The Shay

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Benson Logging Company Shay Working out of Clatskanie, Oregon
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Palmer-Rupp Working out of Mist, Oregon
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Big Creek @ Knappa, Oregon

Loggers called them 'Shays' but actually "Shay" was a brand name and there were other manufacturers. Regardless if you were a railroad logger you had to have one. To the untrained eye they look like steam locomotives, and yes they are, but a special breed. the classic steam locomotive is what loggers called a 'Rod engine'. A Rod engine has the steam expansion cylinders mounted in such a way that the connecting rods run to the wheels, effectively making the driving wheels the crankshaft for the steam engine.

By contrast the Shay has a countershaft usually on the right side outside the wheels which is powered by the steam engine. The countershaft has bevel gears to the wheels thus providing a gear reduction. This gives the Shay a lot more power for working on steep grades with heavy loads, but also limited the top speed to a fairly slow pace. As you can See from these photos the Shay was often used with 'disconnected trucks' to haul logs. The 'Truck' as the loggers called it, was just a set of railroad wheels with a bunk on it for setting logs. They put a truck under each end of the logs regardless of the length of the logs. The logging railroads were often very steep and the empty trucks weighed a lot less than flat cars, and didn't need the siding space beyond the loading rig that a conventional train needed. The down side of them is that they did not have air brakes. Brakeman had to walk along the logs from one car to the next and manually set or release the brakes as needed.

- - Updated 12/11/2012
- - Updated 04/18/2008
- - Updated 2/23/2008
- - Updated 03/23/2008