Lumber Loads

IMG_4123

This page details how I construct custom flatcar lumber loads for my model railway. While significantly more work than a pre-made molded and painted or printed resin or plastic load, the result is a more realistic looking three dimensional load with actual spacers and gaps between rows and strapping. It also avoids the cookie cutter look by making every load a little unique from each other by varying the exact combination of bundle sizes and the locations of any gaps or spaces in the rows. It also means I’m not limited to whatever larger lumber companies are featured on commercially available lumber loads, and I have lumber graphics specific to the smaller mills that were actually served by my railway.

Printable graphics for several different lumber companies are provided at the bottom of this page, below the instructions. Feel free to print these and use them to create your own loads. (In fact if you do, I’d love to see them!) There’s also a blank template for which you can create your own graphics or download company logos from online to make your own variations.

The general technique can also be adjusted with different size blocks to model wrapped engineered joist and drywall loads.

Instructions

Wood blocks:IMG_4404

  1. Choose a nice, piece of wood, preferably a good quality scrap of pine, with no warps and square edges.
  2. Rip into strips on a table saw, 13mm* wide (4 scale feet) by 8.5mm tall for standard 2 1/2′ tall bundles. (Fits four rows to a car.)
    Some bundles are wrapped to 2′ (5 rows) and 3 1/2′ (3 rows) heights.
  3. Cut the strips into blocks matching the bundle lengths.
    1. 8′ studs (28 mm)
    2. 10′ studs (35 mm)
    3. 12′ studs (42 mm)
    4. 16′ studs (58 mm)
  4. Sand any burrs and splinters from the edges.

*HO scale measurements.

Paper wraps:IMG_4406

  1. Print out the selected graphics file on regular white paper.
  2. The printed graphics show black marks at each end; use this as a guide to cut out the graphics into strips using a sharp hobby knife and straightedge
  3. Cut the strips to length with a small square to wrap the various sized blocks.
    1. 8′ (44 mm)
    2. 10′ (51 mm)
    3. 12′ (58 mm)
    4. 16′ (72 mm)

Bundles:IMG_4409

  1. Apply glue to the back (un-printed) side of the paper wrap using a standard craft glue stick.
  2. Center a wood block of the matching size on the edge of the long side of the paper and press down.
  3. Fold the wrap over the long sides of the block, making sure it glues down securely. Use your fingers to get a sharp crease in the corner of the paper that extends out past the end of the block.
  4. Using a sharp hobby knife, cut along the inside of the folded corner beyond to separate the sides and top of the overhanging wrap into separate flaps.
  5. Fold the side flaps in first. (Re-apply glue if necessary.)
  6. Fold down the top flap over the end. (Re-apply glue if necessary.)
  7. If the paper wrap extends below the bottom surface of the block, trim flush with sharp knife to complete.

Assembling the loads:IMG_4123 (2)

Note: Spend some time studying older photos of lumber loads on standard flatcars or this actual Conrail reference guide to see how the bundles are staggered and strapped together. In the model world, the load is all glued together, but in the real world it’s all held together with strapping, so the bundles are staggered so that bundles beside each other are connected by being strapped to the one above or below. At minimum, each end of any bundle should be strapped to one above or below it.
For modern centre-beam cars, the central truss structure and ratchet & cable tie downs standard to the car means the bundles can be stacked and secured with no staggering, although some staggering may still occur when different lengths of lumber are included in the same load.

