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Author Topic: Circular Sawmill top saw  (Read 9258 times)

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Offline mitch

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Circular Sawmill top saw
« on: November 19, 2002, 04:58:01 AM »
I occasionally saw large logs (30 inches +) which will not clear the 46 inch head saw on an old Vance circular mill

http://www.shagbarkfarms.com/Sawmill-Gene7.01/SawingGene5_Mitch.JPG

This is a farm/neighborhood  type mill and is not used for commercial sawing.
Usually I pretrim the flared butts and somtimes cut off a large slab with a chain saw. Even if I purchased a 52 inch head saw it would only add 3 inches to the saw cut or about 23 inches above the saw collars. I am investigating the possibilty of building a small top saw to finish off at most  6 to 8 inches of a large log.
Does anyone on the Forum have any experience with top saws?
I found a few on the web at
     http://www.meadowsmills.com/topsaw.htm
and
     http://www.shagbarkfarms.com/JacksonLmbHarvester.jpg

These are large production type mills. In addition about one third of the mills pictured in "The Circular Sawmill" by C. H. Wendel show top saws.

Some specific questions:
Can the top saw be positioned behind the head saw?
Can the top saw rotate in the opposite direction of the head saw?
What happens to the saw dust from the top saw?

Any help with these top saw questions will be greatly appreciated.

Offline D._Frederick

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2002, 01:40:54 PM »
Mitch,
We had a No. 2 American mill with a 46inch and a 32 inch top saw. My Dad built an angle iron frame that sat on top of the husk , it was just a square box frame that he bolted an arbor to with a saw guide. Are mill had a line shaft from the main arbor shaft, so there was room for a flat belt pulley on outboard of  husk. It had an idler pulley that would tighten belt when top saw was needed. The top half  of saw was covered, so part of the sawdust would fall down into sawdust conveyor. The top saw was in back of main saw and rotated in same direction, It would throw sawdust straight back untell into cut.  The correct way for the top saw to rotate  is out of the cut, your teeth will stay sharp longer.
Have enjoyed looking at your mill pictures. Why did you quit using the JD stationary engine to run your mill. As I recall the JD model G tractor was a real gas hog. We also had a Tower edger that was a later model than yours. It was a 3 saw with two power rollers.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2002, 01:44:20 PM »
My only exzperience with a topsaw was when I visited a mill in sunfield Mi. They had one. The sawyer said that it did not run often and I did not see it run that day. It was positioned just after the head rig, and I would thing it would have to turn opposite.

If I was going to install something to deal with big logs it would be a verticle edger. You can set your top blade at the top of your head saw to cut the slabs free as you work the log down. I have never wished for a top saw. Our saw will clear 20" of wood. We routinely cut logs over 30 inches. the 3 blade edger takes boards from the side and cuts the slab off. you just whittle them down by making partial turns till the saw will clear 20.
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Offline Tom

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2002, 02:51:33 PM »
Hey you guys! I know Mitch.  8)

Mitch got some email from me a year or more ago because he has a Vance.  One of my buddies here in Jacksonville, Fla. is the Great Grandson of the Man who built the Vance mills.  

Frank Vance is a Vance sawmill nut

I tried to get Frank and Mitch together but it just hasn't happened yet.  Frank travels to NC frequently and it's just a matter of time.

Here's some of Mitch's pictures and I hope I don't have to eat my hat.


The Vance mill hooked to his John Deere 730


How it looks from the sawyers station


How it looks from the Off-bearer's station


A piece of history.  Off-bearing a Vance sawmill
extinct

Offline Fla._Deadheader

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2002, 03:00:34 PM »
WHHOOOO. I remember them days when I got my first Corley. Bout killed me. I learned how to build roller sets REAL quick.  :D :D
All truth passes through three stages:
   First, it is ridiculed;
   Second, it is violently opposed; and
   Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2002, 05:46:30 PM »
I have never run a top saw, but I have seen a few mills that have them.  My understanding is that there is some difficulty in lining up the 2 saw.  You can get stepped lumber.  Then there's the factor that both saws have to be cutting exactly the same.  Powering both saws with your John Deere may be too much.

A vertical edger eliminates the need for the chain saw, but, I doubt that it would be able to be put onto a hand mill.  That would probably be pretty dangerous.

I've sawed logs up to 42".  The best method is to shotgun them.  Saw a slab, then roll you log back a little, dog it, and saw until your saw won't reach.  Keep repeating the process until you can clear with your saw.

