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Author Topic: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?  (Read 2092 times)

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Offline gms1911

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Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« on: January 10, 2018, 08:24:25 PM »
So after much deliberation I think I want a MD sawmill. My biggest question is whatís the difference between the two mills? I know you can get a couple different hp engines. One, two or three edger blades.  A couple choices for the main blade. Addition to the track and different endstand heights. Iíve read the 128 is hydrostatic drive. Not sure what the drive is on the 127. I thought I read that itís screw drive?

Anyway, should I stay away from the 127 for any reason? Iím not looking to saw wood for a living anytime soon. Maybe to supplement my retirement income in 10-15 years. You know some extra fishing and hunting money.

Any reason to get a stationary mill over the MD? Iím guessing it wonít be as fast at cutting as a good old frick 0 or 01. But I donít have to edge or resaw. Plus I donít have to bring the tree(s) to the mill. I can always bring the mill to the tree(s). And I can run it solo. Thatís hard to do on a stationary mill.  Also a lot less alinement of bearings and belts and hammering blades etc.......

I have a band mill that I built. It works fine. But it is expensive to run. The blades donít last to long and itís not very fast either. The blades on the MD just need a touch up once or maybe twice a day and back to sawing. No canting logs either.

Other options are Mahoe, mightmite, and timberline 1410 which doesnít seem to be in business anymore. None of which are to available. And the verious swing blades. But they donít cut dimensional lumber. Right? It would need to be planed?

Thanks for the input yíall!


Offline starmac

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 08:58:03 PM »
Are you talking new, I thought I read where MD had quit building mills, am I wrong?
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Offline gms1911

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 10:25:00 PM »
Used. They have quit building new ones. I talked with the owner. Great guy. Wish I could buy the company from him and start building. I think with some advertising one could sell a good many saws a year. Plus if you could add a few things like a slabbing attachment for one. It would expand the possibilities. Just donít have the cash on hand. And the wife on board.

Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 10:38:44 PM »
128 all the way.

When you look at one, get the serial number and call MD and check its purchase history.   They will help you to know if its had normal wear parts purchased or if it had major items or repair from abuse etc.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 11:54:38 PM »
I had a 127 that I borrowed from my cousin for a while. It was belt drive. Iíve seen one set up on a trailer that appeared to be very mobile but the logs needed to be loaded onto the trailer. As for setting one up at/on/around logs, itís not a one man show and it needs to be a log worth setting up for. Unless you are regularly dealing with large logs and have at least 2 people to set the mill up, in my opinion itís not a great option for being mobile. When I set it up, I had no experience with one and it took me about 8 hours to get it set up by myself and I used a tractor quite a bit. Iím sure with experience that time would go down, but not enough to call it mobile in my mind, especially after owning 2 wood mizers that I can pull up next to a pile of logs and be making saw dust in 15 minuets. Now, if this seems like Iím knocking MD Mills, Iím not. I think itís a great machine and once I got it set up a running, I cut a pile of lumber in short order. I just feel itís better suited for being set up and bringing logs to it in most situations. As for cutting dimensional lumber, you can cut whatever size you set it to cut, with the blade size being the limiting factor on the large side. If my cousin would have sold the mill to me I would have been happy to buy it, but it would be set up permanently where I could feed it logs. That being said, Iím glad he wouldnít sell it to me because now I have a shiny new Wood Mizer LT40 in my shed that is truly a mobile machine.
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummings,

Offline gms1911

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 09:14:52 AM »
I will be talking to MD about any mill that I find before buying. Just mainly looking for the differences between the two.

