Hopefully quick n' painless reomendations for a new modeler

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Runs With Bears, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Hey all, i have recently taken a liking to modeling the logging industries. I would like to model the early 1900's and was wondering how much space would be recomended for a decent logging operation line. I realize that i could probably fit a lot into a very small space but was wondering what would be the most realistic amount of room in a small space required to build a layout If it is necessary, i CAN get about two 4x8 tables in the room, but would prefer to start off smaller so i have some room to move around in...:) If i used around a 4x10 (which is my prefered maximum) layout would you recomend HO or On30? Im leaning very strongly towards HO however and actually prefer it to On30... I could put up a scenic divider in the middle of the layout to expand the line if necessary if that helps too. And finally, what operations would you recomend modeling in smallish amount of space? I would like to possibly have a scene at the actual saw mill and another harvesting the wood and whatever i can add in between. Thanks for the help and please ask if you need any more information.

    Also another bit of limitations, i will possible (very likely:) ) be moving to another house. The next house will be much bigger and therefore i will have more room, which is always a plus :D . So a modular type arrangement would be nice (so a foam layout is looking very appealing, and no, i dont intend to bring it to any shows with standardized modules..). Although until i move, i am not sure about the dimensions of the house or if i will be able to build an around the room layout, so i was hoping to build a small modular island that could possibly be incorperated into an around the room layout as a peninsula or something.

    So... after my ramblings... any suggestions would be much appreciated. I am a bit new in the model railroading scene but i have been an armchair modeler for years :thumb: . I have a large amount of tools and materials that i can borrow, so i am open to pretty much anything.

    Thanks in advance!! :)
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    question #1 for you - do you want a continuous loop of track?

    I recommend HO - more items available. And in that small of a space, more room for scenery, tall trees, and industry. Logging is great because you can get away with tighter curves that still look okay (well, 18-20") and steeper grades. Some logging lines with geared locos had grades greaterr than 5% If it were me, I would model a mainline with a logging branch.

    here is a rather famous track plan that may give you ideas for a 4x8:


  3. thanks nachoman for the recomendations..

    yes, i would prefer a continuos loop of running, but do you think it would be possible to have possibly one train continuosly running while i could operate another with switching? i dont know if this really makes sense at all or is practical:rolleyes: , its just an idea:D ..

    Yea, the early gorre and daphetid line has to be one of my favorite lines:) ... I was ultimately thinking of copying something like that but would it be functional for logging? A roundhouse and turntable would definately be a plus, im just not sure how much space it would take up. I was attempting to create a small timesaver type layout ( a seperate one from the peninsula layout i want to create now) with a roundhouse that could hopefully be incorperated into my larger layout in the future. So do you think it would be easy enough to do something where i would just replace theturntable with a sawmill?

    Thanks again for the help :)

    Also please tell me if this should be placed in the track planning forum
  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    well, I don't know how common turntables were for logging operations using geared locos. Smaller backwoods operations probably had wyes for turning and often ran engines in reverse.

    I definitely think you could design something that would allow switching and continuous running. But since you will be moving, maybe you should consider a couple of modules, about 2 ft by 5 ft. a 4x8 is difficult to move - simply because it is hard to get through doors once track, scenery, and a framework are attached. My layout is 3x6 in HOn3 and I can barely move it as one piece.

  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I am doing a logging operation on part of a large club layout. I have 36 inches X 11 feet to work with. I am able to get a small camp scene and one spur with a switchback into that space. I actually have less than the 36 inches because our three modern era mainlines occupy the outer level. I wish for more space (don't we all). I think the camp scene is the biggest challange because there are some pretty large buildings and lots of small stuff that takes up space. Someone mentioned a turntable. They were not very common on logging outfits. I would suggest the following books and magazines. Railroads in the Woods; This Was Logging(out of print); Logging Railroads of the West:
    Timber Times magazine; Tall Timber Short Lines magazine.
    I just noticed that you are on the East coast. Try some of the historical websites. The Michigan Wisconsin and northeast area had some smaller operations that might fit in better in a small space. Maybe two truck loco's and shorter cars. On30 would work too but there again, O scale structures take up a lot of space.
  6. Hey thanks again for the information it really helped:) . I think modules are definately the way to go and intend to make a couple of those. I think that the small space will prove more manageable and will allow me to concentrate on more things.

    As for the roundhouse, i dont think that i will include one one my logging layout, it would just be nice to have in a small town or somewhere in the future that could connect to my small logging branchline.

    I also think that modeling the Michigan Wisconsin area will be a good choice and will be a better fit for me. I like the small trains and cars and it could be a nice fit on my layout.

    Now, i have just two final questions... if i were to use the smaller trains and cars, what do you think the minimum radius should be? On the G&D I noticed that some of the radius were as low as 14". It is probably prefered by most modelers that i go now lower than 18", and for some it is a sin to go lower than 22". I dont intend to get any monstrous 2-8-8-2s up the grades or around the sharp turns so im thinking that i may be able to get away with 16"? Maybe even an occasional 15"?:rolleyes: :D Please tell me if you think this would be too unreasonably low or i would regret it in the long run..

