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Bandmill Decision

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Rick-Wi:
I am in the market for a mill and am considering a Timber Harvester 36HT25 , Cook's Accu-Trac 36 Fully Hydraulic Portable Sawmill  and the TimberKing B-20. Any help would be appreciated in making a decision.

Thank You,
Rick-Wi

Jeff:
Welcome Rick!

Well, I think asking that here is goona be like should I buy a Ford Chevy or Dodge. I suggest you spend some time here reading old posts in the sawmills and milling board to start.

These guys are going to want to know a lot more about where your at, what you plan to cut, why you want a saw, and many other things that will help determine what kind of saw may be right for you. Maybe not so much what brand at first, but the features you will need, which will ultimatly lead you to a choice.

Rick-Wi:
First off, I am in SE Wi. The first and supporting Job is Excavating and Demo work. We have now 50-60 Oak logs stacked in the 24-30"+ dia. and 8-14' long. Also some huge Black walnut in the 34" dia. range 14' long. We get the logs when we do demo work and they pay us to haul and take down. Also Maple, Ash, Cherry, and some Pine. Also in the demo we get some nice old growth timbers,. We have support equipment already, and this is a logical step to take for slow periods, and inclement weather. We probabaly will cut 4,000 BF a month, maybe more. Has to be a Hydraulic, as Partner needs two knees, and can't walk good (Chicken to get opperation). Land and buildings are there, and building a kiln shouldn't be a problem.

Tom:
Welcome Rick,

You have chosen three good mills out of a bunch of good mills.  It's hard to say which would suit your needs the best.  In a nutshell there are two things that make a mill successful:  
    1. the ability to move the blade accurately and  
    2. the friendliness of its log handling capabilities.

Since most mainline manufacturers have accomplished these, then other items of a personal nature become envolved in the decision.

Is the mill large enough to accomplish the production you expect?

Is the manufacturer going to be there when you need him?

Are parts available locally and if not, how long will it take to get them?

Is the documentation sufficient to maintain and run the mill?

Can you do the maintenance yourself or is it technical enough that you would need to hire a machine shop?

If the mill is to be stationary, what type of foundation and enclosure is required?

If the mill is to be portable:
    How quickly will it set up?
    How succeptable to vibration is it's ability to remain level?
       (Rigid frames are generally quicker and more stable than
         flexible frames)
    How large of a vehicle is needed to tow it?
    Can it be operated in the driveway of a tract home or does
       it need a farmers' field. (City-portable businesses do
       better if the sawmill looks "finished" rather than
       Industrial)

Accutrac started off being a 'knock-off" of Timber harvester but has evolved and developing a personality of its own.  I have met and visited with the Cook's and they are good people.  Tim spent a lot of time with me the day I was there and his mother invited me in the house for a sandwich at lunch.  It is not a Large company, as you may imagine, but is personable and the Cook's are friendly to deal with and customer oriented.

Timber Harvester makes a good machine.  I have watched it operate at shows and have always been impressed.  The owner of the company has no qualms with travelling to the shows and meeting customers. They have a sturdy machine that has a proven track record.  Never having been to the plant I don't know how impersonal it may be but from meeting with the owner and employees at shows I feel that they carry the same attitude as the Cooks. I was impressed with their efforts to support the entire industry with educational material, taking some of the mystic out of owning a sawmill.

Timberking has done away with a lot of trailing hoses by supplying hydraulic power with a separate engine.  That is a good idea even though it requires a second engine to maintain.  It makes for a cleaner looking machine.  One of my friends in S. Georgia has two and loves them.  He is an octogenarian and runs a stationary Timberking in his back yard, cutting large cypress and Pine.  There is no more of a limit as to what it will cut than the other two.  I met the President (I think) of the company at a show in Georgia and was impressed with his straight forwardness.  He went out of his way to not lambast other mills and was satisfied to except his mill's roll in the industry.  It is not considered to be the fastest or to have the most muscle but is built to do the job.  Timberking has a history of sawmilling and not only knows what works but stands behind it.  It has gone through Family, Corporate (Foley Bellsaw) and back to family ownership and has joined hands with the makers of Woodmaster planers for marketing efforts.  They pride themselves in customer relations.

I guess you know what application you wish the saw to perform better than me but  my opinion is that you have chosen three good saws from which to make a pick.

Tom:
Well Rick, you and Jeff have been carrying on a conversation while I was writing my last post. :D  Now that I see what you will be doing I would suggest you shop horsepower and log handling capabilities.  You may suspect 4000 boardfeet now but I'll bet you haven't taken into consideration the number of people over and above your land clearing business that will want logs cut.

A big consideration is how fast you need the work done.  Your 4000 feet per month may need to be done in one or two days.

I have worn my joints out too :D and my last mill was purchased with it's labor saving devices in mind.(I won't recommend it)  If your partner has bad knees then definitely consider a machine that allows him to operate it from one spot and preferably from a stool or chair.

This is important
Don't skimp on horse power.  Even though 15 horse motors will cut a 30 inch log 40 or 50 horse motors will do it faster, with less effort and provide the gal. per minute hydraulic flow to get the big logs on the mill and turn them efficiently.

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