It takes a lot longer to saw a log, and there is more waste.  But, it is certainly a lot cheaper than putting in a top saw.

Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Bro. Noble

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2002, 07:03:49 AM »
Mitch,

That's a neat looking setup.

There is another way to handle large logs on a circle mill.  I'm not reccomending this as it appears hazardous to me.  Maybe Jeff or Ron can tell us if it is.  I know they used to start a large log sometimes by sawing as deep as they could and then cut the slab loose with a chainsaw.  They even quartered large logs this way.  If you could cut 20 in deep you could quarter a 40 in log by cutting down the center and then turning 90 degrees.  I'd hate to think of what would happen if the blade got hot and went 'ape'.

Noble
milking and logging and sawing and milking

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2002, 02:31:55 PM »
Some of the problems I have with sinking the saw is the return.  Not only does your saw have to be in pretty good shape, but when you return your carriage there had better not be any slippage of the log or any movement of the saw.  

I've had logs get pulled off the dogs and thrown to the back of the mill.  It's rare, but you don't want to be standing back there if it happens.

On hand mills, sometimes dogging can be a problem.  There are no bottom dogs to help hold the log.  And something round wants to keep rolling.  It isn't as bad if you can get a little bit of a flat spot down on the knees.  That gets rid of the tendency to roll.  

One big thing to keep in mind is to keep the saw running at the right RPM.  If your saw goes too slow, it will lose it's dish, and saw off line.  Then when you bring your carriage back, the saw will heat up (since RPMs are back up and the dish is back), and that can catch the log.

We have taken really big logs and quartered them with a chainsaw.  Some we have simply cut in half.  It takes a lot of time, but it is a lot safer and quicker at the mill.

Of course, you could use black powder instead of a chain saw.  

Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline D._Frederick

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2002, 10:15:35 AM »
I would agree that Mitch's JohnDeeres don't have enough power for the saw blade that is on his mill pictures. That blade has enough teeth for a  671 power unit. We never had a problem holding big log, the top dogs have enough holding power if they are driven into the log with force. The only time you have a problem with dogging is when you advance the set works, the dogs have to keep the log from rolling instead of sliding. On big logs the center of the log may be almost to the top of the main saw, so  both blades are not cutting much the first couple of cuts. For the blades to operate together, the teeth have to be sharp with enough clearance. On swell butted logs, it only takes a few cuts to get the log small enough for one blade.

Offline mitch

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Re: Circular Sawmill top saw
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2002, 05:11:01 PM »
Many thanks for the helpful suggestions.
Some comments:
Donald ? Frederick, your description of your dad's topsaw is something I could build except I would power it from the PTO of a 520JD with either vee belts or a 6" flat belt.

That is why I want the top saw to rotate opposite the head saw.
The reason I no longer use the JD W power unit is due to the long flat belt interfering with the offbearer and for safety and it is a hand cranker.

They did not have many electric starters in the late 1930's. My help is less than ideal.... there are no longer any farm boys in our neighborhood! I still have it and it runs good... hope to use it for special old-time occasions. The G JD is a gas hog but it has about the right power for this old mill. Besides with a straight stainless steel exhaust pipe it sounds real powerful!!!! THANKS

Jeff B, I hope the top saw can turn opposite for the above reasons. I can build the support rig for the top saw and I have a mandrel but I would have to purchase a vertical edger.... it would cost much more than the $450 I paid for the old Vance mill.  THANKS

Tom, thanks for posting the images from http://shagbarkfarms.com I would like to meet your friend, Frank Vance. I sent you a personal message to your forum message center.

Fla_Deadheader, rollers sure help. I made 7 out of 4"x18" pipe for the offbearer. THANKS

Ron Wenrich, I agree. The old G JD has a hard enough time sawing 20 full inches of dead bone dry white oak. Another 8" would 'kill it". A 520 JD would power the top saw. My worst experience sawmilling occured when a large oak log did not clear the saw and as the carriage returned the saw caught it and it rolled over against the saw.... bent the heck out of my best saw. Jack Carroll of Hamlet, NC hammered it for several hours to get it back to running true. Now I saw the slabs off BEFORE returning the carraige.  THANKS

Noble, I don't have the trained help or the auxiliary equipment to quarter saw big logs... you are correct. It would be dangerous!!!  THANKS



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