  1. Cut the bearing pieces for the bottom of the load, short spacers for between the rows and longer ones for between the halves of the stack from scale strip wood. I used 2×6 strip wood for my spacers, but mills might use various stud sizes from 2x4s to 4x4s. The diagrams in the Conrail reference guide linked above show either 2×4 or 2×6 pieces as standard to use for these spacers.
    The bearing pieces (bottom spacers) should be the width of the car. Short spacers between levels can be just the width of the lumber bundle. The vertical stabilizers/spacers should be about 10 scale feet, or a little taller than the stack of bundles.
  2. Glue the small spacers to the bottoms of the lumber bundles with white glue, except for the bottom row which should rest on the longer bearing pieces.
  3. Assemble the bottom row by gluing bundles together end to end. Use glue sparingly. Make sure the row stays straight.
    (Assembly of the bundles may be done on the car in question to ensure a good fit. Avoid glue drops or place a piece of waxed paper on the flatcar deck to protect. Don’t glue bundles directly to the car – the load will be removeable when done.)
  4. Assemble the second, third and fourth rows as above, gluing them to the top of the lower row. You may assemble each side independently, or at the same time, gluing the bundles to the vertical centre spacers.
  5. Let the glue dry before moving to the last step.
  6. The strapping on the model load is represented with 1/64″ wide black Chartpak graphics tape (obtained online from an art/graphics supply store), which actually roughly scales out to about 1.5″ wide, not too oversize. I applied this after the load was assembled and glued together using tweezers and a pin to insert the tape in between the layers. Apply a drop of glue with a pin or thin toothpick in a hidden place if necessary to secure the tape, so the natural adhesive doesn’t loosen.
  7. Add the guide rails along the sides of the loads; these should be out of 2×6″ stripwood and will be glued to the tops of the extensions of the bearing pieces that stick out beyond the sides of the bundles.

Related Blog Posts

Printable Lumber Wrap Graphics

Unless specifically stated, all graphics are sized for printing for HO scale 2 1/2′ tall bundles although you can play around with your own graphics and logos to print out wraps for larger or smaller bundles. To ensure that the graphics are printed the correct size, make sure the “Print Actual Size” option is selected in the printing options. (Note – The PDF viewer built into Edge on Windows 10 doesn’t have the “Print actual-size” option and will always shrink to fit. The alternative Reader app also has the same problem.  If you’re on Windows 10, either use the Excel spreadsheet files, or download and install the actual Adobe Acrobat Reader app, so you have full control over scaling when printing.)

Note: I’ve noticed some possible issues with Internet Explorer trying to download the XLSX links. Not sure why, since it’s just a link to an Excel file and Microsoft’s own browser should understand that. If you do get a page of gibberish clicking on one of those links, try an alternate browser like Chrome or FireFox. That seems to work.

Dates in the listings below preceded with ‘~’ may be approximated based on photographic sightings, and may be applicable for a larger date range than stated.

Blank Excel Template

XLSX (HO scale 2’6″ bundle height – most common, 4 rows)
XLSX (N scale 2’6″ bundle height)

XLSX (HO scale 2’0″ bundle height – 5 rows)

XLSX (HO scale 3’6″ bundle height – 3 rows)

Company Graphics By Region

Gaspé & Maritimes

Cedrico Lumber (Price, QC) – ~2013
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Fornebu Lumber (Bathurst, NB) – ~2013
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Irving – ~1999-2004
PDF Prototype
(Courtesy Andrew Castle)

Temrex (Nouvelle, QC) – 2009-Present
PDF | XLSX Prototype – Model (Taylor Main)

Twin Rivers (Plaster Rock, NB) – ~2011-2012
PDF | XLSXPrototype

North-East Quebec

Boisaco (Sacre-Coeur, QC) – ~2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Donohue Inc. – ~1991 (to Abitibi-Consolidated in 2000)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Uniforêt (Port Cartier, QC) – ~2004
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Southern Quebec

ARBEC – 2015+
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Clermond Hamel (Saint-Ephrem-de-Beauce, QC) – ~20xx?
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Clermond Hamel – ~2014
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Clermond Hamel (125th Anniversary) – 2015
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Matériaux Blanchet (Saint-Pamphile, QC) – ~2015
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Portbec Forest Products (Quebec, QC) – ~2015
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Northern Ontario & North-West Quebec

Domtar – ~2000-2010 (sold sawmills to EACOM in 2010)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Domtar – ~2000-2010 *3.5′ Bundle*
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Dubreuil Forest Products (Dubreuilville, ON) – ~1989-1995
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Dubreuil Forest Products (Dubreuilville, ON) – ~1999-2007 (closed 2007)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

