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The Fremo play: modelling freight traffic

You need a goal to give your wagons a ride!
Freight wagons are used to transport goods from A to B and to this purpose every wagon has to be accompanied with paperwork about its cargo, a waybill, stating details about destination, receiver, sender, weight, length etc. Such a waybill is combined with the wagon card that states the operational details about the wagon such as ownership, wagon number and specifics for loads such as surface, volume, length and maximum loading weight, but also things like speed restrictions, minimum radius etc.
Modelling this operational process makes fun and gives a purpose to running wagons on a railway model.

wagoncards  and waybill
The wagon card in the center showing waybill pocket with waybill and 2 further wagon cards. The card on the left is an original printed card in Edmondson format ratio of 38 x 70 mm from the early nineties, hand drawn in black ink with Rotring pen using a template, close to 30 years old thus it can be considered antique by now. The cards are now printed at home on the desktop printer, complete with photo for easier identifying the particular wagon.


In transport each wagon thus needs a cargo and a waybill which states the destination, receiver, sender, contents and weight and pointers to suitable wagon category. Of course the cargo can be nill if it concerns a request for an empty wagon to be loaded at a specific railway yard. All wagons need a wagon card which holds important details about the wagon such as its number and this card is also equiped with a pocket for holding the waybill. In real life every wagon has on each side a waybill cage, each one holds a copy of this freight paperwork during transport.

fixed traffic waybill
A waybill for fixed traffic of coal between Splitveld Fabriek and fiddleyard Black.

Waybills can be used single for one way trips, that can be either half of the above form. However wagons may also be used for round trips in fixed traffic between a location and fiddle yard. Such waybills generally have two sides, one for the shipment of the load, (the front), right half in above picture, and one for the wagon return trip to the fiddleyard, (the back), left half in the above picture.
In this example, the destination Splitveld Fabriek requires a fresh load of coal and ordered 80 ton coal. Therefore they supply the fiddleyard with a set of waybills for the required load, in this case for 4 wagons, also because it concerns open wagons with a visible cargo, they have to supply the 4 loads of coal to transport. In the fiddleyard a set of suitable wagons is then selected and loaded with the cargo and added to a freight train that will serve Splitveld Fabriek at some time in future. The waybill contains some specific boxes to fill in, such as which wagon category is required, here "O" or UIC "E" and it states the receiver such that the train crew will know where to deliver the wagon in the yard, in this case the connection of Belfer S.A., it further states to be loaded with coal, although that will be clearly visible of course in an open wagon and its origin such that Splitveld Fabriek can trace where this particular cargo came from. It also has an area for notes at the bottom. This one tells that it is part of a 80 ton shipment existing of 4 wagons.
After unloading, the waybill is rotated and put back in the wagon card. Now it shows a black box as the destination station at the top and the load description says it are empties. This means that the freight wagon must be transported to the black fiddleyard in order to reach its fictional destination. If this box is uncoloured (white) it can be returned to any fiddleyard for general use, normally this is the closest fiddleyard, but this may depend on specific requirements on traffic imposed by the timetable and traffic routes set-up for the layout arrangement.
Depending on the size of the layout and the position of the fiddleyards it may concern long trips taking several runs of the timetable with the wagons travelling in different types of trains over the layout before they finally reach destination. For instance border crossing traffic may require first a local goods from origin, then an international freight train passing the border, followed by another local goods to destination. This process generally means that if you want to simulate a steady traffic flow of x wagons per day/timetable you may need several (sets of) wagons, 1 in the fiddle yard being loaded for delivery the next day, 1 arrival being unloaded and 1 full or empty somewhere in transport.


In real life cargo's are usually transported over long distances. However fiNescale arrangements have only a limited route length, thus we represent the rest of the world with fiddleyards. Generally there are 2 to 4 fiddleyards on the layout arrangement. In order to distinguish between different fiddleyards and make the traffic more interesting each fiddleyard is appointed a colour and this colour indicates the sort of traffic. These fiddleyard colours are reflected in the waybill in the colour of the destination box. There are 6 colours for the fiddle yards. For example, green is the color for agricultural products, brown for industrial areas, red for chemicals, black for mining products, blue for an overseas import or export and yellow for mediterean import and export products. Thus you can easily define freights that go "over the border", which may restrict your choice of wagon!
For waybills there exists an extra colour "white" which is specifically for local traffic between stations on the layout or return for general use to the nearest fiddleyard.

