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Author Topic: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big  (Read 5642 times)

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Offline SawyerTed

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Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« on: May 28, 2021, 12:10:28 PM »
For a couple of reasons I've been scarce here for several weeks.  One is I am nursing a badly twisted knee.  The Dr. says nothing really badly damaged so rest and limited activity has been the prescription.  BUT....I can't stay still very long.

Since I can't stay still very long, I have a new job! I've joined a team rebuilding a commercial sawmill and building of a fairly large wood products company.  Yes, I've come out of retirement to start a new business with a family friend.

The site is what used to be a large commercial saw mill that burned nearly four years ago.  After trying to sell it the owner decided to auction everything off.  We tried to buy it prior to the auction but couldn't work it out.  So the property and buildings is what we bought.  Everything else went to various other buyers who sent riggers in to dismantle and remove the equipment (did I say riggers are hacks and choppers?).  The main headsaw is where the fire started, it is gone but the overhead end dogging carriage remains and will be taken out.  All the green chain, the unscrambler, grading station and sorter are gone.  The edger and gang remain.  The gang saw is rebuildable (we probably won't) and the edger was abandoned by the buyer apparently.  There was also a large bandmill and carriage for larger logs, the saw and carriage are gone the burnt out cab remains.  Many square feet of decking and railings remain and will have to be removed as well.  

The sawmill equipment will require some additional demolition and the sawmill building will require some serious repair but we have plans to come back with a commercial sawmill to cut and kiln dry lumber,  cut crossties, cut crane mat timbers and cut road boards.  We will eventually set up a planer operation.  The planned mill has a target average production of 100 Mbft a day.  We probably wont be there for two to three years and our other plans may limit that. 

We are starting with a blank slate more or less.  We have 6 steam heated commercial kilns and boilers that are still operational.  There are multiple warehouses and other buildings.  There is also an huge fan shed for air drying lumber.  

Besides clean up and and demolition in the sawmill building, we are starting with some other wood products - wood shavings for the poultry industry, pressure treated fence posts and bulk and bundled firewood.

The shavings and firewood will be the first operations we will have going, hopefully by the end of summer.  We have a shavings mill and one firewood processor we have already on hand to get started with.  Rebuilding the entire sawmill operation will take some time but we hope to be running in 10-12 months with the post mill and pressure treating plant.  

So for the last 6 weeks or so the LT 35 has been sitting under the old shelter at my friend's firewood log yard.  My first portable job in a couple of months is Saturday.  Hopefully the knee will hold up.  I have three tail gunners lined up.  They have to show up because one is the customer, one is his wife the other is my wife!  Our wives are best friends and they can't let their husbands get together unsupervised because we are known the get in trouble together.
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Offline Walnut Beast

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2021, 12:18:55 PM »
Sounds pretty cool. Congratulations on the new venture 👍

Offline Southside

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2021, 01:47:29 PM »
Wow! Congratulations!!
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2021, 04:21:17 PM »
Retirement escalated quickly!  Congrats on that massive undertaking
Isaiah 63:10

Offline Nebraska

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2021, 04:50:26 PM »
Well I guess that's jumping  in with both feet. Good luck ....  Except you know thinking about it we're  
gonna need need more pictures...   ;D

Online longtime lurker

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2021, 04:59:42 PM »
RETIRED.

I was tired yesterday.
I am tired today.
That means I am re tired.

Methinks you've got a lot of retirement ahead of you. Congratulations on what sounds like a most excellent adventure.
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2021, 05:05:42 PM »
Cool.  Sounds exciting and scary all at the same time.  There is a large sawmill for sale locally, just the mill itself.  It came from a big mill that I used to buy at.  They went out of business and auctioned everything off as well.  Maybe this mill would work for you.  I know nothing about it, but it appears to be a lot of equipment.  
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Online Don P

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2021, 06:00:33 PM »
Ted... from that description, did you buy Eller's mill up here?
The future is a foreign country, they will do things differently there - Simon Winchester

Offline Patrick NC

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2021, 08:27:41 PM »
That certainly is going big! Best of luck in your new venture.👍
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Offline samandothers

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2021, 09:53:41 PM »
Too much time to sit and think when retired and now you went and acted on some of them thoughts!

You want have time to think much while you are getting all that up and going!

Best of luck to you!

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2021, 10:39:52 PM »
Wow! Going big is right. Good luck.

Offline Crossroads

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2021, 12:25:24 AM »
Thats great! I wish you all the best......
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Offline Bindian

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2021, 12:30:39 AM »
Ted,
   That is awesome.  Good luck in the ventures.  I am interested in the pressure treating operation.  I get questions all the time asking if I know anywhere that pressure treats lumber.  When you get time, please share anything on it here.
           hugs,  Brandi
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My Hero is Johnny Jett

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2021, 07:21:58 AM »
Thanks the positive thoughts!

The location is the former Hanks Lumber Company.  Ill post photos soon. Most of it is empty buildings right now but some of it will be interesting. The sawmill building is a mess!
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Offline Southside

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2021, 07:41:37 AM »
What are you going to run for a saw?
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Offline Bruno of NH

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2021, 07:44:30 AM »
Awesome 
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2021, 01:31:28 PM »
We are seriously considering a Cooper End Dogging Overhead Carriage twin blade scragg.  The previous owner ran a McDonough twin band saw with Cooper End Dogging Carriage.  They also ran a Corley Carriage saw for larger logs. 

