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Fine Old Sawmill

Promise of winter drives restoration of an old sawmill.

| July 2005

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    The partially completed mill showing the first log being run through.
  • English-builtAustin.jpg
    Left: English-built Austin 7s in restoration process.
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    Below: The original mill building in Swormsville, N.Y.

  • GeiserSawmill.jpg
  • Mill.jpg
  • English-builtAustin.jpg
  • English-builtAustin-1.jpg

It has taken me sometime to submit another article about our restoration projects. We have been busy though. Our old sawmill was completed just in time for winter and currently I am restoring two early 1920s Austin 7 cars from England.

The sawmill is a Geiser, no. 6671, with a 54-inch blade, a 20-foot carriage and a 50-foot track. The mill was originally located in Swormsville, N.Y. We were able to acquire the mill because the property owner was very concerned about the building falling down due to woodworm damage and rot. The mill had sat untouched since the original owner's passing in the late 1960s. It looked like with a little tinkering the mill may have run. Unfortunately, woodworm and some leaks in the roof had done a lot of damage to the mill itself, and quite a bit of the track and the husk had to be replaced.

We had a very wet summer, but the fall turned out to be rather good. So in the summer we replaced the rotted wood and gave the entire mill a good going through to get it back into top shape. By the end of summer, as the rain kept falling about every couple of days, we were beginning to think the mill would not be installed until next year.

One of our steam tractors kept watch over the mill's rebuild in the shop, optimistically hoping it would get a chance to power the mill. Then the latter part of the season started to dry up. The foundation of the mill went in, and we built up and leveled the track. The days were getting shorter and shorter. The husk was positioned and the base of the carriage was put on.

Now it was getting late in the year. All the steam engines had to be winterized. We looked at the Sawyer-Massey, which had watched over the work in the shop, and we pondered. Optimism kicked in again and we said, "Well if we get lucky and have a mild, late fall, maybe we'll get it done."

November came and the carriage head blocks, set works and husk were coming together. Next, we had a crew come in to build a pavilion over the mill. It had been one of the worst summers and one of the best falls we could remember. The weekend before Thanksgiving was cold but sunny. There were just a few odds and ends left to finish up. Saturday we hurried around and completed the mill. Sunday morning we pulled the "Little Engine that Could," our trusty 1917 17-51 HP Sawyer-Massey, out of the shop. We got her fired and oiled, and with a final once-over oiled up everything on the mill.


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