Saturday, April 2, 2011

Waybills, Part 6

An item omitted from prior posts on this topic is that of Bad Order slips or cards. The traditional ones in commercial form have two drawbacks for me: first, they don’t take advantage of the car sleeve, which after all provides the initials and number of the car in question, and second, they are usually pink; but that’s the color of prototype perishable waybills (which I use also), so I want to avoid confusion between those bills and the Bad Order cards.
     My first cut at this was to model the Bad Order card on the Empty Car bills I already have in use. The color I chose was salmon, a readily available colored paper stock, since I wanted these “cards” to be disposable paper and not cardstock. Here is the first result of this:

You may note that I modified the lower part of the bill’s text to reference bad order cars instead of empty cars. Then the use of this bill relies, as is conventional, on a handwritten description of the defect which occurred. Here is an example for a particular car and its derailment problem:

     Experience to date tells me I have a workable Bad Order slip and it is now in use on the layout. I’ve always used some form of this kind of document, because filing them (temporarily) provides info on repeats of the same problems with a car. If appropriate, I then document corrections on the car’s maintenance page. (I maintain a loose-leaf notebook with a page for each car, and repairs or upgrades can be listed as well as problem corrections.)
     Only issue I see so far is that the salmon color is not all that distinguishable from the pink perishable bills in subdued lighting. I will experiment with other colors to see whether something else works better, and if a color other than salmon is eventually chosen, I’ll post another message to report on it.
Tony Thompson


  1. Tony,

    You don't see much in the modeling press regarding bad order frequency, but I happen to have a publication "Railway Car Facts" published annually by the American Railway Car Institute. For 1953 it lists the monthly Average Ratio of Bad Order Cars to Ownership at 5.1%. This is up from the 4.2% of 1947, but down from the 6.9% of 1950 and the 12.8% of 1939 or the 15.0%!!! of 1935. Based on this data it looks like each month should see about 5% of your fleet bad ordered. Now the question is what is your actual bad order rate versus historical rate? Is your equipment so good that you will have to "make up" bad orders to get to 5%?

    This book gives a breakdown by car type summary at the end of each year. Tank and Other are only included in the total. For Dec. 31, 1952 the numbers are as follows:

    % Serviceable Car Type
    ---------- ----------------------
    95.14 All Box And Auto
    95.83 Stock
    92.43 Refrigerator
    95.43 Flat
    94.59 Gondola
    94.72 Hopper
    98.59 Covered Hopper
    95.02 All Freight Cars

    What is a bit surprising is the low number for the refrigerator cars, but given the higher maintenance requirements and the large number of wooden cars still in service, this number is probably not so out of line with what one would expect. What is more interesting is the end of 1953 numbers which feature this change:

    % Serviceable Car Type
    ---------- ----------------------
    96.64 Refrigerator
    95.07 All freight cars

    This probably reflects the large number of new refrigerator cars placed in service in 1952 and the large number of wooden cars retired in 1952.

    Greg Henschen

  2. Greg, I confess it had simply never occurred to me to maintain a prototypical percentage of bad-order cars. In fact, I have to re-think entirely what a bad-order car is, in this context. I do have cars out of service because of needed detail upgrades, but to go along with the prototype, the bad-orders to count are the ones out of service for operating defects, such as couplers not centering, etc. And is a car bad-ordered for poor truck swivel or drooping couplers mirroring a prototypical bad order or not? I will have to have a think on all this.
    Tony Thompson