Author Topic: Small logging operation structures?  (Read 1261 times)

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SkipGear

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Small logging operation structures?
« on: May 11, 2016, 11:07:08 AM »
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Trying to put something together for a friend. He wants a justification for an Atlas shay on his layout and likes the logging cars to go with it. The Walthers Mountain lumber company is quite a bit too large for the space. The JV models logging camp look interesting but we could scratch build those buildings for a fraction of the price and it seems like that is what you are doing with a JV models kit anyhow. Trying to find something to repurpose for a small log camp on one end and a sawmill on the other end of the line. Any suggestions?
Tony Hines

randgust

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2016, 02:21:00 PM »
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First of all, there's a big difference between 'east' and 'west' on logging camps.    The eastern stuff was a lot smaller, was heavily dependent on horse skidding (so you always had a surprisingly large horse barn at a camp), and rarely if ever saw a coat of paint.    Some of the western ones were far more organized, larger portable structures (like Camp 6 at Tacoma had).   The western ones had to support spar trees and donkey skidders, often had a blacksmith and a remote enginehouse.  Some eastern ones could get big - such as the group of camp cars preserved at Whittaker on Cass Scenic.

The JV models looks just like eastern camp cars to me.    If you know the size of a typical eastern log car (25-27') you'll know the rough dimensions of a portable camp structure - 25x10, and the Barnhart loader could pick one of those up and dump it on a log car to move it.  Here in the east we just found one of those buildings still as a surviving camp and got those dimensions.

This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE camp 11 shot from Wheeler & Dusenbury, and this is 'more or less' what I'm going to be modeling on my own module, complete with the pig:
http://www.randgust.com/WDcamp11.jpg

That's pure eastern.   And like I said, one of those structures is still extant, I was sent photos.   

I scratchbuilt my W&D mill from photos, but the best mill kit I've seen that is actually accurate for eastern practice is on the RLW site:
https://www.republiclocomotiveworks.com/show_item.php?Item=RLW 28300     (you'll have to paste this link to get it to work right)


I hadn't been out there in a while.... he's got a new kit he's working on for a rather small mill, and the design looks very good:
https://www.republiclocomotiveworks.com/show_item.php?Item=RLW 1650
 
If ever there was a time to try scratchbuilding something up, sawmills and camp structures are it.   The kits are really expensive, but if you don't follow something, it looks just so....WRONG.    I'm not sure there's much you can repurpose because a) the camp buildings had to fit on a car   b) the permanent buildings always started from the machinery layout and worked out.    If you know the incoming log length, you start designing out from that, because the carriage and the saw HAS to get by an entire log!  You can't deliver a 40' log to a tiny mill that has a 10' throw on the carriage.   And the one thing that way too many modelers completely blow is that 80% of the mills large enough to justify a logging railroad had the cutting deck on the second floor - all the machinery was underneath, the carriage, live rolls, etc. up on the second floor, and that also gave you elevation for the drying and sorting runways out the back.   The log pond for sorting and cleaning is another signature item, and only the very smallest mills didn't have that.   Boilerhouse is usually a separate structure, kilns (if any) a separate structure, etc.

The plastic and European kits ignore this and have single-story 'mills' that are based on I-don't-know-what.  They call them sawmills but in my book they aren't.   Even modern mills have that two-story approach if they are truck-supplied.   

The "Logging Railroads of Pennsylvania" soft-cover series has one book with some sawmill drawings in it, the layouts were actually surprisingly standard for a two-deck mill with a saw sharpening cupola on top.  The 'little mills' that had rail service are also covered well in the Casler books with some pretty good shots.

The gable or cupola you'll see on top is another mill signature - that's where the saw sharpener worked.   There was a hoist up there to lift the bandsaw to that story where it could be stretched out and sharpened, with a file, one tooth at a time.   Every band saw mill had that feature, and it is right above the headrig.   If it doesn't have it, it was a circular saw mill (small).

My Dad was a lumberman, and I had the run of his mill as a kid and did stuff that no kid should EVER be allowed near today.  I still get a little weepy when I smell fresh-cut red oak logs.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 02:44:26 PM by randgust »

JMaurer1

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2016, 04:15:48 PM »
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If the Walthers sawmill is too big, then you are going to be in trouble. The Walthers kit is just about as small as you can get and still call it a sawmill. Sawmills are HUGE and since they were usually built out in a forest where space wasn't a limiting factor they sprawled all over the place. A logging camp is just a bunch of small cabins and usually either a steam donkey or spar tree for loading the trees onto the cars. The camps were always moving so they never stayed anywhere for long (once the trees were gone, so was the camp).

Maybe the best thing to do is model the camp and have the mill off of the layout...?
Sacramento Valley NTrak

randgust

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2016, 09:02:13 PM »
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My mill is 'somewhat' compressed in length from the actual W&D mill, but I did make a set of drawings from photos and scratchbuilt from that.    It's a 'big' mill, but it's not huge.   The entire layout is 18x36.

http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/image/137618536
http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/image/137618530

Here's the prototype:  http://www.randgust.com/w&dupmil.jpg     That's Endeavor, PA about 1918.

