what's your favorite engine?

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Fishums, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. Fishums

    Fishums New Member

    First off I am a beginner, I have scanned this site for 3 hours and I am already in awe. I was curious what people opinions of the 4 main engines of the logging era (that I am aware of)


    Also what are your favorite brands and why? I am interested in the bachmann Spectrum 2 and 3 truck shay's if anyone has an info on maximum grade and radius these engines are capable please post! Or if you know anything about the rivarossi's or a better solution.

    I am interested also in finding some fine detail skeleton cars, the out house like caboose, and a steam skidder. If you know of any other items I should put on my wish list let me know as well.

    If you have any ideas to get me started at my loggin HO dream let me know! I had an HO set when I was a kid, and well I would like to get back into this hobby again. I air brush and paint minutures in my board time currently and I beleive it is time to move on to HO :)

    Thanks for reading, Chris
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    hey, welcome to what I think is the best model railroad forum on the internet. I have no experience with the bachmann shay, but from what I hear, they are terrific. As for my favoirite logging engines, I still favor the small rod engines - or small articulateds (2-4-4-2). For the cars and caboose you seek, kadee makes both.

    one thing I can recommend for a logging layout - code 100 track does not look well for a logging line. I would go no larger than code 70 rail, and if you are willing to handlay, even better.

  3. Fishums

    Fishums New Member

    code 70

    Thank you for responding so quickly. I have started researching the kapee cars and I am very impressed! Thanks! I found last night that rivarossi makes a nice skeleton car, but I like kapee's detail a little better. They are almost exactly what I am looking for. That little "out house" style bobber caboose [​IMG] is so great! And I have already started conceiving plans on how to turn that flat bed into a steam log skidder. Not really sure what skidder I would be modeling but I think I could get a decent looking one easily enough [​IMG]

    Which the track what brands would you recommend? I would like to go the nickle silver route due to it's corrosion resistance. I have seen that atlas carries a Code 88 at my local hobby store, it looks ok. Brown rails and all, I could paint them to make them look a little more rugged, but I agree hand laying seems to be the only route to get away from the plastic "ever rail looks the same" option.

    In my research last night I have found that the rivarossi Heisler
    has two traction wheels as well as true geared wheels and is capable of doing less than a 14 degree turn. I've heard rumors the shay is a 15 minimal. If you own this engine or know a great deal about this. let me know the pro's and con's! [​IMG] It would be most helpful!

    thank you, Chris
  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Also check out keystone locomotive works for a variety of logging items. they also make a small shay, but it is unpowered. With considerable work, it can be powered with a NWSL kit. they also have a variety of detail items you may find interesting.

    as for track, don't go smaller than code 83 if you plan on using any rivarossi locos. These have large flanges that may not work on smaller rail (I hear the new ones are better). There are many brands of code 83 available these days, and they all look about the same to me, with the exception of micro engineering. Micro engineering track is much mor expensive but has better tie/spike detail. You can also cut out every other tie for little used sidings - takes some time but the effect is great. Paint does wonders for track - I would spray the whole thing an appropriate rail color, then go back and brush paint a few of the ties with various shades of brown/gray to break up the monotony.

  5. Fishums

    Fishums New Member

    I have recently discovered Sierra West scale models, They seem to have alot for HO in the department I am looking. How hard is it to peice together one of these kits? Has anyone yet had the pleasure?

  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    Logging railroads used small steam rod engines and diesels, as well as the geared steam. Specifics, especially of geared engines and loaders, really depend upon era being modeled. I strongly recommend reading and/or buying some of the books on logging by rail - fascinating reading!

    As far as HO non-brass geared locomotives go, I know of the following:

    Heisler - Rivarossi (early runs imported under the AHM name). Made in 2 and 3 truck versions. No specific prototype, but dimensions fit for a very large, modern (1930s era) Heisler. All runs had RP-25 flanges so can run on any track the rest of your rolling stock can.

    Climax - Bachmann. Model of 50 ton Class B (?). Appears from pictures (I don't have one nor have I examined one) to have modern improvements made after 1910 or so. Would be difficult to backdate because of frame and boiler style. I assume it runs well and will go down to 15 inch radius.

    Climax - MDC/Roundhouse. Very loosely patterned after Class A. Designed to use the MDC box cab diesel chassis without modification; because of this there are many compromises in looks. A great starting point for kit bashing due to low cost. Very smooth, slow runner but also very noisy. Will go around 15 inch or less curves with ease, will haul up incredible grades with load thanks to heavy chassis and gearing. Fixing some of the appearance problems usually means reducing some of the chassis weight, which will probably impact how many cars will go up 8-10% grade.

