I recently helped my buddy Pierre Oliver with a fun project for his layout.
Pierre models the Wabash Railway’s line through southern Ontario. The majority of the trains on the line are hauled behind paired Wabash F-units with a Wabash caboose bringing up the rear – but the track was actually owned by, and dispatched by, the Canadian National Railway.
Pierre is keen to follow his prototype’s use of the Time Table and Train Order system of dispatching, which means he needed pads of blank Form 19 and Form 31 train orders. Since I’m somewhat handy with the table function in MS Word, Pierre sent me a scan of a CNR Form 31 order that was issued in 1958 on his Cayuga Sub. From that, I created a reasonable facsimile in digital format. Pierre then took my artwork and had pads produced on carbonless copy paper.
Pierre could have used one of the fine products already available on the hobby market, but he wanted pads in a larger format – closer to full prototype size – to make it easier for operators to copy orders. Also, since we had a real CNR train order from which to work, we thought it would be neat to create something more authentic than the generic forms. While I did not try to match fonts exactly, I did go for close matches while still picking fonts for readability. As Pierre notes, these are tools for operating sessions. That means above all else, they have to work for us. That said, I’m pleased with the result – which even includes my rendering of the original form’s “Printed in Canada” mark:
While I rarely have to write an order during a session, every train needs paperwork to establish it on the schedule so I’ll have to get a pad of these from Pierre for use on my own layout.
And we’ll have to think of other CNR-specific forms we can create to help breathe authentic atmosphere into our operating sessions…