As far as a band mill. If its not the top of the line with all hydraulics its not portable. If you don't have a log loader you cant take it to the logs unless you have a loader or other equipment to load the logs on the mill. Now you have made two trips to get started and two to return the equipment. I have my band mill set up and a JD 450 loader to load the logs. But if I take it somewhere else I'm dead in the water. Setting up the MD seems easier then a band mill that's not all hydraulic. I'm at least 30 mins getting my band mill leaved up loaded and starting to cut. Maybe if I moved it more I would get faster. A friend of mine has a WM and that's his biggest complaint. Set up and either having to bring the logs to the mill or separate trip for the mill and support equipment. Seems like you could set the MD on end stands can't your log onto the log dogs and cut dimensional lumber. If it's a big log, I think it would take longer if using the board and block method but how big of a log can you load on your high dollar band mill with hydraulic loader. There's a weight limit there and a dimension limit. Not bashing any band mills but they have limits to how big of a log you can saw. For me that would be 36" diameter and 20' long for any of the used mills I could afford. I don't even know of any band mill that can cut wider then 40". Maybe there is but at what price?

Offline TKehl

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 09:40:50 AM »
Swing mills will cut dimensional.  Yes it usually needs planed, same as from a band mill, MD, etc.

For what you want to do, looking at a Lucas 8-30 or 10-30, Peterson WPF, or Turbo Sawmill could well be beneficial.

I can load my Lucas and skidsteer on an 18' bumper trailer and pull it with my 3/4 ton Suburban.  Don't do it much as most jobs are just a few logs or farmers that already have equipment on site.

EZ Boardwalk will cut 36".  Cooks has a nice bandmill pretty reasonable that will cut wider yet.  Hudson as well.
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 10:05:32 AM »
My first wm was an old manual lt30 with ramps. Loading logs was easy after I mounted a 3500# boat winch on the tongue, I could par buckle the logs very well. With the md I had to use my tractor to roll the logs on. Iím not trying to shoot down your plans, Iím just trying to share my first hand experience. As I mentioned above, I enjoyed running the md, but after mobile milling for hire for 2 years it wouldnít even make the list for my mobile operation. The swing blades would and did get some serious consideration mostly because of the ability to cut large logs without moving them. To explain my situation, most of my jobs can be completed in 1-2 days. 99% of my calls are for wood under the 36Ē rating of the wm.
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummings,

Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 07:05:11 PM »
I have a 128 that is newer and loaded.

My trailer is plenty mobile.   I back it in and drop/crank down a few adjustable legs and then start milling.

My mill has a built in winch with a rotating bar instead of a spool of cable.  The bar runs the full length of the trailer and has keyholes in it to accept cable leaders to make parbuckling easy at any location of the log deck.   My mill has a log deck that can be loaded/stocked with a machine or it can also fold down and becomes ramps to parbuckle logs up onto.

Granted its not a hydraulically loaded and adjusted and turned WM trailer, but I also dont have ANY fluids to leak, hoses to change, switches to replace, etc.

Pretty much just a couple things to squirt oil at and it starts shooting lumber out.  FAST.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 07:18:49 PM »
That sounds similar to the mill I mentioned in my first response and I agree, that is a mobile set up, but how many are set up that way? If you have a VW engine that donít leak ANY fluids, you have a special one lol.
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummings,

Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 03:23:40 AM »
Mine leaks no fluids.  It also charges well and starts easily.  It doesn't get much simpler than a VW to master.   I don't even have to buy oil filters or coolant.  The thermostat never goes bad and the fuel system never needs primed.


Offline Crossroads

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 10:17:57 AM »
I joined this thread to share the experience I had with the one md mill I had access to and Iíve done that. Iím not interested in a mines better than your conversation which seems to be where this is going. Mostly because they are both great mills, but they both have limitations and arenít perfect for every situation. They both have strengths and weaknesses, but they both do what they were designed to do. Have a great day!
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummings,

Offline gms1911

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 12:23:43 PM »
Thanks everyone for your comments.  Definitely wasnít t looking for a comparison between band mills and mobile circle saws or swing blades. Iím buying a MD. Just wanted to know the differences between the two models. 127 vs 128. I guess in expressing my thoughts on why I wanted one, I might have provoked a comparison between apples and oranges. My bad.

