PC based databases for inventory - my custom database

Jeff Lodge <cvfanbratt@...>

As a database programmer, I happen to like databases for this job. Excel is a great tool for someone who just needs to get a list developed and do some simple sorting/grouping/summing. However, the calculations I am doing make a spreadsheet rather underpowered for the task. I have written my tool in MS Access 97.

It includes not only my inventory, desired models and all kinds of other stuff (structures, vehicles, control equipment) but it is where I am performing my car list analysis. So far I have close to 5000 actual cars from the month of September 1955 going North on all CV Freights out of White River Junction, VT. (For anyone who received a copy of that list, I have since double checked it and corrected the unbelievable amount or errors in it...)

Now I am entering data from ORERs and other information to set the parameters for a road's car number series like:
Road: CN
Car type: Box
High number:485199
Low number:484100
Descript: 40' SS, 6' Young dr, 9' 4" IH, Dreaded-Dreadnot-Whatnot ends, Carmel Coated Cut levers, blah, blah
Kit: Westerfield 1001
(OK guys, I just made all that data up, so don't start sending the flames my way just yet!..)

By doing the above, the program can now automatically assign the car list items to a specific car type so I know what kits I need. In other words, if a box from CN shows up with the number 484305 on the list, it will be assigned to the above mentioned car type - all without me having to do any thinking - which I only do as a last resort in any situation.

I can get percentages of cars by train number, by day of week, from month-to-month, north vs. south. All kinds of stuff that would be hard to crunch in Excel. As I enter more car list information and more ORER information, I don't have to change anything to perform the same calculations.

My database is not a commercial product and is not offered for sale. If you are interested, just contact me off list. If others are willing to work with me, we just might be able to get it to be a very powerful tool. Some long-range goals:
A web page where you enter the date, road name and car number. It would return the type of car, the data source (the closest ORER before the date for example), if there are any kits available....
A large collection of car lists from different roads and dates. In some cases, you could actually see a car moving around the country. Even within my small one month set of data, I can see the same cars moving back and forth between Canada and the Northeast. (And not just milk cars.) You could start to get a good feel for what was a real mix of cars for a particular route at a particular time.

Jeff Lodge
Brattleboro, VT

"Beckert, Shawn" <shawn.beckert@...> wrote:

At the Sunshine Models meet at Buena Park this weekend,
Ted Culotta did a presentation on "Computers in Modeling".
One of the subjects he touched on was using a computer
database program to make an inventory of the freightcars
in our collections, showing a variety of useful information.

The poor guy was harassed unmercifully when it became obvious
how many cars in his fleet were still in unbuilt condition,
though nobody else dared say their closet looked any different!

A question for the listmembers: Ted is solidly a Macintosh user;
are there any PC-based inventory programs out there that could
be used to construct a database of our freightcar fleets? I'd
like to know about the more "user-friendly" programs; I'm not
that concerned about cost at the moment.


Shawn Beckert

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