Re: Loading & Unloading Lumber

Dave Sarther

Thanks for sharing Sid's recollections of his experiences while loading and unloading lumber  Many of us modelers hang on every word of these recollections, all little nuggets of gold. 
I wish my dad was still alive so I could pick his brain regarding his job as a weigh master for the Chicago Board of Trade at the grain elevators along the Chicago lakefront.  What I do recall is his taking me over to the elevators in the harbors when there might be a Russian cargo ship there.  Also got to witness the mechanical unloading of 40' grain cars and local grain haulers at the elevators as a kid in the 1950's. all very impressive for a kid. Those jobs and grain elevators were long gone by the early 1960's. 
Later, Dave S.   Tucson, AZ

-----Original Message-----
From: thecitrusbelt@... [STMFC]
Sent: Fri, Oct 27, 2017 5:29 pm
Subject: [STMFC] Loading & Unloading Lumber

Two recollections posted on the Yahoo Loyal Legion of Logged-on Loggers group.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA
Best I remember from the late  '50's-early '60's , at least where I was here in the Pacific Northwest, we hand loaded each and every piece of lumber into the boxcars.  We did well to load a car a day.  These would have been almost 100% 40 foot cars. Seems that they were loaded only about 5 feet high due to weight restrictions.
Today our local mill loads 13 center beam flats per 8 hour shift. That's loaded, strapped, wrapped and out the door.
Gary Brooks
Willamina OR
My experience was on the other end of the trip, unloading western spruce dimension and 1 X 10 T&G on a B&M RR team track in western Massachusetts. I'm pretty sure live rolls or belts fed the lumber to the man loading the car at the mill. There was an incentive shipping rate called "loaded to full visible capacity" or LFVC due to KD  lumber's light weight. 40 MBF of spruce @ 1.5 lbs/ft equaled 60,000 lbs or less. To maximize revenue the RRs wanted the 40 or 50 ft. car to be full. On arrival when the usually narrow single door was opened there was a wall of lumber to the car roof. With our truck alongside the boxcar I would stand with one foot on the door frame latch and holding on to the top of the roof edge I would pull out the stock piece by piece with one hand. When there was about a foot of vertical room I could get on my belly inside the car to get access to more stock. It was not comfortable but it beat standing on the small latch! It was heaven when you could stand up and have the other door open for ventilation. It would take two days unloading to load the truck with 8 to 10M ft per load and truck it a few miles to the lumberyard.
As I recall, if we were notified on a Monday of a car's arrival we would have to release it by Wednesday PM to avoid demurrage charges. However, because it was kiln dried material, rainy days did not count.
When we bought a second lift truck we would order paper wrapped lumber on bulkhead flats without center beams (Flat & Wrapped) because we only had access to one side of the car. That was an easy day to unload 70,000' in one day.
This was in the 60s, 70s, & up. Locally there was also a wooden toy manufacturer and a sash and blind shop that ordered shop grade Sugar Pine loose loaded in boxcars and a table shop that ordered Canadian Ash.
It was common practice for US and Canadian mills to ship dimension lumber eastward without a specific destination in the hope that it would be sold en-route. If we needed lumber quicker than the normal 2 week mill order shipment we would shop for "rollers" that were perhaps in the Chicago area or closer to speed things up as long the tally was adequate. Once I bought a roller and it was at the team track the next day! Western Spruce prices were in the $90-$100 per MBF range, we retailed it for $130/M and native Eastern Hemlock for $120/M.
Sorry if I wrote a book when a sentence would do.
Sarasota Florida

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