Re: Lumber Loading


I am planning on modeling some Rock Island "hide loading" box cars, maybe by summer,lol! I can just imagine the smell of these cars in the hot summer!!

Rich Christie

--- On Tue, 4/13/10, Jim Hayes <jimhayes97225@...> wrote:

From: Jim Hayes <jimhayes97225@...>
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Lumber Loading
To: STMFC@...
Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 11:06 PM
Greg said
Tom, did you ever get carloads of 1x4 and 1x6x6' fence
boards of California
Incense Cedar in a box? I can still smell those SP boxes
with the "pencil
cedar" smell.

Which brings back memories of boxcar smells. In the Summer
of 1959 (whew,
just under the wire) I worked for a vinegar company in St.
Paul, Minnesota.
One method of shipping vinegar was in cleaned (my job) used
whiskey barrels
which arrived by boxcar. It was mid-Summer and hot and we
had a boxcar to
unload. Wow what a smell. By the time we finished we were
high just on the

Jim Hayes
Portland Oregon

On Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 7:27 PM, <tgregmrtn@...>

Tom wrote:

Although it's past the time frame of this group, I
worked in a wholesale
lumber yard on Florida's west coast during the early
to mid 1970's. I'll
relate some of my experiences based on the type
lumber. First a few givens.
The interior width and length of box cars, the IW is
about 9-2 and the IL is
about 40-6/50-6, plus or minus a few inches. Random
length lumber was not
loaded randomly. It was loaded to fill the width and
length of the car, but
there were still a few inches of space for things to
move. At this time
1x2's and 1x3's were bundled 8 or 10 pieces with
string or tape. 1x12's
would layer 9 wide, 1x10's would layer 11 wide, and so
forth for the other
widths. Lengthwise in a 40 foot car there would be 2
16's and an 8, or 2
12's and a 16, or 2 14's and a 12, or whatever
combination equaled the IL.
The "pick-up-stick mess" was generally the top layers
getting thrown around
by heavy coupling or slack action. The end "lumber
doors" were for lengths
longer than 1/2 the IL plus 1/2 the door width.
1x and 2x Spruce/Pine - We unloaded 3 or 4 40 foot CP
boxcars of this a
week. They would be loaded to about 14 to 18 inches
below the top of the
door. Us "young skinny guys" would have the pleasure
crawling in on top the
lumber to begin the unloading, just make sure you
didn't touch the inside of
the roof during the summer. A 3 or 4 man crew would
take about a day and a
half to complete the unloading.
1x and 2x Redwood - This was usually in a 50 foot
double door SP car, about
1 car every 2 weeks. These were loaded to be unloaded
by forklift, but there
was some hand work to clear out for the forklift. In
good car, 2 men and a
forklift could be done in about 1/2 a day. If the
banding had broken or the
load shifted it became a hand unloading job.
3x and larger Timbers - Most of the time these were 50
foot double door SP
cars set for forklift unloading. Unloading was similar
to the redwood cars.
One memorable load was 1/3 a car of special order
6x12's 24 feet long that
was a hand job.
A few other observations:
We received flat car loads of just about everything
(wrapped and unwrapped)
- 1x and 2x spruce/pine, timbers, scaffold planking.
Between the different lumber, moldings, and other
items, 6-7 cars a week
were normal.
Occasionally while unloading a car you would come to a
layer of craft
paper, at which point you would close the door and
reseal it. Or you would
open one up and there would be a partial load with the
paper on top - LCL.
The "Thrall-door" boxcar was basically a bulkhead flat
car with a roof and
When moving cars, take some of the slack up on the
hand brake beforehand or
you will not stop before the derail.
You can punch a hole in a car or knock the door off
when trying to
open/close it with a forklift.

Tom Christensen

I find Tom's message amusing as he sounds like he
started in the business
about the same time as mine as I was a junior in High
School when I started
in the business.

I have an old promo booklet somewhere that was put
together by Weyerhaeuser
circa 1964 announcing "YARD PACK" which was showing
that they were
standardizing at least their packaging and the use of
paper wrap for Kiln
Dried Lumber. It does go beyond the scope of this list
so I won't go into
detail, just a note as to perhaps the very beginnings
of the paper wrap era,
not to say they were the first by any means. Paper
wrap in my recollection
was reserved for higher quality lumber what we called
"uppers" i.e. clears,
and common boards in all species.

I actually have a photo of a double door 50-foot GTW
box I will share with
Tim, Dennis and Tom showing the unloading of dimension
lumber by hand and it
dates in the late 40s, perhaps early 50s. I have a
couple of other shots I
will share with them as well.

Tom your notes of the "young Skinny" guys getting the
duties of unloading
the top layers of the car remind me of my first lumber
Boss (when I got to
be an "office guy" and no longer a "yard dog") Del
Windisch who was hired on
at the old Barr Lumber facility in the Wilmington/Long
Beach area after
arriving in the LA area in 1934 and he had the same
duty "top
loader/unloaders" as he was smallish at the time he
hired on.

Dennis is correct for the most part that most
dimensional lumber ended up
in boxcars if for no other reason than its
marketability. Timbers seemed to
be reserved for flats but gondolas as well . Jim
Singer made me a photo copy
of a PRR gondola being loaded with timbers at
Simpson's Shelton, WA facility
(as best I can tell) with a gantry crane on piece at a
time, one layer at a
time. It was a promo photo from the WCLIB.

I suppose I was lucky as the lumber yard I worked for
did most of the
unloading with forklifts, and I was the chosen one to
get the duty of
running the "boxcar special moving the lumber through
the car and handing it
off to a forklift on the ground as we never had a
loading dock, clear the
door, lift the forklift into the car open both doors
so you maneuver in the
car and pray you didn't go out the backside. Broken
bands, well we were
union and the re stacking was done by the Lumber
Handlers not the forklift
drivers on the ground, their time was too valuable. I
wished I had a buck a
thoughts for ever car I had to hand stack and re band.
If you wanted ot
claim the SP for the damage, the agent would come out
and say."improper
bracing and blocking, call the mill guy..." In other
words your screwed...

The early 70s were transition years for open top
loading rules, and only a
few cars still had the "stacks with saplings and wire"
the new rule was
interlaced bands and stacked layers... again that goes
beyond the scope of
this list.

Tom, did you ever get carloads of 1x4 and 1x6x6' fence
boards of California
Incense Cedar in a box? I can still smell those SP
boxes with the "pencil
cedar" smell. And the Redwood, well by the end of the
day your hands were
stained blue after handling the green stock.

By the late 70s the Thrall Door Boxes were somewhat
common but again for
Redwood (LP cars)"uppers" or KD Fir/Larch out of
Bennett Lumber a rare sight
on the SP in Southern California. Centerbeam cars,
well the first one I ever
saw was unloaded at Randle Lumber behind us in
Huntington Beach and by gosh
it went over when they unloaded the wood all off one
side without unloading
the other and of course what was painted on the inside
of the bulkhead a
huge note saying, "unload material evenly from both
sides at the same
time..." Oops!

Greg Martin

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