaded at each industry.  I'm assuming that the exceptions line would allow for that provision correct?

I like the reduced paperwork aspect of your switchlist system and I'm looking to avoid having too much clerical work between sessions and your system may present a happy medium.

thanks for sharing!




Proto-Freelanced Carfloat Operation, Brooklyn, NY c.1974

For those interested come check out my Wisconsin Badger Football podcast: BuckAround

CAR_FLOATER's picture

From an earlier era...............

For paperwork of an earlier era, this is what we use on my friend Dave Ramos' layout (www.nyhrr.com). This is a waybill-only system, and is explained further on Dave's website under "operations".


nbrodar's picture

Consignee Driven

I use consignee cars to drive car movement.  Basically each consignee has a deck of cards with work instructions and each type of car has a deck of car cards.  Note, that under my system cars are not consigned until a consignee card is drawn.   My system doesn't care weither the car is loaded or empty; where it came from or where it's going....Only that the car is going from the yard to industry and industry to yard.

Basic consignee card:

Special work cards:

Then I draw car cards to match the spot instructions

Each consignee a tab in a car box for the cars on spot.   I use this information to fill out the work order.

Rich, that's exactly what the exception line is for.   You'd just have to have some kind of notation for the car card showing the car was consigned, but is off spot. 

A little too much like work...

Thanks for posting my time table, Phil.  It reminds me that I have to completely redo it now that I've started tearing up the layout!

While I like preparing a switch list for locals, looking over the variety of forms you've posted, and the volume of information each one seems to ask for, I'd have to hire a team of clerks to run a typical operating session.

Under the design illustrated in the timetable, which was woefully inadequate, we could manage a schedule of around 20 to 25 trains, with 20+ cars in most.  There were through freights with pick ups and set outs, locals, turns and transfers.  That's a lot of stuff to write down.  The new design accommodates more and longer trains, which means even more cars to keep track of, and the idea of writing all of that down is even more daunting!

While the old reliable car card and 4-cycle waybill system may be far from prototypical, it has served the hobby well in turning one's layout into what's essentially a large game board, providing instructions as to how to move the various game pieces around.

Since there's four potential destinations on each waybill, and usually several months between planned ops sessions, no one gets tired of any repetition, and it's easy to pick up right where you left off (provided the cat doesn't knock the cards and/or the cars on the floor.)

For me, the delight is in handing out the throttles to my crew, keeping the paperwork as simple as possible, and making sure there's plenty of beer in the fridge and tunes on the stereo.  We run a simple sequential time table, but time isn't a critical element.  No fast clocks, or pressure switching.  For my crew, it's play time, and the car cards and waybills just provide some general direction to keep things flowing.  So far, that's been enough to keep the guys coming back...

WM Crew

...And the second guy from the left is a professional short line conductor!


CAR_FLOATER's picture

It's Only Too Much Work............

If you MAKE it too much work.

Lee, I agree it seems (and can be, depending on how big the layout is) very daunting of a job. But, as I see it, this is where planning and research comes in. In the case of the image of the waybill I posted earlier, my friend Dave Ramos did the research as to what trains did what (this appiles particularly to the NYC part of his layout), and while that may be enjoy able to only a select few, it's necessary regardless. Well, necessary if you want to realistically have trains and carloads operate on your layout - otherwise, feel free to make them up. Anywho, once the research was done, he needed to input it the data into an Excel spreadsheet, if I recall correctly. Again, some of us out there may not want or have the ability to do that, and I get that. But once the data input is done, all it requires is to print (and cut) more out for each session. I know, with the OLG-style system, you don't need to do this. But all I am saying is, that it's not THAT much more work for a whole LOT of extra realisim in your operations. And Dave does this all by himself, for every session (once a month). To get a better idea of how large (it's really not) his layout is, visit www.nyhrr.com. I don't mean to say that his way is the better way (even if I do like it better), it's rather that it doesn't require an army of clerks to impliment like most think.


nbrodar's picture

Small Layout

To each his own.

Road trains don't work.  Manifest train cars are pretty much assigned at random, and the mineral trains have mostly fixed consists.   I only run two working locals, of around 10 cars each, so the work required to generate the paperwork isn't bad.

If I had a larger layout and ran more working trains, I would use a different method to generate traffic.  I vastly prefer the work order format over the fistfull of CC&WB, so I'd probably use some type of computer generated system.  

Layout size

Layout size has a lot to do with the complexity of operations as does the kind of trains you're running.

Now I haven't gotten so far on my layout that I even have thought about operations other than the fact that my layiout is based on the New York Connecting Railroad and it served as a conection between Jersey City, NJ and Oak Point Yard in the Bronx. But I will probably need to have some kind of dispatching scheme that will fill car floats at one end and making up trains bound for the car floats, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties and coming from points north of Oak Point Yard.

I really haven'g iven it alot of thought just yet because I don't want to get too fa ahead of myself as the car float designs haven't been finalized yet and that has to happen before I can do the track layout in the car float yards.

I think I have enough to do without worrying about everything else.


Irv, I suspect that operations like most other things we do with

model trains are something that we try and as we use things we discover what works best for us.  For some folks one system works well, while for various reasons a different system works for someone else.  You may also discover as you start to operate that the first system you try has short comings, and you need to try something else.  I think that there may be differences between operating your personal layout by yourself, and operating a layout with a crew.  The most important thing is to have fun however you end up operating.

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