Experiences with N scale geared locomotives

alexisahmc Apr 29, 2017

  1. alexisahmc

    alexisahmc TrainBoard Member

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    Hi everyone,
    Anyone with experience on geared locomotives? ( Shay, Climax, Heisler and the like) I am in the process on gathering info, as I am thinking on undertaking a logging layout.
    Any good quality equipment you guys favor?
    Other locos used in logging operations? Have small diesels ever been used for this kind of thing?
    Sure this info is available most likely in the "answer all" Google environment, but I am soliciting personal experiences and above all ADVICE which is always welcomed and appreciated!
    Thanks
     
  2. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

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    Something to consider might be if you will stay with standard N gauge or go to narrow gauge. Many logging operations were narrow gauge. Also, what era? Search some of Randgust's posts as he's quite a wealth of info for logging operations as well as having a cool little Climax kit.
     
  3. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    The first run Atlas Shays were inconsistent. I had one that ran nicely at walking speed and two that would cog or lose contact at anything less than twenty-five scale MPH. If you consider that these things had a top speed of maybe twenty MPH and usually operated at about twelve, you can see why I was disappointed. If you took one of the first runs apart, you had better put it back together exactly the way that it was before you took it apart or the mechanism gets messed up. I learned this after the fact. Sadly, it was on my only good runner.

    The second runs are much better, although sometimes there is some misalignment of the rods, so they will turn inconsistently. In addition, some of them have some QC problems with flashing on the gears. I have one from the second run that is great and one that ain't so great. The two that I have from the second run will operate at walking speed. The problem with the one that is not the best is the misaligned rods. I have tried, without success, to line up everything, but it will not work consistently. The thing will run at walking speed, though.

    The second run seems to be better than the first.
     
  4. crappie610

    crappie610 TrainBoard Supporter

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    70-ton diesels was used in W Va.
     
  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Lots and lots. Specifically, small-drivered 2-6-2 Prairie types, mostly, were extremely common in logging operations everywhere the ground was even halfway flat. I'd say the Prairie alone outnumbered any type (maybe all types combined) of geared locomotive in these operations. These were generally small, with drivers of 57" or less and short wheelbases. Geared locomotives get all the attention for logging because they are interesting, and because the mountainous terrain where they were seen makes for more scenic logging pikes. But in Alabama, or east Texas, or any number of flatter areas known for timber, rod locomotives enjoyed considerable popularity.

    They most certainly are! They're called 'really big trucks'.

    Yes, Whitcombs and Plymouths and whatnot were liable to pop up in logging service. But steam became surplus, and got cheap because it could be had second-hand, and it was easier to fix without a high-tech (for the era) shop. So it lasted longer on these roads than on mainline railroads. By the time the steamers got too old to keep fixing, all-wheel-drive trucks (a technology which advanced leaps and bounds during WWII) had gotten mighty good. Diamond T, Oshkosh, FWD and their ilk had done the logging operations the great favor of making it possible for them to ditch the rails. Remember, those rails had to be moved from place to place as they cut down all the product over here and needed to transfer their operations over there. That's why their rail was always so notoriously crappy--it was temporary in nature. Improved trucks allowed them to use something even more temporary in nature--dirt roads. And trucks could leave the property and go to a commercial facility for maintenance, so their complexity didn't demand a high-tech diesel shop like Davenports and GE 70-tonners would.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
    mtntrainman likes this.
  6. spyder62

    spyder62 TrainBoard Member

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    Get a subscription to Timer Times magazine. It's all about logging , mainly in the northwest but covers all areas.
    rich
     
  7. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    I have two shays, both good, but the design makes it possible for the geared trucks to fight the ride-along gear train if the truck worm/spur is off by even one tooth. If that happens, the stress on the ride along shafts causes all kinds of mischief.

