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Author Topic: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties  (Read 2007 times)

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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2020, 10:00:23 AM »
   Not buying logs. Not selling lumber. Just sawing for a customer. Not worried about profit or loss from the product. Is it worth his time and effort to saw stated items with equipment he has on hand?
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2020, 10:55:57 AM »
I have paid people "per tie" to saw ties from my logs. Flat rate. Culls were my problem. Numbers on my end wouldn't work in all markets but the contract sawyers always wanted more. More than a few ran LT15's. Have paid as much as $15 per tie to have logs 4 sided. If you can't figure out to how to make that work you aren't looking to saw.

Offline TKehl

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2020, 11:03:33 AM »
WV, I am aware of that and I agree with you.   :)

But by looking at the other side of the coin here, it raises more questions that require answers before proceeding.   ;)  
If it's junk for quality that is the log owners responsibility to which they will wise up quick as they loose money and gig over.  If junk for metal, that is the sawmillers responsibility which he needs to be aware of.  Either way, I think it only makes the situation worse for ties.  Just not a game to play without equipment.

Again, on the other hand, they could be your best customer for other things! 
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2020, 11:23:56 AM »
Junk logs make junk ties.  If you're sawing by the tie, you're only interested in sawing ties, not quality.  Sometimes good looking logs turn out junky.  There's more to sawing a good tie than throwing a log on a mill and slabbing 4 sides.  

I sawed by the bf for 35 yrs.  My job was to get the highest dollar value out of a log that I could.  You can do that when you have enough diversity in your markets.  Sawing solely for ties is a prescription for problems on both sides of the equation.  When markets get tight, the quality of ties has to go up to keep on sending ties.  Same happens with all markets.  Sloppy sawyers end up going broke.  
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Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2020, 11:47:50 AM »
i Did a contract where ties were the primary product needed but were NOT the primary product Produced. The logs were average of 12" small end with about a 1/3 around 16" all 12' length. The owner wanted the max lumber yield out of the logs in general with as many #2 & 3 ties as we could get. 

Was a fun job. We ran at about a 35-40% of finished timber in decent ties.

He actually ended up making almost as much on the second cut slabs/wind boards as he did on the ties on that job.    
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Offline tacks Y

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2020, 12:48:58 PM »
No smart advice here. But there is a large mill in my area cutting ties because they are making more money at it. With lumber prices down, go where the money is. 

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2020, 01:14:02 PM »
There is always more to it than what meets the eye. High speed equipment, low payments, good log supply, cheap fuel, reliable help but most of all markets for bark, chips, sawdust and maybe fire wood. The ties or side boards could just break even if the residuals sell.

Offline Jcald327

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2020, 11:33:07 PM »
So this guy is persistent.
I pushed myself in the 42 to 49 cent per bf range, and pretty sure I even quoted 45 an hour for me, 60 with 1 helper, and 75 with a second, and said I was out on ties.  The prices I gave allowed for 3 to 4 ties an hour depending on help.

Customer/employer here runs a forestry company.  His explanation is he is pulling 10mbf of logs off of these jobs daily, with about 1mbf being of tie quality.  All of his off cuts are used for something other than mulch (dont remember off hand but apparently that market does very well with the rainy year the almanac is predicting), he even sells his dust and chips for bedding.  He said he used to run a bandmill before 'moving up'.  I really never expected to get a response but what do I know anyway.

Well I got a response this evening stating he was gonna keep my info for large log slabs and such, and then asked if he had a bandmill, and the equipment to minimize lifting / manual labor (which was a key point in the tire talks) if I'd be interested in running the mill for him.  I've never heard of non owner operators on portable mills but I suppose it happens.  What's the rate here?  I don't claim to be a wiz at it by any means, but I'm a quick learn, an avid 23 tabs on google kind of researcher, and a sponge.  I know the only true experience comes from putting the blade in the log, but I feel that with a little guidance and training I can be ready to knock out quality product in a few weeks.  At this point in my life I'm past the 12$ an hour stuff that used to be part of my 60-80 hour a week grind, and am REALLY focusing on being a good husband, and a great FATHER.  I would be willing to work to the tune of 20-25 an hour depending on how he manages travel time (as some jobs may be local, and some up to 2.5 hours out) a few (read 3) days a week, just need to keep up with his production expectations.

Time will tell haha
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2020, 10:13:14 AM »
The guy is persistent because as of now ties are by far the best market for most logs that will make them. The flooring market is overloaded; low pricing and quotas. You could easily justify the wage level you indicated operating a hydraulic mill.