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Offline nativewolf

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2021, 02:43:10 PM »
Most interesting sawmill purchase I've read about on the forum.  I guess many of us have thought about buying one of the mills going up for auction, or buying pieces or parts.  You've done it.  Congratulations and best of luck to you and your friend on this new adventure.

I don't have much advice except to do everything to create processes that reduce labor input.  Not advice but info:

 Long Island Lumber is among the more modern mills I've visited, look them up.  They do about 60MBF a day in big timbers, sometimes more.  They have 1 person on a debarker, one on the mill, one of the edger.  I guess you'd be competition for them now but it would have been worth a tour.  They do have people on the sorting line sorting side lumber but mostly it is just very automated, long logs rolling in, processed, scanners grading everything and running edger, technical support being done remotely from canada (mill is mennonite owned).    The mill is brand new, process was well laid out and the mill is sort of interesting, very long (line football field sized) linear process without people.  They had more people in some other facilities doing pallet lumber type stuff like building crates, and specialty ag stuff (sweet potato box's), timber mats etc.  

Another great mill to tour would have been Lams in Barboursville  (sp? )VA, not sure if he closed or not but he had a super clean mill with a well thought out focus- 1" lumber and pallet cants all sold green.   It was up for sale last year due to some health issues.  He had great logs ...scaled every log himself but he had more people doing half the production of long island.  He also had trucks.  Obviously half the production does not mean half the profits.  No idea of the profits on either mill.  

I would see the kilns being a great opportunity and challenge.  

Long Island will be a strong competitor for you if you want to do mats, bridges and the like.  They pay very well for logs (high bidder on all the junk and have 5 trucks doing back hauls that take logs back to the mill).  They are our high bidder for long, tie log quality, over sized logs.  WO that looks like a Christmas tree but is straight is $1/bdft on international scale at 12" top.  They might even have raised that recently, not sure.  We've been cutting YP and we don't send that south.  Anyway, they are 100 miles from you and truck south quite a bit, NC flooring plants buy the side lumber.  

I know nothing about shavings.  

I know nothing about firewood except I don't see how it pays in the south at scale.  Maybe kiln drying and selling in parks?

I know very little about trucking but man it is critical.  

I do know quartersaw and veneer buyers that would visit your mill.  Not sure if you aware but the veneer buyers are pee on the mills and loggers and they don't like to bid against each other.  Why a mill usually has only 1 veneer buyer coming around to buy veneer.  So be careful as you start buying logs and are looking to sell veneer, the buyers all talk to each other and once one has claimed you...well it will limit you.  QS is trickier.  Many QS mills are almost as picky as veneer.  The trick is find a QS buyer that has markets for 1 or 2 sided QS logs.  

Our experience with stave material sales is interesting, I would discuss in a phone call.

Again best of luck!  As LTL said you'll be tired and re-tired, have fun!






Liking Walnut

Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2021, 07:15:21 PM »
I hurt my knee last fall, and didn't think it would ever heal, then had surgery and had to stay down, and the knee healed with the surgery.  So am all good now.  Try to take it easy.
Most everything I enjoy doing turns out to be work

Offline Southside

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2021, 10:23:20 PM »
Ted - you do realize that the 100,000 BF club does not require you saw that every day... :D
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2021, 10:30:03 AM »
No rest time in retirement, I know that well.
logging small time for years but just learning how,  2012 36 HP Mahindra tractor, 3point log arch, 8000# class excavator, lifts 2500# and sets logs on mill precisely where needed, Woodland Mills HM130Max , maple syrup a hobby that consumes my time. looking to learn blacksmithing.

Offline Jay B

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2021, 09:32:19 PM »
I think that is awesome OP! Hope your knee feels better soon.

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2021, 04:13:29 PM »
Ted - you do realize that the 100,000 BF club does not require you saw that every day... :D
The 100,000 bdft a day is mind boggling for us who run small sawmills.  Southside, I know you and several others here are very familiar with large commercial sawmills.  If the average log is 16" SED and 16' long, it will take around 695 or so logs to make 100,000 bdft (Doyle).  That's 85 logs an hour or around 45-55 seconds per log.  Of course it takes several machines to produce rough cut lumber - the main saw, a gang saw, an edger, a resaw, a trim saw, carousels, green chain etc.  The two sided cant will leave the head saw and go to the gang which will produce the bulk of the rough cut lumber.  The edger will take care of the flitches, the resaw will take care of recovery from slabs. Of course there will be a grading station, a grading mark reader, trim saw, unscrambler and sorter.  

On my LT 35 one log that size might take nearly an hour to saw and stack. I avoid cutting many logs over 12 without at least two helpers.  


This is the main sawmill building.  You can see the fire damage to the roof and side walls.  


This is the main saw location, the head rig is gone but the overhead carriage remains.  The bands to the right show heat damage and look like spaghetti.  Above you can see the remains of the saw sharpening shop in the mezzanine.  


