A logging elevator gives the Squirrel Valley Railroad a real lift
In order to simulate the act of hauling loaded log cars down mountain switchbacks, unloading, and then going back up the switchbacks—with empty log cars—for more logs, I had to have a full log train and an empty log train and switch between the two behind the scenes. The engines and cars had to be identical except for the log loads in one train.
Even though a Shay would have been the best choice, in N-scale modeling, no good-running Shay exists, so I chose a Life-Like SW9/SW1200, based upon the fact that Joe Fugate's logging article in Model Railroad Planning 1998 says that in the late 50s there were SW1200s hauling logs in Oregon. The Squirrel Valley is a freelanced dogbone layout set in 1959 in Oregon, so even if these diesels didn't necessarily travel up switchbacks very often, they were log haulers, and I love the way Life-Like's N-scale SW9s run and look, so I chose them as my logging engines.
Since moving logs on and off cars is pretty much out of the question at this scale, and I didn't want to see either an empty train coming down the mountain from the logging area or a full train going up the mountain to the logging area, I could (if I didn't decide to forget the whole logging idea, which most N-scalers seem to do) either build a hidden helix in a mountain to get fulls to the top and empties to the bottom or I could build a hidden log train elevator which I'd have to invent from scratch.
A Logging Train Elevator