Register output

The Register program was designed to output data for a single vehicle identity across all the changes that had been recorded, with the output in chronological sequence. This required strict formatting and a set of "rules" by which the program could determine a course of action for each history found. The output has a standard format that comprises of several parts:

History output was divided into two types:

The output formatting was organised to cope with extreme volumes of data, with output based upon unlimited pages being available.

A sample output is described below.


The program was developed in DOS. Part of the heading was used to set compressed text when printed. Windows programs now use font and size attributes. The dashed line includes the owner of the program. The description line contains the output report number, date and vehicle class description. The final dashed line containers the number of columns each page is formatted to. Program owner and formatted columns per page were parameters set within the program.

3CU------[PJV'S ]----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[R11]  14/01/2007   Data for Code  JCX     Version (VA)
                    1974 - VR   Bogie Cement Hopper - Gravity   Freight

Search parameter

This is a description of what the program searched for. Can give a number, a number range or a generic "all the vehicles in the class". The last description indicated a request for everything recorded that includes data logged with unknown vehicles. Examples would be

Data heading

To assist with DOS printing and ensuring all data stays on the same page, the program determines the lines per page and adds a page eject code at the end of each page output. This formatting must include a data column description header at the start of every new page.

Vehicle.............SV  #  Date...... Loc History............SV Notes

Data output

Data is generally accumulated from many sources with data usually being collected out of order across a long timeframe. Rarely would all the data be presented. The program method allowed for ad-hoc data collection and data entry but provided a tool that presented the items in chronological order.

The data entry below would generally have been written as: JCX 101 built new and issued to service 9/4/1974 at Newport Workshops. Recoded to JCF at North Geelong Yard 1/1978. Recoded back to JCX 101 on 4/7/1978 at North Geelong Yard. On 14/4/1979 JCX 101 was recoded to VHCX 101 at Bendigo Workshops. Converted to VHQF 204 in the 1990s.

Additional information about photographs, references to vehicles and observations were generally not included when passing on information in the manual long hand days. With formatted data and the ability to provide ad hoc entry for anything, the program provided a simple method to accumulate all types of data and with that the easy cross checking of items. Quite often we found we have photos for events that never occurred until months later.

*JCX             101.VA  -      9/ 4/1974 NWS Built new             -
                                 / 1/1978 NGY To    JCF      101.VA -   
 JCF             101.VA  -      4/ 7/1978 NGY To    JCX      101.VA -    
*JCX             101.VA  -     14/ 4/1979 BAW To    VHCX     101.VA -   
 VHCX            101.VA  -       /  /1979 -   Photograph            #1334
                                 /  /1980 -   Photograph            #1581   
                               21/ 9/1980 TOT Photo (partial view)  #1632.35: on SG train
                                 / 7/1984 BAW Out of Workshops      (RO wagon stencil)   
                               22/ 9/1985 CAD Photograph            RO/ V/line logo    
                                1/ 3/1989 -   Reference             Rosco sheet   
                               16/ 3/1990 BOW Out of Workshops      Lift and paint   
                               circa 1990 -   To    VHQF     204.VA (v)   
 VHQF            204.VA  -     27/11/1994 TOT Photograph            RO: Slope sheets, Vline logo

The following history shown in full reflects the histories of the two "WW 11" histories as presented showing the use of 1st, 2nd, a car name "Victoria" and the use of the tag ">>>"

 A                19.VA  -   1/ 3/1887 -   Built new             8 whls; WHB; Corr. 2301
                            circa 1887 -   Note                  "New departmental Victoria"
                            circa 1888 -   To    AA        19.VA -
 AA               19.VA  -    /  /1894 -   To  Victoria      .VH 94/6485a
 Victoria           .VH  -  circa 1894 -   Equipment             "Knowles ventilators"
                             5/ 8/1932 -   Into Workshops        -
                             9/ 9/1932 -   Out of Workshops      (36 days)
                             8/10/1934 -   Into Workshops        -
                            18/ 3/1935 -   Out of Workshops      (162 days)
                            10/ 8/1943 -   Into Workshops        -
                            19/11/1943 -   To    WW        11.VA (102 days)
*WW               11.VA 1st  9/ 9/1948 NWS Into Workshops        -
                            14/12/1948 NWS Out of Workshops      (97 days)
                            16/ 6/1954 -   Scrapped              -
                            circa 1955 CFD Body                  Behind Scout Hall, Trugunnini Rd
                            circa 1974 -   Sighting              Peter Clarke: Disappeared several years later
                            23/ 6/1996 CAI Body                  [SXC]: Behind Ventura's, Mimosa Rd MEL68H4
 AA              200.VA  -  24/12/1890 ELS Built new             WH 90/12252
                              /  /1894 -   To    ABAB      39.VA 94/7981
 ABAB             39.VA  -  circa 1894 -   Modified              2nd Class Perf. Seating
                            circa 1910 -   To    AB        37.VB -
 AB               37.VB  -  22/12/1911 -   Modified              45' - 57'3"
                            25/11/1930 -   Into Workshops        -
                            19/12/1930 -   Out of Workshops      (25 days)
                            13/ 9/1940 -   Into Workshops        -
                            19/11/1940 -   Out of Workshops      68 days
                            21/ 5/1957 NMW To    WW        11.VA Npt: 30/5/57
*WW               11.VA 2nd  6/ 4/1977 -   Scrapped              -

