Track for HO scale logging rail road?

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Jint Nijman, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. Jint Nijman

    Jint Nijman New Member

    I'm new to model logging rail roading and thinking of creating a small HO layout for my two MDC Shays (that I have to build first) and my Bachmann Climax (very nice).

    I'm wondering on what track to use. I assume that real logging lines where running on very light track (something like Code 55 in HO) with a very unregular and crude line up of ties. That is, quite different from the standard track used on normal railroads.

    Is there a supplier for model logging track in HO scale? Or do you build your track yourself? And what about the turnouts?

    Any input is welcome!


    Jint Nijman
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Running HO on Code 55 track would probably require changing the wheelsets, or at least turning down the flanges to avoid having problems with the flanges bashing into the ties. Code 70 would look suitable, although even Code 83 would look all right: Atlas Code 83 uses fairly thin ties. If you had the railroad hook up to a mainline using Atlas Code 100 the difference would be noticeable.

    One common trick used by HOn30 modelers is cutting out every other tie on N scale track: since logging railroads typically skimped on things like ties and ballast, it would be suitably realistic to cut out every other tie from flextrack (code 70 or 83) to simulate logging-railroad track, bashing at the edges of the ties a bit to simulate the rough nature of logging track.
  3. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Yup yup. I'd have to agree. Code 55 isn't even universal on N Scale yet.

    And this is my plan - taking out a bunch of extra ties. Also, I may see if I can cut off the 'guide plates' on one side of a few and angle the tie a little bit. The unsquared look is also very common.
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    On the contrary to what has been posted, almost any HO rolling stock made in the '70s or later (other than train sets and some IHC and Rivarossi) has RP25 wheels with .025" flanges. These will run just fine on code 55 and even code 40 rail if near scale size spikes are used.

    MicroEngineering makes flex track in HO in code 55 and perhaps (I'm not sure) code 40. I have heard (yesterday) that the dies for the code 55 track wore out, and that it is in short supply right now.

    If you hand-lay your track by spiking rail to the ties, you must use the smallest MicroEngineering spikes or spikes from Proto87 Stores to avoid the flange interference. Or you can glue the rail to the ties. Soldering the rail using PC board ties also works.

    The logging railroads varied widely in their trackwork standards. Some even used logs for the rails and double-flanged wheels! Other more modern logging railroads followed standard railroad practices. The MDC Shays are models of good-sized, fairly modern (1920s) Shays. They can be easily back-dated using Cary and On Trak components, but the 2 truck model still has dimensions of about a 40-50 ton Shay. The Bachmann model is even bigger at 80 tons.

    Unless you are back-dating your Shays, I would recommend code 55 rail and sawn ties with some (but not a lot) ballast on the track - basically light branch line standard construction - as representative of 1930s logging practice. Tie spacing would be wider than normal - probably 24" and ties plates would be quite small or not used at all. At least in the West, wood trestles would be used nearly everywhere for drainage instead of culverts or steel bridges.

    my thoughts, your choices
  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I use code 70, Micro Engineering track with my Bachmann Shay's and the visual effect is good. There is no operational problem. Since the MDC Shays are an older design, I'm not sure of the flange size.
    Here are some sources for logging photo's and information. Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette; Fine Scale Modeler (Logging Mining and Industral Annual); Timber Times (quarterly); Tall Timber Short Lines (quarterly); Logging Railroads of the West (book); Railroads in the Woods (book). There are lots of other publications for logging modelers.
  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    All versions of the MDC Shay flanges are fine. Even the original AHM (Rivarossi) Heisler had RP25 flanges. I can't think of any HO geared locos that won't work on any code 70 track, and the ME code 55 or code 40 track.

    Some of the IHC or AHM logging buggies may need to have wheel sets replaced, though.

    Micro Engineering and Shinohara make turnouts in code 70. In code 55, you would have to build turnout kits (BK or Trout Creek) or order from some of the smaller part time suppliers (Railway Engineering, etc), or build your own (my favorite).

    my thoughts, your choices
  7. Jint Nijman

    Jint Nijman New Member


    Thank you for all the replies. After buying a Rivarossi Heissler for just $80,- (from Trainworld, NY) last weekend, I now own a Heissler, Climax (Bachmann Spectrum) and two MDC Shays (that need to be build), so it's time for a small layout someday.


    Jint Nijman
  8. ozzie

    ozzie New Member

    Hi Jint,
    just an ill informed comment,
    I have a free lance logging railroad using MDC Shays and a few dummy climax kits mounted on Bachmann 44 tonner chassis.
    I use standard Peco code 100 track well weathered and with dirt ballast.
    if its done reasonably well you cant notice the track height and you can use KD delayed uncoupling magnets without having issues with the magnet height.
    Mock up a few feet of track and try it.
    Where I live code 100 is readily available, others are not.
  9. alastairq

    alastairq Member

    hi....given the huge number of locos....why not build a small 'module...maybe a foot wide, coupla feet long or so......of a loco maintenance area?
    A shed or two, fuel, water, the odd repairs, maybe some sort of flimsy hoist......and try doing your own trackage?

    keep it simple, a couple of points--sorry, turnouts....try code 55 first, get a feel for it?

    Actually the difference between 55 , 70 or 85 is hardly distinguishable to the naked(?) eye from usual viewing distances......however, the difference in 'flimsiness' really comes to the fore with close-up photography.

    But I do NOT recommend you imitate the 'rough' nature of logging H0 scale, locos and stock prefer fairly well laid track....remember, the less prodding and replacing you have to do when operating, the more enjoyable it is?

    The whole idea above is to experiment without great loss, yet perhaps arriving at nice little vignette to further whet the appetite?
  10. alastairq

    alastairq Member

    [QUOTEThe MDC Shays are models of good-sized, fairly modern (1920s) Shays. They can be easily back-dated using Cary and On Trak components, but the 2 truck model still has dimensions of about a 40-50 ton Shay. The Bachmann model is even bigger at 80 tons.
    ][/QUOTE] from PG&W....

    this info might suggest a change of tune in my previous post.....I don't know enough of US logging to guess what poundage rail was regularly used...and am also prone to working in 4mm scale, which livens things up a bit..but........with the above engine weights, would code 40 or 55 rail scale out to be a bit lightweight for those engines?

    Wouldn't code 70 (75?), or code 80 (82?) be more appropriate?

    As a guess, the sort of locos I'd be using on 55 would be small Porters, critters and the like?
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Code 70 or 83 would be steam-era mainline rail sizes.

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