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Michael J

New model railroader
I am a new modeler, so my collection is relatively small. But it is growing, so I need some way to keep inventory of everything.

What do you folks use? I have seen inventory software advertised, but to me that seems unnecessarily complicated. It seems a reasonable inventory could be done on a spreadsheet. Does anyone here do it that way, and if so, how is your spreadsheet laid out?

If possible, I'd like to catalog not only my trains but also scenery pieces, tools (track gages, templates etc.) and other items. Or am I getting needlessly complex?

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Odds are, you wont keep it current. A few years later you will come across it again and realize what a chore it is to update and for what purpose? just to list all your stuff?


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I keep two lists, one for locomotives and the other for freight cars. I use an Excel spreadsheet, then I use Google Drive to import it as a Google Document so I can access it online with my phone. This helps me when I'm at the hobby shop and I'm thinking of getting another covered hopper but want to make sure I'm not buying the same number I already have.

It also helps me to determine how many of my cars need which type of couplers, so when I place an order for them I get the quantities and type I want. I've been converting my entire fleet to Sergent couplers and until recently, it was only possible to get the standard Type E coupler with any regularity. Sergent has corrected their supply issues and now the other types are in stock once again. Anyway, I've used the list to keep track of which cars need which type of couplers so they can be shopped and have the correct couplers installed when I get them.

And then there are operating sessions where the person designing the session asks for cars to be used. He wants a list, usually in a .csv or .xls file, of the cars each person will be contributing to the operating session so he can organize them in his computer program to build switchlists and work orders. I am able to export a new list of the cars I'll be contributing with the fields the ops session designer requests.

The locomotive list has been useful for converting my fleet to DCC and keeping track of the addresses. The group I am part of, North Texas Free-mo, uses assigned two-digit prefixes for DCC addresses to avoid conflicts. My address prefixes are 12 and 13, so any locomotive I have is addressed either as 12xx or 13xx. For example, MP 4628 is 1228 and SOU 5166 is 1366.

Also, since decoders can be pretty costly, I couldn't buy them all at once. After I'd listed all my locomotives, I got a tally of which type of decoder I'd need and which locomotive it would be installed in. It proved pretty useful when I'd find a deal on a four-pack of decoders. I could figure out right away which locomotives would need to be taken out of storage and opened up for surgery.

I update the lists frequently, usually after I make a purchase or finish a paint job and have a new number to enter. I have to renumber a car today, in fact. When the job is done, I'll update the entry on the master spreadsheet and update the Google document.


I do more or less the same thing as RCH. Separate Loco & Rolling Stock spreadsheets, stored on Google Drive for universal access. I like using spreadsheets as they're very easy to modify and they can be viewed/edited on just about any device and just about anywhere, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or PC.

The loco roster, being smaller, is grouped by roadname, with the following columns:

Model | Number | Manufacturer | Power | Comments

SD40-2, C630M, etc...
Number: Road number / DCC Address. Since I use the road number as my DCC address, I don't need a separate column.
Manufacturer: Kato, Athearn/Genesis, Rapido, etc.
Power: DCC/Snd, DCC, or still DC.
Comments: Color scheme variations, decoder type, anything else I need to know.

For rolling stock, I have a separate tab for each type of car: grain hoppers, box cars, flats, tank cars, other hoppers, autocarriers, cabeese, etc. On each tab I once again group cars by road name (or associated government entity for Canadian grain hoppers), with the following columns:

Road Number | Manufacturer | Comments

Road Number: i.e. ALNX 396415
Manufacturer: IMRC, Atlas, etc.
Comments: Color scheme details, weathering status, condition, etc.

Keeping it all up to date hasn't proved to be too difficult - the hardest part is simply getting everything entered the 1st time, but that can be fun as well. Hope this helps!
Good thinkin'

G'day from Down Under, Yep....I never really thought of that before . I have around 55 locomotives , around 30 DC and the rest are either DCC sound, DCC 4 function or DCC ready for decoder...Either by way of computer spreadsheet or just a loose leaf book to keep alphabetical order of aquisitions/ deletions/ defunct-ions or updates etc...of your locos.
Another thread suggested similar with rolling stock...even more numbers for most of us.I already have at least 100..You could construct all sorts of info ie..Date of purchase..CV updates , address changes etc...into your info... Thanks for posting idea.
I'm going to do it,,,,, Cheers Rod..
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Well-Known Member
I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep some track of my railroad equipment. It's down and dirty, not very good. I wouldn't mind finding a better product.


