Starting a logging railway

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by conor, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Hmmm... You are modeling in HO, right?

    There are some immediate problems I see with your plan. First, you mentioned 3 foot reaches earlier--so I assume your plan is six feet wide and, oh, about ten feet long.

    Normally, the sharpest curves used with any regularity on HO scale model railroads are 18" (or 15" in a pinch.) The inside loop that goes from the mainline to the lumber mill and back looks like it would have to be aroun 12" in radius. While this is acceptable for very short locomotives (0-4-0 steam or very small diesels) and small logging disconnects, which are found in logging operations, full-sized passenger equipment will pitch right off the rails on curves that sharp (passenger cars from the 1920's onward were 60-80 feet long.) You had mentioned wanting full-sized passenger operations and those curves will effectively prevent that from happening.

    Second, that three-feet reach will make access to the middle of the layout impossible--ESPECIALLY because it appears that the edges of the layout will have the highest elevation, with the lowest points (the lake and the river) in the middle. There is a solution for this--make a drop-out access hole in the lake. When you need to get access to the center of the layout (and believe me, you will need to) you just drop the hatch, which would be the lake's surface, and rise up out of the lake (THE LOCH NESS CONOR!!) to rerail things.

    Third: On American prototypes, railroads typically get access to industries via single-ended spur tracks rather than double-ended sidings like you have on your plan (I think they're called "loops" in UK railroading parlance.) The lumber mill would not be located on the main, but rather on a spur off the main.

    The river/lake is a good idea, though: many American logging operations dumped their logs into a "log pond" for storage, and the logs were later fished out of the drink for cutting. Logging railroads also commonly followed streambeds or rivers because they were the easiest ways to get through mountainous country (and often needed sharp turns.)
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    After a little head-scratching and some hasty Windows Paint track planning, I came up with a track plan for your consideration. I am still trying to figure out how to get my web-image hosting thingamabobber to work right, so I have included this image as an attachment.

    I based the plan on the dimensions you gave of roughly 6x10 feet. The plan consists of an outer loop, with 24" radius curves (enough to run passenger equipment) and an inner loop for service of the sawmill, with 18" radius curves.

    You'll note there is a big hole in the middle: this should be enough space to comfortably have access to all areas of the layout. You could include a drop-out panel for this space, or just leave it open--believe me, the best-looking place to observe your layout is from the middle, not from the sides! Let your visitors hang around the edges while you enjoy center stage!

    As in your original plan, traffic enters from the upper left (and can be a space for future expansion.) Trains come in from that corner and cross a dramatic trestle bridge over a canyon with a river running through it. It then passes through the tunnel and comes out into a pleasant valley.

    At this point, logging trains turn at the first switch, travel over a short bridge and reach the sawmill. Cars can be grabbed from either end using the loop itself or you could add a small runaround track behind the sawmill.

    Passenger trains would continue on into the town, using a runaround track to stop at the passenger station (which WERE typically located on the mainline, not a spur) to pick up and drop off passengers) and then continue on into the woods. You could also include a wye track in the upper left hand corner once you expand to allow through traffic. You could also put another passenger station in the middle of the upper portion of the layout, perhaps a small "flag stop."

    I included the other spur you mentioned on the bottom right--you could also place some other small industry there to generate more traffic, and placed a mine in the upper right corner as well. Note that you don't have to limit yourself to coal. Coal is typically found in the East in the United States, and if you prefer Western railroading the mine could be a gold or silver mine or one of any number of industrial ores.

    All in all, this is a very simple trackplan for 6x10--there is no provision for yards, engine service facilities, or interchange (other than the off-edge expansion locations, which can be used to load and unload trains via cassette) but it'd make a nice "railfanner's" layout, heavy on scenery and very good for watching trains go round and round. Feel free to utilize, criticize, or totally trash my ideas...

    Attached Files:

  3. conor

    conor New Member

    thanks very much jetrock, that plan is excellent. ill definately use the majority of it with maybe a few minor modifications myself. i knew that the bends werent perfect but its was just a rough sketch to give you all an idea what i was trying to do.
  4. Summit

    Summit Member

    I like Jetrock's plan as well. The only suggestion that I would make it to put two sidings in at the sawmill, the one pictured plus maybe one more running parallel to the mainline. This would give you two tracks for the sawmill, one for the logging train to dump logs on and another to hold boxcars and flatcars that are being loaded with finished lumber. Does this make sense?

    A couple other quick comments...disconnects mentioned by Jetrock were found only in very early logging railroads. The problem with disconnects is that they did not have any sort of braking system that ran from car to car, and their use was very quickly outlawed. There were a few operations that used disconnects into the early 1950's, but those were operated under special waivers granted by the Federal and State regulators. By the diesel era most logging railroads used either skeleton log cars or flat cars, and by the 1960's most of these were equipped with high stakes to hold the logs in place.

    Please keep us informed on your progress. If you have any other questions, please be sure to ask!

    JD Moore
    Elko, NV
  5. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Ha Conner, WOW, that's alot of info in one thread. It looks like the logging experts have got you up to speed. Good luck with your layout.
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Two sidings at the sawmill is a good idea indeed--loads in/empties out is a good way to simulate things really happening, and is most helpful when modeling any car with an open top. It may require a little GHA (Giant Hand Action) but that, in my mind, increases the play value of a layout.
  7. Summit

    Summit Member

    Jetrock- in all the layouts that I have been involved with this has been called the "Hand of God" approach...Divine Intervention also works...

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Hand of God, Giant Hand Action, the 0-5-0 Switcher...just don't call it "Rosie."
  9. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

    It took a long time before I realized what the Jackson Browne song "Rosie" was all about.

    Sometimes I'm a little slow.

  10. grlakeslogger

    grlakeslogger Member

    I'll second Summit's suggestion as to a second siding (spur) at the sawmill. If I were to add one parallel to the main, I would make it double ended so I could run around strings of log cars to switch (shunt?) the mill. Also, a sawmill is a major customer, so careful consideration should be given to the car types used both inbound and outbound.

    One other consideration not yet addressed applies to the WEIGHT of the log cars used. These will see a lot of switching. With the sort of curve radii involved here, please minimize derailments by using cars that can be brought up if necessary to the NMRA recommended weight. I model the 1940's using steam for power. My own preference for log cars is Keystone's Climax log car kit, which provides two log cars per kit. The car ends are nicely cast metal. The centerbeam is wood. No problems so far. I use Kadee archbar trucks on them and Kadee old-time couplers (slightly smaller than their standard ones). Another option is to use any 40 foot flatcar and purchase or make log bunks for them. If you enjoy building them, you might purchase the first set to use as a pattern. Just please be aware that underweight rolling stock causes no end of frustration on a logging line.

    Best of luck with your efforts!

Share This Page