Monday, September 18, 2017

I can't see the damn tabs!

One issue I had with the tabs right after I first switched over to them was with empty open hoppers and empty woodchip hoppers.  I had to sit the tabs in the cars and this meant on the bottom of the cars.

May not seem like too big of a deal, but when the layout is set at 52", some of the crews couldn't seen into the cars, some had to stand on their tippy toes.

From my normal eye view

Standing on my toes.

This issue would pop up while staging and then during a session but was forgotten about soon after the session.

Well with the next session just around the corner, I decided to try and find a solution to this issue.  I thought about making some sort of a bridge from plastic or wood that could sit across the top of the hoppers. I also thought about using some of poster putty to hold the tabs in place?  All seemed to be more work than I wanted.

Last night I came up with a little something that might work? 
I spied one of the clear plastic covers that come in the MTL jewel cases.  The nice thing about this was it was clear and wouldn't stand out more than the tabs do.

So I cut a small section off and bent the ends down so they hung over the edges and placed the tab on top.  Not bad, but kind of bulky and the tab wanted to slide a bit.

So I kept playing around with this.  Pretty soon it hit me, let's make it narrower so the tab straddles it like they do over a roofwalk?

This seemed to work OK and it was much smaller, plus the tab couldn't slide around either.

So for now I think I'll give this a whirl and see how they ride throughout the session?  And like Steven said, if anyone knocks them off due to some rough switching, I guess that crew earns a turn to wear the Asshat award.


  1. There was a time when I poo-pooed the idea of car tabs, because esthetically, it destroyed realism. However, since I have been involved in serious ops sessions at Eric Payne's NKP layout, I no longer have that concern. It's funny how you become so focused on doing your job during ops, that the scenery and detailing of rolling stock can become almost unimportant. I now appreciate the car tabs, because juggling car cards is a huge pain in the butt.

    1. My thoughts exactly Dave!
      I felt the same way, they look out of place. I spent a lot of time weathering a car once, at the end of the session, no one even noticed it. You are absolutely right, you get so focused moving cars, the tabs become part of the scenery and game! Thanks for the comment Dave!

  2. I agree with Dave - but then we "Dave's" have to stick together. We use tabs but only in the yards. Once out on the main the tabs are gone. Some switching areas have their own tab boxes so the local ops can mark the cars if they wish. Once switching is complete, the tabs go back in the boxes. I like the Asshat! Looks like a Z Scale Bruno! If you're still operating next year, an invitation during the warmer months might convince a couple of ops from Colorado to come up for a session. Work continues down here. We hope to start the lower level by the end of October. You know that you are always welcome here.
    Castle Rock & Pacific (
    Franktown, Colorado

  3. Thanks Dave!
    You know you are always welcome to drop by ANYTIME you guys are in town.
    As matter of fact, if you know you're coming this way stop by and pick Doug Midkiff and drag him along!
    Keep me informed when your ready to operate, I have a buddy who would love to come along and play trains! And no it's not Mark!