    Shay - Bachmann 80 (?) ton Class C (3 truck). Again, a model of fairly modern heavy Shay. Reports say it runs very nicely and has room (barely) for DCC and sound.

    Shay - Roundhouse/MDC. Class B and C (3 cylinder engines). Made for quite a few years in both 2 (approx 50 ton) and 3 truck (approx 70 ton) versions, both RTR and kit, HO and HOn3. Somewhat smaller than Bachmann, but considered too large by many for HOn3. Can be backdated to pre-1910 by using On-Trak (sp?) boiler and other parts. Generally, not a good runner unless tuned by knowledgeable modeler. Johnston wrote a book about building/tuning this model, which is a must read to me for tuning any Shay. Most good running MDC Shays have an NWSL regear kit installed, and sometimes re-motored, depending on what motor came with original. Manufacturer states 18 inch minimum radius, but most that are tuned can do 15 inch.

    Shay - Keystone Locomotive Works. 20 ton Class A unpowered metal kit in HO, HOn3 and HOn30 versions. NWSL makes powering kit for all versions, advertised as "not for faint of heart". Tuned, completed models are incredible haulers and lookers. I have heard of radii down to 12 inches, but depends on tuning and assembly.

    Willamettes were a modern Shay built by a different company when the original patnents ran out - as was the Pacific Coast Shay.

    HO track - As Kevin said, smaller rail with increased tie spacing is appropriate. Code 55 represents 75 lb rail in HO, which is about right for most logging railroads. Hand laid can come closest to prototype appearance. Micro Engineering makes HO flex track as small as Code 55 with excellent detail. However, their track does not "flex" as easily as Atlas, and it is much harder to straighten after curving. I don't know of any commercial non-kit turnouts in smaller than Code 70 (which represents 110 lb rail in HO) for standard gauge HO.

    Hope this helps
  7. cascademan

    cascademan New Member


    nice to see another logger. I have a Bachmann 3-truck shay and it is a terrific model. Runs very smooth and can hual a lot of logs. As for the grade I asked the same question a while ago. Someone told me that they can go as much as 10%!! My logging layout (just started it) has a 8% grade. Keystone also makes a wonderful backwoods shay.

    For the rolling stock I found a website that sells some pretty good log car kits. Try sierrascalemodels.com/kits.htm. Keystone also makes many logging equipment (caboose, barnhart log loader, skeleton cars etc.) Kadee is a good brand too.

  8. cascademan

    cascademan New Member

    Sierra West Scale Models has some of the best kits out there. Personally there my favorite. I am going to buy one of there sawmills pretty soon. There kits might be a little complicated. Someone also told me to start with other kits and then work your way up till you feel cofident enough to build one. Best of luck!!

  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Plymouths and EMDs. Why? Hell, I dunno. I guess Plymouths are just plain cool, and I've played with real ones, and EMD's make great loggin' diesels. Athern SW's are good runners and cheap. Earnst gears make's 'em really rock. GP7/9's are another good choice!

    Roll yer own! Most of the loggin' companies did.

    .. and even electrics!


    Lokey in the back is freelanced and Narrow gauged; yet another viable option for your pike.
  10. Fishums

    Fishums New Member

    Can anyone recommend some good books that have info on the 1900's logging era in the upper california area? (I would like to run skeleton cars with the giant trees on them, pulled by those crazy prototype geared steamers) The bachmann climax is still looking mighty fine to me! I think this would be a good start to my loggin opperation

    2x 50-Ton Two Truck Class B Climax (for the light work deep woods)
    2x 80 Ton, Three-Truck Shay wood cab (for the heavy work deep woods)
    1x 0-6-0 Saddle Tank Switcher (moving the cars about the yard)
    1x Baldwin 2-8-0 Consolidation (fresh saw mill rough cut, to off my table)

    Anyone know if the bachmanns still use plastic gears or are they brass now?

    these are just some dates I found next to the pictures of the loco's mostly on this site steaminthewoods.com

    Thanks for reading! Chris
  11. Summit

    Summit Member

    I have to step in here for a moment...