    Your biggest thing for logging locos was weight. A class A climax weighed only 18 Tons. "Big" 2-truck Atlas Shay, 65 tons. Typical EMD alco or Baldwin yard switcher, 100 tons. Light rail and bridges kept steam around just due to that. Most loggers were under 50 tons. A handful of small industrial diesels were used, but they were 'new' then and expensive
     
  8. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    The 2-6-2 and 2-6-6-2 types were popular because many of the logging locomotives spent as much time running in "reverse" as they did forward. The pilot and trailing trucks guided the locomotive around the sharp curves of the logging railroads thus keeping driver tyre wear to a minimum. Many of the logging railroads could barely afford their equipment and infrastructure, so they did not spend money for turning facilities. They did not have that much money to spend on repairs or maintenance, either, so spending a little extra money on something with a trailing truck kept down the maintenance and repair costs on driver tyres.

    When the diesels did come, they were easier to run in "reverse" and cheaper to keep up, as well.
     
  9. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Also remember that logging was very specific to era and tree / log size. A little research and more questions will narrow your search. But it is very possible to do it justice in N.
     
  10. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Also a big difference between a 'line haul' logger connecting a truck-delivered log dump to a distant mill vs the light logging Spurs right to the logging areas. After WWII the latter was almost extinct. But we had a unit log train in PA behind 6 NS GP38's until 2001 in northwest PA. Lock haven- Erie Hammermill paper, 100 ton spine log cars. That's the variety that's possible.
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Logging power varied. It did not matter really where you were. 0-4-0, 4-4-0, 2-6-0, 2-6-2, 2-8-0, 2-8-2, 2-4-4-2, 2-6-6-2, 2-6-6-2T, various two and three truck Shay, Climax and Heisler. Home built power, steam, gas and diesel. EMD SW and Geeps, GE U-boats, FM's, plus those of smaller manufacture.
     
  12. alexisahmc

    alexisahmc TrainBoard Member

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    First of, thank you all for the info. I will certainly spend some time looking at Randgust's postings and website and railroad (although the link to his railroad seems to be broken). I am thinking that, for me anyway, the small diesels will be the way to go. I need reliable operation, as my layout will be automated to run certain random "operations". This will be my fourth layout and first time in N scale. This time I will go with something small and easily manageable. I took the liberty of attaching a track plan image which I found in Google searches. This one lends itself for automation as it has the wye
    which will make it to automatically reverse locos/short trains. Perhaps a bit of modification (extending the free end of the wye) could afford a short train reversal.
    Do you think that code 55 will be OK for the small diesels?
    In any event I will challenge you to give me some ideas on possible scenic features and locations. Forest, saw mill, work camp and the like. I guarantee you that I have a free modelers license to practice "free lanced" logging and I normally model what I like and whatever looks good to me and not adhering much on prototype etc. It's all for fun right?
    In case the file does not upload here is a link to another post containing the track plan:
    http://www.trainboard.com/highball/...rn-an-n-scale-mining-branchline-in-3x6.54355/
    I am looking forward to your responses.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have one of the original releases and I learned real quick to not attempt to run it fast. A big block Chevy will throw a rod and guess what, the little shay will too. Atlas told me I had pet dander in the working parts and oh yes you ran it it too fast.

    Carl
     
  14. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting track plan - loop to a wye. Most logging railroads had the mill 'low' and logging 'high' bringing logs downhill. Also pretty simple, push empties uphill with locomotive on the back, pull loads down, at least in steam era. You may put the power on the other end but you don't need to turn a log train.

    Code 55 is fine, I use Peco and pretty much bury the ties.

    If this is your first N, the challenge is slow, reliable operation and high track standards for electrical reliability.

    A solid 'go to' appropriate small diesel would be the Bachmann GE 70 ton, some did logging post WWII. Reliable and slow as you will find, takes sharp curves, 8x8 on power and pickup. You'll still want a Shay as they are amazing, just don't make it your only power.

    For my eastern logging prototype just Google 'Hickory Valley Railroad' as the signature link refuses to update.

