Wednesday, January 11, 2017

More on Car Cards


The system for routing cars on the Welztalbahn keeps evolving. I started out with switchlists printed by the JMRI Operations module, and pretty quickly moved over to the MicroMark 4-cycle car card & waybill system. I used that successfully for several years and that's what I'm still using on the layout.

The latest iteration started off with inspiration from Tony Thompson and Tony Koester to more faithfully replicate the actual paperwork used on the prototype, mixed with ideas from FREMO, as well as some prototype paperwork images found on the Internet. The topic of how railroad freight was routed in early 70's Germany consumed many hours of research mostly in online forums. Talking to people that know how this stuff worked 40 years ago in person is a lot harder if you live 5000 miles away. Nevertheless, this topic became fascinating enough, that I bought more prototype paperwork extending the small collection I already have. Here and here are some good examples of what actual Hauptzettel looked like.

A major change I made since my first discussion of this topic is that I put the era-appropriate routing number on the car card ("Richtpunktverfahren"), think of it like a postal routing code for the last yard before the destination. The system has changed multiple times, and the code in the 70's didn't look like what I photographed in the 80's.

Even though I don't have a yard, I expect that an operator on the Welztalbahn will be able to make good use of this for outbound cars. For inbound cars the code will identify the freight yard the local freight the car is in is coming from. I hope that's not going to be too confusing...

Here's a photo of a empty car card in the plastic sleeve. The sticker at the top has car number, car type, and exact car class (if known). This the "Hauptzettel" (car card) for an empty car to be stored at a nearby freight yard. I don't know if there was a yard near Freiburg in the 70's and I don't know if the routing number is correct, but it's at least plausible: Freiburg belongs to the regional DB office ("Bundesbahndirektion") in Karlsruhe, and is not a major regional yard like Mannheim, so a two digit number is likely.


On the reverse side is a sheet with compressed information about the car. The most useful for operators will be the photo, since European car identification are stenciled on cars in fairly small numbers. There is manufacturer, model, and coupler information. I replicate some of the prototype information like car length, weight, and maximum speed, and also include the respective values for the model. For added flavor I include the weight/speed table that's present on every car outlining how much freight the car may be loaded with.


I collected this information from all active freight cars on the layout. Now I "just" need to design a few more blank car cards, print all info sheets, stickers, and car cards, fill them in, stick them into the respective sleeves, and we are ready to roll.

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