Re: Lumber Loads in 1947, 1952, and 1957 - Changes in Types of Cars

Greg Martin

Hi Jim,
Let me answer this in context so we all can get a clearer understanding as you have addresses several subjects that seem to blend but might not:
Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it.
Norman Maclean
Jim Betz writes:


Greg's post is interesting - who is the cart and who is the horse.
The cart is the dollar and the horse is the industry.

Did the construction industry change from needing/wanting dry lumber to green or did they accept undried lumber because it was being shipped that way? Or simply because it was cheaper?
First I am glad you called it "dried" lumber as the industry during our modeling period cared little if it was kiln dried or air dried, it was the moisture content the consumer was searching for, typically for framing 19% or less. However; most framing lumber was not dried at all as it wasn't necessary and lumber would dry in place and most contractors knew this. Timbers (members 6"x 6" and larger) were seldom if ever dried to 19%. post and beams (4"x 4" and larger) were seldom dried with regards to west coast species, souther species were different most all southern species were dried.
Shipping cost were less for dry lumber as the board footage went up on the same car.
The market determined the price of lumber so on any given day green was generally cheaper than dry but that could quickly change, need was need and you are pricing your product based on demand and need to move product to generate cash.
 I do know that people comment on the changes in the 'quality' of the wood used in home construction over the years ...
Well, there were standards set for lumber and panel by both the American and Canadian grading agencies to meet a set of engineering specs for all lumber and panel with many design factors we won't go into. Just know that the old growth timber wasn't going to last forever and so might go some of the aesthetic quality of lumber. No need for full sawn clear Douglas Fir floor joist you will never see. You didn't build with rough cut lumber unless it was sized to a common dimension.   

This also explains why so many of the pics I saw (later on) were clearly lumber that was not "rough cut" ... just because it has been thru the planer doesn't mean it has also been kiln-dried.
This is true green lumber was easier on a planner than dried lumber. Also when you see a "donkey mill" in the forest this was to create blanks not consumer lumber, it still went through a saw mill and a planner mill. 
A how to question - I've often been less than satisfied with the texture of strip wood ... it just seems 'too rough'. Do you think that using strip wood for lumber loads in gons and on flat cars "works"?
- Jim
Yes, I do as long as you treat it like you would any other model and sand the texture down a bit. I like balsa better than basswood, I don't like either for color except in some cases of white woods such as western hemlock and eastern and western white pine. Southern Yellow Pine has a yellow cast and Douglas Fir a red cast. 
Jim Singer has a photo from the WCLIB brochure of a PRR G25 gondola being loaded at what I believe to be Shelton, WA with s load of timber from a jib with three men. 
Greg Martin

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