While Skeleton log cars were unique to the timber industry, many logging railroads used common flat cars for hauling the logs or equipment needed into the woods. The flat car was more versatile and could be had used from mainline railroads very reasonably.
Most of these cars were used with long stakes in the standard stake pockets to keep the timber aboard. A few had log bunks mounted on them.
While many loggers used steam “donkey engines” with winches and cables at a forest “load out” location. Other companies mounted light rail on the flat cars and used moving cranes running on these rails to load the cars. These could run the length of the empty cars and load the train one car at a time until they worked their way to the end. Other loggers stationed rail cranes at locations until the area was “logged out” and then moved them to the next site.
The flat car is a common car and instead of build one here, you can simply buy a well used American Flyer car inexpensively and put scribed balsa decking on it. Add some weathering and you’re set. If you want to build a car from scratch, allow me to direct you to my “Easy S Scratch Building Rolling Stock Guide” to be found elsewhere here on My Flyer Trains.
One of the cars that was especially unique and characteristic to industrial railroads was the “Outhouse” caboose. Basically this was a shack on a single four wheel truck in many cases, although some larger, purpose built four wheel cars were made which were known on regular railroads as a “Bobber” caboose.
The outhouse car was a tiny office for the foreman at the “load out,” carried train crew, or transported tools. Usually only larger operations had enough railroad to use a conductor on a train, but a place for brakemen to ride was needed if the locomotive cab was too crowded.
The tiny four wheeled car looked somewhat like the infamous “restroom” of the day, hence the nickname “Outhouse” for these cars (although I can’t find reference to them having a “facility” inside.) Today we might call them “Porta Potty” cabooses!
Our “Outhouse Caboose” starts with a single truck of any brand that you wish. Since the caboose was the last car in a train, only a single coupler is required. Since trucks and couplers usually come in pairs, you might make two of these tiny cars or save the extra for another project.
The “floor” will be a piece of scribed balsa sheet with 1/8” “boards.” We’ll use this same material for the sides and roof as well. The floor will be 1 ¾” long by 1 5/8” wide. Run the boards end to end for the car and they’ll be on the bottom.
Next, you can make a “bolster” from 2 pieces of 1/8×1/2” strip wood, each ½” long. Glue these one on top of the other. While the glue is setting on these, drill a 1/16” pilot hole in the center of the floor.
Once the glue of the bolster pieces are set, glue them to the center of the bottom of the car. Since the bolster on this car does not have to allow for swing, the bolster will mount the truck and coupler solidly with a small screw. With the glue set between bolster and floor, drill a 1/16” pilot hole through the bolster, using the hole in the floor as a guide.
Wall braces must be made for the upper side of the floor. These will be made of 1/8×1/8” strip wood, 2 are 1 ¾” long, and 2 will be 1 3/8” long. The longer ones go atop the edges of the floor the length of the car, and the shorter ones between them at the end edges.
Now we’ll do some careful cutting on the 1/8” scribed sheet balsa to make walls with a door and windows. Balsa cuts easily with a sharp hobby knife, so all you have to do is mark the area carefully and cut slowly with several even strokes of the knife.
The side walls of the Outhouse caboose will be the same sheet balsa used for the floor and the boards will run vertical. These walls will be 1 ¾” high by
1 ¾” wide. On one side wall, carefully cut out the door opening which will be
1 1/8” vertically by 7/16” wide and the bottom of the door opening will be 1/8” up from the bottom of the side wall. Save the piece removed as it will be the door. Use a slice of small dowel or a sliver of balsa for a “door handle.”
The end walls will start as a piece of balsa sheet cut 1 7/8” high (remember the boards go vertical) and 1 ¾” wide. This extra width will allow for the end walls to overlap the side walls.
Once you have these pieces cut out, mark the center of what will be the top of each end wall. Then measure 1/8” down each side of the end walls and mark that. Draw a line from the side marks to the center mark to show what needs to be cut away to create the shallow roof pitch on both end walls.
Now mark and cut the windows. The windows will be 1/2×1/2” square. Each will be centered on the wall with the bottom of the window 1” from the bottom of the wall.