Friday, October 20, 2017


Continuing development of my version of Western Lumber at Westfir, I added the log chain up from the log pond, the railcar chip loader, and a lumber loading dock.  Each required additional location preparation.   I previously reported construction of several of the major structures for this industry:

Further development of Western Lumber at Westfir shows in this overview.

First up was further work on the main sawmill building. I completed the major roof trusses.  This allowed me to assemble the main roof as a separate unit.  The roof will remain separate so I can add additional details inside the main mill building.  I also completed the extension of the green chain, which lies underneath the open side-shed of the sawmill.  This was a simple splice job, though care had to be taken for splice locations for the mounting pins for both the green chain and tables and the canopy.

Main sawmill building with roof removed.  Major roof trusses provide strength for the walls and the roof assembly.  Note the green chain has been extended out of the side of the mill.

The log chain brings logs up from the log pond, through the de-barker, and into the sawmill.  Using the Walthers kit pieces led to considerable planning, mostly dealing with elevation changes.  The Walthers parts and their support pieces are designed for a relatively flat terrain, with the log pond surface only a ¼ inch lower than the sawmill.  My Westfir scene needed more vertical elevation.  Indeed, my compression of scene elements accentuated the slope down to the main river “plate” under the railroad bridge. 

My solution took a cue from the prototype Westfir scene.  Western Lumber created their log pond by placing a dam across the river.  A major difference for me was my placement of the railroad bridge below the dam rather than the prototype location above the dam.  Still, the river dam provided a way to raise the log pond for both my model and the prototype sawmill.

One more complication was created by my use of plywood as the main sub-base for both the railroad and the industry area.  I needed to create a channel for the log chain to climb from the log pond up to the mill.  I did so with a couple of layers of plywood, creating ¾ inch steps in elevation.  I still needed to create more of a channel, so the pair of stepped plywood “platforms” came out of the layout a couple of times as I refined the scene.  This would have been easier if I used extruded-foam insulation for the scenery elevation change down to the pond.  I intend using the foam for much of my scenery, but I was just not there yet for this scene.  Sigh.  Lots of work with power tools applied to the plywood.

Stepped elevation changes created with plywood for the log chain as it climbs from the log pond to the sawmill.  Visible here is the channel cut out for the log chain and sculpting of the plywood layer edges with a belt sander.

The next item on my installation list was the chip loader for the rail spur.  The chip loader is one of four structures that are part of the Walthers Sawmill Outbuildings (933-3144).   I began by assembling the chip loader pretty much per the Walthers instructions.  That included the orientation of the discharge pipe for chips from the mill and the machinery shed alongside the loader assembly.  I discovered I needed to bring the discharge pipe over the machinery shed, with the shed on the sawmill side of the rail spur.  Out came a second kit (I stock-piled several).  With that orientation corrected, I needed to deal with a serious height issue.  The discharge pipe and hood hung way too low within the overall rack structure in the stock kit.  I found I needed to remove about 2.5 scale feet of the hangers for the hood and trim a similar amount from the bottom of the discharge pipe to allow chip gondolas to roll under the chip loader.  Even with this modification, I needed to place the chip loader assembly onto a thicker mounting pad to provide additional clearance.

Railcar chip loader. The chip hood needed to be raised to clear standard SP chip gondolas.  The assembly has been placed on top of ¼ inch cork, while the track is on 1/8 inch cork roadbed.

The final item added in the current wave of details for Western Lumber was a lumber loading dock to fit under the loading shed.  This was yet another scratch-built loading dock using Evergreen styrene dimensional strip and scribed sheet for the dock.  There are 180 posts under that dock!  Oh yes, the lumber shed was another example of a too-low structure built from a standard Walthers kit.  I needed to mount it on ¼ inch thick cork to raise it above the railcars I need to slip under the canopy.  Eventually, these mounting pads will be blended into the rest of the scene, providing a not-quite-so flat industrial site.

Underside of lumber dock for Western Lumber.

One of my operators asked recently whether I scratch-built anything on my railroad.  The implication of the question dealt with structures.  I responded that I was mostly using kit-bashing to flesh out the railroad right now, but that I reserved my scratch-building efforts for signature structures, such as the (yet to be built) engine shed at Oakridge.  Upon further reflection, I realized that I have been scratch-building all along as I build the layout.  The lumber dock is a good example of the utilitarian structures I have created.  Other examples are the bridge piers and abutments needed for my bridges.  These structures may not be impressive in a conventional building sense, but they are absolutely vital to the railroad.

Western Lumber at Westfir.

Western Lumber and all of the Westfir scene are developing into a photogenic site.  This corner of the layout has been rising on my priority list for scenery treatment.  That awaits future blog posts.

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