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David Shearer and an 1880 Bartley sawmill during restoration. Courtesy of Wm. S. Strayer, R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019.
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The balanced valve, rod, packing gland and stuffing box assembly for 91/2'' x 10'' Frick engine. Courtesy of Wm. S. Strayer, R. D. 1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019.
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David Shearer's steel framed sawmill.

R.D.1, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania 17019.

Mr. Percy Beck, a retired machinist and certified welder,
probably works as much or more than when he was earning his family

The past year he has completely rebuilt his 1908 Ellis Keystone
thresher, then painted and lettered it as it was when new. It now
stands in the Beck Shop and is a very attractive showpiece.

While this kept him busy at home, he found time to travel to Mr.
David Shearer’s sawmill where he had two projects to complete.
The first was an 1880 Bartley sawmill which he assisted Mr. Shearer
salvage from a briar patch in Western Pennsylvania. All the wooden
parts were completely rotted away and the metal husk, engine and
saw were in a deplorable condition requiring many newly machined
parts and new babbitt bearings. The mill is now completed and
painted ready to operate for the new owners The Ladies Auxiliary of
the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association.

After they were through with the Bartley, Mr. Shearer decided to
rebuild his ‘bread and butter’ sawmill and after hours of
discussion with Mr. Beck, it was decided to build a steel-framed
Frick mill to Shearer’s specifications which included 4′ x
12′ beams for the husk frame and 5′ beams for the ways with
4′ pipe cross members welded into position. The husk was built
several feet wider than the original which meant extending all the
shafting with extra bearings. This is a great advantage for a one
man operation as the operator can saw a large log or several small
ones and by stacking the lumber on the husk can remove the entire
pile at one time.

Anyone who has ever operated a Frick mill with the antifriction
bearings and belt feed, knows of their habit of carriage creeping.
This one does not creep and the cure was so simple, it is

The welding and some other innovations make this the most rugged
and free running portable mill the writer has ever watched

Last winter when yours truly began restoring a
91/2‘ x 10’ Frick portable engine,
Mr. Beck came to my rescue by machining a new balanced valve and
rod assembly as well as a new stuffing box and packing gland.

These parts were first cast from the original Frick patterns
then machined according to the original blueprints. We later
decided to convert the engine to a cut-away showpiece by placing
plexo-glass windows on the steam chest and cylinder head to show
the public just what occurs in a steam engine while it is in

We are planning to turn the engine with a small gasoline engine.
The entire outfit is to be mounted on a trailer on which I am now

It is surprising just how much work is required for these old
showpieces and I sometimes wonder if the public appreciates it.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment