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Author Topic: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??  (Read 1270 times)

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Offline etroup10

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Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« on: December 22, 2017, 08:51:08 PM »
Just wanted to get everyone's opinion on what you think would be the best possible set up for mobile sawing as far as equipment goes. I currently have an ez boardwalk and I'm considering going mobile, if I do go mobile I would probably switch to woodmizer or do some more upgrades to my current mill to make it more mobile.

What I'm thinking is it would be great to have support equipment and an edger available for mobile sawing. I currently have a mini log loader, what I think would be great is mounting this to the back of something like an f350-450 with no bed and log bunks, then I could also take an edger along with me on my truck while pulling the mill. So once I got to a customers site I would have a good way to move logs and an edger, which should make things a lot more productive. Thoughts??
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Offline TKehl

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 09:21:25 PM »
What is this edger and moving logs that you speak of?   ???

Says the guy with a portable swing mill.   ;)  :D  ;D

IanAB moves his swing mill with a compact car and a trailer.  Maybe a Corrolla, but really irrelevant anyway.
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Offline starmac

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 09:21:57 PM »
I would think  it wouldn't be worth bringing an edger, unless it was a pretty big job, meaning several days.

The oilfield up used literally hundreds if not thousands of ford 550's and swapped them out every so often. I always thought one of them would be good for what you are talking about.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2017, 09:25:24 PM »
I am totally portable.  Sure an edger would be nice and I have considered one but transportation would be a real issue.  I do not provide help so without someone to run it while I saw nothing would be gained.  I am content to edge after sawing each log.  I have also managed quite well without a loader because farmers have tractors with FEL.

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Online justallan1

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2017, 09:34:12 PM »
I'd say it all depends on the coin that you want to spend, but more importantly to me would be the business side of things.
Are you planning on doing this along side a full time job, or sawing for a living?
How many portable mills are in your area and is there enough work to support all of your competitors plus you?
Do you have access to logs for when you don't have jobs lined up?
Unless you have helpers why not edge on your mill instead of tying up money and having to haul around extra equipment?
Personally, I would take a few jobs with what you have and figure out what you need to work towards, rather than spending the money now and hoping for success.

Offline starmac

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2017, 09:40:41 PM »
Looking at his sig line, he already has it.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2017, 10:03:57 PM »
   What will your typical customer be using the lumber for? How many BF are you expecting to cut for your average customer? What size and type trees will he be providing? What equipment do you expect/require him to provide? I'm a small time operator with a relatively small hydraulic mill cutting for local farmers making framing and sheeting to make barns and outbuildings, fences, etc. and the client prepares/stages the logs and provides a helper to stack lumber and help load logs. My typical job is 2K-4K bf and a 1-3 day job.

   How many people and vehicles are you planning on operating for each job? IMHO you need at least one person to run the edger and another to run the mill. I have watched Marty Parson demo the little single blade WM edger that were designed to take in the same truck you haul the mill on and I like them but with only one operator I'd either be running the mill or the edger. I prefer to be running the mill. You can run the mill without an edger but you can't run the edger without a mill. I don't see/haven't seen where the increased production justifies the extra expense and staffing. I see them as possibly cost effective in a stationary set up with rollers and various stations not typical in mobile set ups.

    I have not seen enough results of the wide mills yet to determine how they really perform and hold up over time but if I were going to be doing full time mobile sawing for a living I'd want something like a LT50 or LT70 wide. That would allow me to cut customer lumber fast and would still allow me to cut some pretty decent/large (36"?) live edge slabs for specialty customers. Even then the customer or you will have to have decent equipment to handle the weight of such slabs.

   If I were running two vehicles I think a skid steer and operator for it would be more useful than the edger on the second truck. Still looks like a 3 man operation with a mill operator, helper and skid steer operator. On small jobs you could take one truck hauling the mill with the client providing the helper but then what do you do about your crew? Can you get part time help to fill that need?

   Can you justify that kind of expense based on client demand in you area and still charge enough to make a profit and still be competitive?  My suggestion would require 2 vehicles, the mill, a skid steer and all related maintenance  tools and supplies to keep them all running in remote areas. Will the market permanently support that in your area?
Howard Green
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Offline etroup10

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2017, 10:34:25 PM »
Just to clarify, id be taking one vehichle, a truck with 12' bed. I would mount the mini log loader i already have on the back of the truck. What i would do then  is bring the edger on the bed of that truck while towing the mill. I could then quickly and easily set the edger up with the log loader at a customers site. The empty truck with the loader would then be used to stage logs for the mill. Right now with my current set up i am permanent and work alone. To me the edger is worth it and would be nice to have on a customers site. The only investment i would be making is in upgrading my current mill or making an upgrade to a new mill. I already have a truck but i would sell that one and buy a 450. Planning on doing this 1-2 days a week while working another job. Already have been sawing a couple years and have a good understanding of my local area.
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Online YellowHammer

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2017, 10:47:07 PM »
Since your topic says "Best" the first thing I'd do is get a Super 70. 

