I've really come to enjoy the use of the Car Tabs for car forwarding on my layout, but there were two things that always annoyed to me. The first was that every time I’d drop one while placing them on the car, they would inevitably fall face down and you had to fumble with them to flip it over. The second was placing them on empty open hopper cars like my woodchip cars. The best place to put them was in the bottom of the cars, but since my layout is set at 52” you sometimes had a hard time seeing the tabs.
Recently, a member on a forum I frequent started using tabs and his method was to print his labels on Avery labels and stick them to the “C” channels because he didn’t have a spray booth. After reading this I thought it might be a simpler method than painting the tabs like I had before. As I started drawing up the tabs in CorelDraw, I realized that if I used a styrene “I” beam instead of a “C” channel that I could place a label on both sides, then regardless of how it landed you could always see a label. This would take care of my first annoyance. So I printed up twice as many labels.
Using a 3/16” “I” beam I did a little measuring and came up with a label size that would fit nicely between the webbing and was still big enough to easily read.
The second annoyance was the tabs for the open hoppers. I tried using a strip of clear plastic to create a bridge that sat across the car and would allow me to sit the tab on. While this worked, you had to be careful as it was a little tricky, when placing the tab it could slip and end up in the bottom of the car, face down.
Now for the empty open hoppers, I was chatting with Greg one night he suggested something using something that would hang over the sides of the cars instead of on top. What we came up with was to use a strip of Evergreen #258 rectangular tubing and cut off one end of it so it looked like an inverted “U” channel. This was one of those head-slap moments because it was so obvious.