EACOM – ~2011-Present
PDF | XLSXPrototype

E.B. Eddy Forest Products – ~1980s-1990s (to Domtar in 1998)
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (CV)

Kirkland Lake Forest Products (Kirkland Lake, ON) – ~2017
PDF | XLSXProtoype

Lecours Lumber (Calstock, ON) – ~1999
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (CV)

Lecours Lumber (Calstock, ON) – ~2013
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Malette Timber (Hearst, ON) – 1989-1997 (now Tembec)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Nakina Forest Products (Nakina, ON) – ~2004
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Newaygo Forest Products (Mead, ON) – 1974-1984 (closed 1985)
PDF | XLSX – Prototype – Model (CV)

Normick Perron (Amos, Senneterre, QC) – ~1994
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (CV)

Olav Haavaldsrud (Hornepayne, ON) – ~2015
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Scierie Landrienne Inc. (Landrienne, QC) – ~2013
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Tembec – ~2000-2012
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Tembec – 2012-Present
PDF | XLSX Prototype

White River Forest Products (White River, ON) – ~2017
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Manitoba & Saskatchewan

Edgewood Forest Products (Carrot River, SK) – 2012-Present
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Alberta & British Columbia

Babine Forest Products (Burns Lake, BC) – ~1990-Present
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) – ~1990
PDF | XLSX Prototype – Model (Craig “BNML2”)

Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) – ~2003-2006
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) – ~2010-Present
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) Red – ~2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Carrier Lumber (Prince George, BC) – ~2013
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Conifex Timber (Fort St. James/Mackenzie, BC) – ~2014
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Decker Lake (Burns Lake, BC) – ~1995
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Decker Lake (Burns Lake, BC) – ~2005-2012
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Dunkley Lumber Ltd. (Hixon, BC) – ~2003-2012
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Finlay Forest Industries (Mackenzie, BC) – ~1990 (to Abitibi-Consolidated in 2000)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Finlay Premium (Mackenzie, BC) – ~1996 (to Abitibi-Consolidated in 2000)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Foothills Forest Products (Grande Cache, AB) – ~2016
PDF | XLSX Prototype

International Forest Products (INTERFOR) #1 – 2011-Present
PDF | XLSX Prototype

International Forest Products (INTERFOR) #2 – 2011-Present
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Nechako Lumber (Vanderhoof, BC) – ~2010
PDF | XLSXPrototype

parallel55 (Prince George, BC) – ~2004
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Riverside-TOLKO (Kelowna, BC) – ~2005-2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Riverside-TOLKO (Kelowna, BC) – ~2005-2015 *3.5′ Bundle*
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Skeena Sawmills (Terrace, BC) – 2013-Present
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Slocan Group (Quesnel, BC) – ~1990
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (Craig “BNML2”)

Slocan Group (Vanderhoof, BC) – ~2004 (to CANFOR in 2005)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Stuart Lake Lumber (Fort St. James, BC) – ~1980s
PDF | XLSXPrototype
(With assistance from A.J. Shewan)

Stuart Lake Lumber (Fort St. James, BC) – ~1996 (closed 2007)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

TOLKO – ~1990
PDF | XLSXPrototype

TOLKO – ~2005-2015
PDF | XLSXPrototype

West Fraser – ~1974
PDF | XLSXPrototype

West Fraser – ~1986
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

West Fraser – ~2004-Present
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Westar Timber (Watson Island, BC) – ~1986
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Country-Wide & International

Abitibi Bowater – 2007-2011 (renamed Resolute Forest Products in 2011)
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Abitibi-Consolidated – 1997-2007 (to Abitibi-Bowater, 2007)
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Abitibi-Consolidated (Finlay Premium) – 2000-2007
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Canadian Wood Products
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Kruger – ~2005
PDF | XLSX Prototype

