Logging in Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia circa 1950

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1939 Maple Leaf Truck

We like to think the only place there is logging is in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, but this is hardly the case. The photos here were forwarded to me from Beaudsert by Bernie Lahey. He describes the truck as a 1939 Maple Leaf. Hopefully he will explain. He is the little guy who can't quite reach the pedals yet.

A Maple Leaf is a Canadian built Chevrolet, six cylinder 216 cubic inch petrol motor , four speed gear box top speed of 35 m.p.h. they were rated as 3 ton in Canada, exported to Australia fitted with over ride or jockey springs and sold as a five tonner, add a five ton jinker (trailer) register as a ten ton unit, then load as much on as it will pull up the steepest climb on the way to the mill. Sometimes that might be 20 ton (our old tons were 2240 lbs) That's not a bad effort for a three tonner with a car motor, they were interchangeable, but the car only had a three speed box, low gear in the truck was low, like the torque in the motor max. down to 900 r.p.m. The jinker is set up as a semi. ie the "pole" is connected to the rear of the front bolster, not the chassis, so it doesn't track as well as a floating pole. We still unlock the pole to alter the bloster length for long or short logs, illegal today because of too much overhang behind the rear wheels.

My great grandfather and his brothers began logging in this area in the early 1900's , they had 2 mills, Canungra and Beaudesert, with timber yards in Brisbane. This area had good stands of both hardwood such as Blue gum , Spotted gum and Ironbark , along with large stands of Red Cedar and Pine. When they were logged out there was plenty of scrub timbers as farmer cleared more land. There were about 15 mills in the area at one stage but have gradually closed, today the only one left is Lahey's Beaudesert, now owned by Enrights it is the largest privately owned hardwood mill in the state. That's part of the mill in the background of the photo of the cute kid, it was still steam powered then, about 1946, it went electric in the 50,s

You asked about loading that blue gum on the truck, it would have been loaded where it fell, probably with a "forest devil" , a type of portable winch with a 6ft handle to get more men on it, a very slow and laborious way but it would be too big for bullock teams or horses.

This was probably about the time that the Chev blitz arrived but I won't go there at the moment I want to find a photo of it first. Normal logs were loaded up skids, Spotted gum saplings about 6 in in diameter and 10 ft long, they were sat on the bolsters, with smaller saplings tied to the other side of the bolster to stop the log rolling off the other side, these were known as policemen. A long chain was placed under the center of the log with the ends anchored to the front and rear bolster, a single chain or rope was hooked to the middle of the long chain making a "bridle" , the other end was hooked to the forest devil, horse team, other log truck or whatever was there to load them, by moving the pulling point on the bridle you could virtually steer the log up the skids, all hard yakka but no timber work is easy.

I'm sending a photo of that gum and the men that fell it, from the left is my uncle Tute Walker, his son Laurie, my dad Harvey Lahey and Alf Freeman, Love the 8 ft crosscut saw. The tree would be cut into 3 or 4 logs, a load in each for the Maple Leaf.

It was later replaced with a 1946 Maple Leaf, I'm told the reason for Canadian trucks was the fact that the import duty on American vehicles was pretty steep, whereas Canada was part of the commonwealth in those times , so less duty.

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