A peculiarity of a "step" history output is that a vehicle being searched for may be the last entry of a paragraph and will not be marked with an asterisk ( '*' ). In such a case a special line is added at the bottom with an asterisk an dashed line beneath the vehicle being searched. Example below:

    BB               15.VA  -  11/ 4/1892 NWS Built new             WH 92/2701
                               29/ 6/1910 -   Modified              45' - 57'3"
                               circa 1910 -   To    B         15.VE -
    B                15.VE  -  16/ 2/1921 -   To    BT         9.VB -
    BT                9.VB  -  31/ 1/1924 -   To    T         35.VC -
    T                35.VC  -  28/10/1970 -   Off Register          -
                                3/ 2/1971 BAW To    WW       175.VA -
   *                                                ---------------


Notes for an item that are unable to be displayed on the same line are referenced and placed below the data output.

*WW               96.VA  -  10/ 6/1981 -   Scrapped              -
28/11/1982 BAE Body See Note 1

Below the output the notes are formatted to fit the page as shown:

Notes as referenced......
   1: [DMG]: Property J Blackall & Sons. Gone by 9/1/1991 - to MRPS at 1994;
      [BXY]: at Malmsbury for auction 12/97 
   2: [GXO]: Located on own track with canopy. Occupant to go after 
      operation on hip. Car to be offered to ARHS/groups. PJV: Occupant 
      operated Crane 45. 

Code Description

Here is where all the vehicle classes are described. This avoids detailed explanations amongst the item data. This information is implied when reading Registers and book entries. List is displayed in alpha numeric order by class

Code   SV   Date   Sys  Description                     Type
JCF    VA   1977 - VR   Bogie Cement Hopper - Gravity   Freight 
JCX    VA   1974 - VR   Bogie Cement Hopper - Gravity   Freight 
VHCX   VA   1979 - VR   Bogie Cement Hopper - Gravity   Freight 
VHFX   VA   1990 - VR   Bogie Fertiliser Transport      Freight 
VHQF   VA   1987 - VR   Bogie Quarry Products Hopper    Freight 
VHRX   VA   1987 - VR   Bogie Quarry Rock Hopper        Freight

Locations description

Location "codes" were required to format a short single line history. The concept was copied from the VELAS, later ROSCO systems. To avoid laborious cross referencing of codes across multiple programs running around the state, the program had the ability to generate a code for any location using the first two letters of a location plus the last letter. This option was then presented to the user if unused by the program. If already in use the program started at "AAA" and worked through until it found an unused letter group. If the user typed in a specific letter group, the program would accept it unless it was already in use. So whilst most locations have a corresponding VELAS code, many locations prior to the computerisation are made up. Comparison between operating REG programs will spot differences for the same location. The idea was to identify the location and provide an easy to remember system.

Code  Location / Builder
-     -                               
ARL   Arrival Yard, Melbourne         
BAW   Ballarat North Workshops        
BOW   Bendigo Workshops               
BRN   Brooklyn, Victoria              
CAD   Canal Zone, Melb Yd             
NGY   North Geelong Yard              
NMW   North Melbourne Workshops       
NWS   Newport Workshops               
SDY   South Dynon                     
TOT   Tottenham Yard                     


To provide some referencing ability, major references are standardised then added to the notes as required. References are delimited by square brackets ( [....] ). These references are then itemised in alpha order if they have been described. If not described they will be ignored.

In general, where the data is either unique or the data is quite clear, no reference is provided. Because the intent was NOT to have proof of every entry. Instead, unusual or conflicting information would be provided with a source back to the data for referral.

[NB]   : Norm Bray                                       
[ROSCO]: V/line or NRC ROSCO information                 
[RO]   : Rob O'Regan

End of report

The program finishes all outputs with a simple "End of output" message to indicate the report finished without the program crashing. To assist with searches, the program times each report in seconds. This was track the anticipated delays on older machines as the data. This program started started on an XT type PC and has gradually been moved to faster machines as they have become available.

<1s> End of output.