 
This shows the inside of the roof above the carriage of the main saw.  If you look closely you will see a semi circular 6" I beam that was (straight) the beam trolley for the saw shop to lift and lower bands.  
 


This is the gang saw.  You can see the lasers for the optimization just below the window opening. It really isn't as bad as it looks, I hope.  We might rebuilt this to get started.  Of course all the controls and optimization will have to be replaced.


This shows part of the remains of the saw shop that was upstairs in the mill.  


Another shot of the saw shop.  A great deal of the heat was concentrated here.  I won't go further into this space again.  It is just too risky.  Anybody need a sharpener or setter?  I have some available at scrap prices :D  You just have to get them out! :D


This area was where the edger, resaw, green chain, grading station and trim saw were located.  Behind me was the unscrambler and sorter.  The top shows another view of the saw shop wall framing and bar joists that supported it.

Obviously there remains significant demolition and building repair.  
The other parts of our operation are the priorities right now - firewood processing, heat treating firewood, fence post production, pressure treating the posts and production of bulk shavings.  I suspect that we won't be running the sawmill for 18 months to 2 years.



 
These are our kilns.  Four are around 50,000 board feet capacity and two are around 80,000 board feet capacity.  


This is part of our kiln control room.  The kilns are steam kilns with steam generated from shavings, chips and sawdust.  
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Offline Nebraska

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2021, 04:55:11 PM »
Dang, you did go big! Thanks for the pictures.

Offline Southside

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2021, 05:32:40 PM »
What will you run to produce the bulk shavings? 
Franklin buncher and skidder
JD Processor
Woodmizer LT Super 70 and LT35 sawmill, KD250 kiln, BMS 250 sharpener and setter
Riehl Edger
Woodmaster 725 and 4000 planner and moulder
Enough cows to ensure there is no spare time.
White Oak Meadows

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2021, 07:31:56 PM »
you really took a big bite this time ted.  ill be following along and wishing you good fortunes. 
Isaiah 63:10

Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2021, 06:08:13 AM »
Exciting and ambitious undertaking :o.

My former partner is putting the finishing touches on a newly installed Cooper scragg and hoping the test run will be the end of next week. The lead time on the mill was about a year when oak flooring was next to worthless last July.

For whatever reasons the availability of logs and labor has deteriorated drastically over the past 12 months. I would focus my diligence into the log procurement and labor side of the equation. I'd want to know where the logs are going to come from and who is going to drive the trucks? The answers to those two questions are markedly different than just a few months ago.





Offline nativewolf

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2021, 06:32:34 AM »
Echo stavebuyer cautions trucking and labor.  

As the kilns and the electronics are all there I think that is a pretty exciting thing.  Could you do custom kiln work for others?  There are a lot of supply/capacity constraints throughout the hardwood industry.  Perhaps kiln capacity is one of them and some hardwood mill is looking for overflow?  

Is the former kiln operator around to hire?  

Curious as to your plans to rebuild, will you try to cut out the fire damaged areas of the building or is it scrap it and rebuild?  I have no idea how insurance and building codes view these things.  The only consolation I would add is that perhaps this is the best time to sell scrap and work on the plans to rebuild with the understanding that the steel industry should autocorrect within the year. 
Liking Walnut

Offline Satamax

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #28 on: June 03, 2021, 07:12:07 AM »
Dang, you did go big! Thanks for the pictures.
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Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2021, 08:27:41 AM »
Ambitious,awesome....Power, labor,fuel costs,,,,all the challenges us small mill guys face on a mega scale. May your rewards outpace the challenges ahead !
persistence personified - never let up , never let down

Offline scsmith42

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2021, 09:01:11 AM »
Ambitious,awesome....Power, labor,fuel costs,,,,all the challenges us small mill guys face on a mega scale. May your rewards outpace the challenges ahead !
What he said!
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2021, 10:26:28 AM »
I appreciate the positive thoughts on this effort.  As chief "crack filler" here on site, I've got a bunch of stuff happening all at the same time.  Everything from working with vendors to get quotes and plan production, getting the electrical connections we need to helping get the track loader alternator changed.  Nothing is the same each day.  But I am blessed that we have good workers here.

There are a lot of questions to be answered and you all are asking the very things we are trying to anticipate.

What are we running to make shavings?  A 60" Salsco Shavings Mill.  It is within about 3 or 4 weeks of being operational.  Waiting on the power company and electricians to get the transformer set and we have some final setup to do.  We purchased the shavings mill from a company in Alabama.  Apparently they ran it hard so we are overhauling it.

Trucking and log supply?  We have a sister company that has three logging crews running right now.  They have the equipment and trucks on the road right now. Yet another sister company is a grading and hauling company with many drivers on the road daily.  We are thinking we have a good start on sourcing logs and trucking. We have on hand a supply of logs to keep the shavings mill and firewood processor running for a month with more logs coming about two days per week.  Once the sawmill is running we will need logs from other sources and have some independent crews wanting to bring logs now.

