Thursday, November 3, 2011

Operations: role of the agent-2

There is one aspect of handling empty cars on the SP which is worthy of further comment. I discussed empty car handling and Empty Car Bill paperwork in a prior post on waybills, available at:
     Most towns with any significant amount of industry in the steam era would have an agent, housed in one or another type of depot or freight house, to handle paperwork. But very small towns, or places where the depot had been closed, were known as “non-agency” stations. In such places, the kind of agent’s work I described in the previous post (at: ) could not take place.
     On the SP, there was a second kind of Empty Car Bill, called Form 1304, which had an added section to designate the shipper to whom the car destined. This was to be used at non-agency stations, and a memo was issued to conductors, agents and clerks to specifically identify this use of Form 1304. That way, the switching crew would know where to spot a car without having to get the information from an agent. I have used this form for Otis McGee’s layout waybill system. Here is an example of a Form 1304 Empty Car Bill:

This is like the standard Empty Car Bills except for the lowermost line in the “For Loading” section, offering the specification of shipper and car spot (as SP did in its Form 1304). Note that the form number itself is included in the upper righthand corner of the bill (to see it, you may have to click on the image to enlarge it).
     For simplicity, this form is being used exclusively on Otis’s layout, even though in principle it could be restricted to use at non-agency stations. It is not a major point, but use of this form is one more prototype detail which is intended to add to the realism of operation on this layout.
Tony Thompson

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