Car Cards?

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Kevinkrey, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I want to get car cards to help keep track of my cars, mainly my taconite mini-quads which can be very problematic. I think the card would help me keep track of what I do and what problems arise. I was wondering if there is anywhere I can go to print them out or if I have to buy them. If I need to buy them, any links to sellers?
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Kevin: I think you should consider designing your own. Use the word processor on your PC to set up a form, then put the details into another file; either a spreadsheet or a wp file and do a mail merge.
    Your data file can then be used as inventory.
  3. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I decided on just using a smaller size notebook and writing down info, I have down the car type, roadame, road#, and coupler type. I am also inspecting the cars as I go and making notes of problems.I do want to find a way to do it on the computer where I can file the info away, so I can type in the car # and get the info.

  4. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    A very basic way would be to use a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel to arrange the information in the form of a table.

    Make column headings across the top for all the information you want to track for each car (e.g. "Road #", "Coupler Type", etc).

    At least one of the columns should be for something that is *unique* for each car, such as "Car Number". It's probably easiest to make this the very first column.

    Then, fill in all the information. Each row will contain the information for one car - it will be the "record" for that car.

    After you've typed in all the info for each car, you can sort it. In Excel, these data sorting commands are under the "Data" menu (e.g. Data -> Sort).
    For example, if you want to look up a car by its number, sort the rows (records) based on the "Car Number" column. Then you can easily find the car number you're looking for, with all its information. You could print that row, or the whole table.

    You can sort by any of the columns. If you want to see all the cars for a certain Road #, sort on that column, and all the car records will be grouped by Road #.

    Guess what, you've just created a very basic "database".

    You don't have to use Excel, many programs let you create tables and sort them, but Excel is so common, and it's pretty easy to do something basic like this.

    If you get into it, you can create forms, reports, and so on. But if you just want to track some basic information in a convenient way, a simple table like this is probably all you need.

    Hope this helps. Good luck! :)
  5. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I did not realize it was that simple with that program, and guess what, I have it. Ill work with it for a while. One dillema I have is that I have 3 taconite sets with 12 cars each. Ivery set has the same car #s. Guess Ill have to learn how to renumber the cars, maybe I need to learn how to use decals.
  6. TCH

    TCH Member

    try this site
  7. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

    You can sort on three columns so I would just use a MANUFACTURE column and a ROAD NR column for now and renumber after you get the inventory under control.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You can get little sticky coloured dots in the office supplies store or maybe the dollar store. A different colour on each set. Or dots with letters on them. Put a dot under each car.
  9. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Kevinkrey, I think this is the way to go. If you have railroad cars which are actually identical down to the decals, how about doing something to the cars to make them unique? That would make things much simpler.

    60103's idea would be an easy fix. If a sticker isn't durable enough, how about actually giving each car a unique number? I don't mean the car numbers on the decals, I mean some kind of ID number that you provide. For example, could you use a tool with a sharp tip to scribe a small ID number on the bottom of each car? Then there would never be any doubt which car you were dealing with. Then add that column to your database.

    ID # ---- CAR # ---- MFR ---- (etc.)

    Then even if the cars have identical decal "Car #s" you can just check the underside to see which one it is.

    By the way, what in tarnation is a "taconite mini-quad"? I'm not a model railroader (I'm from the card modeling side of the tracks :)) I'm guessing it must be some kind of ore-transporting car?
  10. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Correct art decko, The DMIR railroad first used small 24' ore hoppers to haul ore. Around the 70's they began hauling taconite pellets and found out they could fit more in the cars (taconite is less dense), so they gave all the cars side extensions to make them taller. In Northern MN it gets real cold, and the hoses connecting the cars together (brakes etc.) would freeze, so they would permanatly connect 4 cars together with drawbars instead of couplers and the hoses would stay connected and thus avoid freezing. The four car sets became known as Mini-quads. Hope that all made sense.
    Here are two pics to help. The first is just an ore car. The second is of a mini-quad next to the ore car. The mini quads were made out of old ore cars, so they recieved a new paint job. so, that is your lesson on trains for the day. Did I confuse you yet?:confused:

    Attached Files:

  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    When they redid the cars into 4-car sets, how did they number them? If it was (for example) 1234a, 1234b, 1234c, etc, you could carry this over to the entire twelve car sets, and have 1234a through 1234k (or m, if you wanted to leave i and l out to lessen confusion). Just get a compatible dry transfer alphabet and go to it!

    Interesting history lesson, btw. Thanks!

  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Art decko: Iron ore is one of the heaviest goods that railways carry. So they get up to the load limit for track/wheels in a small space. That's why ore cars are just about the shortest thing on rails. Then add to it that the unloading docks on Lake Superior were built long ago to the size of the ore cars they had then and all ore cars since were built to fit those unloading hoppers.
    I think that there are bigger ore cars on some other line.
  13. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    MasonJar, to number the cars they put a five in front of the current #, (Ex car 1234 became 51234) and each set got its own #. I cant remember how many sets there were, but there were three sets for each miniquad #, (Ex. there were three sets numbered 165-1, 165-2, and 165-3 [each set had cars with different #s']) so it is realistic that I have three mini qauads numbered 165, but they are all 165-2 and cars in each set are numbered identically. Hope that made a litte sense, if not I can try to reword it or find a link.

    60103, BNSF has larger ore cars,well they are taconite cars, ore movements in the Great Lakes Region are becomming rare. And the DMIR cars recieved an extension on their 50 yr manditory retirement date, because they were in great shape since they were rebuilt for use in taconite servive (derailments seem to be becomming more rare :confused:) and soon the extension will run out. What will most likely happen is that the taconite plants will have to buy their own cars, but that was rumored before CN took over, so who knows.

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    While this is old fashion I use 3"x5" index cards with the freight car road name,number and maintenance data as well as the manufacturer and date purchase.I keep these in a index file box.
  15. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Kevin, here is an inventory and optional car card program that sounds like just what you need. Look at Mitrains to begin with.

    Shenware Waybills

  16. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Thanks, guys, for the taconite mini-quad explanations & photos.

    Now I can astound my friends the next time taconites come up in conversation. :)
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would also suggest a separate page in excel or other spread sheet for each type of car, ie-all taconite mini quads on one page, boxcars on another page, gons on another page, etc. Make a separate page for locomotives, and if you don't run dcc where you can adjust the speeds to match, you might make a note of which locos run best together. You could also leave an extra wide column at the right side of the sheet as a "bad order" column where you note any problems that need repair when a car is out of service. That way when you are operating, you can set out any car or car sets that have problems and note them for repair after the operating session is done.
  18. BILLM

    BILLM New Member


    Is there a share ware program out there that will prduce waybills and car cards for Model railroads. I am new to this site so bear with me as I get use to all the threads!
  19. Dave1905

    Dave1905 Member

    The Car Cards Yahoo group has several Excel and Access systems in its files, all shareware.

    Dave H.

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