How are we planning to repair the building?  The sawmill building has to be assessed by an engineer before we can definitively say what has to be done but as best we can tell there is some limited structural work to be done the rest is purlins and sheet metal.  Of course we will have to take down that mezzanine which we believe will require removal of part of the roof anyway.  Most of the decking and metal inside will be reused where we can and the rest will be scrapped.  We've already sent several roll off dumpsters of scrap out of here and there will be several more to go.  The destiny of the overhead carriage still is up in the air.  We won't likely reuse it but may sell it.  Does anybody need knife blade material?  I have lots of sawmill blades for the asking - you pick up, I'll load.  

Can we start the kilns and offer kiln services?  We've been tempted to offer kiln services and still have that option.  The first problem with that is that doing so would direct us away from our primary business targets.  The second is we don't have control over the product coming in to be kiln dried.  It takes a good bit of resources to run a 50,000 board feet kiln load and if junk goes in, it comes out junk. The previous owner tried a bit of kiln drying for others and it didn't turn out well.  If we were to start kiln drying, it would be lumber that we purchase from mills with high standards for their product.  Another obstacle would be having enough sawdust, chips and shavings to run the boilers, our wood shavings will mostly be green softwood and we haven't yet designed our sawdust recovery from the firewood processor. 

Sometimes I am reminded of Todd Snider's song 

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Offline mike_belben

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2021, 10:34:42 AM »
did you get to keep the truck scale?  thats a big big thing. beautiful site. looking at the area i am sure logs will come to you at any price if youll buy from the ton truck hillbillies and gooseneck loggers.


i hope at least one of you owners gets a CDL.  it is only getting harder with time.  you are probably the only potentially reliable driver you know on a moments notice and there will be days when you want to go to the auction in the truck and drag your new stuff home without any fuss. trucks are probably half the fun of the log business.. playing billy big rig.  when the office and the mill are driving you crazy, turn the phone off and go float some gears to get away and clear your head. with flat rates in the $4+ per mile range it is economical to own atleast ONE of your own trucks, and the freedom it gives to fly out the door with keys in hand will be important at times. trucks are a necessary evil in all things lumber and i dont think you can rely on the outside spot market during a capacity crunch such as this.  when the tables turn you can surely take advantage of cheap spot market deck space which is precisely what lumber always always always does. looks for desperate trucks.  but there are no desperate trucks right now to build a business on.


 i have a few close friends who have run businesses that size and theres a consensus among them that less employees is better.  ive heard it a bunch of times that the more people i hire the less money i make and the more BS i am dealing with.  when its a skeleton crew of hard workers, the money is pouring in but everyone is running ragged and burning out. feast or famine as they say.    

(edit-  you posted while i was hammering away.  good to hear about the log supply and transport)
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #33 on: June 03, 2021, 10:49:16 AM »
i dont know if itll be of any help, but bestway south inc is a major pressure treater in stony point NC that i hauled from.    165 halyburton rd.  

arauco has an OSB plant in moncure and might buy chips.  i also saw a lot of chips and dust headed to the waynesboro/maggie valley area daily. i dont know if you have plans for 100% of your chip output or not.  charcoal plants and liquid smoke are booming too, know a few guys working in a major one now and theyre expanding a lot.   will you be sorting chips and shavings by species or running it all out one line for the boilers?


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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #34 on: June 03, 2021, 03:31:50 PM »
We do still have the scales and they are working.  Not quite ready to start buying logs yet.  I suspect we will be buying from the local farmers and land owners by the gooseneck load at some point.  

The trucking side of things is someone else's headache for now.  We know that will be a challenge given the shortage of drivers right now.  The good thing about drivers for a business like ours is they will not be on the road overnight very often.

Got news today that the power company has our transformer and is ready for install once the red tape is done.  Electricians say they can get the work done in three or four days.  We will be making shavings as soon as the parts for the shavings mill arrive.

Today was a good day!  
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2021, 07:47:04 PM »
 

 The mill building is circled.  The long building with squiggly line is the sorter which is gone. The x is on T sheds for air drying, they are gone.  The rest is intact.  

It is interesting how small the sawmill building in relation to the rest of the facility.  

The idea that its a material handling puzzle with a sawmill in the middle is really true! Instead of within 100 feet for a small band mill this is 50 acres!
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2021, 08:02:59 PM »
Good to have a good day!  Enjoy the evening, your list of to dos must be quite a list.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2021, 05:10:01 PM »
so we see you have gone big ted. the question is have you gotten to go home yet?

:)
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2021, 07:54:45 PM »
I love to comment on sawmills but that place [or any commercial mill] is past my pay scale. It is nice that someone has the ambition to make it go again. Over the years in the north east the sawmill auctions I have attended meant the end.                The best of luck to Ted and thanks for sharing , hope to see more.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2021, 11:43:30 PM »
This is a form of madness. The best and most glorious type of madness to be sure - but still madness. I'm just a little jealous, i spent some time around big mills back when. There's not enough logs around here to feed that thing for moren 10 years.

I think like a lot of businesses when they scale up the issues you'll find will be - not quite what you expected. Managing a little mill is nothing like what you'll face there... little mills are about logs, sawdust, having two guys show up for work, and getting paid. Big mills are about contractual negotiations around fancy tables, cost projections, crystal ball gazing and futures trading with the bean counters, and finding a new HR guy when the old one quits.

