Keeping track of the fleet....


Mmmm, turbos
Eventually, your cars grow so large in number they threaten to bury you. And you start buying everything that you can afford under the sun you like or that you think is cool without thought to whether it fits your focus. Great for the hobby shops or eBay, but your wallet hits the wall and youa re surrounded by a circus with no common theme or goal! And meanwhile, half of theme need couplers, three quarters needs weight, sixty percent need weathering, and two thirds are still using plastic wheels. But which are which???

What's the solution?

For me, it was to land on a focus locale and era, and then track my fleet.

The first part was hardest, and in the end I decided to focus on two eras, with the same general locale: Western Oregon in both 1969 and the 1990's. This would let me build a fleet for both an SP&S theme, and a modern Portland & Western theme.

To keep track of my fleet's status, I made a spreadsheet with a few simple columns:

Road Name / Number / Type / Desc. / Man. / BLT / 1969 / 1995+ / Added / Inspected / Location / Status / Coupl / Weight / Wheels / Weather / Notes

Road Name = reporting marks of the car
Number = road number
Type = AAR car type code (very handy for shorthanding a car type, as well as prototypical!)
Desc. = an extended description of the car type
Man. = Manufacturer of the model
BLT = Build Date of the car
1969 = First era I am modeling
1995+ = Second era I am modeling
Added = Date I got the model
Inspected = Last time I checked the car's weight, couplers, gauge, etc....
Location = The initials of the model railroad it is on.
Status = IN for In Service, OOS for Out Of Service, UNA for Unassembled, RIP for minor repairs needed
Coupl = Couplers. H for McHenry, X for Kadee. A blank entry means none.
Weight = X for NMRA weighted. Blank for unweighted/stock.
Wheels = Wheelsets. A for Accurail, X for Kadee, blank for uninstalled.
Weathering = X for weathered car, blank for untouched.
Notes = Place for details on repairs needed or other comments.

So a typical entry might read:

RBOX / 34593 / XM / 50' SSD Ex Post / Accurail / 2-79 / - / X / Apr 04 / na / TE / IN / X / X / X / X / none.

Additionally I color code my spreadsheet. Cars that are keeprs, but OOS or RIP get pink text. Cars I intend on selling are red text. Cars that need assembly still get green text. All other cars -- in service keepers -- get black text.

It only takes a few minutes to keep track of your fleet but it can give you a great handle on how close you are to your goals, as well as help you keep on top of your fleet maintenance.
Era? What era! There's nothing more fun than to have pair of PRR K-4's pulling a vintage heavyweight passenger train...with a couple of road railers tacked on the back end or a pair of CSX SD70's pulling some 36' truss road boxcars with a 4 wheel bobber on the back. Makes the rivet counters go into shock and starts connversations better than a case of beer. :D
I'll go with the K4... but if you start pulling truss rod cars behind an SD70 anywhere near me I'm going to have to have an epilectic fit!
I have all my stuff on Excel spreadsheets. Assembled locos, freight, passenger; unassembled locos, freight, passenger. Each on their own. Download onto the Palm Pilot to take to train shows. :D

Not as many entries as yours, but just basic info, including whether there's a Decoder in the loco, type of coupler, and wheelset type. The most useful info is the manufacturer and stock number, a simple search will tell me if I already have the model or not. The decision on whether to buy a duplicate, well, I have to decide for myself!


abcraghead said:
I'll go with the K4... but if you start pulling truss rod cars behind an SD70 anywhere near me I'm going to have to have an epilectic fit!

I pull well cars behind a 4-8-2 Mountain.....



Here is a way to fulfill a couple of fantasies... make Astoria into a deepwater container port, using the A-Line (still run by the SP&S) to run containers back to Portland...
HaggisKennedy said:
I pull well cars behind a 4-8-2 Mountain.....



Well, UP did once pull a stack train with 3985, unassisted....

