Logging disconnects (Into the Woods)

The next project on my bench will be the logging disconnects...I reserve the right to put this project on hold when the truck repair shop arrives. I have a set of 3 and would like to make an empty logging train headed into the woods. There will be a number of components to the log train besides the disconnects including: a CHB Dolbeer donkey, a locomotive conversion kit, a flat car, and a scratchbuilt work caboose. I will definitely post the build of the disconnects. If Brett says it's OK to post the other builds here then I will. This is after all a SWSM forum.

I'll be placing the train in a shadow box diorama. Right now I'm thinking that it will be 6"-8" deep, 12" tall, and 24"-36" long. Mountainous scenery is a must, but the location is up in the air right now. I believe the track should have a curve in it, but I don't know if there is enough room for something like an "S" curve. I think a nice gradual curve bending around a rock outcrop should work nice. The curve should be closest to the viewer in the middle of the box. This way some view blocks can be placed in front of the track at each end.

I have found some reference photos and would encourage anyone to post more on this thread if you think the scene might look good. Pic 1 is a jagged rocky scene. Appropriate for the Sierra Nevada's but not quite the look I'm going for. Pic 2 is more of a lush green like you might see in the Appalachian's. I like it but still want some rocks. The 3rd pic is close to what I am thinking right now with a mix of rocks and greenery. I love pic 4 with the switchback, but I think that might be a bit ambitious for such a shallow diorama. But check out the crib work on the upper track right where the guys are standing. That can definitely go into my planning.

Always open to thoughts, ideas, suggestions, etc.df908a5b9a3a332cca6ec448315b3928


  • edited December 2018
    Looks like a great project. I'll be following along...
  • Sounds awesome!
  • The next to the last photo really grabs me...what a great abandoned track scene....hmmmm. gotta keep that one in mind
  • Bryan. Here a few you may like. .....Carl..........






  • nice pics! loads of ideas there...
  • Thanks Robert and Brett.

    Terry, the photo you mentioned is the one that spoke to me also. I believe that will be the look I go for.

    thanks Carl for the photos. That looks like a very unstable load. Love the spindly bridge.

  • I'm getting some of the prep work done and couldn't help but be amazed at the number of individual parts for a humble disconnect.

    Also, something unexpected happened while adding some knot holes to the deck planks. I used some toothpicks that had been previously been used to paint castings and got this interesting ring coloring on my knot hole. I doubt if it will remain through the board coloring steps but though I would share in case others want to try it. I'm sure going to try to find ways to keep this look.IMG_0327
  • Nice project, will be following...

    Knot holes look perfect, hope they retain the look...
  • Love the Knot holes.Maybe you could try inserting and trimming them after you finish a board because the effect is great.
  • Thanks Ken.

    Joel, that is a great idea. I tried that with OK results. Pic 1 shows your idea as the lower knot and an original knot above it. This will take some trial and error to figure out a reproducable solution.

    I've given the base layer of color to the decking. The instruction manual suggests installing the deck then coloring the entire disconnect the same color. I wanted to tell a story of re-decked disconnects and made slight variations in the coloring and texture for each deck. Pic 2 shows the differences.

    I also have a base coat of color on the resin pieces. I'm choosing not to use chalks to color these because I have found that chalk can hide some of the fine details and these castings are very detailed...including damage to the wood log bunk! I started with a light gray spray base followed by a dark brown enamel wash. I varied the wash by thinning some pieces more than others and by adding a dust color on top of the dark brown.

    Once these are dry I will assemble and drybrush tan then gray to blend the colors together.

    I found a cool reference pic of a disconnect that looks a lot like the ones I am building. What's cool about it is the debris that has accumulated on the deck, and if you look close, you can see lettering on the cross arm. I believe they added a steel log bunk. Which got me thinking.....

  • Left off the reference photo

  • Fantastic work.
  • Thanks Joel.

    I'm going to need view blocks on each end of the diorama to hide the track coming to an abrupt end. And since we are going into the woods, we will need some woods. I've always wanted to try my hand at a wire frame tree so here we go.

    I took some 24g florist wire and cut 12 pieces about 40" long. Fold the bunch in half then in half again. Put a twist in the bottom. This will be the roots. For this tree I inserted a 1.5" plastic tube about 1/8" thick to bulk up the trunk at the soil line. Start twisting and form the basic trunk and branch structures. Some of the tutorials I've seen says to cut off the long tips of these wires to form the basic structure of the branch (pic 2, red arrow). I would like some finer definition on my branch tips. So I looped the long wire back on itself and twisted it together...3 twists minimum to hold it in place (pic 3). Then fold the look back on itself kind of like tying your shoe (pic 4). Twist these smaller loops. Once again at least 3 twists to hold in place. The red arror in pic 4 shows only 1 twist in this loop...this will fall apart in the next step. Cut the loops. You now have 4 branch tips where there was only 1 before.

