(skid roads cont.)
There were very few sharp turns on a skid road, if there were, they were eleva¬ted by off-setting the skids. They would be elevated to the outside for an "out¬turn", with a sheering log to keep them from going over the bank. On an "in-turn^ the skid would be elevated to the inside with a sheer log to keep them from going into the bank.
Skid roads were used only where needed. If the road was only to be used for a few months, then any kind of wood was used, When the skid road was to be used for a long period of time, oak or madrone was frequently used; Redwood suckers hewed down to the heart, with all sap wood removed, if kept well greased, lasted for years. On the skid roads the logs were laid three or four feet apart.
On river bottom flats, of only a few acres, skid roads were not used. The method used there was to make several turns of rope across the log, and have a yoke of oxen roll them to the river. Sometimes it was necessary to put a rope on the small end and pull it ahead, because of the tendency of the large end to travel faster. Before jack-screws were available along the Mendocino Coast, the this method was used for moving logs.
The skid roads were later used by "Bull Donkeys" with a mile and a quarter line. The only thing that they had to add was a vertical spool on the curves. These were a little lower than the skids so that if the cable ran to one side they could get in¬to the spools and not damage the line. The back line was hooked on the main line and ran along side the log. When unloaded it would pull the main line back up the skid road, but the loose end of line was directly straight from the Bull Donkey to the end of the skid road. On any raise in the ground it was laid in the spool in re¬verse (horizontal) to keep it off the ground. The "Bull Donkey" could start a great¬er load than it could finish because at the start the drum would be almost empty with a very small diameter to wrap on, but as it came nearer, the bigger the pile up on the drum and cut down the advantage.
On a real long skid road, any place that had a fairly good down grade, the bull punchers would stop their teams for rest, even if their logs were "stretched". If they had a long level place to pull, the team would have a longer rest than on a down grade. If the chain was stretched out tight, when they stopped, the jack screws were absolutely necessary to start again. The Sugler and the Water slingers were gener¬ally expert jack-screw men. They could take the lead log about 3/4 of the way back and lift it with the jack screws, with the slant toward the back. If this did not start the log back, they would the peavey (it had a long iron spike in the end). It could be used as a bar at the front end of the log. This would generally move the log back eight or ten inches. This would be repeated once, and then the second log would be handled in the same manner, but would not be moved as much. It would leave a little slack between the first and second logs. The third log might be moved once. This was just to have a little slack between each log. As the logs were raised , one water sling would throw an ample supply of water under the log. With this slack the wa-ter slingers, would take their positions along the road and as the Bull Puncher start¬ed his team, they would alternately throw water at the front end of each log. After the logs were started again, the team was not stopped unless there was an obstruction in the road,
Water boys were generally Chinese. They accompanied the load to the mill, throwing water ahead of the skids to make the logs slide easier. He carried a long pole across his shoulders, with a five gallon coal oil can attached to each end, The carried a dipper in each hand and alternately, threw a dipper of water on the skids. On level land, toward the end of the road they had to get all the water they could on the road, as level land was the most difficult to negotiate,
Water barrels were located at convenient spots so that he could refill his "buckets". There were times when grease was used in place of water, but this was rare because grease was not as cheap as water. On the return trip, the water boys went ahead and refilled any barrels that needed to be refilled. Many of the barrels had water piped to them from nearby creeks.
The grease boy put grease on the skids with a swab when water was unavailable. Mutton tallow was generally used, but bear grease was used, if it were available,
The broom boy swept dust, chips, rocks etc. from the skid roads.
The earliest jack screw frames were made of hardwood, with an iron band around the bottom and 2 sharp brads to stick into the log or bore into hard ground. The brad was about an inch square and ran to a point. Mechanically, it was the same as the improved jack screw with the same ratio of gears and a safety dog. The jack screw was one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in the logging world. It varied in height, but was usually about two and a half feet high. The bar and gear were made of tool steel, with a frame of heavy piping, i.e. the improved jack screw.
It was much faster than a screw jack, A screw jack had a worm screw. It was very slow and almost impossible to use in logging. The jack screw was a piece of heavy pipe with a base like an inverted saucer. A bar with cogs in it, ran through the pipe. At the upper end of the bar was a "dog" on a swivel. This "dog" at the outer end of the bar was elevated slightly and very sharp, so as pressure was put on it, it would sink into the log. At right angles to the bar, were the gears, which fit into the cogs of the bar. The first gear was four to one plus the length of the handle; this went into a second gear that was about six to one plus the handle. With a man turning the jack screw, this ratio would be equal to the lifting power of forty men.