Track Plan At A Glance
Layout Theme: Railroad Museum
Layout Type: Permanent Layout
Scale: HO Scale
Track: Code 70
Turnouts: No. 4
Min. Radius: 18"
Article by: Jim Spavins
Posted: May 24, 2016
Published: December 31, 2012
At the turn of the 20th century, logging railroads could be found dotted throughout many mountainous areas of the United States. Their daily task was to bring freshly cut logs from the mountain areas to sawmills where this timber could be milled into dimensional lumber and other wood products. These types of railroads have proved to be popular model prototypes for a variety of reasons including the intricate and unusual equipment, sharp curves, and steep grades. This adds up to interesting model railroads and many modelers have caught the bug.
To capture the essence of one of these turn of the century timber haulers, the essential features of this design should include:
- Timber Stands
- Locomotive Facilities
For the spare bedroom space, the fact that these railroads employed geared locomotives which could handle sharp curves and steep grades aids in creating something more interesting than a simple around the walls plan. The design at the beginning of the article includes a loop in the middle of the mainline run to help lengthen the overall mainline but also help drive home a sense of the terrain through which these logging railroads would operate. A sawmill and yard complex is located at the bottom of the mainline grade with an enginehouse complex located nearby. At the other end of the railroad, several sidings are strewn through the woods in an attempt to reach the location of the harvest. These sidings were generally temporary in nature and moved regularly so as to stay apace with the harvesting operations and should be modeled accordingly.
The overall layout space provides for a minimum of 30" aisles. This is generally wide enough for one person at a time but could be a bit cozy with two operators attempting to pass each other. It may be possible to shave a few inches off the layout in some of these minimum width areas by narrowing the setback of the track from the front edge (six inches as shown) or even tighten up the radius a few inches. Obviously, as the radius becomes tighter around the loop, the grade also becomes steeper. I've built a logging layout on a module with a 14" radius loop that handled commercially available equipment - but it does take some care. However, the point is that the aisles could be made wider if desired.
Operating the Railroad
The point-to-point design of the railroad emphasizes the natural operations of these logging roads. Empty log cars would be pushed up to the timber stands where they would be loaded at various sidings scattered through the woods near the harvesting operations. These loaded cars would be pulled back down the mountain to the sawmill. These cars would be unloaded at the sawmill though a log dump into the mill pond. From here, this operation would repeat. It would be possible to keep two crews busy cycling through cars of the railroad - one running back and forth on the main and another switching the yard and log dump.
Shay on display at the Royal Gorge Route scenic railroad. | Photo by Jim Spavins.
Resource Use on the Railroad
Just as in the previous layout design, this railroad is skewed more towards building than the operational side of the lifespan of the layout. There is certainly more operations to aspire to with this design. However, there is quite a bit of work to construct the buildings, equipment, and scenery for a layout such as this. Each of the scenes lends themselves to super detailing with lots of open, geared equipment needed to represent a turn of the century logging railroad. In all, the resource use on this railroad would be allocated by the following:
Time would be spent...
- Building and Detailing Locomotives
- Building Structures
- Building Trees
The Space would be used for...
- Engine Service Facility
- Timber Stands
Money would be spent on...
- Locomotives and rolling stock
The Skills required to build the railroad are...
- Locomotive and Rolling Stock Detailing, Painting, and Weathering
- Scenery Construction
- Structure Construction and Detailing