Friday, February 3, 2012

Waybills, Part 16: dimensions

I have received two independent queries, coincidentally about the exact same topic, namely the size of the waybills I’m making. The answer is that there are two sizes, and two different systems, both of which I’ve discussed previously. The ones I make for my own layout have been described in some detail (starting here: ), while the ones I have been making for Otis McGee’s layout are a different size and proportion (see: ).
     I sized my own waybills to fit the baseball-card-collector sleeves, and that size is 2.5 x 3.5 inches (same as a baseball card). I like the size and proportions, and have been happy with this design in my experience so far. But there are lots of modelers with a problem similar to Otis McGee’s, namely, that the layout already has design features oriented to the “mini-bill” or Old Line Graphics system, which is about 2 x 4 inches. Here’s an illustration of the problem:

This is Otis’s yard track filing arrangement for Dunsmuir yard (incidentally, most of the waybills visible here are the new ones, as shown in the previous post cited above for Otis’s layout). The same kind of problem exists at all the other switching locations on the layout, as in this example at Black Butte:

Here you can see a mixture of new and old waybills in the slots, and obviously a full rebuild of this fascia was not an attractive option.
     There are other sizes and proportions of waybills being explored around the country, from a 4 x 4-inch document which folds vertically down the middle (like the prototype) and uses the same plastic sleeve as the 2 x 4-inch bills, to a larger bill which is about 4 x 6 inches and includes nearly all the prototype information. As with so many things in modeling, one has to choose what works best and feels best in his or her own situation.
    In effect, what I’m emphasizing is that the waybill designs I’ve advocated are not restricted to a single format, size or proportion. The key idea is using the prototype waybill as a starting point, and retaining as much of it as feasible in model form. Size and proportions can be and have been adjusted to suit conditions.
Tony Thompson


  1. Hi Tony -

    I am as always, enjoying this avenue of discussion......When I first started designing my proto-waybills here in NJ, mine were a whopping 4 x 6 one sided bill, which got distilled to a 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 four sided bill (waybill-MTY card-waybill-MTY card).
    I now have abandoned ALL of that and moved to a route tag like Keith Jordan uses on his Patch layout, since most of my traffic is overhead. These measure a tiny 2 3/4 x 4 1/4, and are use and toss.
    While I believe strongly in the use of a realistic waybill and system, I just couldn't justify all the work for what amounts to just making it look "neat", or should I say, realistic for realism's sake.
    I operate on 3 RR's here in NJ that use waybill systems that are all slightly different from each other.
    And yes, I am STILL looking for those SP route cards I promised you! I just don't know where I stashed them!
    Thanks for all the great info,

    Ralph Heiss

  2. Ralph, I take your point about the amount of work which may be required for some systems, and one could, I suppose, bemoan the diversity of waybill systems that are emerging, vs. the "old days" when we just had Micromark. But to me, because the various approaches use the prototype as a basis, one can readily step in and work effectively with any size or waybill arrangement, since the prototype is your guide. Sounds like progress to me!
    Tony Thompson

  3. Tony - I agree with you 100%......It's really not that hard to do, contrary to what most people think.....Heck, when I first designed mine back in 2006, not many people thought past the Old Line Graphics-style CC&WB system, and if I could use Excel with no working knowledge of the program, just imagine what somebody who does can do! Most people I know do theirs in Word, but I started with Excel and have stuck with it. As you said, the prototype is our guide, so its all about how much research or computer work you want to put into it, I guess. I find it immensely rewarding watching them "come to life" so to speak, and then putting them into use. It's the closest I'll ever get to using the real thing (that goes for train orders as well), so I think it's a win-win situation. It's also interesting to me as I watch the hobby "wake up" bit by bit to using a more realistic form of paperwork. It's amazing what one or two well written articles in the popular press by a respected author or two will do for a new "idea"......; ^ )