Sunday, August 13, 2023

Open Loads (Part 7) - Shifted Lumber Loads

SP F-70-6 with a heavy load of lumber that has shifted, probably straining the stakes in the process.

I've built many lumber loads over the years, and I've been wanting to build some shifted loads for many years.  I finally bit the bullet and have built a couple now.  Let's have a look at them.  One of the photos in Anthony Thompson's SP Freight Cars Vol.3: Auto Cars & Flatcars, shows several photos with shifted loads, including one where the steel banded units of lumber have shifted, breaking the stakes, and it would appear that one whole unit has slid from the top-end position, off the car, and onto the adjacent flatcar! - Maybe I'll get around to doing something that crazy one of these days... but for now I'll be looking at more moderately or lightly shifted lumber loads.

A few prototype examples linked to us by Bob Chaparro:

Let's see what a real one looks like

LS&I 6284 with shifted lumber load -Lake States Archive - Bob Chaparro collection

Note that this car is using saplings instead of saw-cut stakes.  The base of the saplings are taper-cut to fit into the stake pockets like the regular stakes.  It also looks like the switching crew might have ignored the "Do Not Hump" placard.

Shifted Loads?!

Gondola with shifted load -  Bob Chaparro collection

This one really has shifted and those stakes and top boards are a mess!

IC 200581 shifted lumber in gondola against boxcar - Bob Chaparro collection

Ouch!  Ok, make sure you're not tying the handbrake on that boxcar when the shift happened!  I don't think this is a good option to model, as it will foul the boxcar going around curves.  But it certainly could be modeled with the load shifting over the mid-point of the coupler plane.

OMM 3004 in a Red Caboose/IMRC NP GS gondola.

Lookout, that load's starting to shift!  Maybe the carmen would bad-order the load to be 'shifted' at the RIP track.   So time to pull the car out of the train, set it over, and spend a day 'fixing' it before sending it on its way.  This 3004 could simply be shifted towards the center of the car, or the right stack could be reversed in the car, making the overhanging load unit bias away from falling off the car!  Just a couple tricks to make an interesting car load.

Likewise a 3005 kit could have 1/3 set up as a severely over-end shifted load, which would require routing to the RIP track, then trading out the whole stack for the other version, which was in good order.  Ideas like this can be used to increase the function of your open loads in your operational scheme on your layout.  Make that RIP track actually serve an operational use, not just for the random new car coming into your operating sessions from the work bench.

Falling Off the End?!

How about a load that really has shifted?

On this load, I decided to get more adventurous.  The car was really whacked by the switch crew, or it had a bad trip over the division... or maybe those new retarders in the hump yard still need some adjusting.  In any case, that unit of lumber in the top right has seen better days.

It has shifted on its 'stickers' several feet, clearing the center car lateral stake tie-boards, and smashed several lateral board sets on the 2nd level near the A-end of the car. Good thing that's not the B-end or we might be looking at replacing damage to the handbrake!  The center and right second level units have also shifted to the right it looks like, as they are overhanging more on the A-end, reducing the space for a brakeman or switchman to get up on the end of the car.

Shifting Too Far!

Maybe you'll want to have a load that's really sketchy and looking like it shouldn't be moved much more at all.  Maybe 3/4 of the stakes are already shattered?!  Did a whole unit of lumber get pushed off the end of the car onto an adjacent car?  There's certainly a case to be made to make a more dramatically shifted load, if you want to.  Prototype photos of such certainly exist.

This is an earlier step in this load construction - before the mitigation of adding the iron wire and bracing was applied.

In this case, it certainly would be good to get this car to the RIP track at the nearest division point and get the units re-shifted back to a more stabilized position.  The top A-end unit certainly needs to be shifted back if possible.  Another set of stakes need to be added on the A-end if the lower levels can't be shifted back too.

Quick Fix?

To the RIP Track!

The load has been stabilized somewhat, maybe that was the last division point's work, or maybe a brakeman did what he could when he found it.  There's some new longitudinal bracing between the four stakes on the A-end and iron-wire with a scrap 2x4 to tourniquet the wire around the stakes in place of wooden lateral ties.

Top Load Shifter rig at Taylor Yard in Los Angeles, CA. Brian Leppert photo, Bob Chaparro collection.

Guillotine-looking "Top Load Shifters," like this one, were used to corral the wayward open loads back into place.  Crews that had to shift the load out iin the field, or in yards without such devices often resorted to, "Well, hit it the other way." with a rough coupling the other direction.. sometimes with mixed results.

Swap to a "Good Load"?

Operationally, I would plan to swap the "Bad Order" load out with another that was re-shifted or a "good" load.

Notice this 3003 kit is in good shape, a good candidate for swapping for a "Bad Order" load at the RIP track.

This is a great load for the staging yard crews or clerks to throw into a session to see if the yard crews are watching out for unsafe loads.  Once the load is spotted to the RIP track, at the end of the session, the load is traded out, the car can be released next session to continue the trip and the "Bad Order" load is taken back to the staging yard to be used again... maybe even the next session.  

In Closing

A cropped view from SP Trainline on Bakersfield showing the "Grave Yard" tracks around the inbound leads to the roundhouse and carshop at top of photo, circa 1956-1958.

On a large operating layout with 100's of lumber cars, having 4-6 of these "Bad Order" loads in rotation.  These loads would be showing up regularly to simulate the dozens of cars that would be needed work regularly out of these large lumber trains would add a certain prototypical operational flavor to sessions and keep the crews on their toes.

Here's a closeup of the end of the shifted load, next to a heavy double-48" unit stacks of lumber on an SP 70-Ton flatcar.

I'm going to wrap up this post here.  More lumber load posts will be coming over the next few months as I've been on a "Lumber Kick" for the last couple weeks.

Jason Hill

Related Articles:

Open Loads (Part 2) - Lumber in Boxcars - Ideas for building lumber loads inside boxcars.

Lumber Load in Gondola SP 160522 - MDC Kitbash - Modifying OwlMtModels 3004 Lumber Load for gondola with false-load below gondola sides.

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