In the world of model railroad car-routing systems, the model train car cards and waybill procedure has gained much popularity. There’s an ID card for every locomotive car with a sleeve that holds the waybill helping to guide it to its final location.
The method is versatile and equally fun to set up, use, and customize when needed. The system is so common that any visiting operator you showcase it to might has an idea about it.
The upper part of the car card has a blank space for filling in with the car’s identification information.
The Micro-mark card needs to be provided with the car’s type and AAR (Association of American Railroads) car code on the first blank line, and on the second line the car’s reporting marks, or railroad numbers and initials need to fill in.
Lastly, an average “description” needs to be inputted on the third line.
How do Model Train Car Cards Work?
Model train cards give information about all the cars in a locomotive set. Car cards of different types are used to plan and organize operations in multiple clubs.
Sometimes, operators will also carry an entire “deck” of cards just so they can monitor what cars they should be directing and where. For instance:
- Card Systems and Waybills: A few railroaders who function with waybills will first off pick up some waybills and proceed to pull cards for their desired cars as they grow their locomotive.
Then, they tie every waybill to the set car by tape or paperclips. That car will remain “dedicated” to that one waybill until all goods have been transported. Afterward, the waybill is given back to the “kitty”, and the car is then titled as an “empty”. There isn’t a description of the content, destination, or source in this mode of operation as those could vary every other hour.
- Car Card-Centered Operations: Some systems would rather strike off the waybill and move on directly to the detailed car cars. This system functions on the assumption that particular cars will always be used in a specific way, i.e., hauling certain loads. In this case, car cards show a general description of content, destination, and source. When car cards have to handle many operating trains, they are sometimes used by mixing it up with train cards.
There’s an abundance of processes related to car cards and waybills when you plan your operations, and there’s something for everyone’s model railroad!
here’s a simple method if you have only one or two operations simultaneously. You could flip over each card to decide if the car is “empty” or “full” before the journey starts.
How do you use Model Railroad Car Cards?
All you have to do is follow the “Fold Here” line and make a fold right there (it’ll be at the bottom of the car) and tape it in position to make the waybill pocket.
When there’s no model railroad waybill, there will be an instruction saying “An Empty Car, Return To”. However, entering the destination means that the car now has a place to reach.
The average waybill currently being used has four steps, and it’s sized in a way that it only displays one step as the time over the card sleeve.
The waybills are turned between operating sessions to make the car move in a numerical pattern from one location to another. Step 1 might direct a loaded car to a receiving industry from the staging yard, and stage 2 can send the empty car back to the original place where it’ll take on another load.
Why use Car Cards with your Model Train Layout?
It’s not compulsory to use all four steps of the model railroad waybill for one logical operation. You can use three while leaving one blank if you wish the car to make a stop somewhere, or, if you want the car to move periodically between two points, you can settle for a single side.
As the layout owner, you also possess the power to adjust traffic flows, begin serving new industries, and bring in new car cards and waybills.
As stated, before but now backed up by facts, the entire process is very modifiable so you can try and test for what you find most feasible.
Peter has been building model trains for longer than he can remember. An avid fan of HO and O scale this blog is a creative outlet to allow him to dive further into other scales and aspects of the model train community and hobby.