Offline timbour

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2020, 11:10:58 AM »
Out of curiosity what species of logs are used now for RR ties and how are they preserved if creosote is no longer used.  I assume it is something akin to pressure treated and preserved SYP?

thanks

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2020, 11:26:30 AM »
If he wants to be an owner, then you're going to be either an employee or a sub contractor.  If you're an employee, then figure out the price you want per hour.  Make sure you get health care and a 401k and a decent vacation schedule as well as overtime pay for over 40 hrs.  That's what any decent mfg job has.

As a sub contractor, then you can charge per bf.  You'll have to cover insurances, SS taxes, retirement, etc from the earnings.  But, then you have to figure out who does the repairs and saw sharpening.  I didn't do repairs as a sub contractor.  Not my expertise.  

If you're into cutting ties, he might want to consider getting a portable circle mill that can punch out 100 ties per day.  It brings the cost down.  
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Jcald327

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2020, 06:17:52 PM »
Talked to him some more today, hes already spoken to his 'business partner's and the bank about a bandmill.  Hes looking at a Baker 3638 diesel.  Not super impressed by the speed of the hydraulics for something in a production setting, but also like it better than moving things by hand.  He threw out the arbitrary number 'if I was paying you say 20$ an hour', which leads me to believe he would be willing to pay 24-26 as I wouldn't arbitrarily give a price higher than I was willing to pay if I was looking to hire someone.  He expects 400bf an hour with a skid loader of some kind, and a 3rd body for off loading.  He wants a truck load every other day 8-9mbf.  Looking at mostly 4/4 stock, and ties (I'm not sure how his conversation has evolved away from ties, to 4/4 stock).   Says hes getting mostly hickory these days.  

I'm at 60$ an hour for 3 people, 25 me, 20 for my 60 year old drive anything on wheels operator, and 15 for his son, as an offloader.  He wants to subcontract the whole job, what I do with the money (in terms of pay or taxes) is up to me. 
Still very leery of the whole endeavor honestly.  I dont know that I'm ready to meet large scale productions expectations, where every cut/board/tie/flitch/cant/pile of sawdust is accounted for towards the bottom line.  
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Offline Tom the Sawyer

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2020, 06:28:07 PM »
Don't forget about taxes, insurance, taxes, unemployment, taxes, benefits, etc.  Three people banking on the learning curve associated with new bandsaw mill operators... risky.
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If you call and my wife says, "He's sawin logs", I ain't snoring.

Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2020, 06:33:22 PM »
Baker builds a good mill but 400 BF/hr average 8 hours a day will be a fairly long stretch. I can see about 300 BF as a reasonable target with that mill UNLESS you have a full suite of auto mechanical material handling to go with it.  

Also those labour rates seem a bit on the stingy side.

That mill with operator should bill out at around a $100 an hour PLUS any extra bodies and iron. 
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Offline Southside

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2020, 07:15:58 PM »
Absolutely no way I would do that. You are not going to get consistent production of 400 BF/ hr with that set up. Throw in an edger, a sort table, power take away conveyors, ditch the Hickory and 300 / hr would be closer to an 8 hour average. 

He wants someone to make him rich. 
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2020, 08:27:11 PM »
   Maybe offer to saw them for $10 each for ties and $.30/bf for 4/4 lumber with him providing the mill, skid steer and having the logs staged for quick and easy access. If my math is right he says he's expecting 9.5 ties per hour. I can see that in a circle mill with conveyors constantly bringing the logs and removing the slabs and finished ties. Its hard for me to believe your helpers can load and unload you quick enough to do that.
Howard Green
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Offline SawyerTed

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2020, 08:46:48 PM »
400 bdft per hour to make 4,000 per day.  Sounds like 12-14 hour work days assuming everything runs perfectly.  There's refueling sawmill and support machines, blade changes, lube tank to refill, slabs to move after they accumulate, stacks of ties and lumber to move, daily maintenance, clean up, blade sharpening, unloading and loading trucks etc. and nobody has had lunch yet.

I don't believe your man is not providing sufficient equipment or manpower to reach the 4,500 bdft per day goal. The sawmill is just one piece of the puzzle.  A skid steer is not an ideal log handler nor is it an ideal finished goods handler for production. A wheel loader with grapple forks for logs and a telehandler with forks for finished goods movement and loading would be my choices.  Even a big skid steer just doesn't have the capacity to be an efficient choice-think one log at a time.  Have you ever tried to unload a log truck with a skid steer?