If I lived close enough I'd be looking to come over sometimes, lend a hand, beer after work stuff. And run away the day after she gets turned on - the big mill environment is not for me.

But I sure get a kick about seeing people chase their dreams. I hope it gives you what you want from it
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2021, 10:16:51 AM »
@SawyerTed

I am facinated by this adventure, both from your new business venture and the previous owner.

A brief internet search puts the fire in early Feb 2018 with the auction in late 2020.

Sounds like the previous owner tried to sell everything as a package deal and when that didn't work, he decided to go to auction.  Any idea why he didn't rebuild?  Took the insurance money and got out of it?

From oils and starters for the yard equipment to 14inch Craftsman bandsaws, and everything in between, went to auction.  Seems like the fire really spelled the end of days for the previous owner.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you are able to breath new life into this business.  You are well on your way already.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #41 on: August 25, 2021, 08:17:28 AM »
Things are progressing here.  There have been some stumbling blocks related to getting electrical service upgraded and installed for new machines.  Most of that has been manufacturer backlog, supply chain and materials shortage issues. Dealing with the power company red tape and regulations has been a bit frustrating but we are getting through it.  We have plenty of available 3 phase power, the frustration is that we are having to correct things that were allowed previously.  That equals both time and money.  At least our electrical service will be situated for the foreseeable future after all this.  Our biggest delay is getting the "insides" for an 800 amp service entrance.  Breakers and the rest of the inner parts are in short supply/backordered.

We are beginning to add personnel here as well.  We just can't get the machinery installation done in a timely manner with the people we have.  They are good skilled people, there just aren't enough of them.  Our team of 6 has learned to be flexible.  We've done everything from machine dismantling and reassembly/overhaul to weed eating around the office.

Our log concentration yard is beginning to operate a little.  How that develops depends largely on our ability to acquire rolling stock to operate.

The madness comes and goes.  Some days are arrow straight and we get a lot accomplished, other days leave us scratching our heads on what we got done.  Lately I've been working in the office mostly on our safety program, lockout tagout, logistics of equipment acquisition, personnel and state and county government stuff.  Mostly this is a fun endeavor and I don't feel like I'm "working"

The previous owner toyed with the idea of rebuilding the sawmill but decided to retire from the sawmill business.  He did say if he was 20 years younger, he would have rebuilt. 
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2021, 04:06:18 PM »
Great news that things are moving forward. Tough times  for getting supplies when needed I'm  sure. Wish I was closer to get in the way as well. Great job!

Offline Iwawoodwork

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #43 on: August 28, 2021, 06:34:11 PM »
Sawyer Ted, on your safety programs I strongly suggest you use the free Consultant program offered by OSHA.  The consultants are an independent group that do not interact with  the enforcement side of OSHA. They are free and confidential to your company. I was with Oregon Osha safety enforcement for 20 years and always told employers that the consultant group was the best bang for the dollar you can invest in, especially when just starting up. Here in Oregon they will go to your site, look it over, then help you set up the various programs, Many of them had developed fill in the blanks program, etc. I was always glad when I conducted an onsite safety enforcement inspection and found that the employer had previously had the OSHA consultants onsite, there were usually far fewer violations and of much less penalty $$.  Here in Oregon the EPA, environmental, air, chemicals, and water agency were far more aggressive than OSHA so do not forget that area either.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #44 on: August 28, 2021, 08:10:11 PM »
That isn't the same in every State. I can tell you from first hand experience that in some states the consultation side will absolutely report you to enforcement if they find a violation and you don't address it to their standard. 
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #45 on: August 29, 2021, 08:49:02 PM »
We actually are working with NCDOL OSH Consultative Services already.  Even though the services are free, we are still responsible for establishing and maintaining a safety and health program.  They dont do it for us.  But they will provide guidance and expertise.  Our agreement with them does say if they find noncompliance we must correct it in a timely manner.  If we do not, they will report us to the compliance enforcement section.  I just dont see any circumstance where we wouldnt correct an identified hazard.

My previous experience with this has been good.  They are mostly reasonable.  In my experience its better to be working with them than not.  Between them, our Workers comp company and out liability insurance company, we have plenty of help!  It is in their best interest and saves us money to access their help.  

On the storm water and air quality side, we are also working proactively with the consultants to minimize our chances of noncompliance and the enforcement cycle side.  Our permits are already in place, its just a matter of monitoring and reporting at this time.  
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #46 on: August 30, 2021, 04:21:25 AM »
When I was younger, stronger, and probably smarter I got involved in a big mill setup in a third world location; it was one of the best experiences of my life. Challenges, difficulties, lot of sweat... big plans and a small budget... I thrived on the experience. Fast forward 30 years and here I am halfway through building something from nothing again, albeit on a lot smaller scale.

And I am still mostly loving it. But I got to tell ya all that stuff... EPA compliance, OH&S, county/state/federal government, dealing with the union (not yet but it's coming for both of us), engineers, accountants and lawyers... sucks all the fun right out of it, and adds a whole lot of expense.

