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Author Topic: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?  (Read 360 times)

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Offline rojen

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Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« on: April 15, 2021, 06:29:12 PM »
When a train engine reaches the end of the line, there's a large turntable used to turn the engine around to go back the track the other direction. 

I have a long track for my HM126 (possibly adding more) and I'm thinking about doing a wheelhouse at both ends.  My thinking is that I can put cants 2 wide and 3 long on my bunks, put my sawhead at the 1"minimum height and then walk back and forth cutting 4/4 more uniformly than hand cranking.  I can just flip the cants on every pass and peel off the board from the bottom as I do it.  It would be a manual production method of resawing.   

Fabricating some track extensions to park on while turning would be easy enough. My first instinct is to just put 4 heavy duty casters on the bottom of a track extension.  My fear is that dancing the head around and getting the tracks lined up enough to safely transfer the sawhead back to the cutting track will eat up any time I save by not having to crank and verify blade height.

Anyone think of a good lazy susan style pivot point for my wheelhouse?  Repurposed or easy to fabricate.  I'm kinda stumped.  A nice, consistent turn where both ends of the auxiliary track line up with the cutting track would be great.

Or is this a waste of time and I should just do the Arsenio Hall all summer?  I've normally just busted logs up into boards but I'm looking into increasing production by going to cants and preparing for drying in a more orderly fashion.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2021, 07:23:28 PM »
  My thoughts are its a waste of time (but I was wrong once before that time when I thought I had made a mistake. :D).

  One big issue I would see would be maintenance. Those train wheelhouses don't have sawdust filling every seam all day long like a sawmill does. I can't imagine you're going to be able to keep the track clean enough to keep turning and level without a lot of precision and a very expensive foundation to keep it stable under the conditions of use. I think there is a lot faster, cheaper and easier ways to increase production - like buying a bigger mill with a lot more hp. Also the tolerance levels to get an engine to drive up on a track is a lot greater. A 1/4" variance would not mean much to a train engine but it would sure mess up some lumber.

  Good luck and if you do build such a set up be sure to let us know how it works, what worked and what did not and overall lessons learned.
Howard Green
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Online btulloh

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2021, 07:39:49 PM »
The details could all be worked out. It would be interesting to watch the fab along the way. 

Doesnt sound very practical though. Flipping multiple cants each time sounds a lot more difficult and time consuming. Plus that saw only clears about 10 (maybe 8?) so it would limit the cant height. Slow sawing with that amount of hp too.  

It takes me less than 15 seconds to drop the head for the next cut, and usually Im counting index holes to hit my target thickness. Not a lot of time spent on the crank. Probably spend more time looking to see if the back stops are low enough.  

I do love seeing a new approach and a complex fab job though, so I say get some steel and some heavy thrust bearings for the center pivot and proceed. The saw head could stop with the cg over the pivot point, so it should spin easily. 
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Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2021, 08:19:10 PM »
Back when there was about 20 different portable band mill being made someone offered a spin around head. Better yet ,there was one with edger saws traveling with the head. That I have seen and it was very light and unsuccessful. That would have been a great labor saver. And then there are double cuts.

Online Southside

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2021, 08:25:40 PM »
From a grade standpoint I think your plan will be difficult to get the advantage out of it.  

Show me four logs that will all saw the same face at the same time without having stress, pith, grade all being different.

In a through and through set up speed is key, in this world it's all about quality.

You can get a mill that is good, fast, and cheap. Only stipulation is you can only choose two of those qualities. 
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Offline Patrick NC

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2021, 08:49:40 PM »
I think you would be making a lot of extra work for yourself. Offbearing would be cumbersome at best and as @Southside said it would be next to impossible to saw for grade. When I had my manual mill I was always looking for ways to make it easier. I eventually came to the conclusion that the only way to do that is buy a new mill with power feed/head etc...
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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2021, 08:52:00 PM »
Are you familiar with how resaws work?  The cant goes past the blade at a set height on a belt, then the cant goes around in a circle back to the other side of the head on a set of roller track and is fed through again.  They tend to be used for shorter length  boards and they run a bunch of cants on the track at a time so you don't have to wait for the one you just ran through make it's way back around.

Offline rojen

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2021, 09:24:07 PM »
Resaws cost a fortune which is why I'm trying to figure out a workaround.  I figured I'd flip the cant so the best face was always closest to the bunks. The "fixed" height sawhead would then cut every single board at the same thickness.  No operator error with the crank. 

I'm completely changing my setup so I can play with some ideas.  We're toying with a post and beam home with T&G decking and flooring.  Which is a million miles to put through a moulder.  We'll want consistency in all dimensions which is why something like this appeals to me. 

The 7" throat on my saw is the biggest limitation.  WV Sawmiller made a good point about maintenance of the setup. 



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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2021, 09:43:57 PM »
If consistency is your goal can you set up stops at 1 inch so every time you lower you mill head all the way it always stops at the same point?  That doesn't solve the issue of lots of raising and lowering the head though.

With your method I would imagine as the cant gets lighter and lighter it will not want to sit still under its own weight and you will need to come up with a clamping system from above or that stays below the bottom cut.

Offline JRWoodchuck

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Re: Train-style Wheelhouse for Mill Worth Exploring?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2021, 11:09:56 AM »
Dont know what the head on your mill looks like but my first thought would be a some sort of cheap over head lift with a hook that hooks on your head lifts it in the air with a hand crank winch or electric. Spin it then set it back down. You could build that frame out of wood so your cost would be the lifting mechanism. 
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