Then I'd be more structured and streamlined like Magicman, I'd bring the mill with my truck, they bring everything else.  With the 70 Super, after seeing 4x4's video and production, they better bring a lot!  Edge on the mill, sit in front of the console drink iced tea, make as much sawdust as the customer could keep up with. 

Or maybe bring an edger on large jobs, but I've got a feeling that edging on the Super 70 mill would have a pretty high beak even point. 
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2017, 11:37:53 PM »
E10,

   Sounds like you are already pretty determined you need or at least want the edger. Those of us have been doing portable milling have a different opinion. There are many if not most of us who like them I have not seen or at least do not remember one portable miller who feels they speed up the process enough to justify the expense and effort or takes one on a mobile job. If anyone does I hope they chime in  with their experience and justification. As I said before - since you say you are operating single, while you are setting up and running the edger, the mill is sitting idle. Where are you staging the flitches awaiting edging? Are you taking sawhorses to set them on or staging them on the mill loader arms like most of us do? I bet in your shop you have tables or racks you stage them in until you build up a stock worthy of stopping milling and edging. I edge the flitches off each log on my mill as I finish the log so I don't run into issues and stacking delays or problems edging different lumber lengths, thicknesses or types of wood. They get stacked with their siblings at the same time.

   How are you going to get compensated for using your truck and the log loader and staging the clients logs for him? It may open up another niche market for you but I'm thinking a client who can cut his own logs and get them out of the woods can stage them. I often do a pre-site visit to examine the site for suitability and to explain in detail how the logs need to be staged before I get there.

    You say you understand the market. How much backlog do you have or turn down now? What size/value are the jobs?

   Good luck. I hope it works out for you.
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Ianab

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2017, 11:51:15 PM »
As mentioned, I tow my mill with a souped up Corolla, and the boards come off already edged.

Now if I was upgrading to a serious operation, it would be something like this, one of a local landscapers rigs. He's got several trucks, excavators etc for different size jobs. But a small truck like that can carry a skid steer and tow a mill. I'd think that often having a skid steer at the mill site would save more time than an edger?



But I guess that also depends on your sites and customers. Where I'm milling at the moment I have the use of a friends 60hp Kubota with FEL, so that's log handling sorted. Milling for random clients you can't count on that luxury, so a compact and easy to transport log mover could be handy.
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Offline etroup10

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2017, 01:06:44 AM »
 I have only done one mobile job, a big job before i had any hydraulics on my mill. It was sawing logs that the big mill left at a friends farm. For a job like that an edger would have been huge. I can see it not being as important to have an edger on small jobs. I also dont have a woodmizer so i have no idea how edging on a woodmizer is with the loading arms. But on my current mill it is not fun at all, especially with two sided flitches. Around here there are a lot of mills, lots of logging activity and a lot of independent loggers. So at times it is unprofitable for them to take partial loads and instead leave it at the landing. This is where a good bit of my business would likely come from and they would be medium sized jobs where an edger would be great to have. The rest of my business would be people with only one or a couple trees that fell or were cut down which i wouldnt take an edger to. Most of these people have no good way to stage logs.

Here is how i currently have my mill set up, and i like it a lot.

On the average log i tend to saw 6-7 flitches that need edged. 2-3 of them being two sided. I typically saw 2 flitches then rotate 90. I bring all the flitches back to the rollers and once i get a clean i cant i turn on my edger and send them through. My edger runs about 90ft/min so it makes very quick work of the flitches.

I guess if i do officially go mobile the edger will be a learning experience, and im sure on the bigger jobs it will be nice to have the option of taking an edger.
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Online Southside logger

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2017, 01:43:10 AM »
To answer one of your questions.  An advantage that Woodmizer has over other mills is the fact that they don't need to be dead level to saw, and on portable jobs that is huge.  I have set up in road side ditches, side hills, stumped over areas, etc.  All with no issues, 15 to 20 minutes from the time I put the truck in park I am ready to saw. 

I appreciate your enthusiasm about expanding your business, but having the benefit of experience I would seriously consider working with what you have at the moment and letting the business grow organically paying for itself.  Unless you have cash in the bank that is doing you nothing, and you need to pay taxes on it,  I would hesitate to drop coin on a new mill at your stage.  Having a payment on a piece of equipment that is not making you money every month sucks.  When it is only "earning it's keep" then you have bought yourself a job, and that gets old quickly.  I would love to have a Super 70 Wide myself, but right now my 35 does everything I throw at it, and pays me every month.   Yes it is slower and more work than a bigger mill, but if the weather is bad, the customers don't show up, or things slow down, I don't need to earn money some other way just to keep the bank from calling me up. 
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Offline ladylake

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2017, 04:59:06 AM »
 

 Without the support jacks set up properly any mill will flex producing bad lumber.  If not you could just leave them hooked up and start sawing.   Steve
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2017, 06:01:48 AM »
okay im going to be contrary here, comes with seeing things from a different perspective.

