Ingenuity: Ottawa Drag Saw

Ottawa drag saws were technologically innovative, versatile and smooth-running.


| August 2012



Ottawa Factory

Print illustration of the Ottawa factory. 

Photo by Bob Stephens

As was the case with all products manufactured by Ottawa (Kan.) Engine Co., the Ottawa drag saw was known for being both technologically innovative and versatile. A leading manufacturer of drag saws in the 1920s, Ottawa designed and manufactured uniquely smooth-running units with both water- and air-cooled engines. The 5 hp, 1-cylinder Ottawa log saw was powered by a 4-cycle gas engine with a top speed of 550 rpm and a single six-spoke flywheel.

The Ottawa’s unique “power force feed” consisted of a double-action, compound motion. In effect, each end of the saw blade alternately rocked up and down as it passed back and forth, mimicking the action of two men sawing. A fast, efficient saw, the Ottawa was also adjustable. Actual sawing speed could be varied from 200 to 350 strokes per minute by varying the speed of the engine. The Ottawa drag saw could cut through a log or tree trunk nearly as thick as the saw blade’s length.

When equipped with its circular buzz saw, the Ottawa was a useful tool in processing limbs and branches. In addition, the engine was a dependable source of power for water pumps, feed choppers, mills, conveyors, compressors, churns, blowers, generators, elevators, separators, washing machines, milking machines, cement mixers, cane crushers, garden dusters, sausage grinders and machine shops.

An outgrowth of Warner Fence Co. established in Ottawa, Kan., shortly after 1900, Ottawa Mfg. Co. produced woven and ornamental fence as well as machines to manufacture woven fence. The company’s later product line included gas engines, power washing machines, feed grinders, windmills, pump jacks and straw spreaders. In the 1930s, Ottawa claimed to be the largest log saw factory in the world, and the largest semi-steel foundry west of the Mississippi. The company ceased operations by the 1950s. FC 

Grateful acknowledgement is given to Bob Stephens, Kalispell, Mont., who contributed these images. To submit a vintage advertisement for publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by email: editor@farmcollector.com.