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Author Topic: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...  (Read 3359 times)

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Offline Roundhouse

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Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« on: April 25, 2016, 12:24:49 AM »
First off, Iíve been reading here for several months and have learned so much from all the knowledgeable and generous posters, thank you all. Itís a good thing I havenít tallied up all the hours Iíve spent reading the various threads. Iíve been researching band mills all winter while I build up a ďmill fundĒ and have the bug pretty bad now. Iíve narrowed things down a bit but still have a number of questions, Iíll provide some context about what I want to do and the options Iím weighing. Feel free to chime in with any specifics that could help or general pointers for a beginner. Thanks!
Please excuse the length of this post but I tried to pull it together here and not bombard the board with questions, any reactions and insight is appreciated.
In my day job Iíve been a desk jockey for 21 years (graphic design), in what little free time I can spare I head out to my lots in Michiganís Upper Peninsula (about 4 acres and 10 acres). The 10 acres is all wooded and Iíve spent the past few years improving the access trails to have any tree on the lot within 100 feet of a trail/road. I have an old skid steer with forks to move logs/place them on a mill. I also have an F350 flatbed/dump for moving logs, lumber, scrap around the property. I intend to be careful in moving logs with an effort to keep them clean, to save on blades etc. Hard maple is the dominant species with pine scattered throughout. The first thing Iíd like to do with a mill is cut some pine to put together some sheds on my wood lot to store equipment and lumber. Maple would then be milled to air dry for carpentry projects here at home. Long, long range I could see doing custom milling on the side provided I develop my skills enough on my own timber first.
Here are some of the mills Iíve been considering with some of the pros, cons, and questions I have:
Lumber Smith Bantam-26
This mill (11 HP Honda) should be just within the capacity of what I plan to cut for myself on my property, perhaps slowly, but at this point without any point of reference that may be OK. As I consider different mills Iím trying to balance the fact that Iím not needing high capacity use but donít want to go too slow that my limited time for milling is unproductive and frustrating.
Besides the price, the portability of this mill appeals to me, I would be able to take it home with me after each use. I would set up as many as 3 to 4 semi-permanent tracks on various properties (the mill comes without a track but plans for constructing one). The downside would be spending a bunch of time this summer constructing tracks vs. actually milling lumber. What has been the experience of other folks around securing a mill on a remote property for different lengths of time? Has it ever been an issue? What steps do you take to secure it? Take the wheels with you? Take the hitch?
Woodland Mills LM126 or LM130?
After seeing some good reports on here and researching the LM126 I am impressed by the design, construction and price. Similar to the Bantam-26 this mill should be able to handle my logs but probably not leave much leeway for larger logs. Before starting the serious study of these mills I found myself overestimating the size of the trees available on my property. I went back and actually measured my ďbestĒ trees and they all maxed out at 24Ē dbh. Even if I had larger logs I doubt Iíd want to handle them unless bucked to pretty short lengths.
I would like to have a trailer based mill for better portability. With a LM126 (including one extra length of track) it occurred to me the simplest way to make it mobile would be to mount it on the lower portion of a pontoon trailer (scissors style). Depending upon the make the rails should be the same width as the track rails. The prices arenít too bad even for a new trailer. If went this route Iíd either remove the upper wider portion or see about applying it to the bottom so it would scissor in the opposite direction and I could lower down when the mill is parked so it functions as a big ďfootĒ to stabilize the mill for operation (otherwise Iíd just apply levelling jacks to the corners). Has anyone investigated going this route? It seems to be the closest a trailer not purpose built for a mill comes to being the right size, just wondering if Iím missing a reason why this wouldnít work.