Know what I miss? Being able to just solve the problem. Need a road - take the dozer and make one. Need to get rid of sawdust? - drop a syphon into a creek, flume it down a hill and run water through the mill under every saw, drop the sawdust in a settlement pond and let the water run clean out into the river. Need a barge ramp - corduroy straight down the beach to low water mark.

I'm all for environmental responsibility, and safe work environments, and that. But I'm now in week 6 of arguing  about the fact I want to do a long span in wood not steel.... just like the nearly 100 year old mill buildings down the road or every hiway bridge in the area... cuz the engineering approval guy can't just look at a load rating table somewhere to say it's okay.

Truth is that we'd all be still getting around in a horse drawn wagon and gathering wood to cook dinner if the guys who built nations 150 years ago had to put up with the red and green tape that exists today. As I said before - if I was close I'd love to lend a hand but that part of it... that stuff I am not jealous of.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #47 on: August 30, 2021, 10:22:07 AM »
I don't disagree that there's a ton of time involved in being "in compliance" with the county, state and federal government requirements.  Of course, time is money.  Most our delays aren't due to lack of response or even disagreements on building codes, electrical codes, safety regs, air and water regs etc.  

Our delays are coming from manufacturing and supply chain issues.  For instance the power company tells us a three phase transformer is 128 days out due to the manufacturer's production schedule. They tool up and produce a batch of transformers, retool and produce a batch with different specifications every 128 days.  Another is the electrical contractor can't get the breakers and insides of an 800 amp panel due to manufacturing and shipping delays.  Our construction contractors and even the local hardware store are experiencing delays in the supply chain for things we need.  Even when we try to source items from other vendors, they have the same problems.

So the dynamics of juggling the delays is the frustrating part.  We get to a certain point with various installations and have to wait.  Then everything starts coming together for several installations all at once.  
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #48 on: August 30, 2021, 10:53:40 AM »

That seems to be everyone's problem these days unfortunately. Hopefully they aren't too long for you.

I think businesses are rethinking this "Just in time supply"
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #49 on: August 30, 2021, 10:29:49 PM »
I can see the "Just in Time" if your supplier and materials are with a certain area.  But, when it is coming from half way around the world things get messed
up.  The cost to air freight 3 pallets would pay for warehousing for twenty years.  Someone needs to learn how to count the beans. This happens more often than you would think.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #50 on: August 30, 2021, 11:35:49 PM »
This is really amazing.  

I was reading through the posts.  Are you an investor, an owner or majority owner?  You mentioned owner, or co owner, but how many partners do you have?  

Without the mill running, how are the personnel being paid, equipment being purchased, etc?  Who is staking finances?  

What is your drop dead date for beginning operations?  

Do you already have customers lined up, loggers on the payroll?  Whats the long term business plan?  

Very ambitious.  I'm excited to see how it progresses.  

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #51 on: August 30, 2021, 11:57:15 PM »
(How do I delete a comment here anyway? I got off topic)
The quickest way to make a million dollars with a sawmill is to start with two million.

Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #52 on: August 31, 2021, 09:44:53 AM »
@YellowHammer for simplicity sake, let's call me plant manager.  There's more to it than that but my function is as a plant manager  I'm one of three on the management team and I often fill cracks wherever and whenever necessary.  Of the other two, one guy is finance officer and the other handles yard operations and machine installations.

Our owners are currently providing the financial backing for this business.  We are one of five businesses they own.  This one is the only one operated independently.  The others all operate out of the same facility and under their management.  One of those is a forestry, land clearing company.  Our logs come from the three crews there.  Our log concentration yard serves to grade and sort logs to increase profitability on the logs those crews bring in.  Most of what we will be using are pulpwood logs for wood shavings and firewood initially.  So low cost, high supply and a consistent source is available. 

We will be producing wood shavings and bulk firewood by the end of September for established customers.  We already have the wood shavings customers lined up to bring their walking floor trailers to be filled.  Firewood production was previously done as a farm venture on the owner's farm so customers are already lined up for firewood.  

The sawmill is in planning right now.  We have a conceptual design with target production levels and target products.  The rest of the business plan has to be running and profitable before we tackle it. I suspect we will be targeting 2023 or 2024 for the sawmill to be operational. 

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #53 on: August 31, 2021, 12:18:18 PM »
This is a very interesting project.  I'm looking forward to your updates.
YellowHammerisms:

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If it wont roll, its not a log; its still a piece of tree.  Sawmills cut logs, not pieces of trees.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #54 on: September 07, 2021, 01:27:53 PM »
So our supply chain issues have us in limbo more or less.

The breakers and other insides for an 800 amp service panel are finally on their way.  We expect installation on Friday or Monday.  The shavings mill is idle because of the delays.  Maybe we will be making shavings sometime next week. I'm sure that our setup will require some fine tuning once we get it running.  

Our firewood processor is being overhauled with a rebuilt valve set and new hydraulic hoses and an upgraded splitter box.  The conveyors and the steel substructure are being painted.  The valve assembly is at least two more weeks out.  Another couple of weeks will have us making firewood.

So today part of our crew is working on grading to solve some drainage issues and part of the crew is working on the firewood processor.  We are doing some painting and other general improvements.

Maybe Thursday we will be able to put our sign up out by the road.

