Russell and Wood Bros. thresher

Mr. Baughman coming down the road with his Russell and 30x50 Wood Bros. thresher.

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The following article was taken from a local paper just as it was written and sent to us. It is interesting and we know you will appreciate it.

The rasping drone of a saw and the sporadic puffing of a large steam tractor mingle along Route 8 south of East Sparta during the operation of Stark County's only steam sawmill.

The sounds, which come from inside a building having walls of rough, waste lumber and a roof of wood and sheet metal, are music to the ears of the mill owners.

Lester May, 74, owner of the sawing equipment, and Otis Baughman, 54, owner of the tractor, have been active many years in operating a sawmill using steam.

The two men have operated their mill at the present location since 1948, generally doing only custom work for area farmers who need rough lumber for fences or small farm buildings. They usually run the mill every week or two, depending upon when the customer can supply the logs or needs the lumber.

When the mill isn't in operation, Mr. May, who resides with his wife at R.D. 1, Magnolia, works his 50-acre farm across the hill from the mill. Mr. Baughman, who lives in East Sparta, operates a store there or hauls logs with his two trucks during off days.

Prior to 1948, the two men traveled throughout this area with the tractor, setting up operations in woods to clear the land for the farmer. Mr. May recalls taking the equipment as far south as Tippecanoe.

Mr. Baughman, who was born in East Sparta, started in the milling business at the age of five. His father, the late William Baughman, who died in 1949, owned about 25 steam engines during his life and was active in milling work 65 years.

In 1926, Mr. Baughman bought his present one-cylinder steam tractor from Russell & Co. of Massillon for about $4,000. He also used the machine in threshing grain for farmers.

Mr. May, son of the late George May, an Army veteran and farmer, bought a sawmill with steel mountings and frame from Knight Mfg. Co. on Market Ave.S in Canton, about 1921. A fire warped and ruined the machine.

He returned to the firm and bought his present sawmill equipment with wooden mountings for $510. He said he thinks it was the last wooden mill made by the company.

The tractor and the sawing equipment are joined by a rubber belt believed to be 20 years old. Mr. May said the belt has never broken or been repaired since its purchase for about $50.

A hose delivers water for the steam tractor from a 600 gallon tank. Mr. Baughman said he filled the tank with water from a nearby stream until it dried up. Now he hauls water with a truck.

Furnaces in the boiler are filled continuously with waste wood to keep steam moving into the cylinder of the engine.

The saw has removable teeth, which must be replaced after cutting about 15,000 board feet. During an average day on continuous cutting, they file the teeth by hand in the morning and evening to sharpen them.

During cutting, logs are placed on a carrier which moves on railroad tracks past the saw. Sawdust drops into a ditch below the tracks and is dragged away by a moving chain, which picks up the wood particles and carries them up a ramp. Prom the ramp, the sawdust drops onto a pile outside the mill building.

The men said they average cutting 75,000 board feet of lumber a year now but during operations many years ago were able to cut that much in one month.

They said timber has been scarce during the last 8 to 10 years. 'It has been cheaper to buy lumber already cut than to buy logs, truck them and cut them today,' they added.

The mill is used to cut logs of ash, maple, poplar, hickory and various types of oak. 'Hickory is the hardest and the toughest on teeth,' Mr. Baughman said.

When cutting logs, Mr. May handles the saw and adjusts cutting thicknesses. Mr. Baughman manages the tractor and aids in loading the log carrier.

Both men appear expert at their jobs and indicate they have an inner pride in their equipment and knowledge of their work.