Author Topic: Sawmill railcar loading facilities  (Read 484 times)

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Angus Shops

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Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« on: March 23, 2022, 01:06:43 AM »
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I’m working on a sawmill scene on my layout - specifically the railcar loading loading facilities that a typical mid to late 50’s mid sized western Canadian mill might have used. I’ve done the usual internet searches but I have not been able to find much information or many images. What I think I know so far is that dimensional lumber was stick loaded into boxcars and larger timbers loaded onto flatcars from docks alongside the the loading track(s). The loading facilities might have been enclosed, or at least covered,  for weather protection. There may have been a system of ‘narrow gauge’ rails on the dock to deliver the lumber to trackside, or early straddle carriers, forklifts, wagons, or other systems may have been used. I assume there must have been some sort of overhead gantry crane for moving and loading the really big timbers.
It would be helpful to see a few good photos of these facilities - assistance would really be appreciated.

CNR5529

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Re: Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2022, 02:08:11 PM »
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Do you have a specific mill or operation in mind that might guide us in helping with research?

Failing that, there are lots of historic videos on youtube documenting logging and lumber mill operations in various locations and eras. So far I have mostly found videos showing eastern provinces as well as Vancouver Island and costal BC. That said, there are a few things that seem fairly consistent, notably that the facilities are fairly spartan in that time frame. It seems that in most cases they would strategically stack lumber out in the elements in such a way that the wood would shed water and dry quickly. Loading was with whatever was on hand: crude cranes or gantries, some form of tractor on stilts or other lift device, and often just hand loading of cars spotted right next to the appropriate stack of lumber. Some larger operations had rail borne trolleys to move bundles of lumber around.

Here are a few interesting vids that might provide some inspiration. Again, note how they stack the lumber with lots of room for airflow and a bit of a slope to the stacks:




Here are a few photos from a tie mill in Sorel, QC. You can see that the lumber, even before treatment, is just stacked outside. The piles of lumber and ties dwarf the boxcars and gons that would bring raw lumber in and treated lumber out.

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/_images/common/photos/original/CN007148.jpg

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/_images/common/photos/original/CN007155.jpg

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/_images/common/photos/original/CN007149.jpg

http://imagescn.techno-science.ca/_images/common/photos/original/CN007156.jpg

Check out the drop bottom gons being spotted to pick up ties...
http://images.techno-science.ca/images_site/RailCollection/Originals/MAT006406.jpg
« Last Edit: March 23, 2022, 07:13:10 PM by CNR5529 »
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Angus Shops

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Re: Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2022, 09:06:26 PM »
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Thank you sincerely for your contributions, but they do sort of illustrate the problem - not much detail available to show how the lumber is loaded into railcars. The first shows lumber being loaded into boxcars directly from the drying stacks, which I didn’t expect. The McFadden film (in colour) is fascinating (wow, those were the days when men were men - love the flannel shirts and suspenders), but doesn’t show the railcar loading process, and the last film (BC coastal) is typical of coast mills: the product I’d loaded onto ships for export.

Seeing how the loading of railcars is really the ‘big deal’ on our layouts, the lack of detail on how this is done in the lumber industry is a problem. Contrast this with, say, the coal industry…

My mill is in the town of Golden, BC. I’m not looking for a historically accurate model of an actual mill in Golden, but something generically prototypical.

CNR5529

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Re: Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2022, 10:16:53 PM »
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Just came across this photo, caption said "What seems to be a disused sawmill is seen near Rogers, BC.". Apparently the photographer was riding number 7 westbound in the early 50s. Still doesnt show much of how things were loaded... but getting closer to the area you are modeling!



And then there is this from a mill in South Westminster:

« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 07:59:22 AM by CNR5529 »
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CNR5529

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Re: Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2022, 03:23:40 PM »
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Sawmill at Donald BC, I'm guessing they used some sort of forklift at this point. Pacman Canadian thrown in for good measure.  ;)

http://www.railpictures.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Donald-BC-1973-04-21-0905PDT--1280x988.jpg
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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Sawmill railcar loading facilities
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2022, 03:37:02 PM »
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Man, industry photos are the hardest to get!

I've been working on a book about Conrail's customers and it is SLOW going:
https://www.thecrhs.org/conrail-at-work