Sunday, April 8, 2018

Helpin' Out the Yard Crews- Part 2

One of the challenges of operating with car cards and waybills is finding somewhere convenient to work with them without damaging anything in the process. Many layout owners provide aprons to carry the cards but these are of limited use when it comes to actually working with them. Recently, a number of folks have started mounting vinyl carpet edging strips to the fascia in order to hold cards. The ones I have used have worked great, so I started looking for them online. It was more of a struggle than I thought it would be.

As I searched for the strips, I came across a post on one of the forums where the layout owner had built a thin shelf pocket out of wood to hold the cards. He had painted the wood the same color as the fascia and it looked great. The one thing I seem to have plenty of is Masonite hardboard and small wood strips, so I thought I would follow his example. 

The photo below shows the first pocket along the fascia at North Pierce. This pocket is above the car cards boxes and allows the crew to work and sort the cards before placing them in the appropriate track boxes.

The yardmaster for Hollister Yard generally works the freight side from east end of the yard while the assistant yardmaster works the coal side from the location above. It occurred to me that another pocket would be helpful on the east end. The photo below shows this pocket.

As can be seen in the photo, the yardmaster can tuck the classification index cards in behind the car cards to keep everything organized. Matt Snell, who usually works as yardmaster, mentioned that this new addition saved him a ton of time during the last session. In fact, it was Matt who came up with the idea of placing the classification index cards behind the car cards.

While I was finishing up the last operating session, I was working NM-68 in North Pierce. While standing at the location above, I glanced over at the panel at SJ Cabin to see if I was lined correctly to pull from the yard. I had to walk over and check the alignment in order to do so. That is one of the drawbacks of pushbutton route control- you can't glance at the switch to determine how you are lined. It occurred to me that a simple solution would be to add LED indicators to the panel in order to show the route alignment. The photo below shows the new LED's.

Now, a quick glance at the panels shows if you are lined for the coal side, the freight side or the lead to the engine terminal. Hopefully, this will make things a little easier for the crews.


  1. Tom,

    I will be very interested in how these new slots work for you and your crews--with practical experience over several operating sessions. I hope it relieves (ends?) the dreaded car card propped up on the cars in the yard scenario. Even with my aisles fully lined with fascia shelves, I still find yard crews doing the old prop-the-card-against -the-car routine. Good Luck!

    Bill Decker

  2. While working Nelsonville, I used the slot for the cards. I do not think you can have too many places for crews to put and organize cards.

    I also found the bigger shelf at the bottom with it's lip very helpful. I used it to prop up the sequence. The raised the sequence and gave it just enough angle that I could read it.