On Sheet – Keeping tabs on things

On Sheet – Keeping tabs on things

o some of you might be actually rolling dice for destinations and thinking that there has got to be another way (especially when that die knocks over scenery or bounces under the layout). A step up from rolling dem bones (and below developing a full-fledged waybill system) is the tab-on-car system.

It works just like it sounds. You need to go to the local hobby shop and get some styrene strips (Evergreen makes them). Look for the stuff that has a cross-cut like a bracket like this – [ – Take it home and cut it into small square pieces.

The idea here is that you will convey simple routing information for your cars by putting these tabs on top of your cars so that everyone can see them. Your system can be anything you wish it to be – between different colors and rub on decals, you can pass all sorts of information along to your engineers. Examples of this:

* You color the tabs based on destination (brown=lumber yard, red=brickworks, black=mine, etc). Before the train leaves its origin, you put the tabs randomly on the roofs (those bracket shapes will fit well over roofwalks and into gondolas and hopper cars nicely) and switch by industry.

* You color the tabs based on car type (brown=box car, red=tank car, black=hopper car). You also might use rub-on letters (again, available at most hobby shops) on the tabs as codes to different appropriate industries. Before the train leave,s you put random tabs on the appropriate roof tops so that cars actually go to appropriate industries.

Overall, it looks like this…

While it might look a little funky, some people like it since it makes car routing obvious – especially when classifying cars in a yard. You might even come up with colors for east and westbound cars, so that cars serviced in industries now have information as to which train they leave your division on. When the car is done at a site, pull off the old tab and put on an “outbound” one. A train going that direction makes the pickup.

The good thing about car tabs is that you can set the entire system up pretty quickly. And if you do like how your cars are routing about on your layout, then maybe you might use this to develop a waybills system along the same lines (in the future (when you feel like it)).

I have used car tabs and thought it was a quick and easy solution to paperwork fussing. If you are looking for the next step past die-rolling, this might be just what you need to turn your model railroad into the transportation simulation you desire.

This is NOT what I meant by “Tab on Car”!