Car Cards and Way Bills for Dummies....... is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Active Member
My son and I would like to start a car card/ way bill system on our layout. We read the three article series published recently in MRR. However, the articles were a bit confusing as neither of us have ever had any experience with any type of card system for model railroading. Does anyone have a good beginners tutorial or a "......... For Dummies" book that starts at the absolute beginning and can explain how to set up and use a card card/ way bill system? We have six industries and one classification yard on the layout. I do not think that we need a complicated system but we realize that we need to start from the very beginning in designing and implementing a system for our layout. Also, the MRR articles mentioned that car cards and way bills can be purchased. I am wondering if there is a template out there from which I can make our own car cards and way bills on Microsoft Excel.


BN Modeller
The simplest and most fun I’ve used worked like this.
There is a card holder at each industry as well as a incoming yard and RIP track.
Each holder has a coloured square or squares with a number on it.
Give each car it’s own card and assign a color, blue for boxcars, white for tank cars, orange for flats etc.
Shuffle all the cards at the start of the shift and distribute them according the holder.
If industry “A” has a blue square with a 3 on it and a white square with a 2 on it then it gets three blue cards and two white. Now read the description on the cards and send these cars there, in this case three boxcars and two tanks. If a car is already there then it’s not ready to go.
Same for the yard and RIP track where the yard crew sorts them.
I used simple business cards printed at home.
I have operated on other layouts with much more complicated systems but favour this one.


Active Member
I think you can de-mystify CC&WB a little bit if you just look at a single card and track it around.

The *combination* Car card and "waybill" basically represents the important information from a prototype shipping waybill, but someone had the brain storm years ago that if you separate the car and shipment information into 2 pieces, you can make it continually re-usable.

So the card has the car information (initials, number and type at minimum, color, length etc. optional).

The "waybill" insert has the shipment information (to, from, contents). The "to" and "from" is the entire end to end shipper to receiver. By having multiple "sides" you can have the move of an empty car to shipper, then rotate the insert, and the loaded move from shipper to receiver on the other "side".


Well-Known Member
The OpSig (Operations Special Interest Group) has some resources on its website:

Operations Special Interest Group - Operations 101 (

Basically with CC&WB, there is a one car card with a pocket (you can make them with a spreadsheet or word processor or by them from Micro Mark). and there are multiple "waybills" that fit into the pocket. Each waybill has up to 4 destinations for that car type. You don't have to use all four, you can just use two. I use mostly two move waybills. There are inbound shipments (a company receives loads, for example a Home Depot would receive lumber) and their are outbound shipments, for example a coal mine loads coal into hoppers. For an inbound shipment move 1 is a load of lumber to Home Depot and move two is an empty return of the car (to where it came from (interchange) or a yard that hold empty cars. For an outbound shipment move 1 is an empty car to the industry and move 2 is the loaded move to somebody that uses that commodity. For a coal mine, move 1 would be an empty hopper to the mine and move 2 would be a loaded car to a coal dealer or power plant.

When a car completes its moves on a waybill, you can just start over again or you can swap out for another waybill and send the car someplace else.


Active Member
I appreciate the Information and hyperlinks. Chris, I am going to try the system you included where I make the cards and waybills from the Excel files that you included. If that does not work I will get the set from Micro Mark. Thanks again.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.