Offline Chop Shop

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 02:46:39 PM »
I joined this thread to share the experience I had with the one md mill I had access to and Iíve done that. Iím not interested in a mines better than your conversation which seems to be where this is going. Mostly because they are both great mills, but they both have limitations and arenít perfect for every situation. They both have strengths and weaknesses, but they both do what they were designed to do. Have a great day!

The original poster asked about the difference between a 127 and a 128.   Then you chimed in and added a post about how your WM was more mobile and easier to load than a MD.

You came here comparing an OLD obsolete 127md to a bandmill.

I came here to add my experiences  with  more modern 128 model that has a nice mobile self loading trailer.

This thread was about comparing a 127 to a 128.  Not comparing oranges to oranges (WM toMD).

Don't get your panties in a bunch over nothing.   Have a great day!!

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 03:44:09 PM »
No panties bunched up here, simply donít have have a desire to argue with you. If the op buys a 127 like the one I used, heíll understand what Iím saying and he did ask about the 127 did he not? Now if you want to make this personal with you panty comments, you have my attention!
2017 LT40 wide, Kubota l185dt, 2-036 stihl, 2001 Dodge 3500 5.9 Cummings,

Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 04:09:25 PM »
Must be time for a beer and some arm wrestling,you boys are gettin' silly. teeter_totter teeter_totter
Mick
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Offline DanG

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 04:25:44 PM »
Relax guys.  A thread like this is a conversation and will tend to drift like any other conversation.  The question was answered and then a bunch more knowledge was shared. This is part of what makes this forum great. If we stuck strictly to the topic all the time, this forum would have died long ago.
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Offline gms1911

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 04:39:03 PM »
I did ask the difference between the two models. I donít think that has been answered yet. If the only difference is that the blade on one is belt driven and the other is hydro then I guess I already knew the differences. If someone explained the differences between the two besides what I already mentioned then I must have missed that post.

Offline starmac

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 05:22:20 PM »
Well I have read it all two, and haven't seen your question answered. At one time there was a member here that owned several of them, up to something like 3 at one time. He kept up grading for some reason I assume.
Some one mentioned the 127 being obsolete, there has to be a reason besides the drive belt.

One other thing I would like to know is, is there many parts that are dedicated md parts, or can most parts be bought through other sources or at least built by a local machine shop.  I understand the vw motors have some dedicated md parts, and you can not use any old beetle engine.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 05:35:55 PM »
This topic may help:  LINK
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Offline starmac

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2018, 05:45:28 PM »
I remember that thread, but there pretty much no information in it.
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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2018, 06:38:55 PM »
Production has stopped on all MD mills. They still supply parts. The company is for sale. The owner wants to retire. So I guess if no one buys the company then all models will become obsolete. The owner of the mill I am looking at says all parts could be bought at an auto parts store or you could have them fabed at a machine shop. When I buy one I will stock up on any parts that I think might be hard to come by or expensive to have made on a one or two off basis.

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2018, 07:31:40 PM »
I remember that thread, but there pretty much no information in it. 
Maybe so but contacting member yukon Cornelius may yield some information since he is probably the last active member to tackle a MD 127.
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Offline starmac

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2018, 07:45:03 PM »
True enough MM, and I bet he would be glad to help, He may not know the differences between the two, but would have an idea on parts sources.
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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2018, 08:58:45 PM »
Here is a bit earlier topic:  LINK

A forum search for "Mobile dimension" turned up 16 pages of hits.
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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2018, 09:16:59 PM »
Thanks for the link MM.