The critical thing is we are not yet making any money.  ARRGGGHHH!
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Offline VB-Milling

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #55 on: September 07, 2021, 01:51:09 PM »
So our supply chain issues have us in limbo more or less.

The critical thing is we are not yet making any money.  ARRGGGHHH!
Your bottom line is literally the bottom line. Supply chain issues have been very painful for even the most routine of things. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for less common things.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #56 on: September 22, 2021, 12:31:56 PM »
So the progress on start up of our first shavings mill hasn't been a fluid process.  After the electrical delays, we have all the electrical connected, final inspections and operational.  Start up of the machine revealed some anticipated hydraulic leaks, that took a day to resolve.  The crew is now resolving some timing and travel issues with the box.  It isn't good for the box to travel too far in either direction.  

For those who aren't familiar, a shavings mill is basically a big planer head in a table.  On the table is a box that holds logs.  The box travels back and forth across the planer head.  Basically, it is a giant log planer.  

When I say big planer head, it is 60" long and approximately 8" in diameter.  It has five sets of knives that look very similar to planer or jointer knives, just bigger.  We have two sets of new knives, one set is 30" knives and the other is 20" knives.  

The box is approximately 5' wide 9' long and about 40 inches deep.  It will hold several logs.  

The head motor is 200 hp 3 phase and the hydraulics are driven by a 25 hp motor.  Box travel and the conveyor drive motors are all hydraulic.  

This is NOT our operation but one similar to ours.



Our firewood processor is just a couple of weeks away from having the overhaul completed.  Our first issue was hydraulic leaks.   Of course hoses aren't hard to get but they are hard to pay for :D.  There is a little fabrication/repair work to be completed and the metal has been hard to come by.  I'll share more later on the firewood operations.
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Offline Resonator

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #57 on: September 22, 2021, 01:48:31 PM »
Is it cutting in both directions of travel? Or is there is a height difference (infeed-outfeed) on the table deck like a jointer (or giant mandolin veggie slicer).  ???
Under bark there's boards and beams, somewhere in between.
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #58 on: September 22, 2021, 02:06:48 PM »
It does cut both directions.  No height difference between infeed table and outfeed table like a jointer.  Since the poultry and livestock don't care if the shavings are "square" a height difference isn't necessary.  The gap in the table where the head does the cutting is wide enough and the head/knives stick through enough to cut both ways.  The key is enough travel of the box relative to the log length to get them cut to the end so the logs drop enough to be cut.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #59 on: September 22, 2021, 09:24:27 PM »
Thank you,I appreciate your taking us along on this journey i had a pretty good idea as to what you were up against with getting a sawmill operation up and running and lots of firewood operations in this part of the world, but your shaving mill is new to me. So again thanks for the education, for some reason I thought that a shaving mill was more like a chipper using by products from the sawmill operation now I know better.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #60 on: September 23, 2021, 08:24:41 AM »
I'm also totally unfamiliar with these shaving mill.  The primary purpose is poultry and livestock in the form of having something underfoot?

The box that cycles back and forth is gravity fed only?  There is no mechanical means to push the logs against the cutterhead?  I guess as long as the box is continuously loaded, there is no need for that?

Can you go straight to packaging with the shavings or do they need to dry?

Thanks (feeling very much like a dumb suburbanite at this point)
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #61 on: September 23, 2021, 11:50:16 AM »
Everything is gravity fed, no down pressure required.  You are correct that keeping the box at least 2/3 full is necessary as the machine can throw a log that is not held down or is too short.

In the bulk shavings business, shavings are loaded into a walking floor trailer loose.  We won't be bagging shavings like you see at feed stores.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #62 on: September 23, 2021, 12:19:05 PM »
Everything is gravity fed, no down pressure required.  You are correct that keeping the box at least 2/3 full is necessary as the machine can throw a log that is not held down or is too short.

In the bulk shavings business, shavings are loaded into a walking floor trailer loose.  We won't be bagging shavings like you see at feed stores.


Really appreciate the details.  What an enormous undertaking.  I very much admire your tenacity and work ethic.

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #63 on: September 25, 2021, 06:11:07 AM »
Do you have any drying in the line after the shavings are made? If not, how are you going to prevent mold and blue stain?
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #64 on: September 27, 2021, 02:03:58 PM »
We do have a plan on drying the shavings. We just aren't there yet.  
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #65 on: September 28, 2021, 12:33:47 AM »
I will toss this out there as something very simple you can maybe scale up.  

I put my planer peels in a black 55g drum to save up for chicken bedding with lid on top.  Drum is in the driveway baking in the sun and basically forgotten about.  One morning i go to add more and the interior walls plus underside of lid are sopping wet from the moisture that came out of the wood and condensed on the cool tin. One sunny day with lid off vaporized that condensate out to atmosphere and chips were dry as a bone.   I keep a scrap of romex over the lip now to keep just a little gap for the lid to vent.  


Id think sheds, silos, old tanks or maybe dryvans parked in the sun would do the same without added energy expense from blowers or kilns and such.  Be a serious fire hazard to kiln. 