    1. The Willamette steam locomotive was indeed made by someone other than Lima...specifically, the Willamette Iron & Steel Works in Portland, OR. Willamette had been making replacement parts for Shays and doing other major work for many years, and as a result they were both very familiar with the Shay's weaknesses and their customers wants. When the original Shay patents expired they started building a copycat model that incorporated the various modernizations and advancements made in steam locomotive technology that Lima had not applied to the Shay yet. The appearance of the Willamette locomotives caused Lima to re-engineer the Shay, resulting in the Pacific Coast Shay- this was a Lima product, not someone else's as pgandw implies. The Pacific Coast Shay and Heisler's answer, the West Coast Special, limited Willamette's total lcomotive production to around two dozen locomotives, all three truck models except for two 2-truck machines. However, the "big three" in the geared locomotive market needed the threat of competition that Willamette provided to finally get around to upgrading and modernizing their products.

    2. The Rivarossi Heisler is proportionally larger than any Heislers built in the real world. The Rivarossi model is a giant stride forward as compared to the original AHM model, but it still has the "way too large" look to it. That being said I got one of the Rivarossi models when they first came out and have been pleased the few times I have had it out to run.

    3. The Bachmann Shay is about the best steam locomotive model available, in my opinion. Bachmann did a beautiful job with them. I have one of my own and strongly recomment it to anyone. Bachmann never did make a two truck Shay, and with MDC's Shay still widely available they have gone on record that they are not likely to bring one out.

    4. If you can wait Bachmann is supposed to be following the two truck Climax with a three-truck model at some point in the next year or two.

    5. Books on upper California. I assume you are looking somewhere in the Redwood belt? There are a couple good ones- perhaps the most comprehensive is Steam in the Redwoods by Linn Carranco and Henry Sorenson. This book covers all operations large and small in Humboldt County with a great amount of detail and is very well worth it. Carranco also had a hand in a book titled Logging the Redwoods that covers the redwood lumbering industry up and down the North Coast region in more general detail...its railroad coverage is not as great as Steam in the Redwoods but it also spreads out coverage to include Mendocino and Del Norte county railroad operations. The two "classic" logging railroad books that you should definately get your hands on are Logging Railroads of the West by Adams and Steam in the Woods by John Labbe & Vernon Goe. Both books are full of pictures of all the various types of steam locomotives used in the western Woods plus a lot of detail shots of the specialized equipment used in the industry. And then there are a good many books about individual companies that are worth it if you have an interest in that company or in that area of operations.

    6. JOIN THE 4L LIST. Go to www.yahoo.com, register yourself as a member (if you have not already done so), and then go into the "groups" section and search for and join the 4L group. 4L stands for Loyal Legion of Logged-on Loggers, and it is hands down the most informative e-mail discussion group I know of. It has members from all corners of the US (including Alaska and Hawaii) plus quite a few other places around the globe, including a couple Australians and New Zealanders. If you ask a question, any question, about logging someone, or more often more than one person, will not only have a thorough answer but many of them will also have first hand knowledge...there are quite a few people on that list who have worked long careers in the lumber industry all over the world.

    7. There are two quarterly magazines that you should look into as well, Tall Timber Short Lines and Timber Times. Oso Publishing (http://www.osorail.com) publishes Tall TImber Short Lines, and Timber Times Press (http://www.timbertimes.com) publishes Timber Times. Both publishers also produce high quality logging books...if it is about loggers and in print right now you can get it through them.

    8. Your locomotive roster looks good and is fairly prototypical. It was not uncommon for lumber companies located away from mainlines to have their own common carrier railroads to transport their finished products to the nearest railhead. There are many examples of such companies scattered around the west.

    9. All this being said, I am mostly a diesel guy. I love watching steam locomotives, and especially geared steam, but a brightly painted Baldwin or EMD switcher trailing logs through the woods appeals to me in a strong way.

    10. Lets all write letters to the manufacturers of plastic steam requesting a 80- or 90-ton Baldwin logging mikado, shall we? In my opinion one of the largest holes in the model steam market, considering how prominant they were in the logging, mining, and shortline worlds but they have only been produced a handfull of times in HO brass and never in plastic...

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  12. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Want to do logging right?? Go narrow gauge!!!
    On30 runs on HO track and Bachmann makes some great steamers and alot of kits are available for a variety of excellent short home made looking equipment just like the logging companies used.

    A Bachmann 0-4-2 Porter runs about 45 bucks and can be detailed with logging winches, wood cabs etc.
    Heres just an example of a Porter with a Backwoods miniature gypsy logging winch mounted in front . I believe this was a grandt Line porter.cant remember for sure:)
    Bachmann has Shay T boiler 12 tonners, 0-4-2 and 0-4-0 porters, a climax , a 2-8-0 C-16, a heisler in development and an 0-4-4-2-T in pre production.

    Also they have a new railtruck released recently based on a Denver & Rio Grande Rig.
    Possibilities are endless in On30 and its affordable.