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2018, 10:00:42 PM »
You are welcome.  Just trying to help.   :P
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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2018, 10:13:34 PM »
Here's more details from yet another thread:

Hi cwk266,

Using the larger single edger blade, the 127 will cut a 7"x12" in one pass, and the 128 will cut an 8"x12" in one pass. That's the difference in name. However, the biggest difference between 127's and 128's is that most 128's are hydrostatic drive (I think only the first year or so of 128's were not?), the hydro drive makes the mills faster and easier for maintenance. The 127's use a belt drive system that has a lot of belts and bearings to adjust and maintain.

As far as using the mills goes, on a 127, once you set the speed of the carriage and send it into a cut, there is no way to slow the carriage for big knots or if you hit some sort of problem... all you can do is make the carriage return to you. On the hydrostatic 128's, the hydro drive is used to move the saw carriage down the track and back, you hold the control lever in your hand... so at any time you can speed up, slow down, stop and reverse the carriage. It's really nice. The later mills are also built more sturdy, are more stable, etc. and can handle higher production speeds.

If I were in the market for an MD mill, I would look for a hydrostatic 128. Once I had a particular mill in mind, I would check it out in person and take a dial caliper with me. Measure the width of the angle iron that the mill carriage rolls on... the bigger angle iron should be within a couple of thousandths of 1.500". If it is worn, that gives you an idea of how much the mill has been used. Then measure the rollers themselves... they should be only a couple of thousandths difference from the track... if not, you can buy undersized rollers from MD made to fit worn tracks. The fit of these rollers and the tolerances of these bearings really make a difference in how the mill cuts. Small or thin boards are pretty forgiving, but if you try to cut 4"x12"s or bigger on a mill with loose tolerances, the lead of the main blade will wander and you will see how hard it is to cut.

Other than that, just take a look at the overall wear on the mill... how to the rest of the bearings look, how does the motor look, how does it run? Does the track look bent in any spots? Is everything straight? Make sure you can cut some wood with it, see how it runs, see if it cuts smoothly or struggles in the cut.

Now, having said all this... if you found a screaming deal on an older 127, you might think about buying that, too. There are some things to look for... is it electric start? Does it have electric lift for the mill? Does it have endstands? Are they rack-and-pinion endstands? Each one of these things helps immensely, and some are more important than others.

Just so you know, I run an old belt-drive 127 with electric start, electric lift, and rack-and-pinion endstands...

-Norm.

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=31304.0

As for future repairs, dealing with old "arn" has made me realize anything is repairable unless there are too many electronics.  Shafts can be weld built and turned.  Bushings can be oversized.  New parts cast and machined.  Etc.  Some fabrication and machining knowledge sure helps keep the costs in line though. 

But factory support is still a big plus!
Lucas 6-13+slabber, Mr. Sawmill bandmill, orange chainsaws, JD SSL, Case Backhoe, farm tractors, trailers, and 150ish acres of trees.  Fledgling woodshop with CNC router, laser engraver, Woodmaster 712, and a Berlin 108 moulder (project).  Oh, and a lovely (patient) wife and four offbearers.

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #28 on: January 13, 2018, 07:49:48 AM »
I'm sorry the answers so far have been inadequate. There are very few people who are familiar with both versions of MD mills. Other than the belt drive/hydrostatic difference, there is a power difference, and I'm not sure at what point in history the changes were made. Early versions had the old 40 hp 1600cc VW engine. My 1988 model 128 has the 1835cc 67 hp engine. These engines are heavily modified by MD, with the most radical mod being the addition of a large thrust bearing at the business end of the extended crankshaft. Most internal parts are standard VW, and most external parts seem to be a mish-mash of other gear. Some things are made by MD and others came from elsewhere. The starter on mine belongs on a Datsun truck, for example.  My opinion is that you should hold out for a 128 as you will be much happier with it.  Try to locate the newest mill you can afford with the most bells and whistles.  Be willing to travel to fetch a better mill.  The trailer mounted 128 pulls very nicely with a half-ton pickup.  For further info, call MD and speak with Ron. He is the owner and inventor and is very open to sharing his knowledge. ;)
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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2018, 01:42:26 PM »
When I was looking for a MD, most of the 127s I looked at were owned by folks that had later bought a 128.

