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Milepost 24
CPR Galt Subdivision

Using Bad Order Cards
By Steve Bourdon, CVR Staff Consultant

A universal experience for model railroaders stems from Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will; and it will usually do so at the most inopportune moment.” For us modelers, this means that derailments and other operational misadventures will occur more often than not when we have an operating session. They will happen especially when we have guests who are non-model railroaders, but who insist on “seeing the trains run.”

Whether we are hosting an operating session or entertaining guests, our main goal is to keep things running smoothly and to maintain some degree of momentum. A derailment caused by faulty rolling stock can certainly impede such momentum, depending upon how it is handled.

If we stop to determine the cause and make the necessary repairs---whether it is a hanging coupler or wheels out of gauge---then everything comes to a grinding halt. In order to prevent a slowdown during operating sessions you could adopt a tool used by the prototype railways themselves: the Bad Order Card.

Railways use Bad Order Cards when a problem with a piece of rolling stock arises. The card is used to identify the problem so that the Car Repair Department knows what maintenance to perform when it receives the freight or passenger car at the repair facility or RIP track (Repair in Place). An original CP Rail Bad Order Card lists 30 potential problems, which can be checked off by a crewmember before forwarding the card through the necessary channels to the Repair Department.

Many of the potential problems listed on the prototype Bad Order Card can also happen to model railway rolling stock. Consequently, using the real card as a template, it is quite easy to design a bad order card for a model railway using a word processor such as Microsoft Word. Print them out on heavy gauge paper.

The name of the railway and the title “Bad Order” are located at the top of the form. On the next line are listed the Car Initials (CN, CP, ATSF, NS, etc.), the Car Serial Number, the AAR Car Type and Date. Below these items are spaces to list the Bad Order Reason number codes, the Location of the Problem on the car itself, Other Reasons, the Location of the Incident and Other Factors. Below all of this information is a list of 18 problems that a model railroader would likely encounter. (See sample below.)

Filling in the Bad Order card is relatively straightforward. The first step is to determine the likely problem(s) and to record the corresponding problem number code(s) beside “Bad Order Reason”. For example, suppose a derailment occurred at the spur switch at Mitchell on my layout. If the cause seems to be a defective coupler, but the suspicion is that a lack of clearance may a problem as well, we would circle or check number 6 and 7 in the space beside each Bad Order Reason. (See sample below.)

Sometimes it is a good idea to indicate the location of the problem on the car. For instance, the coupler at the “B” end (the end where the brake wheel is located) may be hanging too low. So you would circle “B” end on the Bad Order card. Or perhaps a ladder is loose at the A end. As well as indicating the “A” end, we need to determine which side is it on, the right or the left side. The answer is found by always looking at the car from the “B” end to determine if a problem is on the right or left side.

Recording the geographical location of the incident is useful sometimes, whether it is a derailment, an unexplained uncoupling, or a collision. In the example given above, we would we would note “Mitchell Spur” beside “lncident Location”. Later, if it is determined that the piece of rolling stock is not faulty after all, the problem may be at the location of the incident. Perhaps the track is out of gauge or dirt is lodged in the turnout flangeways. We may be fooled into thinking that it is the rolling stock is at fault, but knowing the location is sometimes helpful in finding and correcting the real problem.

Bad Order cards can be hand-drawn or word-processed and then photocopied so that several are on hand. After designing my first card, I word-processed 4 cards to a page, and then had them photocopied onto heavy cardstock at a local office supply store. The cards are then cut from the original stock pages using a guillotine, utility knife or scissors. Each card measures 2¼ x 6¼ inches, so they just happen to fit nicely inside standard Micro-Mark Car Cards if you use them on your railway. (These are available at Credit Valley Railway.)

If you use pencil, the cards can be recycled several times. Another option is to laminate the blank Bad Order Cards and use dry-erase markers. If you use Bad Order Cards on your model railway, the actions taken when a problem happens serve to keep things rolling. For example, when a derailment occurs involving a freight train, the assigned brakeman can remove the faulty piece of rolling stock from the train. The car card for that car accompanies it to the workbench or RIP track. Using pencil, the brakeman fills in the Bad Order Card, and then inserts it into the pocket of the car card or simply places it with the model. If a problem occurs with passenger equipment, the Bad Order Card is simply placed with the coach on the repair bench. The trains, meanwhile, usually keep rolling and the operating session continues as before.

