It took me a while (to make up my mind and decide to definitely use computerized manifest-switchlists.)
A year or so ago, I began tinkering with JMRI to create switchlists. After setting it up and using it for a couple of sessions, I decided it would most likely take too much of my time to tweak everything to my liking, so I went back to using car cards and waybills.
At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. But I wasn’t happy. The thing is, I like working from a switchlist. It just seems more convenient to me and makes more sense to have everything on one page. If I am working a job, getting the rolling stock in order, I don’t want to be bothered with also having to organize and arrange car cards. I’ve also found that I find it helpful to make a switchlist from the waybills when working an area with multiple moves. Of course, there are also those model railroad operators out there that love their car cards and waybills. I have no intention of getting into a long discussion about which system is better, as both have their pros and cons. All I am saying is that having used both, my preference is for switchlists. My preference is also to have a computer generate those lists if it can be programmed to do a reasonably good job of it.
So, a few months ago I began tinkering with JMRI once more, with the goal of using it to create switchlists I could live with for the Eagle River Division. I am happy with the results and plan to use this method from now on. The car card holders are coming down and the car cards and waybills are going in the dumpster.
Here is what one of the manifest-switch lists looks like for an Eagle River Division train. This list is for Train #77, the Hoegaarden Local (a/k/a Beer Run), which services Rock Bottom Brewery and the Sherwin Williams plant at Hoegaarden. The train originates in Waldo, where the engineer/conductor assembles the train in the yard prior to departure. The train is being pulled by Mopac GP38-2 #2153s (the “s” after the number indicates it is equipped with a sound decoder.) The first work for this eastbound train is at Westburg, where today a KCS boxcar loaded with canned goods is being picked up and a RailBox boxcar carrying freight is being spotted at the freight depot. The train’s next stop is at Hoegaarden, where there are multiple pick-ups and spots for the brewery and the paint factory. Finally, the train terminates at Lafayette, where the engineer-conductor for train #77 will classify the cars upon arrival at the yard and take engine #2153s to Engine track 2.