The waybills I use on my own layout were designed and created by scanning, then cutting down, a prototype waybill (this approach works because every railroad used the standard AAR form, or a near-exact copy, so any prototype waybill from close to the right era is a suitable original). I’m often asked, what type face did I use? I didn’t need to choose one; I use the actual scanned AAR form lettering.
I described how I did this cutting down in an article in Model Railroad Hobbyist or MRH; that article appeared in the issue for May 2012, and issues of MRH from that era are available to read on-line or download, for free, at their website, www.mrhmag.com .
As I described in that article, I began with an actual Pennsylvania Railroad waybill that I happened to have, shown below. Absent the pin-feed edges, it’s 8.5 x 11 inches in size. Note that very few of the boxes contain anything filled out (you can click to enlarge). This was common.
A great deal of the space on this document is for things we do not utilize in model railroading, so I simply discarded all the excess, shown below in pink.
But note that I was removing a great deal of material that gives a prototype waybill its distinctive appearance, because I was aiming at a fairly small document for model use, either 2.5 x 3.5 inches for my layout, or 2 x 4 inches to substitute for four-cycle waybills on Otis McGee’s layout. One of my own examples is shown below. It’s quite workable but doesn’t look a great deal like the original, shown at the top of this post; there just isn’t room (remember, it’s 2.5 x 3.5 inches).
There isn’t even room to include the Pennsy keystone emblem of the original, which I regretted.
I recently had the opportunity to revisit this process and entirely re-think how to make a useful model waybill. My friend Paul Weiss (and helpers!) is well along with constructing a large layout that models the Central Vermont Railway across Connecticut. He sees no reason to make waybills as small as what I use, and thought a good compromise with the 8.5 x 11-inch original would be 5 x 7 inches. Switch crews can carry these on clipboards when working local freight, or, if folded in half lengthwise, in a pocket.
This much larger size was actually a liberating idea (note that it is four times the area of my own waybill form). I went back to the original PRR waybill scan shown at the top of this post, and re-cut the removals. After a first run-through, I had arrived at what you see below, not yet ready to be 5 x 7 inches nor final in content, but heading in the right direction.
Note that I have not yet removed most of the original typed entries. I now had to carefully consider what finally to remove or re-arrange. This went quickly, and I drew upon the many waybill railroad-name headers that I have collected to start making up some final 5 x 7-inch bills. Here is an example, incidentally an Erie bill, chosen in part to show that I now have space to include the railroad emblem for those roads that did so:
I experimented further by filling out a few bills for Paul to look at. Here is one example, directed to one of the industries on his layout:
This has been very interesting and enjoyable, to go back to the foundation of our model waybills and re-think what we can include. I have long been envious of those using larger model waybills (especially in the Chicago area, Dan Holbrook, Frank Hodina, Bob Hanmer and others), so I welcomed the chance to explore them myself, and to try once again to get a document that looks closer to the prototype that many of us are striving to represent.