MacMillan Bloedel – ~1995
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Resolute Forest Products – 2011-Present (was Abitibi-Bowater)
PDF | XLSX – Prototype

Weyerhaeuser ‘Shed-Pak’ – ~1972
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Weyerhaeuser Building Products – ~1976-1985
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (CV)

Weyerhaeuser Lumber – ~1985
PDF | XLSXPrototype – Model (Craig “BNML2”)

Weyerhaeuser Lumber – ~2004-Present
PDF | XLSXPrototype

United States (West)

Clearwater Paper – ~2011
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Idaho Forest Group – ~2014
PDF | XLSX Prototype

Potlatch – ~2005
PDF | XLSXPrototype

Simpson Lumber Co. – ~2005-2012
PDF | XLSXPrototype

14 thoughts on “Lumber Loads

  1. Hi Chris
    Have you thought of using magnets embedded in the bottom lumber load to hold the load to the car, but make it removable during an operating session? Seems doable to me.
    Regards
    Blair
    (Good news – up to my ears in a new house, complete with big train room and thick roof for Rasa. Bad news – so much to be done to finish new house and liquidate old holdings that I’ll be another year before I catch my breath. Oh well! We’ll be down in March for the double header tour, unless we make it before then)

    • I haven’t found that necessary so far, but there’s some pretty small rare earth magnets you can get, and it should be pretty easy to drill a hole in the bottom of one of the lower blocks to glue in a magnet (probably using epoxy to make sure it stays in there).

      The loads are removable, and so far gravity/friction seems to do a fine job on a bulkhead flat.

  2. Chris,

    I have a flatcar load of lumber on CN Newfoundland. It came from the Mainland somewhere. It is not the greatest photo. If I send it to you, can you have a look to see if you recognize it? Most of the lumber shipped were stacked on flatcars with no covering.

    Thanks
    Andrew
    Sn42 CN Newfoundland

  3. Hi Chris awesome work you have done. I know you’re a 1:87 modeller but have you any advice for converting your graphics to 1:160 (N) ? I guess mainly for the wood blocks. I think the conversion for the wraps would be like 54% or something similar.

    Thanks in advance!

    Eric 🇨🇦

    • Hi Eric, the prototype size of the bundles is generally 2’6″ high x 4′ wide x 8’/10’/12’/14’/16′ long. Measuring against my scale rule, that works out to an actual size of 0.175″ or 4.5mm high x 0.300″ or 7.6mm wide for N scale.

      The technique for making the graphics file is as follows:

      When laying out the template Excel file, you can size the row height to a specific printed height. Insert the image, resize so it fits the row height exactly, then adjust the column width so it fits exactly to the image. (Highlight multiple columns to resize them all the same at once – then insert/delete extra columns as necessary.) Then copy and paste to the other cells ad nauseum to tile the image. Then print out, cut, and glue as per the instructions at the top of this page.

    • I’m not sure *I* have that much modelling time either! 😉

      There’s a certain amount of effort involved, I think pre made would sell for a decent amount to make it worth while.

    • Philip
      Well, there are ‘fake’ loads, like the Walthers one for their Centerbeams:
      https://www.walthers.com/wrapped-lumber-load-for-walthersmainline-72-centerbeam-flatcar-weyerhaeuser
      but I doubt that’s what you’re looking for. Individually wrapped bundles, stacked, spaced, and fastened together? I can’t see that. It takes quite a bit of work to do enough for one of these cars. I spent most of a day sawing lumber to dimensions last month, and the yield was enough to do about 25 cars. I figure I can make those 25 loads in about another 3-4 days effort, maybe more. So if you work it out, that’s about an hour and a half per carload, maybe more. How much do you get paid per hour?

    • Hi Chris, I model 1983 on the SP in Oregon, and would love to have a few Weyerhaeuser wrapped loads on some bulkheads. I thoroughly understand the time and craftsmanship involved. Just was curious to know your thoughts and feelings, and level of interest in the project. Thanks for the time.

      Philip

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