Mechanical Methods In Lumbering
The operations described above are those common in the lumber regions of the northeast and the Lake States. But special conditions produce special methods. A very effective device where streams are small is the flume, Fig. 23. This is a long wooden trough thru which water is led, and the logs floated end on. It is sometimes many miles long; in one case in California twenty-five miles.
In the South where there is no snow, logs are largely brought out to the railway or river by being hung under immense two-wheeled trucks, called slip-tongue carts, drawn by mules, Fig. 24. The wheels are nearly eight feet in diameter.
Fig. 23. Six Mile Flume. Adirondack Mountains, New York.
Some kinds of wood are so heavy that they will not float at all, and some sink so readily that it does not pay to transport them by river. In such cases temporary railways are usually resorted to.
Fig. 24. Hauling Logs by Mules. Oscilla, Georgia.
On the Pacific coast, where the forests are dense, the trees of enormous size, and no ice road is possible, still other special methods have been devised. On so great a scale are the operations conducted that they may properly be called engineering feats. Consider for a moment the size of the trees: red fir ranges from five to fifteen feet in diameter, is commonly two hundred fifty feet high, and sometimes three hundred twenty-five feet high. The logs are commonly cut twenty-five feet long, and such logs often weigh thirty to forty tons each, and the logs of a single tree may weigh together one hundred fifty tons. The logging of such trees requires special appliances. Until recently all the improved methods were in forms of transportation, the felling still being done by hand with very long saws, Fig. 25, but now even the felling and sawing of logs in the forest is partly done by machinery.
Fig. 25. A Twenty-Five Foot Saw used for Crosscutting Big Logs.
Fig. 26. Hauling Big Logs by Donkey Engine.
To work the saw, power is supplied by a steam or gasoline engine mounted upon a truck which can be taken readily from place to place. As the maximum power required is not over ten-horse-power, the apparatus is so light that it can be moved about easily. The saw can be adjusted to cut horizontally, vertically, or obliquely, and hence is used for sawing into lengths as well as for felling.
Falling beds. Since the weight of a two hundred fifty foot fir is such that if the impact of its fall be not gradually checked the force with which it strikes the ground may split the trunk, a bed for its fall is prepared by the swampers. Usually piles of brush are placed as buffers along the "falling line" so that the trunk will strike these. If the tree stands on the hill side, it is thrown up hill, in order to shorten the fall.
After the felling comes the trimming of branches and knots and "rossing" of bark, to lessen the friction in sliding along the skidway.
The skidway. By the skidway in the Puget Sound region is meant a corduroy road. This is constructed of trunks of trees ranging from a foot to two feet in diameter. These are "rossed," that is, stripped of their bark and laid across the road, where they are held in place by pegs driven into the ground, and by strips spiked upon the tops of the logs. If possible they are laid in swampy places to keep the surface damp and slippery. At turns in the road, pulleys are hung, thru which the hauling cables pass. The skidway runs to the railway siding or water's edge. Over these skidways the logs are hauled out by various means. Formerly "strings" of oxen or Percheron horses were used, but they are now largely superseded by some form of donkey engine, Fig. 26. These are placed at the center of a "yard."
Yarding is the skidding of logs to the railway or water way by means of these donkey engines. Attached to the donkey engine are two drums, one for the direct cable, three-fourths to one inch in diameter and often half a mile long, to haul in the logs, the other for the smaller return cable, twice as long as the direct cable and used to haul back the direct cable. At the upper end of the skidway, when the logs are ready to be taken to the railway or boomed, they are fastened together, end to end, in "turns" of four or more. The direct cable is attached to the front of the "turn", and the return cable to the rear end. By winding the direct cable on its drum, the "turn" is hauled in. The return cable is used to haul back the end of the direct cable, and also, in case of a jam, to pull back and straighten out the turn. Instead of a return cable a horse is often used to haul out the direct cable. Signaling from the upper end of the skidway to the engineer is done by a wire connected to the donkey's whistle, by an electric bell, or by telephone.
Sometimes these donkey engines are in relays, one engine hauling a turn of logs to within reach of the next one, which passes it on to the next until the siding is reached.
