The last week, I started to bring my Bachmann Shay back into service and while I remembering the good old times, I got another model in mind that should still be there in my parents cellar…
Round about 15 years ago, I scratch build this Decker style log loader for my Fn3 logging railroad. I digged this dinosaur out and tested the mechanism. After a break for more than 6 years, the loader was sill working. I needed to fix some smaller issues, but all in all, the loader was ready for first service.
Such log loaders were used whenever a railroad had multiple loading places or a fixed arrangement like a spar tree was impossible or too complex.
This type of log loaders is often called tunnel loader, since the empty log cars will pass below the loader. In case of the Decker style loaders, the cars will run on special tracks inside the lower frame of the loader. This way, you didn’t need a parallel track to pass by the empty cars. The log loader could be used on any piece of straight track on a main line. Some of those loaders even were self-propelled (my model is not).
Once the log train was loaded, the loader was just coupled to the end of the consist and could be hauled to the next loading point.
Old photos of my loader in one of the first services.
The upper level of the loaders is used for the steam-powered winch. Like on steam donkeys, the log loaders were used a vertical boiler and a steam-driven winch assembly which was used to operate the loading work. In case of self-propelled loaders, chain drive lines were used to power the wheels.
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My log loader is mostly free lanced and uses the pattern from a Decker style loader. There was also the Cody loader that worked the same way, but was mostly made out of wood. Much more known and build are the McGiffert loaders wich were using liftable trucks so the empty cars could pass on the main line below the trucks, while the loader stand on 4 big columns. Another type was the Surry-Parker design, also made completely from wood. These loaders were brought into place on a flat car and raised upon wooden pillars until the empty cars could pass through.
You’ll find more about the other types of log loaders at google.