    And finally, would you recomend the smaller locos for their reliability? Ive heard many people say that the smaller locomotives are cheaper quality and not made to last very long. I could probably get some small logging locomotive that would work reasonably well on the layout with smaller radius.

    Thanks again and please do not feel obliged to go into so much detail that you are basically writing reviews on every type of loco and brand out there (but if you really want to, by all means go ahead :thumb: :D :D ), just a model that would work well for a reasonable price and still negotiate turns would be nice.

    Thanks again:) and hopefull after this i can post some future layout designs!:D
  7. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I don't think size has much to do with the quality of a loco. Athearn, Atlas, Bachmann Spectrum series produce good equipment. It's just that its cheaper to make a small loco for a train set. If you are looking for steam logging equipment. Riverossi (their latest issue of the two truck Heisler, not the original, which is still available). Bachmann Spectrum two truck Climax. I wouldn't suggest a Roundhouse Shay unless you can find one that is assembled and can be shown to operate well. Also some of the 2-6-0 and 4-4-0 rod loco's were used where steep grades were not a consideration. Generally, the above mentioned locos will handle short radius curves.
    You could also go with the 1950's 1960's era and use first generation diesel power.
  8. ok thanks for the advice:)
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    If you're modelling a steam-era logging line, that's one type of railroad where very sharp curves can work fine and are even realistic. It's all going to be small power, short cars, and short trains.
  10. Summit

    Summit Member

    I would echo the advise about turntables...non existant on all but a very small handfull or logging railroads. Most operations used one or two stall shop buildings instead of roundhouses. Many logging railroads lacked any turning facilities at all, which meant that the locomotives would always be facing the same direction.

    Marc Reusser has a website that should provide a very healthy dose of inspiration at http://www.steaminthewoods.com There are quite a few other logging railroad websites out there as well.

    As for motive power I would recommend any one of the Bachmann Spectrum steam locomotives- with their 3-truck Shay, 2 truck Climax, and 0-6-0T being the most appropriate choices. You have to be carefull with their Shay in terms of tightness of curves, as the drivelines do tend to come apart on sharp curves. The Rivarossi 2-truck Heisler is a good locomotive and can be had for less than $80 if you look in the right places, but be warned that it scales out a little too big for what it is supposed to represent. There are a lot of other small steam locomotives out there...but you do have to be carefull with them and know what you are buying. If you advance yourself to the 1950's/1960's you could get away with running such locomotives as any one of the small EMD switchers made by various manufacturers, the Baldwin switchers from the likes of Athearn or Bowser/Stewart, any one of the small Fairbanks-Morse units made, etc.

    There are a couple of other factors to keep in mind. Most of your commercially available sawmills are way too small to have ever justified a logging railroad to feed them. In the beginning sawmills were smaller affairs that tended to be very portable...as the sawmill would exist in one place just long enough to cut out the surrounding timber before moving on. More often than not the equipment would get moved, sometimes to a new owner, with the old buildings left behind. Logging railroads came into being as sawmills started becoming larger and more sedentary industrial facilities, which led to quite a few logistical considerations...the larger a sawmill ran, the faster it would consume wood, which meant that it would go through the timber immediately available to it in short order, which meant that logs had to be hauled in from ever further distances, which meant that the sawmill had to be large enough to generate enough cash flow to finance the high costs of building and operating logging railroads...and by the turn of the century almost all sawmills fed by logging railroads were huge industrial plants, often covering hundreds of acres of land and employing thousands of people. Very few modelers ever come close to even dreaming about properly modeling that aspect of the business. A far more practical solution is to model only a part of a logging railroad, say a logging camp scene such as what Jim Krause describes. Another possibility is that you could have a camp at one end of your line and a log dump into a lake or river at the other end...this happened quite a bit all over the North American continent...the logging railroad existed to bring the logs from the hills down to the water edge, where the logs would be dumped into the water. The logs would then be rafted together and floated to the sawmill. The last true logging railroad left on the continent today- the Canadian Forest Products railroad on Vancouver Island, British Columbia- works on this principle, with the logs they haul rafted from the northern tip of the island to Canfor's sawmills on the mainland.

    Given your space considerations I would recommend HO scale, or possibly even an N-scale layout built around the 2-truck Shay offered by Atlas. Send in for subscriptions to Tall Timber Short Lines (http://www.osorail.com) and Timber Times (http://www.timbertimes.com)- both are quarterly publications devoted to the timber industry. See if you can find Railroads in the Woods by John Labbe and Vernon Goe. There are a couple of Yahoo! groups that may be of interest, the 4L list (stands for Loyal Legion of Logged-on Loggers) and the Model Loggers group. And finally, see if you can arrange to take a vacation to somewhere in western Washington around mid June...the annual Northwest Logging Modeling Convention should be happening about then. I believe there is a link to the convention's website from the Oso Publishing homepage.