Gomez Addams
Staff member
I use MITrains. It's pretty heavily biased toward Lionel and collectibles, but I collected N scale until a few years ago. Since I have the progam, and am familiar with it, I am continuing to use it.


5th Generation Texian
I used (until the file got skroged and I haven't had time to recreate it....) an Excel xls file. Like the others, a separate sheet for power (maker, type, #, price paid, notes, issues), and one for rolling stock.

Rolling stock was a bit more involved:
type, sub-type, length, maker, road, road #, wheels (brand), trucks (brand), date purchased and from whom, recommended weight (calculated by length) and actual weight. Also a condition field and approx value for insurance purposes. At one point I had a column for kadees (or not) until all got them.

An XLS or XLSX sheet is really simple and lasted thru many Excel upgrades. The categories were across the columns, the cars/engines were in rows. Having a row for text comments is important and altho you can't sort on it it helps to note if a car is needing some work or whatever ("need to adjust coupler").

the problem in recreating it is to determine maker, for example i have 36' covered hoppers by Bowser, RDC, Atlas, Athearn, Walthers, and who knows else.....after this many years I can't tell them apart. I've modified a lot of tank cars and it is a bit hard to determne how they started life. And the price paid? gads....yes, I had a backup but it's a long story....


I use Excel as well. Although mine was set up to list everything for eventual sale and I needed a cost and value headings as well as Mfr, Catalog #, car type, Description, Road Name, Number, etc. I used separate tabs fro each category, such as Locos, freight cars, way cars, MOW, Passenger cars. Collector Cars, on-line structures, off-line structures, etc. And I added a Totals sheet for a quick idea of how much I had invested.

For me, I ran out of time to add car trucks, tools. track switches, etc. Even so I have close to 1,500 items listed. And I realize that NO-WAY will traditional homeowners insurance policy cover what I got.


Grandson of ALCO Bldr
in your search bar on this web type "shenware" it is what I use and a few others as well a program called MiTrains


Nope - been married for 46 years this year! Being in the hobby for close to 30 years, one can slowly accumulate a ton of stuff. I had no idea what exactly I had until I had to pack it all up.

I used to go to a ton of area meets and other conventions where I would get a little here and a little there. At the time I wasn't concentrating on a specific railroad, so if I found a real deal, I'd get it. And I got a lot of great deals.

Since I am now concentrating on a specific 165 mile branch line, I don't need 75% of the engines and rolling stock that I got.

Must be single,,,,,there is NO WAY this married guy will ever allow that number to escape!! :eek:;):rolleyes:

Will landers

Guilty bystander!
It would be a nightmare for me to start a spread sheet now! Wish I had started one a few years back.but, to late now if I happen to buy a peace of rolling stock with same road number be like searching for the old pin in hay 400+ peaces of rolling stock.

Michael J

New model railroader
I have only about 45 pieces of rolling stock, so I guess that I better start now before my collection gets too big.

Will landers

Guilty bystander!
Yes be good idea locos I could start a sheet only around 90 or so of them,structures as well since there are none on the layout yet.


It would be a nightmare for me to start a spread sheet now! Wish I had started one a few years back.but, to late now if I happen to buy a peace of rolling stock with same road number be like searching for the old pin in hay 400+ peaces of rolling stock.
Nightmare - most definitely unless ya got a ton of spare time and are a touch typist. Searching - not a problem. At least in Excel (no bells and whistles but it works for me), between the sort and filter function I can quickly determine what I got. I can print it out in a similar manner. Holy carp - I just added part of my stash: 809 pieces of rolling stock and 155 loco's. What a freakin' idiot to have accumulated that much stuff! Even if I did buy them at bargain basement prices. Idiot!

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