Converting handwritten data for research use

  The conversion of written records to a database system involved
  many decisions about data storage and the meaning of the 
  data as presented in books. Much of the material is without dates
  and only part of the story is actually told; ie, there is a 'hidden meaning'
  behind some data and you're only getting the literal 'official' sanitised version.
  The main records were the 'Rolling Stock Registers' of which there have
  been three versions, not including ROSCO and the new RAMS system.
  Version 1: All records prior to 1886 ( destroyed )
  Version 2: The 1886 - 1960 Register books. These books only contain
  data for rolling stock that was in service AT 1886 or later.
  Rolling stock built and scrapped prior to 1886 is not 
  Version 3: Loose leaf typed sheets presented as seven volumes
  Freight (3), Tank wagons, Carriages, Suburban, Sundry
  Three quarters of version 2 and version 3 have been hand transcribed
  by Rob O'Regan and myself in a form that preserved the basic details
  and gave an off site record once access was lost. This took some 
  10 years.
  These records are 'Item based', ie the histories are recorded by vehicle.
  Therefore notes and conversions for many stock have no dates. Extracting
  dates relies on events of the time, hand writing, ink and pencil scribble:
  each with their own meaning.
  In fact, much of the data from the Registers has been misinterpreted
  because the data is overwritten, there are no dates and some work was
  pre-written and the page was later used for other stock. Records 
  were placed into the pre-written number spots even though that vehicle
  never used the number shown.
  However there are other records that were  
  used to make the 'Rolling Stock Register' entries. These records
  have not yet been unravelled. These include:
  1..Circle Books 1911 - 1985
  2..Newport Registers 1958 - 1985
  3..Workshops In/Out 1919 -1952 (ARHS archives)
  4..Capacity books 1914-1951
  All these records are chronological based and allow insight into the 
  real happenings of the rolling stock and conversions.
  But to return to a few basic assumptions made in the data entry of this 
  work. There are several periods in rail history where code changes and
  events were not recorded in the main registers. The Registers are a
  capital expenditure record, not a record of workshops activity. The following
  assumptions have been made due to the lack of data. The records can be edited
  once more data is found.
  The main assumptions are:
  Memorandum dates: Many records are referenced by a memo reference such as 
  '97/1245a'. This is an trail to show that the work done
  can be referenced to an authority. From 1886 to the 1900s
  the year shown was the year the work was done. Howver, in 
  some cases the work was done much later. Extreme example
  was Joint Stock that returned to South Australia in 1904
  yet the correspondence given was '97/xxx'. This in fact 
  was the correspondence that initiated toilets on trains
  for the MEL-ADE corridor in 1897 and was still a reference.
  So until specific dates can be found, this is the best
  we've got.
  1910: In 1910, the VR changed from a long letter system to a simplified
  one. No dates, apart from rare examples are given. It is erroneous
  to tie in two unrelated activities to a single date given to one,
  just because it occurs within the same time frame. It could be 
  inferred but not proven. My assumption was to place all code conversons
  at 6/1910. For work within the same time frame I have placed the 
  conversion as an approximate date prior to the work done.
  After reconsidering that the work took some 18 months, I now believe
  the work was done within about three weekends of July 1910.
  A quick thumbnail calculation of car numbers, repaint rate, and 
  workers clearly shows it is possible. More effort was required
  to perform a triennial stocktake.
  I to IA: There are no dates for many of these conversions. So I have adopted
  the date '6/1936' as a default. To tie in with
  autocoupling conversions (1928 - 1938), I have assumed the 
  I to IA occurred prior to autocoupling, even though this is 
  incorrect. Conversions of I to IA was a result of IB scrappings:
  approx 80-100 8/10/11t I/IB's were scrapped from 1928 at a 
  constant rate. I to IA conversions occurred to replace this
  smaller stock. But apart from a few memo scraps, there are no dates.
  Any assumption made would be incorrect.
  The 'Accuracy of data' piece was in response to those who forward and print
  hunches and theories in the main body of their submitted data.
  Whilst I agree there is room for such questioning, this material is better
  served as a footnote in the absence of data to back it up. This 
  promotes and perpetuates like an 'urban myth'.

  The program was designed to store data and retrieve the data upon 
  request. This varies from the standard methodology of text entry and 
  always being able to see the work. Outputs are clearly dated to show
  the data on hand at that date.
  The outputs generated are either 'Local' histories ( specific to the
  vehicle asked for ) or 'Step' histories ( track backwards and forwards
  to assemble a 'Built New' to 'Scrap' continuous history )
  The program can also:
  1...Provide a timeline of entry to service to show discrepancies
      (It proved a myth about poor construction in the 1870s)
  2...Create a vehicle list for any date between 1886-1960,
      with reduced accuracy to 1985 (scrap data not added yet). Some
      dates create a 'data drift' due to assumptions.
  3...Create a table of activities: by activity and year for a class
  4...Create a list of activities by location, by year 
  The input of photo has been halted due to a new 
  method of indexing - FTS. 

File mstepm written by Peter J. Vincent, updated 3/3/2008