Rough & Tumble's FRICK Sawmill

Frick 60 HP steam engine

Jack C. Norbeck

Content Tools

117 Ruch Street Coplay, Pennsylvania 18037

Frick 60 HP built in 1926 hitched to wagons loaded with logs at Rough & Tumble, Kinzers, Pa. Photo taken at R & T by Jack C. Norbeck, author of Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines.

One hard working steam traction engine and mill can cut about 5,000 feet or more of lumber per day. The portable sawmill was often moved to various sites to shorten the log haul. They operated economically where timber resources were thinner and more scattered. The steam traction engine could be moved with the sawmill to new cutting sites very easily.

The sawmills vary widely in the efficiency with which they cut up logs into lumber. Some sawdust is inevitable. Slabs, edgings, trim wastes vary widely in quantity, however depending on logs being sawed and the extent of the salvage operations.

The more efficient mills cut lumber accurately to size and reducing waste. With large logs the proportion of slab and edging off is reduced. At some mills this slab material was cut into a great variety of secondary products and sold.

Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association demonstrates steam power and log sawing with a Frick saw mill. This mill is a number #01 belt feed mill donated to R & T by Percy Beck.

The mill is fitted with an 'Improved Combined Setworks and Receder.' It is equipped with four head-blocks with tape attachment. Currently they are sawing with a fifty-three inch Disston saw blade. This mill is set on a permanent foundation. Their operation is two-fold, to demonstrate log sawing and also steam power. They have extended the saw mandrel to utilize the power of two steam traction engines at one time. This log sawing is typical of the way it was done in eastern United States the first half of this century.

Frick 50 HP built in 1919 and John Goodison 22 HP built in 1927 belted to the R & T Frick sawmill. The mill is set on a permanent foundation. They have extended the saw mandrel to utilize the power of two steam traction engines at one time.

The standard equipment with a Frick sawmill included the improved belt feed works with five-inch belt, cable drive, mud sills, splash type self-oiling and self-aligning mandrel boxes, tightener pulley, frames for drive belt, right or left hand dogs, last board dogs, cant hooks and necessary tools.

Frick painted the sawmills red. Husks, carriages and ways were built of high grade, Southern long-leaf yellow pine, accurately mortised, tenoned and braced together. All the carriage and way sections were built to templates and were interchangeable without special alignment. The mandrels were made of the best grade of steel, turned and ground perfectly true. The nut was so made that the threads could not be stripped or bruised and the saw could be easily removed when desired. All mandrels were made with a standard saw head to take saws with two-inch bolts and two5/8-inch holes on a three-inch circle.

Information for this article came from Nevin Brubaker, Rough & Tumble and the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines.