Operating Tags

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Freight cars in service during an operating session.

Nearly one hundred freight cars are in service on the Wheeling Freight Terminal. Several of these are undecorated cars, or painted cars that have not had decals applied. To use these models in an operating session, they need a unique tag so crews can identify the specific car on the inventory lists.

These freight cars have been seen in past blog posts and there is an occasional question about them. I like putting a newly built car into service so I can determine if alterations are needed before it goes into the paint shop. After the models are painted, they are put into service again. Sometimes paint needs to be removed from couplers or another unexpected operating issue arises. For these unlettered freight cars, simple tabs are used for identification.

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The tabs are made from index card material. Unpainted cars have tabs taped to the running boards while the painted cars receive a folded tab that sits over the running boards. Gondolas receive a tent tab with the markings on both sides. The identification is kept simple with a basic letter indicating the car type and a two digit number following the letter.

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As painted freight cars receive proper lettering, the tags are no longer needed so extras are kept handy for the next projects rolling off of the workbench.

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Documenting the cars on the inventory lists is as easy as writing down the reporting mark and the car number. Crews can identify the freight car and see where it is headed on the Wheeling Freight Terminal.

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Inventory sheets note where each car is going. The car details are on the left and destinations are noted on the right. Freight cars with no destination notes are typically spotted in the Team Yard.

This is a simple method to keep the size of the freight car fleet constant for operating sessions and to determine if additional tweaks are necessary for newly built models. Eventually the undecorated cars are painted and decal lettering is applied, but sometimes that can take a little longer than expected. These simple operating tags keep the car in service until the final lettering is applied.

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