Where do the Empties come from?

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Gary S., Jan 3, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Let's say we have a shortline that serves lots of industries that ship by rail but not that many that receive by rail. So, the customers need more empties than the loads coming in can account for. Where does the shortline get the empties? Do they contact the other roads that will be receiving the shipments and request the empties be brought to the shortline?
  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,Most short lines has a empty car agreement with the railroad they bought/lease the line from and they also use cars like Rail Box,RailGon(both are now part of TTX) and other freight car leasing companies.Of course some short lines have their own car fleet.
    A down side is the railroad they have the agreement with may not have the needed empties on hand and this gives the short line a black eye from their customers that has freight to move.However,the big class ones usually works with their short line partner and has business meetings to work out and amend agreements as needed..
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thank you kindly.

    So on my proposed shortline (can be seen here http://www.the-gauge.com/showthread.php?t=24593), if there is an interchange at each end, one with Southern Pacific and one with Santa Fe, then there would be empties coming in from the interchanges to the industries. Considering this is a 1970s layout, would most of those incoming empties be Santa Fe and Southern Pacific boxcars? Seems to me they would be. For another road's cars, say, Union Pacific, to be on my layout, they would most likely come in loaded to be spotted at a receiving industry? And then once they were unloaded, if another industry had a shipment going back in the direction that car came from, then it could be loaded and sent back?
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Whoa! The per diem era.:thumb:
    Thats a mighty interesting era that had thousands of short line boxcars and rail box cars roaming the rails under the per diem-next load any road.
    Now in that light your boxcars could be a Santa Fe,SP Railbox or any handy per diem short line box car..Of course the reefers,cover hoppers could come from the SF,SP,a freight car lessor..Gons can come from Rail Gon,SF or SP.Flat cars could come from TTX,SF or SP.
    Yes a loaded UP box car could be reloaded as long as the car was moving toward home rails.

    I like your layout..Its a very nice industrial switching layout that seems to be well planned.:thumb: :D
  5. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I think I understand about "per diem" but I will do some more research on it.

    Thank you for the comment about the layout. I feel much better about jumping in and building it. With this being my first real attempt at a layout, it is rather un-nerving to jump in and start glueing stuff down. I just don't know enough about what makes a good operational layout. Having "The Gauge" et al is a great resource. Now, if there is anyhting about that layout that you feel should be changed, let me know.

    And also thank you for all your advice and comments here in the operations forum. It really helps me, and gets me to thinking. :)
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Gary: it was actually "incentive per diem". I think the "per day" charge was increased as an incentive for the railroads to turn the cars back to the owning road as quickly as possible. It also was an incentive for other companies to build loads of boxcars to be sent out on the system. I don't remember them all, but I think there was a St Lawrence RR and a Pickens RR. Some of them would have had trouble fitting all their boxcars on the home track. I think some were investor owned, possibly little groups combining to buy a little as one boxcar (lettered for one of the railways).
  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Interesting information. So I could do some research and choose a bunch of different "investor group" cars and "shortline" cars to roam my layout, coming in from an interchange, being loaded, and sent back to an interchange, then be removed from the layout for a few sessions, then come back on via the interchange? And I sould freelance some "offbrand" roads too? There could be any number of foreign cars coming in and going out?

    Also, if my shortline decided to invest in some freight cars, then maybe we would have a few spur tracks just to be used for car storage so the cars could be picked up and set out at industries as needed?
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,Absolutely! Athearn makes tons of these per diem short line boxcars.As a friendly warning those colorful short line cars can become addictive and I speak from experience. sign1
    Now to clarify my statement I meant to say the per diem short line boxcar era but,I do get excited over that era as IMHO it was a very exciting time of change on the railroads with the birth of new spin off short lines,the rebirth of Eastern railroading under Conrail,the colorful Chessie System and I dare say the Burlington Northern merger(1970).
    Sure you can add storage tracks for your roads per diem cars but,I would limited them to 5 or 6.
    One more word about these incentive per diem boxcars..These cars came about due to a boxcar shortage cause by the railroads retiring more boxcars then they were buying.
    For detailed infomation..

    Heres a model example of a "per diem short line boxcar".
  9. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    Another very informative thread! Larry still has my vote for President.

  10. kutler

    kutler Member

    I guess that depends a bit on what the story of your shortline.
    Was it a class 1 spinoff? Likely the class 1 that it was bought from will supply etys.

    Has it been around 100 years? Perhaps then you'll have a home road pool for historical traffic and balanced car supply from your major interchange partners. Shortlines generally have a set pattern to their operation and one large customer which justifies it's existance.

    Modern times provide exceptions to the rule. In the midwest ethanol plants are popping up where class 1s gave up decades ago. Their traffic travels usually in private tank cars, probably in freight car pools, perhaps managed by class 1s who handle the long haul portion.
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Kutler, thank you for the information, and also for your input into other threads concerning operations.

    My particular freelanced shortline is supposed to be similar to the Los Angeles Junction in operation. My rr serves an industrial area in the vicinity of Houston, Texas, in the 1970s. As of now, my motive power is Santa Fe, so I guess it my shortline is a subsidiary.

