Sunday, February 1, 2015

Temporary (?) car routing for the Palmer Industrial

Despite my intention to ignore the problem of car routing and paper work for the time being, it has been hard to avoid getting distracted by it as I continue to experiment with operating on the track that's laid so far.  Today I decided to put a good temporary solution in place to stop the distractions.

For car routing, to start with I'll just make it up as I stage a new session.  I expect once all the track is down and I do some serious test operations I'll begin to get a feel for exactly what works well in terms of number of inbound cars, number of respots, etc.  At that point the next step in car routing will be a some dice to select random entries from a table of reasonable possibilities for each industry.  Perhaps several different sets of tables - one set for short/easy sessions, one set for long/challenging sessions, etc.  I'll work out the details when I get to that point.

For the paper work, the possibilities seemed to be hand writing a switchlist or PICL list (seems like a lot of tedium every session), rig up a spreadsheet of some sort to manually enter the list into and then print (possibly even more tedious), or resort to the tab on car approach.  The tab on car approach seemed like the easiest option, so that's what I went with.

Since all cars on the Palmer Industrial Park are either headed to a particular industry, or back to Palmer (off layout), I can use very simple labels on the tabs.  Maple Leaf, for example, gets tabs labels like "M1-5" for Maple Leaf track 1 door 5.  Plus a few extra tabs just labelled "M" for off spots.  Quaboag has three locations "Q - Dock" (one of the three spots on the loading dock), "Q - Lot A" (the first half of the rest of the track after the dock), and "Q - Lot B" (the second half of the track after the dock).  Cains and Trans Plastics are not spot specific at all, so they just have the appropriate number of tabs labelled "Cains" and "TransPlastics".  Any car without a tab is headed back to Palmer.

I made the tabs by setting up a table with entries for all the tabs in my word processor.   I printed them out on card stock, used a paper cutter with a roller blade to score for folds, perforate between tabs in one direction, and cut in the other direction.  I think it might have been easier overall to perforate in both directions.  Each tab is 1/4" x 1", with the last 1/8" on each end folded down.  The result just sits on top of a flat topped car very nicely.  For the Cains tank car tabs I'm going to see how well they stay on when curved to more or less match the tank curve.

Tabs on cars

A fan or direct sneeze would probably be bad

What it looks like from a normal viewing position
You can see it looks a little odd, but certainly no worse than the complete lack of scenery and weathering.  It should be easy for guest operators to understand too.  It's good enough for now.  It might be good enough for a long time, which is why the title of this blog entry has a question mark in it.

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