As an added wrinkle I saw mention of the pending LM130 on here with a slightly larger capacity and motor. It looks like itís already for sale in Europe with specs etc. available, Iím intrigued and waiting for LM130 to show up on the main Woodland Mills website. The only issue with the larger mill is that it seems my pontoon trailer hack may not work with a wider track.
Goodknight sawmill MM-34
This was one of the first mills I started researching. It seems to be pretty stout and well-built, all welded on a heavy frame, trailer package, including power up and down. With a 20 HP Honda and 36Ē inch log capacity it would exceed my present needs and provide extra capacity for contracted cutting in the future. What kind of miles do guys put on their mill in a year? Should I be concerned about vibrations, wear, etc. on a mill that bolted not welded due to highway travel? A typical year may see me putting 1000-2000 miles on my mill between various properties.
There seems to be a lot of value for the money with this mill. I would be able to pick it up in person over a weekend. If I have reservations they are around buying from a small (one man?) operation and the lack of mention these mills here and in other places. I get nervous due to my lack of experience, will I know if there is an issue with the mill or with my technique. I saw an FF member ask about Goodknight mills last week but there seemed to be no response.
There is an option for MM-34 to select a 1.5Ē blade (vs. the standard 1.25Ē blades). Is there a big advantage to the wider blades or is this balanced/outweighed by costs, availability etc.?
Wood-Mizer LT28
Some discussion of the LT28 a week or so ago got me thinking about this option. I really like getting the features of the larger WM mills particularly the single rail setup and trailer package, not to mention the WM reputation, support on here, I can pick it up from a dealer a couple hours away. It goes above my rough budget and current ďmill fundĒ savings but could last me many years before feeling I need to go bigger (if ever).
What makes me wonder about the LT28 is the hand crank feed. Is there a consensus on what the benefits are to a hand crank vs. a straight manual push? I imagine there is a better consistency with the cut speed. Would cranking tire out the operator more than a straight push by the end of the day? It seems like it would but maybe Iím missing something. Also, in the videos I canít tell by what method the head is returned, does it have to be cranked all the way back to the start? Or is there a release that allows it to be rolled back to the start without cranking? The big advantage seems to be an easy conversion to electric power feed, I would probably go that route too but it could be a year or two later after I pay off the mill purchase.
It looks like the price break on the LT28 only runs for the rest of this week. Iím all for saving money but donít want to rush my decision for a few bucks, anyone know what the price bump will be after discount runs itís course?
Thanks for any insight on these choices, as of now Iím inclined towards the LM130, then the LT28 or MM-34.
A couple related questions.
As I try to envision an efficient workflow, Iíd like to have a trailer I could stack stickered lumber in to both store stickered wood in to dry and transport to another location as needed. Has anyone repurposed a horse trailer for this? I see some decent deals on craigslist for used two horse trailers with a double axle that should allow for good airflow and stable pulling. Beyond cleaning it out well anything I should watch out for?
I have some old roller tables Iíd like to incorporate in my workflow. One idea is to set up my mill near the rim of my sandpit. If I had the rollers on the opposite side of where I control the mill it seems I could park my dump in the pit and gravity feed all my trimmings/waste into the back with one move. Anybody use elevation/gravity to help with the work?
Lastly, Iím considering the value of a smaller firewood processor like the one offered by Woodland Mills. There would be a lot of good firewood available from the upper portions of maples I cut for saw logs. There are also a lot of smaller hardwoods to be thinned as I work to improve the overall quality of my trees. There are plenty of uses me and my family have for good split wood and beyond that there seems to be a decent market for it around where I live if I can process it efficiently on the side. Anyone have experiences to share when it comes to trying to complement small scale milling with firewood processing?
Thanks for sticking with this all the way through as I try to plot out the best course and draw upon the collective wisdom of the Forestry Forum. I hope to be able to share some lessons from my experience as I go along.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline WLC

