Sawmills were Clearly the Mainstay of DeLoach Mill Manufacturing Co., but at Some Point Attention Turned to the Manufacture of a Steam-Powered Logging Truck and Sawmill
THE DELOACH FACTORY AS DEPICTED IN THE COMPANY'S 1905 CATALOG. TRUE TO PRACTICE OF THE PERIOD, A GREAT DEAL OF FREEDOM HAS BEEN TAKEN IN THE SCALE OF THE FACILITY.
For some years now, I have been interpreting steam power to the general public by way of a column I write for a local newspaper. One resource for my research is a private collection of original sales literature and manuals in the possession of Bob Reeher, New Castle, Pa.
Looking through Bob's collection recently, I came across an original 1905 catalog for a company I'd never heard of, the DeLoach Mill Manufacturing Co., Atlanta, Ga. If you've been around the steam hobby for any length of time, you know that most of the old-time companies made mills to go with their steam engines. Companies like Peerless, Russell and Gaar-Scott made mills, and sawmills became a major item in the line of the Frick Co. of Waynesboro, Pa.
The catalog is titled DeLoach Patent Sawmills, High Grade Mill Machinery, and its cover features what appears to be two sides of a gold medal, but the cover has faded to the point it's hard to tell what the medal might have been.
Over the years, I've reviewed a company or two that had the idea it did not need to brag about its machinery, believing the machinery's performance would speak for itself. Not so with DeLoach. This 144-page catalog claims DeLoach built more sawmills than any three concerns in the world, stating further that the best materials and tools available were none too good for them: 'A few sawmills that we know of possess one or two good features ours have them all.' And so it goes. A fine example of the pitchman's art, the catalog is exhaustive, detailing every offering from DeLoach. Owing to the catalog's length, I'm only going to mention some major highlights.
Following a practice common with old catalogs, the DeLoach catalog prominently pictures the company's manufacturing plant on the second page. An opening description informs us DeLoach was burned out in a June 13, 1902 fire, but that new facilities were built almost immediately, and by September 1902 DeLoach shipped 45 percent more product than in September 1901. The catalog notes that the new plant was equipped with the most modern, electrically driven tools, and in fact cites the fire as a sort of providential act, pushing the company to modernize with the result of being able to build better products.
THE DELOACH BELT FEED SAWMILL FEATURED TWO SETS OF BELTS GIVING FORWARD AND REVERSE, ONE SLACK WHILE THE OTHER DROVE.
THE DELOACH 'SIMPLEX' FEED SAWMILL USED A DOUBLE FRICTION DRUM ON A LARGE FRICTION WHEEL, ONE FORWARD AND ONE REVERSE, SO THERE WERE NO GEARS TO BREAK.
Looking at DeLoach's mill descriptions, I thought their size designations a bit unusual, but then again, I am not a sawmill man. The catalog lists size designations of numbers 00, 0, 1, 1-1/4, 1-1/2, 2, 2-1/2 and 3. The catalog shows several styles of carriage for logs, the first being the 'Gem' log beam carriage, available sized up to 28 feet long. Next up is the 'Standard B' carriage (which, indeed, looks sort of standard), followed by the '1905' carriage, which was extra wide. Another new idea to me was a 'suspended carriage.' This was a design where the carriage frame was underslung on the axles so they could use 16-inch wheels for easy running without the carriage being too high. Rack and pinion or wire rope drive was available (apparently on most any mill), and the drives were powered by no less that five sorts of gear:
The 'Hercules' drive, a variable speed drive by means of a 'paper' friction and disc that fed into a worm screw and gear to the carriage.
The wire rope drive, again controlled by the friction and disc.
The belt feed, where two sets of belts gave forward and reverse, one being slack when the other was driving.
The 'Simplex' feed, which used a double friction drum on a large friction wheel, one forward and one reverse, so there were no gears to break. This arrangement was also normally furnished with the double mill.
The 'Oregon' feed, a very heavy looking setup where two friction wheels are mounted on a rocker for forward and reverse, with one or the other held against the inside of the driving pulley.
Another offering was their Monarch mill, which featured a cast iron husk and adjustable saws. The mandrel for the top saw had up to a foot of adjustment, up or down, and two 70-inch saws could cut a 10-foot diameter log (that doesn't add up to me, but that's what the catalog claimed.) Following the catalog's description of DeLoach mills is a section listing a shingle bolter and packer, a lathe, a drag saw, a lath mill, a stave machine, cutoff saws and cordwood saws.
