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for the 'McPhee Lumber Company'

This Article was included in the July 2009 Issue of 'Narrow Gauge Downunder" Magazine

A logging layout needs some way of getting the cut logs from the log loading site to the log pond or sawmill. And one of my favourite log carrying cars are the skeleton type. 

I didn’t have any plans for the ones I wanted, and only had photographs of slightly larger and heavier type used on 3 foot gauge lines. I required cars that would run on 2’6” gauge rails, so the main frame had to be narrower to allow the bogies to swing enough to run around the 18” curves on my layout. 

I had 4 sets of IAN LINDSAY MODELS bogies with AMC top hat bearings and BACHMANN INDUSTRIES six spoke ‘OO’ scale wheel sets. These ‘OO’ scale wheels work to 24” diameter in ‘O’ scale, perfect for these cars. 


The first and main component is the main beam. Everything else on the skeleton car is attached to this beam. It requires two lengths of 6” x12’ x 21 feet long and four spacers 3” x 12” x 20 inches long. Two of these spacers are positioned at each end, while the other two are positioned where the bogies are attached. The diagram left and the main plans will enable you to position these exactly. They are shown here in dark grey.

Now, cut outs need to be made at the end of each beam to take the no.5 Kadees. These are 12mm long x 2 mm deep. Two other cut outs are required for the cross struts. These are 2 mm deep and the width of the strut you make. Mine were 3mm wide. See the diagram above. The addition of 4 GRANDT LINE NBW’s each side completes this main beam. 

The cross struts are next required. Because I need a square slot at each end of the strut, the best way to achieve this is to laminate pieces of timber together. I used two pieces of 6” x 2” x 6’9” long and two outsides pieces 6” x 1” by 7’9” long. These were laminated as seen opposite, and form a slot 4” x 6’ long.

The vertical stakes are 6” x 6” x 5 feet long and have 1” cutouts at the bottom on each side to allow them to slide into the 4” x 6” slots in the ends of the cross struts. 

The main beam frame, cross struts and stakes have had wood grain added using an EXACTO saw and then stained with pa dark grey stain. A white pastel pencil  made by CONTI (available from art supply shops) is drawn down each side of the timber beam and rubbed in to give a mid grey weathered look. 

All the metal strips are EVERGREEN No.115 0.4mm x 2.5mm styrene strips. Painted dark brown and dusted with BRADGDON INDUSTRIES rust powder. The brake wheel is from IAN LINDSAY MODELS. The GRANDT LINE NBW’s are treated the same before being added to the car. 

The models are completed by adding the bogies, couplers, brake wheel and other optional brake bits like a cylinder, tank and plumbing. All that’s left now is to test run the models and load some logs on so they can earn their keep. 


Because all computers will bring this plan up in different sizes, I have included a scale bar in the plans. It is located at the in the middle of the plan. This allows you to save the plan to your  computer by right clicking with the mouse and selecting "Save Picture As". You can then save the plans to a folder on your computer. You are then able to do either of two options to get these plans to the scale you want to build your model in.

For 'O' scale Ό"to the foot, the bar has to be 50mm long. For 'Ho' the bar should be 28mm long and for ½" scale the bar should be 100mm long.

Option 1 - on computer: Using 'O' scale as an example, open the plan photo in a computer program like MS Word, MS Publisher or in a Photoshop type program. Draw a line 50mm long and enlarge or reduce the image until the scale bar is the same length as the 50mm line. Then print the image. In 'O' scale the plans will fit onto an A4 size sheet of paper.

Option 2 - using a photocopier: On the plan, right click the mouse and select  "Print Picture". This will print out the plans on your computer printer. Measure the scale bar, which may for example be 43mm long on your print. You need to now enlarge or reduce the plans on a photocopier. The percentage of enlargement or reduction for an 'O' scale set of plans can be worked out by dividing 50 by our example length of 43 which equals 1.16 or 116% enlargement. The same example for 'Ho' would be 28 divided by 43 which equals 0.65 or a 65% reduction.