Fiddle yard colours and traffic

The following table gives the colours and examples for loads for the fiddle yards.
Colour type of traffic Sending Receiving
black Mining industy coal, cokes, iron ore, pig iron, steelproducts, tubes mining logs, chalk and lime
green Agricultural goods cereals, wood, animals, milk, flowers, vegetables, sand tractors, combines, fertiliser, seeds
yellow European Im/Export products wine, citrusfruit, marmer, furniture, cognac , wood, ore harvesters, coal, fertiliser
blue Oversea Im/Export products oil, tropical wood, bananas, ore, fish, chemicals machines, fertiliser, canned products, petrol, cars, chemicals
red Chemical products fertiliser, plastics, medicines, petrol chemicals, oil, coal, liquid gas
brown Industrial products cars, freezers, washing machines, paper, tubing, cables steel profiles, coal, chemicals, semi-finished products
white Local goods or return for general use all local goods
all local goods

Various waybill colours

Wagon cards

The cards have a format of 38 mm width by 70 mm height and were originally printed on ~0.8 mm thick card. This can be represented by sticking the prints on thick drawing paper cut to the right dimension. Each wagon card has a front and back side. In use you will need the front of the card to identy the wagon. Here you enter the wagon number, owner company, wagon category and preferably a photo of the wagon. On the back you not only find various fields for the technical data of the prototype, but also a field for you as model owner with contact details and specifics such as markings on the wagon bottom to help to identify ownership of the wagon. This side holds the waybill pocket, when in use the technical data is thus covered by the waybill. Wagon cards are continuously handled during transport thus to give them a longer standing time laminating them in plastic helps. On the back of the card you need to attach a transparent pocket that can hold the waybill such as shown by the green wagon card in the photo on top. This laminiation, including its pocket, can be easily made with self-adhesive transparent foil such as used for book covers.

To help identifying wagons, the wagon cards also have colours with or without coloured bands. There are 8 different categories, the most common category concerns covered vans in light (yellowish) brown, the open coal wagon has the same yellowish brown colour but carries a white band from top to bottom.

examples of wagon cards
Examples of wagon cards for various different wagons, made anonimous, thus add your own ownership details. These are made with Corel Draw. Similar files can be made in Inkscape, an open source programme that can be downloaded from internet, Inkscape can import .cdr files but sometimes small errors are introduced in fonts etc. Such files can be saved as .svg.

Colours of wagon cards

Colour Category UIC Type examples
brown Covered van in standard form and specialties G, H goods van, wagons with sliding walls
brown -white Open top in standard form and specialties E, F Open mineral wagons, open hoppers
green Closed wagons loaded from above T wagons with sliding roofs, closed hoppers loaded via roof hatches
yellow Flat wagons K, R, O Wagons with rungs, wagons with low side boards
gelb-weiƟ Wagons for special loads L, S Wagons for heavy loads, coil wagons
blue Refrigerated and isolated vans I Refrigerated wagons for fish, banana transport
light grey wagons for liquid cargo Z tank cars, liquid gas and other chemicals
light grey-green Other wagons U, P Silo wagons, wagons with compressed air connection, private owner wagons

Producing Plastic Coated Wagon Cards

First print the cards using a colour printer and some software. The cards on the photo below were produced with my old Excell sheet, this has been changed to Coreldraw long since, but Inkscape is a free alternative to that. The prints are cut out and glued to a 0.8 mm white card of 70 x 38 mm, making a neat wagoncard. The last thing to add is a triangular pocket for the waybill. This page shows how to make these yourself and finish up with a card that can withstand many Fremo meetings without getting filthy.

Photo 1 shows what we need. A scissors, a rol of transparent self adhesive foil, some foil cutoffs, a wagoncard and a completed card.

We start with cutting 2 strips of the self adhesive foil. I conveniently found an old piece with red backing to show the difference. The red strip is 2x the height of the card. The white strip 2x the width of the card. It is easier to cut the strips a bit larger and trim to size later.


First stick the long strip to the loading side of the wagoncard and trim to size with the scissors.


Then fold it double with a very sharp fold at the underside.


Turn the card around and stick the wider strip to the front. Take care to make the overlap on the right hand side otherwise your pocket fold will be on the wrong side!


Now turn the card around again and take off all the backing papers.


Now fold the second strip over the first one with the adhesive layers against each other. You then get a double fold which forms the pocket for the waybill.


Trim to size and cut off a triangle to make it easier to insert a waybill into the pocket.


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copyright: Fremo
update for new FS160 standards document based on collection of old stuff.

edited: Henk
date: 26 Oct 2020
to do: new photos to replace those from 2001.