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2016, 03:42:54 AM »
I have an LT28 with the crank handle feed.  Would power feed be nice? Yes, but I do fine with the hand crank for my needs. I saw only for myself, and not for hire.  I feel that I wouldn't like the push feed that some mills come with, seems it would be harder on the back after a day of sawing.  While I haven't sawed a lot of lumber on mine yet, and am no expert by any means I will say that I don't think you will go wrong with a Woodmizer. 
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Offline ladylake

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2016, 05:14:30 AM »

 Don't forget a EZ Boardwalk with the slanted head, very easy to push from people that run them.   Steve
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Offline Timster

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2016, 05:43:44 AM »
I'm in the same situation. I have been researching mills for the last few months and have decided on the Woodland mills HM130. The upgrade from the HM126. The tracks are the same according to the drawings already posted on the euro website. They gain the extra width by using a movable blade guide and adding stainless covers to the log bunks with additional stops a little wider than the adjustable ones. The four post frame should be a bit more ridged as well. The upgrade in horsepower is also a plus. I like the movable blade guide as the logs I have are smaller in diameter.

I have a deposit on the HM130, I'm told they will start shipping next week. Its a little more than I wanted to spend originally but I think the engineering and thought put into the design is worth it. If you have a welder and the skills they even have the plans for a trailer already designed and posted on the website to download. All the engineering is already done for you, nice touch!

Offline sandsawmill14

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2016, 07:02:43 AM »
the hudson 228 is the only manual mill i have ever sawed with (my first mill and still have it) the only problem with pushing the head is keeping your walk way clean my daughter 5 yo at the time used to saw 2-3 boards at the time before she got distracted by a butterfly or something ::) :D :D :D i havent look at new models of hudson mills in years but dont count them or timberking out unless you have already looked and didnt like them :)  but buy the mill that you like the best first and the from a ff sponsor 2nd  :) because you will likely spend lots of tome with both :D :D :D my last 2 mills were bought used 1 timberking b20 ad 1 s&w but i run wm blades and stihl chainsaws and buy everything else from the ff sponsors that i can check the links to the left alot of good places to set you up good for milling
hudson 228, lucky knuckleboom,stihl 038 064 441 magnum

Offline WDH

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2016, 07:30:57 AM »
I ran a manual mill for 14 years, the Wood-mizer LT15.  Two thoughts:

1).  I consider the power feed essential.  It will boost your productivity 25 to 30%.

2).  Get the most horsepower.  You will need it.  Think in terms of 25hp. 

These features will also improve the re-sale value of your mill if you decide later to upgrade to hydraulics.  I ran my first LT15 for 11 years and sold it for 70% of the purchase price.  I sold the second one, 25hp with power feed that I purchased used and ran for two years, at 100% of the purchase price. 
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2016, 07:42:09 AM »
No advice but Welcome to the Forestry Forum, Roundhouse.   :)
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Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2016, 07:45:37 PM »
I have an LT28 with the crank handle feed.  Would power feed be nice? Yes, but I do fine with the hand crank for my needs. I saw only for myself, and not for hire.  I feel that I wouldn't like the push feed that some mills come with, seems it would be harder on the back after a day of sawing.  While I haven't sawed a lot of lumber on mine yet, and am no expert by any means I will say that I don't think you will go wrong with a Woodmizer.
Thanks! That helps. From what I've read elsewhere there are two "speed" settings for the crank. Do you change this depending upon the density/size of the log you're cutting? or do you switch it to a faster ratio to return back to the start, then slower for cutting?
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2016, 08:04:48 PM »
I'm in the same situation. I have been researching mills for the last few months and have decided on the Woodland mills HM130. The upgrade from the HM126. The tracks are the same according to the drawings already posted on the euro website. They gain the extra width by using a movable blade guide and adding stainless covers to the log bunks with additional stops a little wider than the adjustable ones. The four post frame should be a bit more ridged as well. The upgrade in horsepower is also a plus. I like the movable blade guide as the logs I have are smaller in diameter.

I have a deposit on the HM130, I'm told they will start shipping next week. Its a little more than I wanted to spend originally but I think the engineering and thought put into the design is worth it. If you have a welder and the skills they even have the plans for a trailer already designed and posted on the website to download. All the engineering is already done for you, nice touch!
Thanks this helps a lot. Did you find the price for the HM130 somewhere or did you have to get that over the phone from Woodland Mills? I can extrapolate the cost a little bit based on the European price but wonder what the US total will be. Good to know about the consistent track size. I do have a welder but lack the confidence to have my own creation behind me on the highway.
This week is a bit of a race for me between deciding on a LT28 while the sale is on and trying to find out the specifics on the HM130 release.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline GAB

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2016, 08:23:21 PM »
Roundhouse:
You mention pine and maple.  These are two species that turn blue internally in the heat of the summer.  I would caution you to study up on this issue before harvesting any trees of these species.
Gerald
W-M LT40HDD34 w/6' ext & SLR, JD 420, JD 950w/loader and Woods backhoe, V3507 Fransguard winch, Cordwood Saw, 18' flat bed trailer, and other toys.

Offline derhntr

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2016, 08:25:26 PM »
First cut and you will be hooked, by end of day you willing be wishing for hydraulics.