Using Bad Order cards has a number of advantages. As mentioned previously, operating sessions can progress fairly smoothly once the offending piece of equipment has been removed. Secondly, by the time the owner of the rolling stock finds the time to make the repairs and adjustments, he may well have forgotten what the problem was in the first place. Heaven forbid that several pieces of rolling stock find their way to the repair bench during an operating session! (Does this sound like the voice of experience?) The Bad Order Card is an accurate reminder of the repairs that need to be made when time is available.

Since several individuals could be involved in running a model railway, any one could fill in a Bad Order Card without the owner knowing about the specific problem with a piece of rolling stock. After all, if it becomes quite busy, he may not always be there when problems happen. This same situation could also occur in a much larger operation, such as on a club layout. On the other hand, the Bad Order Card communicates the problem clearly to the repair crew, whoever that may be. Even if you run a one-person operation, you have the advantage of knowing what to fix by the time you get around to repairing any rolling stock that may have accumulated on your workbench.

When the repairs have been made, the data on the Bad Order Card is erased so it can be reused. The freight car can resume its journey to the next destination. It is simply a matter of marshalling the car into the next available train at a suitable yard, siding or spur.

Many of us enjoy operating our railways using prototype practices and methods. The Bad Order Card is another useful tool that can add realism to our scale empires and contribute to the smooth running of our operating sessions. Because we know exactly what to do when the time comes to sit down at the repair bench, we can return our rolling stock to the railway quickly, knowing that the correct repairs have been made.

Credit Valley Railway carries the Micro-Mark Bad Order Cards, along with Car Cards and Waybills to help you get started with prototypical Operation.

Alternatively, you can make your own. Below is a Bad Order Card based on a real CP Rail Bad Order Card. It’s interesting to note that many of the problems that can occur with model rolling stock happens in real life to scale 1 freight cars.

Blank Bad Order Card

       Credit Valley Railway Co.                     Bad Order

Car Init:

Car #

AAR Type:

Date:

Bad Order

Reason:

Location on Car

A end   B end     L or R

Other Reasons:

 

Incident Location:

Other Factors:

1

Air Hose

7

Coupler, Defective

13

Hand Holds

2

Body Bolster

8

Coupler Knuckle Spring

14

Ladders

3

Bolster Truck

9

Draft Gear

15

Roof

4

Brake Rigging

10

Doors

16

Sill, Centre

5

Brake Wheel

11

End Defective

17

Sill, End

6

Clearance

12

Floor Defective

18

Wheels Out of Gauge


Here is a Bad Order Card that has been filled in. In order to re-use your cards, use pencil. Another option is to laminate the blank Bad Order Cards and use dry-erase markers. Also, instead of writing the “Bad Order Reason” numbers, you could simply circle them.

        Credit Valley Railway Co.                    Bad Order

Car Init: GTW

Car #  516300

AAR Type: XM

Date:  04.22.12

Bad Order

Reason: 6, 7

Location on Car

A end B end     L  or  R

Other Reasons:

Check flange way at Mitchell East

Incident Location: Mitchell East Spur

Other Factors: n/a

1

Air Hose

7

Coupler, Defective

13

Hand Holds

2

Body Bolster

8

Coupler Knuckle Spring

14

Ladders

3

Bolster Truck

9

Draft Gear

15

Roof

4

Brake Rigging

10

Doors

16

Sill, Centre

5

Brake Wheel

11

End Defective

17

Sill, End

6

Clearance

12

Floor Defective

18

Wheels Out of Gauge


Here is a list of AAR Freight Car classification abbreviations that you can use on your Bad Order Card.

AAR FREIGHT CAR CLASSIFICATIONS
FB bulkhead flatcar
FC flatcar designed to carry trucks and trailers
FD depressed-centre flatcar
FM ordinary flatcar
GA drop bottom gondola
GB gondola
HM open twin-bay hopper
HT open triple or quad hopper
LC boxcar with roof hatches
LO covered hopper
LP pulpwood car
NE caboose (van)
RA brine-tank refrigerator car
RBL insulated boxcar without ice bunkers
RP mechanical refrigerator
RS ice-bunker refrigerator
SM single-deck stockcar
SP poultry car
TA tank car
XAP auto-parts boxcar
XM standard boxcar


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