The Slatyfork sawmill kit is really big, mostly because it is a double-band (really two mills under the same roof).    The real split is between the little guys with circular-saw mills on a ground deck vs. a real production bandsaw mill.   In the east, the little guys pretty much died out by WWI.  W&D made it until 1934.   That brick boilerhouse lasted well into the 1980's and powered my fathers mills.   There is still an active mill on the site today.  It's one of the longest-lasting sawmill company towns in the entire United States, dating back to 1837 when the first water-powered saw was erected on the site.

But you can see the general commonality in the building design here; cutting deck second floor, cupola on top for bandsaw sharpening basically in the center.   W&D was unique in that they had the ability to make a temporary trestle out over the log pond and open up the end of the building so they could at least square-up 120' white pine logs for ship masting, and did that well into the 1920's.  So that deck I modeled was a lot longer, they basically could push the squared-up log right out the end of the mill, on to a deck, and on to a three-flatcar set for export.

I have to challenge the comment that sawmills were built out in the forest.  If they were, it wasn't the forest for long as a mill took employees, employees needed houses, support businesses, social halls and churches, a railroad connection, and often other businesses to use the leftovers like tanneries, box mills, shingle mills, and in the east, chemical plants for acetone and charcoal.   Logging camps were a different matter, it's like treasure hunting finding them today as they came and went pretty much without a trace.

Here's another local one at Nebraska, PA (now underneath the Tionesta creek reservoir).  This is a single-level circular saw mill, notice the layout, also notice the town grown up around it.  This is REALLY remote then and still is today, but was also the 'terminal' for the Sheffield & Tionesta railroad.
http://genealogytrails.com/penn/forest/towns/nebraska/history21.html


« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 09:30:22 PM by randgust »

jmarley76

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2016, 12:07:12 AM »
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I have been pondering on this topic as well!

There's two very small sawmills in my area. One is in Ela, NC, and is now defunct, but the log yard is in use. It sits adjacent to the Murphy Branch and seems to have the most potential to be modeled as a small rail served mill. The other is in Webster, NC, and very small operation, more for custom beams and planks for home builders. Ela was upgraded to a metal sided structure in the 80's, while the Webster mill is all wood. Here's Google maps links for both:

Ela, NC Sawmill: https://goo.gl/maps/bwwR352cXP32
Webster, NC Sawmill: https://goo.gl/maps/k7RMojBYFpJ2

There was also a mill located in what is now the Smokemont Camping area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I was a reasonable size, but could be edited dow to a small size.

http://wcudigitalcollection.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16232coll3/id/112



SkipGear

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2016, 12:37:57 AM »
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Randy,
 Thanks for the info and the ideas. What we will be doing for him is going to be compressed for sure. Logging is not his main interest, he just wants a representation of a camp and mill on the layout. One I have always loved and is sort of what I had in mind is the Possum Valley layout.   

http://jean-louis.simonet.perso.neuf.fr/Poss_us.htm

By your description it may be a bit more western themed than would be appropriate but I still think the layout includes everything in one small space that makes you think logging.

Now that I realize the size of the structures, the N Scale Architect kit doesn't seem so out of scale and it has a slightly smaller foot print than the Walthers kit. It seems a little more era correct and includes multiple stories as you suggested a proper mill should be.

http://thenarch.com/products/long-valley-lumber-n

Again a western theme but a nice looking structure.
Tony Hines

mandealco

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2016, 06:03:23 AM »
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Great info Randy, I wasn't aware of the geographical differences in the north American operations.  Modern logging has none of the character of the old days, no camps, no rails, no disconnects, no............  There isn't much 'old school' logging left.

I worked for Rayonier NZ for 8 years, doing environmental work at their MDF plant. I located a locomotive for in plant switching for them, but in the end they didn't buy it.  I painted an S-12 for Rayonier and now I'm awaiting decals.  Still waiting for the Baldwin AS-616 to be made in N-scale.

Logging is cool, especially if you have an eye for detail.
Cheers
Steve
NZ

randgust

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 08:38:38 AM »
+1
I built my little loop-to-loop 18x36 module back in 1976, and that was when I had no idea if it was even possible to do a geared steam locomotive in N.  Primary power was a heavily-reworked Rapido 0-6-0 to a 2-6-0, and that's still running today.   So that meant my first focus was on the common-carrier railroad work around the mill, and about half the log pond.   It runs loop to loop, is stand-alone, and is very popular at train shows.   Scratchbuilding all the Endeavor, PA historic structures was also the goal.   Bigfoot the Heisler was a later successful experiment.

'many' years later I've accumulated a Heisler, three Shays, a Climax B, three rod engines, a rod tank engine, and three Climax A's.   Oh, and two Barnharts.   And more cast metal log cars than I have track.  So a logging module was next up; that does a log camp to the 'other' half of the log pond on a 21x42 module, with a 4% switchback.    That works as a stand-alone because it's purely the log end of the business, the destination is the pond.   And I had to figure out how to 'close the loop' off the lower level of the original HVRR module, and as a bonus, add as much hidden storage track for all that equipment that I could do.   So I've basically got the whole deal in 21x 78" from camp to common-carrier.   Now I'm adding the common-carrier interchange with the PRR as a T-Trak module, and probably the river bridge as well.