 Last fall a local guy with a LT15 contacted me to help him with ash log job.
He had about 80 logs left to do, most 12-20 inches on the butt. I brought my LT40HD to the site. Weather was forecasting to get bad with winter coming. We were sawing all 4/4 through and through by customers request. He had already been on the job a couple day and was getting about 10-12 logs a day done. I was sawing 2-3 logs for his every 1. Second day on job we shut down his mill and he tailed for me. 2 1/2 days and job was completed. Would have taken him a week or more to finish by him self. Snowed 4 inches the next day.

The Mills you are looking at will do the job. Personally I would not want to saw for someone else with out hydraulics. To much work for limited dollars. But for a hobby sawyer with just a few logs a year to saw any of them will work. 
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Offline Timster

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2016, 09:25:40 PM »

I got the price directly from Woodland Mills. They said the launch was suppose to be this week and delivery available after May 2. They have been helpful and will send you more information if you email them. The LT28 is a lot more mill and more than twice the price. At this point in life I doubt there is a new career in my future as a sawyer, however, investing in good equipment has its rewards. I only intend to saw for my own use and selected the mill to suit my projected need. If you intend to make it a side business your needs will exceed mine.

Offline Verticaltrx

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2016, 10:10:04 PM »
I can say that you would not be disappointed with any of the Woodmizer mills, the quality and ease of use is top notch. Based on the other mills you are considering, you should also look at the LT15. I purchased my LT15, just the base model, then added the power-feed and trailer package as funds allowed. I can mill upwards of 200bf an hour by myself, which I think is fairly good for a manual mill. The indexing wheel/gas-strut assist (for saw head height) and available power feed are my two favorite features of the LT15 and LT28 models.

As to the hand crank which you asked about earlier, it is a decent system for a manual mill. The head on the WM mills is a lot heavier than some of the other brands, and while you can push it through the log, the crank makes it much easier. Generally you crank the head through the log, then pull it back with the handle. The handle also gives you the option to push the head if you so desire (which sometimes I'd do when I was just slicing boards off a narrow cant, ie easy going). As I mentioned earlier, I have since added power feed and never looked back. Not only is it less tiring, but you can be doing other things while the saw head is making the cut, like stack boards, etc.

Good luck with your decision.
Wood-Mizer LT15G19

Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2016, 10:58:08 PM »
Roundhouse:
You mention pine and maple.  These are two species that turn blue internally in the heat of the summer.  I would caution you to study up on this issue before harvesting any trees of these species.
Gerald
Thanks, I will do a little more homework on that. I will be trying to not get ahead of myself when learning and cutting my own trees. The idea will be to mill as I go and only cut a day or two ahead of what I mill. My lot is far enough north that the temperature is moderated by Lake Superior's influence, there is normally only a handful of truly hot days per summer.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2016, 11:13:36 PM »
First cut and you will be hooked, by end of day you willing be wishing for hydraulics.

The Mills you are looking at will do the job. Personally I would not want to saw for someone else with out hydraulics. To much work for limited dollars. But for a hobby sawyer with just a few logs a year to saw any of them will work.

Great points. I definitely won't be quitting my day job anytime soon. I suspect it could be a couple years before I'm comfortable hiring out my services. If this becomes a calling it sounds like I could get a decent return on selling the LT28 and moving up to a hydraulic mill.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2016, 11:24:43 PM »
A couple observations, may be of use.  I've had a couple different mills and have sawed on several others.  Every mill has its good and bad points, some come down to real life, some personal preference.  As with any starter purchase, get one you think is best with the reality in mind that you may run it for a while and may want to upgrade, one you figure out what you really want.  So resale value in your area would be paramount.  I had an LT 15 and sold it in one week for only slightly less than  what I bought it for new. Some sawmills just don't lose their value as much as others.
Also, horsepower is king. 
Portability is important- not necessarily to saw other people's wood, but it gives the ability to move the saw around on your own property, or roll it in a shelter, or back it into the garage for maintenance, etc.  Hand crank is easier than pushing, auto feed is easier than hand crank. 
Bands and band sharpening are important.  I got a call from a guy last week who said he didn't realize when he got his mill that nobody local would sharpen his bands and the company didn't have a decent resharpening program.
Pulls or electric start?  Try pulling a rope starter a few dozen times a day, instead of just turning a key.
Anyway, good luck

