Car card & Waybill System 

Since I like to operate rather than just run trains in circles, I set up my own car-card/waybill system using what I had gleaned from magazines, and what I thought I needed. Heres how mine works.


The system is designed for a one man operations. The beauty of this system is in the fact that it permits a fellow railroader to take over the switching side in one area, leaving any of the other two control panels free.

The first chore was to make a card for every car and type in the top left corner the type of freight car used, i.e. BOX for boxcars, followed by owner, lets say B.N, then the cars number followed by the cars colour. After this came the happy job of making a small pocket at the bottom right of the card for the waybills to sit in.

The waybills were made from wedding invitation blanks and are approximately 2" by 1". Most are white, but a few are blue. (I will come back to the blue cards a little later) The cards are then given a letter in the top right corner to represent the type of car it is, i.e. B for box car, R for reefer and so on. Underneath and centered , I typed the name of one area, and underneath this, I typed TEAM TRACK. Turning the card over, I typed EAST BOUND THROUGH FREIGHT. (could have been westbound) The card was then placed into a waybill rack, marked B for box cars, R for reefers etc., with the type EASTBOUND FREIGHT facing out.

The big chore now, was to make a card for every piece of rolling stock on the layout, the same way. It took hours, but was well worth it. Now all I needed to do when buying a new box car or flat car or what ever, was to make out a new card and place it into the waybill rack.

The front of the blue cards are done the same as the white, but instead of turning the card over to type where it is going, this is typed at the bottom of the card with "Please turn over on completion of switching." On turning the card over, there is another request to take this car to another industry. On completion, to be returned to the yards. No Hassle with fast clocks or the like, just run trains and have fun.

Okay, this is how it works:

All trains received from storage (either direction) must first make a few trips around the layout. Waybills are taken at random from the waybill rack. The waybills are then placed into each car/card, with either east or westbound freight (Or mixed freight) showing at the front of the card. White cards are a simple two leg journey, but the blue cards are a three leg journey. When a blue card is encountered, instead of turning the card over to read the instructions, you first follow instructions on the front side, then turn it over and continue the operations as you would for a two leg journey. (Blue cards foul things up a bit)

After a freight has made several laps around the main, it stops to switch. From one to four cars are dropped from the rear into a staging track. The remainder of the cars are then dropped off at another staging track, and the engine released for fuel. In other words all pickups are placed at the front of the train, all Set out are dropped from the rear.

The freight cars that were first Set out, (from the rear of the train) are the only cars that require car/cards. The car/cards are taken from the "Receive from storage tracks" Box.

Car/cards matching the cars numbers are selected, then the waybill is turned over (unless it is a blur card) to determine the cars local destination. These car/card and waybills are then placed into the "Set out" Box .The local switcher then decides the order in which the cars should be placed so they can be dropped off in the right order. The local then departs, makes a few laps of the main and then sets out all its cars for local delivery to the industrial sidings. The cards are then taken out of the "Set out" box and placed into the "Pickup" box.

The local then picks up all cars (If there are any) from previous set outs and returns to the yards. The switcher the sets out the cars for outbound traffic on any free staging track, then hides in a suitable hole while the freshly fuelled engine picks up the cars from the staging tracks and after picking up a caboose, makes several laps around the main before returning to the storage tracks. The car/cards are then taken out of the "Pickup" box and placed into the "Dispatch to storage tracks" box.

All waybills are removed from the car/cards, - shuffled, then placed at the rear of the used section of the waybill rack. New waybills are now allocated to the now empty car/cards taken from the front of the waybill rack. When the train is back in the storage tracks, the cards are taken out of the "Dispatch to storage" Box and placed into the "Receive from storage" box.

Another train can now come out of the storage tracks, and the same routine starts all over again.

For a one persons operations, this can keep a person busy for hours with just a couple of trains running. Plus the fact that passenger traffic will have to be able to move as well, will cause no end of hassle for the mind to cope with. (You think having a model railroad is fun)