Saturday, July 30, 2022


One of the challenges for an operating model railroad is to provide adequate facilities and layout equipage to perform the intended operating tasks.  I use car cards and waybills to direct freight car movement on my railroad.  This presents the challenge of providing places for operators to sort the car cards and verify the freight cars being directed by them.  This is particularly important in yard operations, but it also shows up anywhere significant industry switching takes place.


As I built my railroad and attached fascia to the layout edges, I also installed 1x4 shelves at the base of the fascia wherever I thought significant switching or sorting might take place.  My car cards are four inches tall, so that a 1x4 shelf should have been sufficient for holding the car cards--horizontally.  It turns out many operators prefer to place car cards vertically.  I accounted for that in the immediate vicinity of the car card boxes by installing shelf edging in the form of ¼-inch square wood strip.


Fascia shelf edging in front of the car card box set for the Eugene Classification Yard.  Car cards can still be placed on the shelf for sorting close to where their cars are on the yard tracks, held in place by the shelf edging.


As I gained experience with the operation of my railroad, I observed what the operators were doing with the car cards. Some would simply prop the car cards up on the layout, propped against their car.  I have been trying to avoid that and discourage that, as it breaks the visual flow, at least to me.  Still, they need to do something with the cards as they verify and sort.  


Car cards placed on fascia shelf in front of the cars they belong to.  Fascia shelf edging keeps the car cards from floating to the floor while allowing vertical card placement.


For the past several months I have been on a campaign to install shelf edge strips on all of the fascia shelves on my layout.  This project has been constrained by the availability of ¼-inch square strip wood.  I began with the entire Eugene Yard shelf and then began adding edge strips at Springfield.  I finally scored a significant supply of wood strip, enough to complete edging all of the fascia shelves on the layout. 


Additional fascia shelf edging being installed, filling the gaps between car card boxes where the edge strips were installed originally.


I have had several operating sessions since I began this project.  The shelf edge strips seem to help.  Away from the yard and intense switching, I also have edged the shelf at Cascade Summit.  This edge striping definitely has helped, as my shelf mounting there led to a slight outward tilt of the shelf.  The edge stripping keeps objects placed on the shelf there and not rolling to the floor.    At least something has benefitted!