A log deck will be a must and a live deck almost a necessity. 

With those kinds of production goals, two helpers at the mill and one driving equipment seems to required.  Every time the sawyer steps away from the mill, production goes down. 

Those labor rates are low in my opinion.  Maybe starting out those rates are appropriate but long term help will be hard to keep.  
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Offline EOTE

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #37 on: January 15, 2020, 08:59:34 PM »
Maybe this will be some help...I tracked my time and board feet very closely sawing approximately 50K board feet, albeit by myself on a WM LT40... Included onloading logs, sawing, offloading, but not stickering, palletizing, sawmill maintenance, fueling, etc.  Sawing was split between 2x material and 1x boards.  My total labor worked out to .86 minutes per board foot.  

I know there's probably less sawing passes for ties but there are offsets as well.  Hope it helps.
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Offline Bandmill Bandit

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2020, 09:03:16 PM »
 Also 300BF/hr is a reasonable TOTAL BF output per hour NOT the tie out put which I would expect to be at about 40% of total BF out put.

AND to get a consistent 300BF/hr every things would need to be ticking like a Rolex watch everyday all day all week.

Also to get additional 4X material out of logs that you are targeting for ties you pretty much need 12" small end minimum to do that assumming your cutting 6"x9" ties.  

If you are cutting ONLY ties, AND you are ONLY making 4 cuts per tie to get there 6 minutes is doable but not on an hour in hour out basis. AND your logs gota be pretty much sorted and bucked so that you ONLY get the prefect tie logs which would likely be about 40%(and that is a bit generous) max of the logs in yard.

You would need them sorted to that spec and stacked before you ever start the mill.

If it was me looking at doing it with my equipment;

$100 an hour for me and the mill
$20 an hour per laborer
$80 an hour bobcat/FEL with grapple and forks

All processing including milling, bucking, staging, loading, unloading, sorting, banding et. el.  is also billed at $100 an hour plus the helpers and the hourly rate for additional equipment used to process.

I wouldn't touch it for a BF price. Too many unknowns! 

Sawyer Ted was typing the same time as I was and is pretty much saying exactly what I am saying in more detail.
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Offline Jcald327

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Re: Reality check, BF pricing and railroad ties
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2020, 11:11:23 PM »
Really this is where I am at as well, hourly all the way because I dont want to get into any of the problems assuming perfect production in an imperfect world.  
I think he told me today hes running through 25-30 tons of material a day, and when he contacted me originally it was 10mbf a day with 1mbf being clear straight tie worthy logs.  But 1mbf of millable lumber does not 400bf an hour make day in and day out.  Pulling from bakers website on the mill, it claims I believe 5000-8000bf a day with 3 people, no indication if this is 8, 12, or even 14 hour workdays.  He said hes run this model mill before and turned 3000bf a day 'with a lot of breaks' by himself, but even on an 8 hour day this doesnt make 400bf hour.  

If I broke it down to an 8 hour day, and cut bakers numbers in half, your looking at 312bf an hour, and this is a super subjective target. 4 roll tie logs @ 44 bf a pop 9 an hour, sounds do able but hard, honestly giving the log loader a minute to load, another minute to unload, and 7 minutes to level, cut, rotate, repeat.  But cutting a 36 inch log (let's just assume a perfect 36 inch x 8 foot cylinder) is 675 bf, and 35 cuts if in slab form, and a minute down, 30 seconds back and 10 seconds to adjust and send the carriage back on it's way and your way above your target.

He claims everything will be setup ideally, with all logs trimmed and organized, big end all facing same direction, with a huge supply logs staged, bucked to the same 8'10 inch length, and the work divided out daily (ie all logs staged for the day will be 4/4, the next day they may all be tie logs, but no switching every other log).

***disclaimer as I know those are over simplified perfect world have no bearing equations, just showing the big differences depensing on his expectations, and why I would rather go hourly***

Maybe a skid steer was an assumption on my part, as he only really outlined material handling equipment, and not specifically a skid loader.  

60 $ an hour puts his cost at 15 cents a bf with a 400bf yeild and 20 cents a bf at 300.  

I've asked for a meet and greet to feel him out completely, as numbers, expectations, and production numbers(both expected, and available logs) keeps changing.
Lucas 8-27 w/ slabber
Husqvarna 395xp 32, 42 inch
Rancher 455 24 inch
Stihl 271 20 inch
Grandberg 66 alaska mill
Lowrider cnc 4x8 capacity
Logrite mega 78 and 60


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