Switchbacks for Shay engine--construction info.

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Cookie, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

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    I need information on how to build and lay track for a switchback for a Shay . Foam seems to be the easy way to build this. What should be the width and length to lay the track without derailment? Any info and pictures would be helpful.........thanks in advance. Send to my email jterhune@ka.net :)

    JIM
  2. m_reusser

    m_reusser Member

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  3. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

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    Hard to imagine dimensions Jim without knowing scale you're working in, but width & length shouldn't be a factor in derailments unless your roadbed is so narrow trees or rock outcroppings get in the way. Watch the clearance on curves where car overhangs increase, though usually the short length of log cars minimize the problem.

    Great photos in those links, Marc. There are some early 1900's photos of the Rich Brothers logging company in the Green Mountains of Vermont that remind me of the first link you provide.

    They climbed the mountain in a series of three switchbacks on 6% grade. Their operating rule was the engine backed up the grade pushing the empty cars for most of the run. Obviously, there was one leg where the scenario reversed and the engine climbed nose forward pulling the cars. Returning with loads, they traveled downhill facing forward with the load behind, again, except on the odd leg. It's that odd leg where runaways occurred and the rules were amended that none of the crew rode anywhere but in the cab of the Shay when on those legs.

    This doesn't help Jim with the track layout but he can be formulating work rules while he's grading the foam roadbed.

    Wayne
  4. m_reusser

    m_reusser Member

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  5. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

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    m reusser........Muddy Creek

    Thanks for the pictures and I guess my post was done without too much thought. I have HO and I am considering making the switchback area totally separate from my layout but can be added like a module. It would be clamped or bolted to the layout in some fashion and I would have no more than 3 log cars being pulled and that may be too large. I guess flex track would be used and carve the switchbacks from a layered foam block?? Thank you for the information. JIM
  6. Muddy Creek

    Muddy Creek Member

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    The tails of the switchbacks then will be determined by the length of 3 log cars plus your Shay and space for the point of the switch to clear. The width of the switchback module will be detrmined by how many legs you'll be climbing and how close you wish to space the track.

    The closer the track in plan, the more it will look like you're zig-zagging up the face of a cliff and the more you'll need to build rock ledges, retaining walls and bridges. Real logging lines were generally built on the cheap and wouldn't be constructing such an engineering marvel. Leaving a bit of space between the tracks lets you provide a slope perpendicular to the track in addition to the grade it's climbing and give it a more prototypical look: rugged and steep but cheap to build.

    I've planned a similar series of switchbacks but in N Scale. I'm using a sheet of 1" foam as the base, cookie-cutter style. The plan is to start building when I finally get my hands on a new Atlas Shay so I can test the maximum grade it will push a half-dozen unloaded 25' cars. I'll have the luxury of tucking 7 or so of these short cars into the tails. The tails could also serve as loadings for logs hauled by the horses or the location of a logging camp.

    Wayne