Thursday 25 September 2014


Having dealt with the log flats in the previous post, we take another look at the A-frame loader and the modeling of the logs.  Here is an elevated view.  As we have indicated, this loader would eventually be replaced by fork-lift trucks but it is the "state-of-the-art" technological marvel for my era.  It is also an interesting and unique model. 
As we mentioned before, there were two of these in existence in the Okanagan and Similkameen districts of BC.  One was owned and operated by Oliver Sawmills which, according to a newspaper report from 1955, had "seven active log spurs which supplied 60% of the mills log requirements, the balance coming in by trucks."  The mill processed ten to eleven million board feet of lumber annually.  The report continued, "After taking care of local building and shook requirements, the balance of the lumber is exported at the average rate of a car a day throughout the year." We know of spurs at Kettle Valley (Mi. 10.2), Princeton, Coalmont, Brookmere, and near Kingsvale on the Merritt sub (Mi. 54.9).

Penticton Sawmills owned and operated the other A-frame loader.  The sawmill was located in Penticton at the west end of the railway yard.  For much of the 40's, 50's and 60's, they had spurs at Myra, Princeton, Coalmont, Tulameen, Thalia (Mi. 99.6), and possibly others. 

Turning to the logs themselves we note that some logs were huge as can be seen in the following photo.  This log has been rolled up on two small logs and tied back with a chain.  The bark is very coarse and it would take a good while to count the rings on this one.
Here is a typical load from the late 50's.  The truck has just been loaded at the "Jammer" in the bush near to the actual logging site and seems to be ready to go although the left rear mud flap is in need of some attention.  For more logging truck photos we suggest again this most interesting link: 
Here is a look at the load on our model truck showing the chains used to secure the load.  Lengths of wire are added to the ends which are easily inserted into the stakes of the log bunks.  The stakes are hollow brass tube to replicate the prototype's stakes made from steel pipe.  This allows the truck to be posed as loaded or unloaded for a little variety in the scenes.
The scale logs are made from branches of Lilac trees or bushes which look especially good in the larger scales.  The bark is amazingly realistic.  This is a case of nature imitating nature.  It is best to harvest them in the Fall when the sap is dried up and the newer growth - a green layer - does not show so much.  Other tree or bush sticks can be used for variety but they are not as good a Lilac.  Look to the photos above for diameters.  As to length, the sticks are cut to represent 16 foot logs which means that they are actually longer by a foot or two, so that the mill can get a finished 16+ foot length out of them or two 8 footers.  Longer lengths of logs were cut and shipped by rail into the sixties after the fork lifts arrived but the so-called "short logs" were still prevalent into the diesel era as evidenced by the photos we have mentioned in the previous post.  As progress ensued, logging trucks got bigger and more powerful.  Ironically, one retired truck logger said to me: "In our early days, we had small trucks and big logs; today we have the opposite, big trucks and small logs." 

Here is a selection of Lilac sticks before cutting to length and bundling up.
The brass gizmo in the background is a rack to assist with building a load.  It is the exact width of the flat car on the inside and is made of 3/32" brass square stock.  The logs are cut to length, placed in the rack and glued together with a generous amount of hot melt glue, running the bead on the inside (and out of sight of course).

Now a look at the finished bundles and their "wood" stakes.

The wood stakes are made from a piece of 3/32" aluminum rod (K&S) which is painted a tan colour.  This is sanded to a taper towards the top.  At the lower end we make a pointed end shaped to insert into the stake-pocket.  This permits removal of the load which is a benefit to the car forwarding system we use on the layout.  (All open loads on our freight cars are removable.)  Holes are drilled in the stakes and two small pins are inserted through each stake into the logs and glued.  You can just glimpse the whitish head of one or two of the pins that secure the stake to the logs.  The bottom of the load is identified with a sharpie pen: for example: "T - B" which stands for Tichy - B end.  I have also used wood stakes to simulate wood stakes but the aluminum ones are more robust.  It bears mentioning that these "wood" stakes are placed on one side only as the other side is placed against the log bunk's rail stake.

We conclude our posts on KV railway logging with a set of car numbers of the log flats we have been examining in the recent posts.
  • 306553
  • 306680
  • 307041
  • 307919
  • 308512
  • 308689
  • 336280
  • 336411
  • 336515
  • 336524
  • 336535 
These car numbers can be  found within the various groupings of flat cars listed in the table to the right.  All appear to have been built in the 1920's.  It would appear that individual cars were randomly selected from several specific series for conversion to log flats with the addition of permanent log bunks.  (This table is taken from a page in a book that the CPR issued every three years.  It was entitled SUMMARY OF EQUIPMENT and listed all the motive power and rolling stock of the railway.)

The car numbers show up repeatedly traveling from log landing to sawmill by way of the Penticton Track Scale, suggesting that the cars were captive to the Kettle Valley Division.  On a statistical note, we can report that in 1961, these cars carried 223 loads of logs over the Kettle Valley to the sawmills at Penticton and Oliver.  Most loads originated at Coalmont and Tulameen with a few loaded at Brookmere. 

 Happy Logging!

Coquihalla Man

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