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Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2016, 11:30:45 PM »

I got the price directly from Woodland Mills. They said the launch was suppose to be this week and delivery available after May 2. They have been helpful and will send you more information if you email them. The LT28 is a lot more mill and more than twice the price. At this point in life I doubt there is a new career in my future as a sawyer, however, investing in good equipment has its rewards. I only intend to saw for my own use and selected the mill to suit my projected need. If you intend to make it a side business your needs will exceed mine.
Thanks, I'll get some info from them. I'm torn between stretching for the heavier LT28 and possibly not using the full capacity or going with a LM130 and finding it a touch small or slow as I get more into sawing. Although in reading here I have yet to hear anything negative about Woodland Mills.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

Offline opticsguy

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2016, 11:34:07 PM »
I am not familiar with the bandmills you have mentioned however, one more to consider is the TK1220.  I own this model and super happy with the mill and what I can do with it.  yes, all manual but still an excellent mill.  Yes, has a hand-crank, much more efficient than pushing. I have pushed my mill but that would get tiring quickly, much more control with the hand feed.  I highly recommend you purchase an extension rail for almost any mill you buy. I can cut over 20 feet on my TK1220 actually about 20' 6-7". The nice part about an extension is much less demanding where you load your logs, versus squeezing them onto a shorter rail.
TK 1220 band mill,  1952 Ford F-2, 1925 Dodge touring, too many telescopes.

Offline Roundhouse

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2016, 12:12:46 AM »
I can say that you would not be disappointed with any of the Woodmizer mills, the quality and ease of use is top notch. Based on the other mills you are considering, you should also look at the LT15. I purchased my LT15, just the base model, then added the power-feed and trailer package as funds allowed. I can mill upwards of 200bf an hour by myself, which I think is fairly good for a manual mill. The indexing wheel/gas-strut assist (for saw head height) and available power feed are my two favorite features of the LT15 and LT28 models.

As to the hand crank which you asked about earlier, it is a decent system for a manual mill. The head on the WM mills is a lot heavier than some of the other brands, and while you can push it through the log, the crank makes it much easier. Generally you crank the head through the log, then pull it back with the handle. The handle also gives you the option to push the head if you so desire (which sometimes I'd do when I was just slicing boards off a narrow cant, ie easy going). As I mentioned earlier, I have since added power feed and never looked back. Not only is it less tiring, but you can be doing other things while the saw head is making the cut, like stack boards, etc.

Good luck with your decision.
Thanks, this forum is great and you guys are filling in a lot of answers to questions I have as I work through this decision. It's worth noting that a LT15 is what kicked off this search. I had been casually planning to find a mill for a while when I hit on one for sale in my town on craigslist early this year. It was an LT15 with trailer package for $6500. The year wasn't mentioned but I'd guess it was around 15 years old based on the graphics. I set about researching if that was a good price or not. I wasn't wowed by the price and the ad was gone before I responded to it. Part of my research had lead me here where I discovered how many good options were available for all sizes of operations. From my layman's perspective it didn't seem that there were as many features that set apart the LT15 as there were for the bigger WM mills (single rail), but I'm learning of more features and expandability part of the LT15 too.

I've also been weighing whether to extend myself a little more and order an LT28 with the power feed if I go that route. You said you bought your LT15 without the power feed and added it later, was it a big job and/or difficult to add that to your mill after the fact? Just wondering if there is a big advantage to having WM install the power feed pre-delivery. The power feed definitely sounds worth the cost.
Woodland Mills HM130, 1995 F350 7.3L, 1988 F350 dump, 1979 Ford CL340 Skid Steer, 1988 Yamaha Moto-4 200, various chain saws

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Re: Bandmill Shopping, analysis, paralysis...
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2016, 07:19:04 AM »
The power feed on the LT15 is very simple to install.  It runs off the same rope as the hand crank.  You simply remove the hand crank, mount the power unit, connect it to the battery, and re-route the rope onto the power feed pulley and re-tighten the rope.  It will take about 30 minutes to do. 
Woodmizer LT40HDD35, John Deere 2155, Kubota M5640SU, Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln, and a passion for all things with leafs, twigs, and bark.  hamsleyhardwood.com


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