boxed in

I was able to kill two birds with one stone recently by combining wood working with model railroading; but not building a piece of rolling stock or a structure, or even the benchwork supporting the track.

Just knocking together a couple of boxes...

My friend Trevor Marshall wanted to add the use of waybills to the operating sessions on his S scale "Port Rowan" layout. Many operations-oriented modellers use cut-down representations of prototypical railroad forms - often stuck in little Masonite pockets on the front of their layout fascia. Trevor, however, didn't want to adopt this methodology. He was after something more realistic in appearance to hold his paperwork.

After evaluating several pictures of real waybill boxes, he eventually stated a preference for the Southern Pacific style. Based on the visual aesthetic, I had to agree.

 one basic shell and the start of the second
The real boxes are made of plywood and are quite tall, but the Port Rowan layout fascia would not allow a full sized box to be attached without intruding into the scene. I scaled down the box while trying to retain the functionality.

I needed to reduce the size of the materials to effectively reduce the size of box, but they still had to be robust. Sections of 1/2" and 1/4" poplar were used to create the box, with cast brass hinges & hasps from Lee Valley Tools replacing the (likely) zinc-plated steel hardware of the original.

heavy duty hardware

Brass #8 and #4 fasteners were obtained to attach the hardware; they really should all be slot-head to match the era. The hasp screws may yet get replaced if I can locate a handy source.

Overall dimensions are 2"d x 5-3/4"w x 8"h. A forward-tilting lid (not shown here) is 7"w x 3"d and 1/2" thick. The 1/4" thick front flap is taking on a bit of a bow in an obvious effort to "weather itself".

You can see the prototype inspiration at Tony Thompson's SP blog entry about their own waybill boxes. Trevor has already created a blog post about the installation of these two items on his layout, with links to (much better) pictures of the finished product.

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