As I mentioned, I am using an enforced break from construction to think about car forwarding. My leaning has been toward something similar to what Tony Thompson has described with car pockets and realistic-looking waybills, and I have Mike White’s collection of Tony’s blog postings on my must-read pile. Probably, Tony is way ahead of me, and I am reinventing a wheel, only mine will be rough and wobbly.
However, reading about waybills doesn’t work all that well when there are two children at loose ends in the house, and so, I decided to put some of my thinking into action. I’m fortunate and thankful that my sister has put us up again, and that she has a good collection of Brio. The Girl wanted to play with this anyway, so, why not add a little structure to the play? We created a layout similar to Pembroke with one town, Cloudsdale, connected to staging representing Ponyville and beyond. Incidentally, she loves it; and will probably want to play again tomorrow.
Here she is with a train consisting of an empty candy car for the Cloudsdale Candy Factory, followed by an empty tippy car for the Jewel Mine, a load of feed for Cloudsdale Zoo and what looks like a sugar car behind her wrist, also destined for the Cloudsdale Candy Factory. The sugar car means this must be the Monday train.
Each train consists of some regular or periodic cars, a consumable car for locomotive coal, and a zero to three random shipments. For any shipments from Cloudsdale, I wrote an empty car bill on the reverse. So, if there was no empty car in Cloudsdale at the time, then we could get one from Ponyville when the daily train went to town. This worked well for random shipments, and for all shipments to Cloudsdale except the coal car.
The coal car worked by keeping track of how many trains had run to Ponyville with a paperclip on a slip of paper. Each time a train left, we moved the paperclip. When the paperclip got to the end, it was time to take the empty back to Ponyville and replace it with a load.
That was all well and good, but how did the loaded coal car get to Ponyville? Surely I (the agent, although I would think the order would go out from someone in the running department) would have had to order the coal some days in advance of actually needing the coal car in order to ensure there was one at Ponyville on the day.
The periodic shipments from Cloudsdale suffered the same problem. Although I sometimes had an empty feed car that could be used to ship candy, most often, I was sending away for an empty car, and the candy factory was left waiting for at least a day before they could get their licorice to market.
This problem is likely a result of coupling the empty car bill and the waybill. As agent, I should probably be more diligent in keeping sufficient empties around that I can usually fill orders quickly. If there are none, then I should anticipate my customers’ needs and store some until they are needed. But where would I store them? Both Pembroke and Cloudsdale are crowded little facilities.
Hmm. It seems I will want to play again tomorrow too.