Fig. 27. Steam Skidder at Work. Grant County, Arkansas.
Where there are steep canons to be crossed, a wire trolley may be stretched and the great logs carried over suspended from it.
In the South a complicated machine called a steam skidder, Fig. 27, equipped with drums, booms, etc., is much used both for skidding in the logs and then for loading them on the cars. It is itself mounted on a flat car.
An improvement on this is the locomotive boom derrick which is widely used both on the Pacific coast and of late in the Lake Superior region. It is a combined locomotive, skidder and loader. Its most unique feature is that it can be lifted off the track so as to allow flat cars to run underneath it. This feat is accomplished thus: A device, which is something like that used in elevating the bodies of coal wagons, lifts the engine several feet above the rails. Then steel legs, which are curved outwardly, are lowered until the shoes which are attached to them rest on the outward end of the railroad ties. The truck of the locomotive is then folded up under it out of the way and cars can run under it, the curved legs giving plenty of clearance. The derrick attached is of the breast type, the two legs being firmly fastened. When anchored the engine can be used either for skidding or loading. For skidding, there are two cables, one being run out while the other is being wound on its drum.
Fig. 28. Log Train, Humboldt County, California.
In loading, the machine is located so that the empty car will be directly in front of it, and then the logs are lifted up and placed on the car by the derrick. When the car is loaded the machine can either move on to the next car, or pull it under itself into place. With the help of four men it can load from 125,000 to 150,000 feet of timber in a day. By means of the cable it can make up a train, and then by lowering the truck and raising the legs out of the way, it is converted into a locomotive and hauls the train away to the mill or railway station at the rate of three or four miles at hour.
As forests are cut away along the water courses, railways have to be resorted to more and more, Fig. 28. This has had a stimulative effect on the logging business, for now the logger is independent of the snow. On account of the steep grades and sharp curves often necessary in logging railways, a geared locomotive is sometimes used, Fig. 29. It can haul a train of twenty loaded cars up a twelve per cent grade. The geared engine has also been used as a substitute for cable power, in "yarding" operations. The "turns" of logs are drawn over the ground between the rails, being fastened to the rear of the engine by hook and cable. This has proved to be a very economical use of power and plant.
Fig. 29. Donkey Engine Yarding.
Fig. 30. Giant Raft. In the background is a completed raft;
in the foreground a cradle in which a raft is being built.
Another method of traction where the woodland is open enough is with a traction engine. The ones employed have sixty to one hundred horse power. The great logs may be placed on wood rollers, as a house is when moved, or the logs may be hauled in on a low truck with broad wheels. The "tractor" hauls the log direct to the railway if the distance is not too great.
Fig. 31. Snow Locomotive. Takes the place of 12 teamsters and 12 horses. Minnesota.
In Northern Michigan a "snow locomotive," Fig. 31, is coming into use, which has tremendous tractive power, hauling one hundred to one hundred fifty tons of lumber over snow or ice. It moves on runners, but there is between them a large cylinder armed with teeth. This cylinder can be raised or lowered by the operator as it moves over the surface of the ground. The teeth catch in the snow or ice, and since the cylinder is heated by the exhaust steam, it melts and packs the snow for the trucks following it. The drum is six feet in diameter, with walls an inch and a half thick, and it weighs seven tons. It is used in all sorts of places where horses cannot go, as in swamps, and by substituting wheels for runners it has even been used on sand.
In the Canadian lakes there has been devised a queer creature called an "alligator," a small and heavily equipped vessel for hauling the logs thru the lakes. When its operations in one lake are finished, a wire cable is taken ashore and made fast to some tree or other safe anchorage, the capstan on its forward deck is revolved by steam and the "alligator" hauls itself out of the water across lots to the next lake and begins work there.
The greatest improvement in water transportation is the giant raft, Fig. 30. When such a raft is made up, logs of uniform length are placed together, the width of the raft being from sixty to one hundred feet and its length, one thousand feet or more. It may contain a million board feet of timber. The different sections are placed end to end, and long boom sticks, i. e., logs sixty to seventy feet long, are placed around them to bind the different sections together, and finally the whole mass is heavily chained. Such a raft has been towed across the Pacific.