    Continue this process for the entire tree. Give it a few bends until it looks right. I think this tree got a bit too tall. Next time I will either cut the strands shorter or add more strands to get more branches going up the trunk. The tree is 7.5" tall in the last pic. The whole process is pretty quick up to this point. I'd say less than an hour per tree.

    That's all on trees for now...the paint on the disconnects is dry.IMG_0334
  • edited December 2018
    The paint job on the frames and decks is done but the photos here are not quite the right color. I got the base coat on then drybrushed with Terrain Khaki followed by SW Light Gray. These pics show the disconnect with the most distress and the least distress. The least must have recently gotten out of the Tractor Repair Shed recently with a recent deck job, paint job, and number added. I'm also considering using a steel bunk for this one. Still haven't decided.

    The bunks are just sitting on there right now. Check out the detail on the wood bunk. That's a casting. I didn't do any of the wood texture.

    Right now the coupler pockets have been added (epoxy drying now) and the wheelsets are primed with a first coat of weathering that is also drying. IMG_0357
  • Very...very...Nice
  • I'm going to need a few for my layout. Why don't you build a couple of extras and send them my way. I'm looking for authentic and this is definitely authentic!!! Phil
  • I love the disconnects, to me this old wood style exemplifies backwoods logging more than any other single piece of equipment save for a small T-Boiler Shay. Love the progress Bryan! Can't wait to see more.
  • I'll get right on that Phil. When/if they ever become available again I'll be sure to pick some up for both of us.

    Thanks Brett. I'm loving these little kits.

    I have the first pair that was able to be connected. I have some clean up work to do on the underneath like touching up with paint. Then I'll add the brakes. At that point flip it over and add the deck hardware and bunks.IMG_0360
  • Sweet! can't believe those are castings and not real wood...both you and Brett did an amazing job on those.

    Also, excellent tree armature tutorial...can't wait to see how they turn out...keep going with how you finish them up.
  • Are these the Sierra West disconnects? They look great....nice work.....I have several different kits of various styles…..most are combo wood and metal....These are as Brett says "backwoods".....Nice
  • Yes, they are my kits that Bryan is building. I am so happy to see them up here I have decided to make a small run of them early next year! Information on my website when available...
  • Looking forward to ordering a few, Brett
  • Thanks Ken. Will definitely pick the trees back up at some point. I'll be posting the entire diorama build here as the Webmaster gave his blessing. I'm excited about trying a shadow box presentation. As I said during my O'Neills build, these kits deserve a proper presentation. If you are wondering, of course there will be lights. Probably just interior lighting (day and night maybe) to see better, but I wouldn't rule out a flicker light for the loco boiler.

    The disconnects are at a stopping point. All assembled and mostly weathered. I may add a few more details and bits of wear and tear after the entire train is put together. This string of cars ended up at about 20" long which was about 2" longer than I had accounted for. The photo over the bridge gives an idea of the length. The diorama grows! Next up will be a 20' flatcar that will serve to carry the Dolbeer into the woods.

    I think the work caboose on the end should have a sawfiler scene on it. I put this piece together to see what I thought about it. Kind of like the way it's turning out.

    I'm in for another set of disconnects. These were a real pleasure to build. I could also use a Blacksmith car if anyone has one they would be willing to part with.IMG_0364
  • Please tell me they are "O" ….if so...I'm in for a few.....
  • edited December 2018
    Boy....this O vs HO is like the Florida-Florida State football game
  • Those are superb Bryan, the debris on the deck is wonderful.

    Yes they are On3/On30 depending upon the wheelsets you install.
  • Glad to hear that Brett, You can count on me for a couple sets!
  • Me too.!!!!!
  • eyes got too small...and fingers too big to continue modeling enjoyable in HO....LOL....I particularly like the O scale because I can detail to the level I am comfortable opposed to Dr. Grunge.....who I am quite sure could super detail N scale to look "More Real than Real"....Brett...I too will be in for several sets....
  • edited December 2018

    This has been a fun build to follow. Great photos accompanied by good explanations as always. It also appears as others would like to build some of these little gems and that Brett will offer the kits again. Both you and Ken are amazing craftsman with a strong artistic and creative streak not to mention superlative teachers, [See it. Say it. Do it.]

    Looking at the scene where you feature the logging disconnects on a wood trestle gave me flashbacks to the iconic scenery of John Allen featured in MR several decades ago.

    The tree tutorial was quite unexpected but refreshing and timely for all of us waiting to add unique trees to a diorama. I'll be making a trip to the craft store for some wire as soon as the Christmas season winds down and all the family has gone back east. Looking forward to the completion of this tree project and your accompanying photos and explanations for additional items I'll need to buy for the project.

    In this photo above you appear to be making a stand for a tree saw to be sharpened. Is that what you have in progress? Another wonderful and creative detail. Will the completed scene have accompanying LP?
    LP?SierraWest Tree Saw Stand by Bryan Brown Logging Disconnects Discussion

    Thanks, Dave S. Tucson, AZ
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