Re: Lumber Loads on Flat Cars and in Box Cars

Greg Martin

People please,

Understand this that the softwood sawmills wouldn't then and don't now
wrap green (not kiln dried or air dried) lumber. So it is very possible to see
wrapped and unwrapped lumber on a rail car end during the 50's, it may not
be that common but it did happen. Not all lumber was kiln dried and not
all builders required or even requested kiln dried lumber (or Air Dried).

Lumber that was kiln dried was what the industry called "patterns and
uppers" which was use for moldings, trim, paneling, flooring, industrials
(worked parts for windows, and the like) and exterior siding in our era. Not
that dried lumber wasn't used in framing but you have to remember that in the
during process the wood shrinks...

Green lumber was used as framing lumber, and during the first have of the
20th Century typical framing was called "balloon framing" different than
the standards that buildings are built to now. Green lumber was never and
issue expect for unseasoned Lodge Pole Pine, Southern Yellow Pine and Eastern
Spruce_Pine_Fir, most old timers would tell you that these species, not
properly dried, would tun into spaghetti and so they were dried, but once
dried what dimension should they match, their own, full sawn like the green
stock coming in from the west? So as an industry, collectively the ALS
(American Lumber Standards) was formed and grading rules were standardized for all
industries. No more "house grades" or "home grades".

In the last ten years the green lumber vestiges such as West Coast,
Arizona, Nevada, OK, MO, DE, NJ, NY, and the New England states all began to move
away from green lumber in favor of Kiln Dried but not entirely.

So when I think of lumber moving in boxcars I think of a time line not a
species or "finish" issue. Regardless of finish or pattern (Hill and Dale)
6-foot fence stock would not likely ever ship on a flat car or a gondola
for example. I think in available car types, value of the load, the ease of
loading. As labor cost began to rise in the post WW 2 era you have to think
of why you would hand stack a carload when you can but a Gerlinger straddle
buggy to move the stock from the sawmill to the kilns then on to the
planner or from the sawmill to the planner, and load the car with the new 6k
Towmotor (for boxcars) or 10K Gerlinger forklift for (flat cars or other car
types) you just bought that will eliminate the work of three men in hand
stacking box cars or three guys with a crane. One man perhaps two (union
rules when I was young said one driver one sticker man).

Hull Oaks here in Oregon still employees young backs to pull the green
chain to sort the lumber, but they use a Gerlinger Straddle buggy to move it
around the mill and to the loading bays, albeit they don't load rail cars at
the mill any longer.

Greg Martin

Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it.
Norman Maclean

ron.merrick@... writes:

"I have photos from ten years in the future, referenced from the cutoff
date of this list, showing dimensional lumber loosely stacked on flatcars,
and one case of a mixed wrapped and non-wrapped load, so wrapped bundles did
take a long time to take over the market.

Ron Merrick"

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