| November/December 1957

La Forge, Wisconsin

THIS LITTLE STORY IS supposed to be an explanation of the old 'Steam Engine' and the new 'Hydraulic Fork Lift' working together in my sawmill, but a few lines of history of our little mill may be of interest to some, so, we will start at the beginning.

When we started sawing in 1946, my experience amounted to a few hours spent watching other small mills run. My equipment consisted of my Case 40 which I kept for steaming tobacco beds, a 1926 model S International truck, and an old Frick Mill which had been so rotted down and so many parts missing, that it had taken my spare time for two years to rebuild it.

None of our troubles were serious, and the mill cut accurate lumber right from the start. Each year I added equipment, and made improvements. First I put in an edger and built a shed over the mill. Next a concrete foundation under the mill kept it always in line. Rollers to carry slabs and sawed lumber to the end of the mill saved time and labor. Each year some of the logs were too heavy to turn with cant hooks, so I built a simple log turner, using a hydraulic pump which is driven by power from the mill and two double acting hydraulic cylinders.

The little engine was doing very well, but it was overloaded. My wife, Koletta, was fireman, and I thought that I was giving her a hot, dirty job. What I didn't realize until later was that the steam bug had bitten her and she was enjoying every minute of it. We drove the steamer out and put in a gas motor. We gave up the inimitable sounds and smells of a wood-burning steam engine, for the roar and speed of modern power.

The gas motor did very well, as gas motors go. It required little space and little attention. It was more expensive to operate. There is always cheap fuel available around a saw mill for a steamer. The slab piles grew faster than ever. Chips and scraps too small for the slab pile accumulated, and had to be hauled away. There was a saving in labor, but the work was not as interesting.