I was told by every person I talked to to buy the 128 if I was serious about cutting lumber.

The old 127 has a narrower carriage track, making it more prone to being loose/wobbly and not as stable as the later version.

Most 127s have a crank/rope system to adjust the side to side/board thickness.  The 128 has a gear driven/rack system that is much nicer.

Most 127s are the 1600 engine. Almost half as much power as a 128.

Most 127s have a magnito and no distributor.  Most are started with a pull rope.

The 127 is not fully controllable, you send it off and hope all goes well.   The 128 is variable speed and controlled from the operators station.

The 127s are usually on an owner built trailer or none at all.  Some are nice, most are cobbled together old camp trailers frames or mobile home concoctions.

Now keep in mind this is all a guideline as people have been swapping/modding/converting things for decades on those old wore out 127s.  You may find one that has an alternator and starter but not standard stuff thats been cobbled on by who knows who.  Side adjusting racks conversions have been done lots of time too.


These mils get USED.  So the old ones most times were bought and USED and USED and USED.

I weighed all the options and decided to find a nice newer low hour 128 thats completely loaded.   Be prepared to pay up, expect to travel, and dont dilly dally.  They sell quickly.


Offline gms1911

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2018, 10:00:31 PM »
It appears that I clicked on the link and then posted my response in a different post.


Thatís more of what I was wanting. Thanks everyone. I think I found my mill. Iíve seen pics and now a video of it running. And cutting. Next is a deposit to hold it until the weather gets a little better. Then either a plane flight and rent a truck check it out good. Spend some time with the seller getting to know the mill, haul it home 15 hrs or drive up and do all that. Thanks again. Iíll take some dial calipers with me. Iíll keep yíall informed with a follow up after I look at

Offline starmac

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2018, 10:05:55 PM »
Good luck.
Old LT40HD, old log truck, old MM forklift, and several huskies.

Offline sawmill_john

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2018, 10:24:33 PM »
Howdy! DanG.  So Chop Shop you got most of your description of the MDS history fairly correct, there are lots of reto fit electric start kits out there on model 12's and 127's, and not all 127's were rope starts, and all the 128's have that option, although if your not careful, they kick like a mule.  Not all 128's were hydrostatic drive.  We even converted some 127's to the hydrostatic drive.  I will agree that if you are going to run a custom sawing business, find a 128 hydrostatic drive mill.  A lot of the parts are readily available at auto parts stores, but you should lean toward the better quality items. I spent 22 years working at Mobile mfg, for packing up starter kits to designing the saw mounted sharpener, and traveling around to demo at logging shows, I had a mill for about ten years, loved it just couldn't justify letting it sit around most of the time. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is, keep the teeth sharp and belts tight, don't over grease the bearings, and have fun!

Offline DanG

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #33 on: January 27, 2018, 11:08:37 AM »
Hey John!!  8) :new_year:
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline cwk266

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Re: Mobile dimension 127 or 128?
« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2018, 12:27:14 PM »
I can not give you a comparison between the 2 mills but I can talk to some of the upgrades I made to my 127 that made a difference  and some of the things that could have been better.I added the metal frame because I used it stationary money well spent.I upgraded to a rack and pinion setup for the side to side movement and it made a big difference to get more accurate cuts.Cranking the mill up and down by hand was ok if you were looking for a alternative to going to the gym to work out.Pull starting the engine being a 140lbs soaking wet and living in a cooler part of the world could be a challenge.I used the mill mostly for my own wood needs not commercially and for that it worked well.I cut enough wood to pay for the mill and all the upgrades and then cut lots of wood for my own use at home and then sold it for more than I paid.Overall I was happy with 127 it served my purposes well and as a bonus I had a lot of fun making sawdust with it which has to count for something.Getting a 127 is not a mistake and the folks at the factory were a plus


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