The great majority of freight car movements were directed by paperwork for each individual car, in the era of interest to me (1950s). This paper would be a waybill for loads and for some empty tank cars, while empty cars were moved with a Empty Car Bill on most railroads. But there were occasions when those kinds of documents were not needed. The obvious ones involve groups of empties, whether it was a cut of coal hoppers being moved to mines, log cars returning for reload, refrigerator cars to an area with multiple packing houses, or any other similar empty movement of interchangeable cars in a group.
On the other hand, practically all loaded cars would not be handled in groups, since each one carried revenue cargo, and the individual waybills were part of the carriage and billing process. In fact, a waybill is a legal document and expresses a contractual relation between the railroads moving the shipment. But even here, there can be exceptions. Unit trains are the obvious example, such as an entire train of coal loads to a power plant, where all loads would be the same size and class of coal. A single document could express the total cargo delivered and all charges.
Prototype methods of handling coal cars were discussed clearly and helpfully in Ted Pamperin’s article in the February 2012 issue of Model Railroader (pages 45 to 49). Moreover, anyone who has heard Ted’s fine clinic on this subject has learned even more about the subject. His research into Chesapeake & Ohio coal traffic has produced illuminating information, and the MR article summarizes it, though necessarily briefly.
However, I’m a modeler of a railroad, Southern Pacific, with little coal traffic. Why would information like Ted’s be of interest? There are two reasons. First, on my own layout I model sugar beet traffic. Empty sugar beet cars would likely be handled as a group of cars, just like coal hoppers for loading. Second, on Otis McGee’s layout, there is some log traffic, and log cars too are interchangeable as empties. Here is how I have addressed this issue.
Let’s start with the log traffic. On the prototype Shasta Division, Long-Bell Lumber was harvesting timber on the northeast side of Mt. Shasta at the beginning of the 1950s. Their extensive woods operations, centered at the town of Tennant, were primarily rail until 1956, and had a rail connection to the SP at Leaf, California. From there, logs were moved by rail to their mill at Dorris, California. SP locomotives and crews moved the log trains between Leaf and Dorris through a contractual arrangement. All the log cars were owned or leased by Long-Bell.
Here is a photo of a Long-Bell log train, just entering the SP at Leaf, in a 1950s view from the U.S. Forest Service. This photo is also reproduced in John Signor’s book, Southern Pacific’s Shasta Division (Signature Press, 2000), page 167. The logs are California white pine.
At the same time as the Leaf–Dorris operation just described, the old Fruit Growers Supply mill at Hilt, California was still producing box shook for wooden citrus boxes, but had exhausted the timber near the mill. They were buying logs from Long-Bell to feed their mill, and again, SP moved the log trains between Leaf and Hilt. All this traffic is modeled on Otis McGee’s layout. A typical operating session includes trains to carry out load-empty cycles of log cars between Dorris and Leaf (which are both modeled locations), and between Hilt and Leaf (Hilt is in staging).
My first goal was to deal with empty log cars. The C&O Empty Mine Car Route Order shown in Pamperin’s article was a starting point. As with coal hoppers, an SP conductor only needed to know the number of empty log cars being moved, so that is emphasized on my log form. Although we are still experimenting with this form on Otis’s layout, the present arrangement is shown here. Most of the model log cars are 40-foot FL types, but the form allows for others. We’re making the form yellow to conform to the SP Empty Car Bills in use. The conductor can fill out the form when starting the job, or it can be filled out in advance of the operating session.
There is an interesting prototype mine ticket form shown in Pamperin’s article, from the Montour Railroad. It deals with in-transit cleaning and sizing of coal. Once those operations were complete, of course, the individual loads were waybilled, but it seemed to me that the prototype SP log traffic to be modeled would not need waybills, as charges could be prepaid, just as for in-transit waybills. I used elements from the Montour in-transit ticket to construct a Log Transfer Route Order for loads, modeled on the Empty Log Car Route Order shown above.
Since this log transfer is a regular occurrence, the shipper and consignee names are pre-printed on the form (both are Long-Bell on this form). In the Hilt-Leaf operation, the shipper and consignee differ but still remain the same for every trip. Thus the form can still be preprinted with those names, as shown here.
I mentioned sugar beet cars earlier in this post. I intend to use a variation of the empty log car form to deliver empty gondolas to the beet loader on my layout. But that is still in the future.
As I said, these forms for cuts of cars are still experimental on Otis’s Shasta Division layout, but they form an effective starting point for handling log trains. They have the obvious advantage in practical terms of avoiding waybill cycles for these identical, repetitive moves of interchangeable cars, almost all of which are owned by Long-Bell Lumber. If the forms evolve further, I will report on it in a future post.