    And lastly, I will put in a shameless plug for my two websites...I have always had a strong interest in the dry side pine operations found in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains in northeastern California and Oregon. I have one website about the railroads associated with the old company timber town of McCloud, CA, at http://www.trainweb.org/mccloudrails and another site featuring the railroads of Oregon's high desert region at http://www.trainweb.org/highdesertrails On the High Desert Rails page be sure to check out the pages on the Condon Kinzua & Southern and Big Creek & Telocaset operations...two fine examples of small operations in the Pacific Northwest.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  11. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    While what Jeff says about the scale of scale-model lumber mills is true, it is no less true that most scale model railroad industries are far, far smaller than their real-life counterparts. Most typical model industries are tiny affairs that would barely justify a couple of carloads a month, but that doesn't stop model rails from putting them on the layout (it sure doesn't stop me!) Also, there are plenty of modeler's tricks that you can use to make a layout seem larger than it is. You really only need to show the things that are adjacent to the tracks: by modeling a few things, putting some stuff on the backdrop and suggesting that other large, space-consuming things are "off the layout" or "just around the corner" you can save yourself some modeling.

    About small locomotives: You can get very high-quality small geared locomotives! Many of them will handle sharp curves with much grace, but remember to try them out...in most cases, though, except for three-truck Shays they'll probably handle a 15" radius curve.

    While my current focus is traction, my first love in model railroading was logging: part of me still wants to model the Arcata & Mad River Railroad, a logging railroad that also was a common carrier (carrying regular freight and passengers in addition to logs) on the northcoast of California, a touch south of Jeff Moore's area of interest.)
  12. Summit

    Summit Member


    The Annie & Mary would make a great model railroad. While in college my wife and I lived in Blue Lake, and the old A&MR ran literally right outside our bedroom window. Unfortunately the North Coast Railroad had stopped running the line less than two years before. At one point or another I walked 95% of that railroad grade...what a fabulous piece or railroad. I even wrote a research paper on the company for an English class.

    What era of that company's history are you most interested in?

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  13. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Just in general...I went to HSU (I assume you did too?) from 1987-1991, and I wrote a research paper on the company for a California Geography class. Personally I'm planning on borrowing some ideas from another Gauge user about modeling the A&MR in 1:72 scale using HO scale equipment...this would make the slightly too large Heisler just about right, and the change in gauge would be just about right to represent the pre-standard gauge oddball "bastard gauge" that they used. I built a tiny HOn30 "gypsy" locomotive and have tentative plans to build a freelanced mini layout based on Humboldt County logging railroads named after some of my old college dorm-mates, but right now I am still working on my main layout, set in Sacramento where I live now.
  14. Wow! Thanks for all the great info it really helps. :) I think i found a smaller logging line that i could model... It can be found at http://www.wsrestoration.com/millsite.htm that i hope could provide some interesting switching operations and be able to incorperate some nice scenery.. I was just debating what i should condense the layout to... Any suggestions? Also, if you think that the layout is too impractical to model please tell me.. i'm open to all opinions at this point :D. I was considering keeping the Old H.H. & Y.V. Roundhouse and car shop, and possible including the warehouse, storeroom, and head quarters. Then just attaching the log dump and sawmill? I would then run a short line out "to the woods" and lead it to a camp somewhere down the line. If i could, i dont think i can however, the interchange would be nice to include... im just not sure what i would have to cut out. So far, just for the mill section, i think i could manage to dedicate a 4x10 (and build it in HO) table to it, not including the run out to the logging camp. So any ideas what you think would be essential and provide the most operating interest?
  15. Ok i drew out a pretty rough track layout on RTS 7.0... i just need to upload it now.
    Any ideas how to upload it?:rolleyes: :D
  16. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Hi Bears: The West Side Lumber Co. was a large outfit in its day. Three foot narrow gauge by the way. Theres no reason you couldn't model a portion of it; however. You could use it for inspiration and use standard gauge equipment. Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette (a magazine) had a lengthy article on the WSL a few months ago. I'll look it up and tell you which issue. That particular magazine is full of modeling info and history.
  17. Ok thanks that would be great :thumb:

    EDIT: BTW... what is the best way to upload the track plan from the atlas RTS software? all the pictures i get on paint or something are too small to show any detail
  18. Summit

    Summit Member

    To second what Jim says...what you provided a link to was only the sawmill area of the West Side Lumber Company. The company built several hundred miles of narrow gauge logging railroad that fed this property.

    Much has been written about the West Side operations. As a steam powered narrow guage logging railroad that lasted into the 1960's it generated a lot of interest and was very heavily documented. There are at least two books out there about the operation, and appeared in at least part of many more.

    Jetrock- I like your idea of the A&MR/Northern Redwood. I did attend HSU (1994-2000). My personal interest in this railroad would be in more of the modern era...but then again that is my personal bias. Going back to that 45.25 inch gauge would make for some interesting modeling, though!

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV

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