Large Scale Central

Logging lines?

I understand than the geared locos like the Shay were primarily used on logging lines and a lot of temporary track situations. And from what I’ve read, they were pretty good at it. Was the issue just grade and track conditions or was it also tight curves? The reason I’m asking is when modeling a logging line, what grades and curves would translate? For example, would 2’ and 4’ diameter look right? Over 5% grades?

All of the above really. All of the geared locos have a similar design “idea” if you will. Each truck is independently driven with drive shafts and gear reduction. The tractive effort of these locos because of the gearing is immense. They can pull steep grades or heavy loads. They can literally climb the sides of mountains. But at the same time being fully articulated with independent operating trucks means that they can negotiate very tight curves. And to your final point also because of the independent trucks track work could be less than perfect as the whole locomotive is able to flex and bend to conform to track work as opposed to rigid framed locomotives with the drivers pretty much fixed in position except for the minimal up and down movement. So for all of the reasons you mention the geared locos were small logging line favorites. They just did well on less than perfect track in hellish conditions that traditional locos did not venture.

As a side note they are painfully slow due to the gearing. What makes them great for climbing hills kept them from any real practical mainline use. Not to say it didn’t happen as I am sure it did but there is a reason we didn’t see geared locos making trans continental runs.

Now I have no practical knowledge of the models we have available. 4 foot diameter curve is tight. My layout is mainly 8’ and 10’ diameter curves and it looks like a mountain logging line. Those curves are tight. I am not sure an out of the box geared loco will do 2 foot radius curves. That’s beyond tight. That’s micro layout of the Vic caliber pizzas and he has to run very special equipment.

I am will to bet they will pull the 5% just fine. My layout is 3.5% max grade and so far nothing has batted an eye at it. I doubt any of our geared offerings would hesitate to pull a moderate load up 5%. But again I have no practical experience.

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Devon has pointed out all the right information for you, I would only ad that those tight curves and steep grades should have a “scenic” reason to exist, in my opinion.

A second thing you might consider is car length. Unless you’re modeling early day Redwoods logging where log length was 8-12 feet, “usually” the shortest log length brought out of the woods was 32 foot plus 6-8 inches for bucking. Any provision cars or oil tankers going into your “woods”? Those cars with body mount couplers won’t like those hairpin turns.

Good point I had not thought about.

Depends on the eye of the beholder, I would suppose. We use LGB R1/4’ diameter almost exclusively. A buddy brought his Shay from Colorado last year. I posted the pictures here Guest Power on the Triple O. Sorry, no grades!

Also, as interesting side note, The OR&L had a pair of Lima Shays for the relatively steep grades leading up to the pineapple fields in Wahiawa. Pineapple juice, which made the rails slippery, was an apparent reason for the experiment with geared locomotives (“Next Stop, Honolulu!” Chiddix and Simpson, Sugar Cane Press, 2004.).



One additional note of interest: If the stream were shallow enough and its bed were sturdy enough, no bridge required! The loggers would simply lay their track like a “ford” through the stream. Could be modeled with battery or live steam, I suppose, hate to try track power.

Have fun, David Meashey

The grades probably won’t faze a Shay. There are examples ie Cass, WV and Mapleton Tramway in Oz which are steep but the curves you suggest would look strange to me and the drive line of the Shay might come undone if too tight. If you have limited space maybe try a switchback. Google “logging railroads” and scroll through the images for ideas.
Larger loggers like the Westside in CA had some well constructed structures but many of the eastern loggers, as Dave M said, laid temporary track along and through creeks, logged both sides of the mountain then moved the track to the next valley.
Have a look at youtube for Kittatinny Mountain RR. Shawn has done a great job on his logging line.
Of course the first rule is please yourself.

Thanks for input and ideas.

The White Water tourist railroad (Indiana) once owned a diminutive 15ton Heisler that looked like it could snake around some really tight curves. Also, if you can still find one, the Hartland Big John will pull stumps and really snake around tight curves.

Worth looking in to, David Meashey

“Pull stumps,” I like that, David. Yeah, it’s a powerful beast.

Roger that Rick.
There were also the 20-footers for flats and boxes and cabeese…