In the east, no donkeys and spar trees, its all horse-skidding to landings and pickup with a top-car loader:    http://www.randgust.com/WDlanding1918.jpg

That Long Valley Lumber is typical enough; the only thing its lacking is the runways and drying stacks.   It could take a year to air-dry lumber, so the size of the yard was usually way, way more than what you can ever see modeled.  But direct loading green lumber out of the back of the mill into a railcar was not really an option, so you know.  The pine ship masting out of W&D was the only operation I ever saw load green right out of the back of the mill onto flatcars.    The oddball stacks layout on the Slatyfork mill kit may be true but looked very, very odd to me.   The way it worked in the east was usually 2-4 long runways, gently sloping down from cutting deck to ground level, with stacks on either side, and a railroad loading track in the middle.   The lumber was distributed with handcars (gravity assist), unstacked, dried, then reloaded into boxcars when it was finally dried and purchased.  http://www.randgust.com/birdseye.jpg    Office building on the RH edge is still there today.

Dry kilns came about early, but usually on the very best lumber sold for premium price was done that way, so it was more practical to hand-charge stack and unload the kilns.   Everybody had drying stacks though.

Slatyfork  kit has a turntable off the mill, my fathers mill had a full horizontal transfer table right off the back of the green line to transfer to the runways.    I always thought that little transfer table was cool.  Most mills had some kind of tangle of pushcart track out the back to be able to get to all the runways.   The only difference in my Dad's mill was that the railroad track was gone and the fork trucks drove up and loaded between the drying stacks.   This is my fathers mill in the 1950's on the same spot as the W&D mill: http://www.randgust.com/endeavor.jpg

Yes, same boilerhouse as in the W&D era.   Railroad long gone but the shop is now the truck shop (upper left).   Kilns beside the road above the mill to the right, planing mill above the mill to the left.   Transfer table behind mill, one 'track' goes down the center of the shed for stacking, forklifts now move it to the drying stacks all around the site.

Fast forward to today, same spot, current mill, from the opposite direction:  http://www.itlcorp.com/images/locations/endeavor.jpg

The 'common spotting item' is the red-roofed building, that's the original 1887 locomotive shop, and it's just now being demolished on site.   1887 Office building is hidden in the trees but it's the original one as well.

And in case you're wondering, the current mill typically loads to 40' containers, that are driven to Cleveland, OH and domestic-railed to the west coast, or driven to Baltimore for export to points east.   It's primarily a hardwood mill (oak, cherry) for furniture, so very few stacks and a heavy reliance on kiln-drying to customer specs. 

The oddest thing around here is the resurgence of Amish logging and those non-motorized techniques.  They horse-skid, have small portable sawmills about the size of an 1840's mill, do mostly air-drying instead of kilns, rough-cut to full dimension, and make finished products like storage sheds, camps, etc. (anything that will fit on a truck bed) for retail sale.  It's a complete throwback to the early logging era.  No old-school logging you say?  http://backroadstraveller.blogspot.com/2014/03/belfast-friendship-amish-community.html     I bought an amish shed myself!

For you west-coast guys, this is a time capsule with some great photos, and a still-active rail connection:  http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2011/02/25/hull-oakes-sawmill/
« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 09:28:17 AM by randgust »

wazzou

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 12:28:52 PM »
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For you west-coast guys, this is a time capsule with some great photos, and a still-active rail connection:  http://www.thisiscarpentry.com/2011/02/25/hull-oakes-sawmill/


Rail is intact but no longer active.  Has not been for possibly a decade or longer.
Bryan

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randgust

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2016, 02:23:17 PM »
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Wow, Bryan, that's kinda sad.   Figured a 2011 shot with cars and shiny rail had at least some potential.   Is the mill itself still running?

I made it out to Scotia, CA to the Pacific Lumber mill (original one with the big log pond) before it closed - it looked so much like the original W&D mill (other than just sheer size) it made me a bit weepy.   To me it's not a real mill unless there's visible steam, you know?

wazzou

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2016, 02:38:53 PM »
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The mill is running still.  They are a regular supplier to my company.  The rail is intact only to the edge of the mill property, it appears now.

https://www.google.com/maps/@44.3591149,-123.4084326,487m/data=!3m1!1e3

In fact, I got an e-mail today from a business vendor looking to sell me relay ties and 75, 110 and a small amount of 113# rail which I think may have been from the Eastern end of this branch, near Monroe.
Bryan

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mandealco

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Re: Small logging operation structures?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2016, 03:59:47 PM »
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Thanks for the links Randy, its pleasing to discover I was wrong about the old school logging/milling.  It's also good to see a 1950's operation evolve into something that is still with us today.
Cheers
Steve
NZ