    I've gotten alot of the wrinkles ironed out, and have had several operation sessions which worked out very well. I used handwritten switchlists but will eventually use car cards.

    Thanks again for your interest, hope to see more of you around the site.

  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,Most tank cars fall under GATX,UTLX,SHPX or ACFX..Some tank cars are lease from one of aforemention tank car companies and letter for the lessee while carrying one of the aforementioned tank car companies recording marks.

    Gary,It sounds like your railroad is more of a "paper" railroad of the Santa Fe..Of course there isn't anything wrong with that.:thumb:

    Kutler,Athearn makes a beautiful Ethanol tanker.I have 2 and might add 3 more.

  13. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Yep, and the two reasons why are that I really like the Yellow-bonnet scheme of Santa Fe, and I haven't come up with my own free-lanced scheme. I was thinking the other day that I might come up with a name for my shortline, paint up one battered beaten old loco for it, and then run my railroad as if the Santa Fe has just acquired the shortline and is using their locos for power. Would this have been a possibility in the 1970s?
  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    The Santa Fe could have but,the 70s saw a lot of spin offs.

    Here's a more expedite way..Paint out the Santa Fe and apply your road name..You now have a short line that Santa Fe spun off to a short line operator or industrial group and sold a engine or two in the process..Of course any older model EMD,Baldwin,FM or Alco yard switcher or road switcher would work.

    Like this..

  15. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    The LAJ is a very cool road and deserves to be modeled. I could do that, but not ready to take the chance on ruining my locos! Coincidentilly, I am running CF7s.

    Hey, for all you complete loop continuous run folks, did you know that the LAJ actually has a loop? Yep, they could mindlessly :eek: run around in circles if they had a hankerin to! So those christmas tree ovals are prototypical afterall.
  16. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

  17. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that one. I do have the MRR magazine with the LAJ article. I used that and the Modesto and Empire as inspiration for my layout.
  18. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    In case you don't really know about these engines.
    Athearn - HO RTR CF7 w/Square Roof, LAJ #2571

    Athearn - HO RTR CF7 w/Square Roof, LAJ #2563

    Athearn - HO RTR CF7, LA Junction #2619
  19. kutler

    kutler Member

    Hey Gary:

    Santa Fe is a popular paint scheme even in North Dakota, as attested by this Northern Plains x-ATSF Geep.

    I used to belong to a club which used car-cards. Great for yard switching as long a you had a shelf in front of you. Otherwise they were a pain. A 30 car train of car cards won't fit in your pocket!
    We used a hard stock card for the car and had destination cards attached by paperclip to each car when loaded. With all the staples, paperclips and a giant bulldog clip holding the thing together it was about 3 inches thick at the bottom. Dropping the pack was often a disaster. We worked out a system with through trains as the originating yardmaster delivering the pack to the terminating yardmaster. In a strange sense this was prototypical. In the computer age, 1952 on my prototype, when a train departed a yard it's consist was transmitted and terminating yards had an advance knowledge of it's traffic.

    Trains switching enroute weren't so fortunate.

    Car cards often require a volunteer to come in before an operation session and stage the cards, sometime taking a significant amount of time.

    I've seen a couple of layouts which used swichlists, but I'm not really familliar with hobbiest modificatons and I've never seen it applied on anything but a small layout.

    On the prototype, back in in the day.

    Switchlists were prepared by station agents and yard clerks, many examples of which can be seen on websites or purchased modestly on ebay. A freight journal (or Consist) was prepared by a conductor before departure. Back then conductors performed standing brake tests on trains. They would start at the back of the train, where their caboose was. The hogger would set the brake and the conductor would walk up the side of the train, writing car numbers down as he was inspecting the train to ensure the brakes were setting up. When he got to the front of the train in addition to his list of the consist he would have noted what cars had their brakes cut out and which cars would have been set out on line. I believe he would provide a copy of that to the head end brakeman, who would perform most of those tasks as work was usually performed from the front of the train. Cars set off and cars added to the train were noted on the train journal as the trip progressed. When the train arrived at the terminal station, the paperwork would be handed into the yard clerk and the trains totals Loads/Etys/tons/length and Pays* were entered into the train register to be relayed to the train dispatcher by the train order operator as an OS.(don't ask what that means)

    *A note of explaination about pays. Pays were to total amount of revenue cars handled during a trip. A train with switching might have more pays than total cars leaving the initial terminal or arriving at the final terminal. Recording pays was a measure of the profitability of a train, and this was recorded by the train dispatcher and made it's way through reports to the chief of transportation.

    I'm sure the debate over switch lists and car cars(waybills) will continue for some time.

  20. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Kutler,Actually the rear brakeman would give their train a roll by..
    In the major terminals carmen would inspect the train to ensure the brakes was release.
    However,many engineers would still "shake 'em loose" to ensure the brakes was release.

    A switch list simply tells the crew where the car goes in the train or where the car is to be delivered..A wheel report tells the crew what cars are in the train..The conductor filled out the wheel report according to the waybills.

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