Cool idea on the list for power including decoders on it. So far my loco fleet is small enough I don't need to track it like this.
Has anyone seen or tried the program that has been turning up in the newer Walthers sale flyers? It basicly works the same way except it saves it within the program. If you want a paper sheet you just print one. I can't recall the name of it or who makes it (don't have a recent flyer handy) :cool:
:eek: Gosh everyone seems so organised, I have, well next to no idea of what I have, it's all in my head, no wonder I'm so messed up. Haven't started any operation as of yet, and most rollingstock is in orig. boxes and stored in drawers. Up till this post I never considered a spread sheet, but now I can see a real practical use for one. Most, if not all of cars will have to be upgraded numbered weighted and such, so keeping track of what is done and what is still to be done will be quite important. So thanks for the idea, I'll be making use of it soon as the loco's are completed.
Cheers freom NS Wilis
No problemo, Willis. If you've only a few cars it's not needed, but once I got more than twenty, and then started my rebuild program to upgrade them all, it became less work to maintain the spreadsheet than it was to remember what was what.

Of course, right now my spreadsheet is way out of date as I've done a bunch of purchasing, trading, and selling to turnover my fleet focus. And as I knew I was selling or trading a lot of cars, I put the upgrades on hold, so I need to update it. I'll do that soon, after my flurry slows down.
Yeah, my roster is big, and like some folks, there's a pile of stuff marinating in the boxes stored off to one side. You know, the ones that we'll get around to assembling, etc., eventually.

THose are the most important ones that need listing; I've bought a couple items I've already previously bought (and didn't really need another of) at trains shows or wherever. The worst part is where a place has a whole pile of road numbers available (like the way Intermountain does things0, and the one you pick up is the one you already have.....


Several Years ago, when I had more time on my hands :D i put together a Database application that allows me to keep track of all the equipment, create tags for my freight Card envelopes, and industry cards to fit into the card pockets.

In addition, as each car is maintained, i fill in the maintenance date in the record, and after a 6 month period a new report is spit out to review the cars again that have passed that period of time for any additional maintenance.

I also have a way to show what the value of the rolling stock is. :eek: i don't let too many people see it, especially the wife. :D I have tried making up switch lists, but unfortunately, I usually do more off session switching and that throws the lists off. I am sticking with the cards.

the DB is broken down into four categories. Freight, Engines, Passenger, and non-revenue.

Bob A.
Good point on keeping track of prices. I once tried to do that by keeping all my receipts for one of the layouts I built, including keeping books for it on accounting paper. Eventually I gave up, too much work!
I had to do a spreadsheet because I kept buying duplicates.....mine is similar to the one ABC describes, a few different columns include:

(each type of car has its own sheet)

wheels (oem mfg, NWSL, IM, etc)
trucks (oem mfg, or whatever upgrade version used)
last lubed/checked date
proper weight (in ounces)
length (for calculating weight)
approx value (for insurance purposes)
approx condition or "stored" for off-layout pieces
comments or customized notes

a column for "to be upgraded" for wheels and trucks, in which i place a 1 for "yes", then totalize and show on the first page. It lets me know how many more sets I need to finish conversion.

obviously the sheet for engines is a bit different but it has the columns that are appropriate.

the neat (?) thing about using excel is that you can get really wrapped around the axle in number crunching and do silly things like: make pie charts by type and/or value and/or sheer numbers......

I even started to hyperlink to a photo of each car in the list...but mercifully failed to get that little obsessive/compulsive idea implemented...whew! that was a close one.
I use Model Railroad Logger. I downloaded it from the WWW I think from Kentsoftware. It is searchable I think from any field and is very easy to use. Plus it is inexpensive.
For any one interested the URL is:
The program Model Railroad Logger is shareware and costs only $15.97(US).
It's downloadable online and the up dates are free. There seem to be many functions ( bells and whistles) to this program so it's worth a look. I believe it'll fill my need so I doubt I'll look any further.
How is it that you can find out the build dates of a specific car? Is there some sort of special website or is that the result of hours of searching on Google?
I use the build date included in the decals or printing on the side of the car, if present. When it is not present, I either research the car to determine it's build date, or I guess based on the car type and the paint scheme.

Whenever I purchase new cars I open the boxes and look for the build date in the data on the car side. On boxcars, it's usually to the right of the door somewhere. BTW, many cars also have their AAR lettercode on the side of the car, on a boxcar it is usually to the left of the door.