If the bulk of your work is going to come from logs left on a landing because it does not pay to send a partial load to a mill where will the lumber go to? Are you planning on sawing it for the landholder, the logger, or on behalf of yourself with the intention of selling lumber as opposed to selling a sawmilling service?

There is a whole lot of difference between running a mill to sell lumber and running a mill to sell a sawmilling service. Its not a little step, every facet of the business changes. So the question of who pays you, for what and how is the most important question from a business viewpoint and the equipment you need often varies to suit that.

The second most important question revolves around the log resource. I am my own logging contractor, and I know from experience that the half load left on the landing at the finish was the marginal stuff for some reason. The question is why was it marginal? Too small, too ugly, too large...
The single biggest determinant in running a profitable sawmilling business is having equipment that can cost effectively process your resource. Theres no such thing as a one size fits all mill: all mills have a capacity range where they work well and you need to choose your mill so that 80% of your resource falls in that sweet spot. In short the mill you want for cull logs isnt the mill you want for pecker poles isnt the mill you want for oversize logs. It can be hard enough to make a living in this game with the right toys, much less when you're fighting with your gear half the time because it wasn't designed to process what you're trying to feed it.

You really need to clarify these matters in order to look at what equipment you need to best achieve these goals. Its the real basic stuff that will determine how successful you are.
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2017, 02:08:16 PM »
The best mobile I've seen was the Sanborn min max. They come up for sale from time to time.

Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2017, 04:53:35 PM »
Yeah, best mobile mill opens some options up and the Sanborn would be definitely one of them.

Myself, I like the Davco Twin, same slant bed type design, same "real mill" production because you arent held up by the limitations of thin band sawing, but circles instead of a 6" band. Tow it with a kenworth and be set up and running in 20 minutes.



For oversize I always reckoned the way to go was a Duncan Beam Saw if you were cutting dimension

 

 

or the Serra Africa series if you wanted big slabs

https://www.serra-sawmills.com/products/africa-xe-135-xe-160

Better have an edger with any of these, because you're going to need it, and the elves to work it.


My point here is that as I posted above when you start saying best, you better define about best for what because there are plenty options out there depending on what your logs are and what your products are going to be. Setting up with the same equipment as the guy down the road makes it real hard to get anything but the same result, and if hes not making it rich you might find it hard to do better. I dont doubt that the thin bands are good mills within their limitations: its just I also know that their are limitations. Just the same as the above three mills and the Sanborn have limitations.

*came back and edited both posts because the material in bold is REAL important.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2017, 09:35:36 PM »
The rest of my business would be people with only one or a couple trees that fell or were cut down which i wouldnt take an edger to. Most of these people have no good way to stage logs.

   I asked this earlier but how will you get compensated for use of your truck and loader? This sounds like yard trees to me. Will you charge an hourly or by the job rate for use of the truck/loader or have a different bf/hourly milling rate for the case where the client does not stage the logs? I'd make sure I had real good liability insurance for this kind of work because if it is, indeed, in someone's yard the risk to his property looks high to me.

   I have taken cables and snatch blocks to client sites and loaned them to them and even helped show them how to set them up then let them pull the logs with their vehicles, tractors, ATV or mowers and such but I would not use my equipment or pull the logs because of risk to it or liability if I tore up the yard or nearly property.

Addendum - I assume such trees will normally have been cut by the landowner or his untrained friends because I'd expect any professional tree service should have the MHE to move/stage the resulting logs
Howard Green
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Dad always said "You can shear a sheep a bunch of times but you can only skin him once"

Offline Cutting Edge

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Re: Best Mobile Sawing Operation??
« Reply #18 on: December 24, 2017, 04:24:27 AM »


I appreciate your enthusiasm about expanding your business, but having the benefit of experience I would seriously consider working with what you have at the moment and letting the business grow organically paying for itself.  Unless you have cash in the bank that is doing you nothing, and you need to pay taxes on it,  I would hesitate to drop coin on a new mill at your stage.  Having a payment on a piece of equipment that is not making you money every month sucks.  When it is only "earning it's keep" then you have bought yourself a job, and that gets old quickly.  ....   slower and more work than a bigger mill, but if the weather is bad, the customers don't show up, or things slow down, ...don't need to earn money some other way just to keep the bank from calling me up.






 Without the support jacks set up properly any mill will flex producing bad lumber.  If not you could just leave them hooked up and start sawing.   





There is a whole lot of truth in what they stated.  Couldn't agree more.   smiley_thumbsup


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