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Rod locomotives

It took some time for specialized locomotive designs to evolve which were adapted to the very rough temporary track and steep grades of mountain logging. The first logging railroads had to make do with standard rod connected designs, often bought second hand, or worse. An important source of early tank locomotives were street railways which were changing from from enclosed "steam dummies" to electric traction around the turn of the century.

In areas where the terrain was more forgiving rod locomotives continued to play an important role in logging. Old tank locomotives survived as yard switchers, and in later years, when longer stretches of mainline separated the mature forest growth from the sawmill, rod connected locomotives made a comeback to speed up traffic along the mainline. These were either large tank locomotives or tender machines. Since turning facilities were rare these locomotives were equipped to run equally well in both directions, with wheel arrangements such as the Prairie / 2-6-2 / or Mikado / 2-8-2 / being preferred, along with an occasional 2-6-6-2 Mallet.

Modeling opportunities

Backwood Miniatures make a delightful etched brass and whitemetal kit of a small Porter saddle-tank locomotive in several variations. This would be right at home on an early logging operation, or switching the mill. This could easily have started its life disguised as a streetcar, the steam dummy bodywork seldom survived the rough forest life for long.

For a slightly larger mill switcher, the Railmaster Exports D&RG/RGS CL.48 0-6-0 saddle tank kit is a good starting point. All it needs is a new homebuilt cab and some changed details to disguise its Colorado origins, and it will fit right in.

At the other end of the size spectrum, a nice kitbash opportunity is offered by the HO scale Mantua Mallet (tender version) which in S scale measures very close to the famous Mallets "Trojan" and "Samson" of the Caspar, South Fork & Eastern (see Ted Wurm, "The Caspar, South Fork & Eastern", NG&SL Gazette, July 1986, p66).

Any of the Railmaster kits (C-16, C-19, T-12 etc.) might have been found on a logging road somewhere. Again, you would want to change details around to disguise their Colorado heritage. Wood or oil burning would be more likely than coal, and you may want to look into turning a 2-8-0 into a 2-6-2. Do not forget a back-up light, a logging loco would be running in reverse half of the time..

Then of course there are a number of Mantua or MDC HO scale kits which might be kitbashed into Sn3. Mantua kits are easy, you just have to file off about 1 mm from each side of the cast metal frame, and push the drivers to correct gauge. MDC kits are a little bit more involved, since they use stepped axles to keep the drivers in gauge. This is easiest to do with access to a lathe.

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Updated 97-12-22 by Lennart Elg