    Search this forum for hickory valley to dig up all my track plans and photos. Modules will be at the Altoona show in August

    First glance I'd move that mill spot out, open up space on the bottom for a mill and pond. 2 Wye legs could be log loading by direct load or truck transfer, log camp at the center of the wye
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  15. alexisahmc

    alexisahmc TrainBoard Member

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    Randgust, thanks a bunch for the comments. Very thoughtful. Care to elaborate on this comment? "First glance I'd move that mill spot out, open up space on the bottom for a mill and pond." I don't quite follow.
    I will look at your layout shortly after I finish with this post. Thanks again.
     
  16. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

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    I've gathered some logging equipment along the way. I have two micro ace 0-6-6-0 s that I've converted to 2-6-6-2s, several Shay's (all three are good runners) and two Kato BR86 tanks that I've converted with US style cabs and slope back tenders. The old bmann bobber cabooses work well. I've also collected various logging cars from Micro Trains and several other manufacturers who's names escape me. There is a lot of equipment out there you just have to search for it. Another option is republic locomotive works.
     
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You could even operate an electrification. The Red River Lumber Company had boxcabs...
     
  18. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    The spot on the plan where the mine/mill is placed is located 'on the top' level where the wye is.

    you need some space for a mill 'down low', as all of them depended on water for a log pond, and usually (as in this plan) the connection to another railroad for outbound lumber. So if you eliminate the spur to the mine/mill, that opens up that spot to put in a switch or multiple spurs to a sawmill scene down on the lower level. Your town scenes will develop around a mill as well instead of up on top where the woods should be.

    Your actual log loading spurs (direct load or truck transfer) stay up on the branch on top. Plan actually works pretty well, keep it simple.

    The trick to a logging layout in N is trying to visually separate the mill from the logging scene, so that it doesn't look like you could fall a tree into the log pond instead of haul it by rail! That can still work fairly well here with the logging area on the left/top and the mill area on the right/bottom.

    There's been a couple of really beautiful small logging layouts out there, it has been done. My sawmill module of the Hickory Valley dates back to 1975 now when I first built it, the attached logging module "Ross Run" is still under development - base scenery now finished but no fine details. The HV is only 18x36 and the Ross Run is 21x42. Both mine are modular and portable, run as a connected pair or stand-alone for shows.

    Way back when I attempted to automate the loop-to-loop Hickory Valley with relays changing the main line polarity and throwing the switches. It was controlled by putting a magnet under the tender of the locomotive, throwing a reed switch relay between the rails. I got it to work, sort of, but it really needed an integrated circuit to do it right, and it was just not reliable enough anyway. I tore it all back out.

    The HVRR had two 2-6-0's, an 0-6-4t, two small shays and one 42-ton Shay, and a 47-ton Heisler. I started out with a Rapido 0-6-0 on the larger 2-6-0, and after several rebuilds and motor swaps (along with a full-pickup tender) it's still my go-to locomotive for shows. I took an Atlas 2-6-0 and put a gearhead in the tender along with an ACCURATE scratchbuild of the same Lima 2-6-0, and it's my honey. It will run all day long at 5 mph, but its incredibly delicate so I rarely take it out on the road. It's one finger-touch from unrepairable damage by enthusiastic kids.

    John Sing did a nice photo essay of the HVRR at Altoona a couple years ago. This is northwest Pennsylvania practice, which is its own thing.
    http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/n_scale_wkend_2011&page=8

    FYI the Climax B is a once-in-a-lifetime scratchbuild, but I do the Climax A's as resin kits, or built-up custom RTR models. They are tiny, but with a gearhead motor are authentically slow and have 8x8 pickup, slow and reliable.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  19. alexisahmc

    alexisahmc TrainBoard Member

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    Once again thank you all for the input. I now have a good starting point for a lot of items on my list. And an especially good idea on what to do for motive power.
    Randgust, special thanks for taking the time for such a detailed answer. You gave me plenty. Perhaps if and when the layout has somewhat progressed I will post a few pics. It is scheduled to start construction in mid fall range. Too many vacations and obligations between now and the. Just devoting my time to work out the different schemes for the electronics for the time being.
    All of the automation will be developed in a micro controller environment. It is another aspect of trains which I enjoy on top of restoring antique tube radios.
    Thanks again!
     

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