Frick Sawmill Proven Workhorse

An 80-year-old Frick sawmill teamed with a James Leffel steam engine earns its keep at Florida show


| April 1999



Chuck Koehler at the helm of a vintage Frick sawmill at the Florida Flywheelers show.

Chuck Koehler at the helm of a vintage Frick sawmill at the Florida Flywheelers show.

The more things change, the more they don't. And so it is that a nearly 80-year-old Frick sawmill – powered by an equally elderly steam engine – continues to peel planks of lumber from logs at the turn of a new century. 

"A lot of mills of this vintage are still being used commercially," said Chuck Koehler, Williston, Fla. Chuck, a member of the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club, directs operations at the mill, one of the big draws at Flywheeler Park. "There's even some made before the Civil War that are still in use."

The sawmill was donated to the club by Ron Weagraff, Kissimmee. It was purchased at an Ocala auction, and was moved to the showgrounds over a year ago. A small army of club members has worked ever since to get it in good running order.

"It's an old, worn-out mill," said Alan Rudd, a member of the sawmill crew. "We've rebuilt a lot of it."

The "to do" list included replacing wood, cleaning up rust, reworking belts, adding steel plates to reinforce the mill, rebuilding the blade and installing new shanks.

The renovation work also required work on the pulley sizes to accomodate both the James Leffel steam engine, and a 1952 8800 Caterpillar diesel used as an alternate power unit.