The DeLoach shingle mill was of the horizontal blade design, which is not too common here in Pennsylvania, and the catalog shows gang edgers, trimmers and planers. Toward the back the catalog are grinding mills for feed and flour (and stones for the same job), not to mention turbine water wheels (and irons to set up such mills) and baling presses (both belt-driven and horse powered).
Two other machines shown in the catalog are decidedly unique. The first is the 'Logomobile,' which the catalog calls 'A Motor Log Cart.' In its description of the Logomobile's merits, the catalog claims a lumberman could save 56-1/4 percent of operating expenses simply by using a DeLoach Logomobile. This claim was made based on the pre text that transportation expenses occupied the bulk of running expenses in a normal mill, and that use of the Logomobile would cut transportation costs by 75 percent.
THE DELOACH 'OREGON' FRICTION FEED MILL USED TWO FRICTION WHEELS MOUNTED ON A ROCKER FOR FORWARD AND REVERSE, ONE OR THE OTHER HELD AGAINST THE INSIDE OF THE DRIVING PULLEY DEPENDING ON DIRECTION.
THE DELOACH 'LOGOMOBILE,' WHICH THE CATALOG CALLED A 'MOTOR LOG CART.' POWER SUPPOSEDLY CAME FROM A THREE-CYLINDER STEAM ENGINE. IT'S UNKNOWN IF ANY WERE ACTUALLY BUILT.
THE DELOACH 'LUMBERMOBILE,' WHICH THE CATALOG CALLED A LIGHT, PORTABLE, SELF-PROPELLED SAWMILL. AS WITH THE LOGOMOBILE, IT'S UNKNOWN IF ANY WERE ACTUALLY BUILT.
The Logomobile featured rear wheels 8 feet in diameter with 10-inch-wide tires, and front wheels 4 feet in diameter with 6-inch-wide tires, all running on Moffett patent roller bearings. Power came from a 25 HP, three-cylinder vertical steam engine with kerosene for fuel. The Logomobile's patented 'Varispeed' friction drive was claimed to give the Logomobile speeds from two-thirds mph to 20 mph. Further, the friction drive for forward motion was also used to lift logs, and the catalog tells us that 'by the shifting of a lever, the hoisting drum is turned into a skidding machine, by which logs can be skidded any distance desired.'
The catalog says the Logomobile could carry 10 tons at 10 mph on good roads, 20 tons at 5 mph, or even 100 tons at 1 mph. The machine was also said to be able to pull several trailers. 'With the Logomobile,' the catalog claims, 'it is possible for two men to do the work of four, four-horse teams and eight men.' Wow! What a machine. Were any of these sold, and are there any left? It is clearly a steam machine, although there is no hint of where the boiler sat and no stack for the kerosene fumes, at least not in the catalog illustration. And then there's the 'Lumbermobile.'
The Lumbermobile was claimed as a light, portable, self-propelled sawmill. The catalog illustration shows the mill with straked traction wheels and a chain and sprocket driven saw - but no sign of the gearing that must have been there or the power unit that drove the machine. Power was claimed to come from a 12 HP kerosene-fired three-cylinder, vertical high-speed steam engine similar in basic description to the engine for the Logomobile. To keep the mill light, no carriage as such was used. The head bolts (two shown) rode directly on the frame on their own rollers, connected by two strips like the reach of a wagon gear. Track was supplied. Power could be either the steam engine already noted, or, as the catalog stated, 'We are prepared to furnish instead of the steam outfit a gasoline motor, also motor log wagons on the same order.' Now, wouldn't one of these draw attention at a show?
It's not clear how many, or indeed if any, of these machines were built. This is the only mention I have ever seen of the DeLoach Logomobile and the DeLoach Lumbermobile. With any luck, someone out there can fill in the blanks on what was clearly a unique proposition in the steam world. We also hope someone might still have a DeLoach mill. It would be interesting to see one of these in the flesh 100 years after the fact,
Steam enthusiast Thomas Downing is a regular contributor to Steam Traction. Contact him at: R.R. 3, Box 149A, Ellwood City, PA 16117.