BIG LOG small mill

Lumber yard

Content Tools

106 South Elm Street, Newkirk, Oklahoma 74647

Since the price of lumber at the lumber yard has gone so high, many folks who have good steam engines that they play with at the steam engine shows, can find it profitable to use them to cut lumber for themselves and neighbors.

The writer is not very modest when it comes to talking about the circular saw and mills upon which it is used. When I was younger I could straighten and tension a saw so that it would run at any reasonable speed. And let me say right now: don't run a saw too fast, and don't use too many teeth. A saw with too many teeth will cut the dust too fine and it will not stay in the throats of the teeth. It will take more power, and believe it or not, a wood-working tool will get dull sooner cutting a real light cut than when making a moderately heavy one.

As for speed if you have an engine that will develop 75 or 80 horsepower, you can run your saw not over 500 rpm, but with 60 horsepower or less, 475 will be more efficient. Speed must be regulated by the size of pulley used on the saw mandrel, while the governor should be adjusted for near normal speed of the engine.

Now we will talk about the plan or lay-out. Since nearly all steam engines have the flywheel on the right-hand side, the saw rig must be left-hand. Most saw rigs can be set up either way. For a left-hand set up, it will be necessary to take the mandrel and nut to a machine shop and have the thread changed.

The reason for using a left-hand saw rig with a right-hand engine should be obvious. It is necessary in order to leave a clear straight space for removing lumber and slabs. A way must be devised for belting a cut-off saw to cut firewood for the engine, and in these times of soaring prices, the farm house.

Now something most important of all: the saw rig must have a substantial foundation. The saw cab or husk must be securely braced and bolted in place to withstand the pull of the belt, and the track must be level and straight and firmly anchored so it will stay that way. A little time and money spent on a good foundation for a sawmill will prove to be well spent.

Now I will show some photos and describe a sawmill owned and operated by Carl and Dewey Erwin in 1925. We had two mills at the time. This one was on Terrapin Creek, while the other was on Buffalo River, about twenty miles to the South.

As can be seen the saw rig was left-hand. The engine was a 36 H.P. Case. The mill was made by the American Sawmill Manufacturing Company, Hacketsville, New Jersey. (I believe I have the address rightI'll get mail if it's wrong.) The mill had a feed called the Heacock-King. It consists of two slack belts that are alternately tightened by the sawer's lever. Belt feed rigs of this type are about the only kind used on small circular mills at the present time.

A pulley 24 inches in diameter was bolted onto the end of the flywheel shaft of the engine. A belt 6 inches wide extended back and upward to a 14-inch diameter pulley mounted on a 1-15/16-inch diameter shaft about ten feet long that extended across the small shed. Near the end it carried a set of miter gears that drove a small shaft that carried a swing cut off saw that swung across the roll case, and served to cut bad ends off the lumber and wood for the engine. A pulley 32 inches in diameter, 6-inch face carried a belt back to a small hand-feed rip-saw that made wagon wheel rim-strips, plow handle-strips and other small dimensions. We tried to save everything that would sell. We shipped one small carload of hickory spokes for model T Fords.

Now back to BIG LOG, SMALL MILL. The readers familiar with sawmills will notice that the 'splitter' has been removed. The long wedge in the saw kerf was put there to make the saw cut seen. This is the cut that is the most difficult. I wouldn't advise an amateur sawyer to try it. Your saw must be in near perfect condition and you must be a good sawyer. Pictures no. 2 and no. 3 explain themselves. In no. 3, we have it cut down to size and it will be made into wagon tongues, coupling poles, rim strips and the small dimension stock.

The engine shown driving the mill is 36 HP Case, serial no. 25423. I drove it off a flat car when I was 17 years old in 1911. It is owned now by Mr. Keith Mouzey, Middletown, Indiana. I was foolish enough to sell it in 1955 about the time I started restoring my 50 HP Case. I sold a good 40 HP at the same time. I should have my head examined for not restoring both of them, but it is not the only mistake I ever made. Bye for now. See you at the reunions this fall.