    Do a goggle search on On30 and look at some of the logging railroads built in this scale.
    Check out Paul Templars Badger Creek and Coon Creek & Tumbleweed just for starters.

    Once you get an itch for logging railroads and you see a built narrow gauge RR, you may never look at standard gauge the same again...... LOL :D

    Attached Files:

  13. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Strongly agree with Summit's recommended reading. If 4L and the mentioned mags arn't 'nuff to wet yer whistle, get NGSL gazette. Not 100% logging, but most of it you can apply.
  14. Fishums

    Fishums New Member

    wow On30 runs on Ho track? I have only been frimiliar with HO, what is the scale comparisons to On30? Which one is more accurately correct scaling? I always beleived On30 to be some what cartoony and dispropotionate, but I looked at some of the models you suggested. (and found myself mistaken) They look very nice and pretty close to the pictures of the climaxs and shays I am finding. What kind of turns and grades can an On30 climax/shay do btw? And what track would you recommend (simular to your picture tile guy) with the wide space boards? Do they have DCC track switches as well?

    Thanks for those book titles Jeff! I am off to barnes and nobbles after work :)

    Then to the hobby shopp to check out On30.... I needed an excuse to go again :)

    This forum is great, thanks for all the help so far everyone!


    PS: confuse I am what is on3 compaired to on30? or are they the same thing. I was looking to buildings that say they are on3/on30? puzzeled again! :confused: also HoN3?
  15. jcoop1

    jcoop1 Member


    I cannot answer your questions. I can only say that I have just started with On30 and love it.

    I think you will too
  16. Summit

    Summit Member


    You will not find the books I mentioned at Ma Barnes & Pop Nobles. Just about all of them have been out of print for quite some time...you might have to resort to http://www.abebooks.com or some other rare, out of print, or used book websites to get the books I mentioned.

    On30 is your normal O scale that runs on HO track. HO scale track happens to be about 30" between the rails if you look at as O scale, hence the On30 designation (O scale, Narrow guage, 30-inches between the rails). For comparrison On3 is O scale, Narrow guage, 3 feet between the rails.

    I have heard that On30 is way out of normal proportions, but that could be just some talk I picked up and didn't completely understand. Bachperson and some others have made quite a good living recently making On30 products. Their Shay and Heisler are very good looking engines, they also have a Plymouth gas mechanical switcher, a bunch of rolling stock, somebody is coming out with the D&RGW narrow guage mikados, and the scale is exploding in popularity. Accessories, people, and everything else would be O scale.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  17. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    On30 is "O" scale 1:48 with 30" between the rails (i.e. gauge).

    On30; "O" is the scale, "n" is narrow gauge, and 30 is the gauge of the track.

    Likewise, HOn30 is HO scale 1:87 with 30" between the rails.

    n30 can also be called n2 1/2 for 2 1/2 ft. Most gauges are listed in feet in the MRRing world. There are also scales/gauges like:


    They are all equally accurate. One gauge will be more correct for a particular pike, and HOn30 used to be considered unprototypical by many. That's gone by the wayside, as On30 has become popular, so it's OK by many to have a 30" pike :D

    If you are into HO, consider HOn30 to suppliment your HO pike. Both gauges can live in harmony.

    Confused? Hit nmra.org and visit the beginners pages. They 'splain scale and gauges better than an old redneck from Cobblers Knob.
  18. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    BTW: Jeff, don't listen to the 30" naysayers. There were plenty of real 30" pikes all over the US and close to the same in Europe. Same for Asia. NGSL has a monthly column that covers nothing but prototypical 30" pikes.

    If you scratchbuild your loco's, or bash them from N scale mechy's like we do in HOn30, you can play an optical illusion by making the lokey a little wider. The track then looks like 2 ft gauge :D

    Sorry I don't have a better example handy, but the line to the right is 30" HO (N scale track).

  19. Summit

    Summit Member

    Thanks for the updates/corrections. I have admired On30 models from a safe distance for quite some time now and have heard a little bit from both those for and against the scale.

    I do have to say that I like what I see, especially the geared steam models from Bachmann. And that little Plymouth switcher they came out with...I wish someone made something like that in HO. That Plymouth (or was it a Davenport?) is the first On30 model that I've had a strong urge to buy.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
  20. stump7

    stump7 Member

    Nobody has answered your question so I will attempt to do so.
    On30: O= the scale you working in O scale is 1:48 to 1 Ho is 1:87 to 1 or about half of O
    n= narrow gauge, the distance between the rails so n30 is 30" between the rails n3 is 3 feet or 36" between the rails. Hope this helps.

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