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NWR #200

Irish Expatriate
My favorite type of railroad industry :)

Most modern mills are state of the art, computerized, and extremely efficient. There are basically two types of mills; small log, and large log. Small log mills cut logs generally from 6-28" where as large log mills are above 28". Most mill buildings are painted in a common corporate scheme (if part of a large company such as Weyerhaeuser or Sierra Pacific Industries.)

Logs start at the cold deck or in some cases a mill pond. Logs go up to the debarker where they are jetted with water to clean of rocks, dirt and other debris, and then debarked. Once inside the main structure they reach the main saw (gang-saw). In most modern cases this is a band saw. Here a computer analysis the log to come up with the best way to cut the log whilst yielding the most lumber. The operator will then OK it. The log is cut into its very rough structural shape. From here, it is trimmed, edged and then taken to the dry kiln or possibly an open air drying shed/yard. For those mills that use dry kilns, excess chippings are sent to an on site boiler a hog fuel to power the dry kiln. From the kiln lumber is taken to the planer where it is smoothed to the required grade. It is then stacked and wrapped and ready for shipment. Also note that wood chips are sent out to paper mills.

Most lumber shipped by rail is on Centerbeam flat cars, 50' boxcars (non-plugged), and 60' boxcars (generally not plugged door. However, 60' Plugged Gunderson cars handle lumber) For centerbeams, see Walthers. For 50' box cars, see Atlas and the Athearn genesis line. For 60' Gunderson cars, see also Athearn's Genesis line. Both Walthers and LBF Co. make wood chip cars, LBF having a much wider variety.

When modelling a modern lumber mill, lots of painted metal buildings and cyclone vents are a must. Corporate color schemes are also a note. Most mills are kept tidy for safety reasons. Most buildings involved with production are in line with each other to speed efficiency between one another. Even logs on the cold deck are in this fashion to speed the teransfer from deck to mill.

Here are some links to photos and other information:

Sierra Pacific (Note how most lumber mill buildings are blue and white)

Step by Step Operation of a Lumber Mill

See page 8 for a flow chart of a typical lumber mill's operation'Camino%20saw%20mill'
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Lazy Daydreamer
Great link (Sierra Pacific) - I especially the 'cogeneration' photos! Have you modeled anything like this yourself? We'd love to see the pics if you did!

NWR #200

Irish Expatriate
I haven't. Would be an interesting model. i drive near one each time I go to a local RR museum to do work. If anyone wants photos I can *attempt* to get some photos.


One thing I am looking for is straight on photo's of pretty high resolution of the lumber wrapped loads, even just one stack is enough. I am creating wrapped lumber loads for the centerbeams and bulkhead cars as well as laying around the layout. Well some other reasons too ;)


Registered Member
Staff member
50' boxcars (non-plugged),
OK I'm out on a limb here, I'll assume it has to do with the doors, so what is the difference between plugged and non-plugged ? I've heard the terms before but didn't pay much attention to finding out. Thanks


Lazy Daydreamer
CBCNSfan said:
OK I'm out on a limb here, I'll assume it has to do with the doors, so what is the difference between plugged and non-plugged ? I've heard the terms before but didn't pay much attention to finding out. Thanks.
Willis, here is my 'laymans' definition FWIW:

Non-plugged means that the door simply slides over the opening, held shut only by a latch or two.

Plugged refers to a door that is gasket-sealed, and 'seats' into the rectanglar opening, held in place by additional bracing. (Model mfgr's often specify this in their catalogs, since a 'plugged' door is usually molded-on and cannot be put in an 'open' position.)

Hope this helps... :)


JeffShultz said:
For a unique lumber mill, see here:

For lumber loads, I've gotten some from Mike at DayforNight models works...

I've also got a _lot_ of photos of centerbeams and lumber loads at my website.


That's a great photo presentation. Again all the loads for HO but none for N :(

If you don't mind, I may lurk around your site looking for some wrapped lumber loads to print out.

NWR #200

Irish Expatriate
Ah, your N scale. Well, one thing you might do is buy one of those HO kits, scan the wraps and shrink them down to N scale size. Then just print off as many as you want!


Stay off the tracks!
Be my guest - that's actually what many of the photos are there for. Mike from Day for Night did some custom work for me with them.

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