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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #66 on: September 28, 2021, 12:37:38 AM »
parked in the sun

Sun isn't always an option. Need something to be consistent in a business sense.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #67 on: September 28, 2021, 12:42:04 AM »
Hot sun in north carolina is as consistent as rain in the PNW!

;D

Theyre parking solar farms bumper to bumper in the northeast and thats pretty marginal too.  But maybe that business is more about collecting lease rents, carbon credits and subsidies than it is kilowatts. Im no expert.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #68 on: September 28, 2021, 01:48:26 AM »
Hot sun in north carolina is as consistent as rain in the PNW!

;D

Theyre parking solar farms bumper to bumper in the northeast and thats pretty marginal too.  But maybe that business is more about collecting lease rents, carbon credits and subsidies than it is kilowatts. Im no expert.
Well maybe this is two different realms. Marketing vs reality. I'm no expert either but in the arena of supply/demand if the sun goes down so does your business. Not to get picky but drying that lot of shavings may require power from a combination of sun/coal/hydro or all of the above(they all are in the grid) to be a reliable supplier.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #69 on: September 28, 2021, 06:19:42 AM »
The shavings mills around here are using waste from their own operation and some others close by to fire a boiler to generate their electricity. They also use the boiler to put the heat into the kiln/driers.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #70 on: September 28, 2021, 03:48:54 PM »
We are evaluating whether we even need to dry the shavings.  Our customers will have more to do with that decision.  We are meeting with the biggest one tomorrow.  He will be able to confirm for us the health issues of blue stain for the chickens.  If I recall my previous conversation with him, blue stain is not an issue.  Mold may be different but we've seen no mold so far.

For a little perspective on our initial experiences I'll share this.  Over the last few days we've made several tons of shavings while fine tuning the machine.  They are stockpiling in a building that is 1/3 open. Last week we had several inches of rain with some of the shavings getting wet.  We have experienced no heat, no mold and what blue stain we have appears to be in the logs already.  Because we are not currently bagging the shavings the issue of heat and combustion caused by damp shavings is minimized.

We have a couple of drying ideas to try out if it becomes necessary to dry them.  Our first step is to see if the process of blowing the shavings into open top walking floor trailers is going to help dry the shavings.  Then we will tackle the necessary machinery for drying if it becomes necessary.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #71 on: September 28, 2021, 04:34:18 PM »
I have seen a place run the shavings into a tromel with a blower running on the tromel.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #72 on: September 29, 2021, 06:41:52 AM »
If you blow the shavings they will pack and you will lose volume . This is offset somewhat by eliminating the loading of the trucks with a loader. However , it is surprising how much difference there is in the volume between the two loading methods.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #73 on: September 29, 2021, 07:22:44 AM »
Volume/fluff apparently isn't an issue for our main customer.  He wants more weight in his trucks.  As it is, loading with a loader will put around 9,000 pounds of shavings in a 48' walking floor open top trailer.  That leaves +-30,000 pounds of capacity unused.  This customer wants to use more of that unused capacity and let the chickens return the volume/fluff as they scratch around in the shavings.  We have a plan to take advantage of that unused capacity in the trucks.  That plan may necessitate drying but our proof of concept isn't complete yet.  I can't share specifics but if this works we will be able to offer something other shavings operations do not.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #74 on: September 30, 2021, 06:29:22 AM »
So you will sell by weight? Then you have to account for loss of $ by drying. It's kind of a crap shoot. ;D I blew  shavings , where they would pack ,into a bin then loaded trucks . A friend loaded his bin with a conveyor and loaded with almost a sifting shake from his loader bucket. I think that he put less than 2/3 the volume I did in his trucks. He made a living from shavings , for me it was a side product.
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #75 on: September 30, 2021, 08:19:29 AM »
Right now I can't share too much about what we are doing, but making sure that the greatest amount of material possible is transported is a key factor to differentiating our operation from others.  If others are loading with blowers or with loaders, we will have a different method available for customers who want it.  
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #76 on: October 03, 2021, 06:27:23 PM »
Big shaving mill auction, acadian wood shavings down in LA.  Just an FYI if you were looking for equipment 
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #77 on: October 03, 2021, 07:35:33 PM »
I am cruising through the new posts and I came across this.
I'm thinking the last time I heard from SawerTed, he was going to get into a higher end profit line on his LT35. 
Well this definitly is a little bigger?
Good for you Ted, you were to young to really retire just yet.  8)
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Re: Go Big or Go Home, Going Big
« Reply #78 on: October 04, 2021, 04:06:54 PM »
Still doing portable jobs.  I've abandoned any sales of any lumber at this point.  My sawing has been focused on higher end hardwood like quarter sawn white oak, walnut and cherry for select customers.  I had to reduce advertising to focus on the higher end stuff.  Now most jobs are repeat customers, friends and word of mouth customers.  

I did do a farm festival demo on Saturday and cut mostly utility grade white oak and pine framing lumber. That was mainly to help out a young couple making a business in agribusiness and entertainment - "agritainment?"  They are doing corn mazes, old time molasses making, corn shuckings, sheep shearing demos, bee keeping demos, pumpkin picking, yarn making and so forth.

Between the new wood products venture and a few portable jobs a month, I stay out of trouble or maybe I stay in it all the time. :) 
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