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Author Topic: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill  (Read 11433 times)

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Offline Thesteamshop

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Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« on: September 24, 2003, 03:31:25 PM »
Hi all

I have been checking out the form for some time now and have several questions, but first a little background.

I have been interested in saw for many years.  I ways exposed to sawmills as a young child at steam shows I attended with my father.  I am a big fan of steam traction engines and my father and I own one.  Several years ago I was working with a gentlemen at one of the steam shows and he asked it I want to learn how to saw.  Well that is all it took.  In October of 2002 my father and I purchased a number 3 American circular saw mill.  We are currently in process of restoring it.  Our plan is to be able to run it with a 200 hp Detroit, must of the time, but on occasion I plan to run it with our steam engines.

Now for the questions.
1) Has anyone in the forum rebuild a mill old mill like this.  I plan to leave all the wood in it and rebuild it to look semi historical.  It currently has hydraulics on the knee but no setworks that are useable.  The gentlemen we bought it from just eyeballed his lumber using the tally board.  The original setworks are still mounted on the carriage but can not be used with the hydraulics the way it is set up.   Has anyone seen a way to use hydraulics and setworks without electronics?

2) Is there a source out there that has old sawmill parts?  If they need rebuilding that ok.  I have a machine shop at home and can rebuild most anything for steam engines so this stuff should not be a problem.

3) How do you come up with a good layout?  I have started to draw the mill up in cad but intil I start to run it I an not sure if I will see the issues I might run into.


4) What would be a good foundation? I have been told wood pillars are good enough.  Other have said to pour concrete pillars because if done right the frost up here will not push them around.

I think that is all for now.

Mike

Offline DanG

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2003, 03:43:48 PM »
Welcome, Steamshop. You've come to the right place. There are several here who own and operate older circle mills, and many who have experience with them. Unfortunately, I ain't one of them. :-/   I just wanted to welcome you aboard.  Your project is sure to be one that will generate a lot of interest, 'specially when you get the steamer hooked up to it. :)
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Offline mitch

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2003, 06:02:15 PM »
Welcome to the Forum SteamShop,

I rebuilt an old pre WWII Vance circular mill about 25 years ago and still saw with it....a farm/neighborhood mill. URL
http://shagbarkfarms.com

Checkout some of the links at
http://shagbarkfarms.com/Sawmill/!saws_info.html

I strongly recommend concrete footings. After about 20 years on wooden piers the foundation became weak.

To heck with a CAD program...just visit some old mills and get some good ideas for a layout.

You must have a fairly accurate set works...hopefully better than 1/16 inch.

Most parts for an old mill can be made in a good machine shop except the saw.

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2003, 06:18:30 PM »
Maybe I can help you get started in a few areas.  I've seen and used a totally hydraulic setworks.  It was on a Jackson Lumber Harvester.  But, you need to have a brake setup with it.  It could be more expense than its worth.  Depends on the amount of sawing you are planning to do. Jackson is in Mondova, WI

What is the hydraulics running that you can't use the setworks.  Hydraulic motor to advance and retract the headblocks?  If so, take it off and you should be able to use the handset.  It doesn't take that much more time to set by hand.

The first mill I sawed on was a restored Fahrquahr.  The guy put new wood on everything.  You need well dried wood.  He used Doug fir.  It held up pretty well.

For a foundation, we put concrete pillars down below frost line.  As an alternative, you can pour a thick concrete pad.  You don't want any movement due to freezing.  It will create all kinds of problems, which will be hard to overcome.

Mill layout - logs in, lumber out.  How much will be done by hand, how much automation?  All of those will change how the mill could be laid out.  Also, what type of products are you producing.  You don't want to carry ties, for example.

Another thing you have to decide is waste handling.  You don't want to handle waste.  Are you using dust blowers or drags?  Are you going to have a chipper or just bundle slabs?  You need to answer those questions before you get to mill layout.  

You might find mill parts at a sawmill supply company.  Jackson could be a help, especially if you need some technical help.  
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Offline mitch

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2003, 06:28:33 PM »
SteamShop is this similar to your mill?

Offline D._Frederick

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2003, 06:34:05 PM »
Steamshop,
Need more info about your set work. What type of hydraulics are used, is it a cylinder that pushes the headblocks or a gearmotor with a chain drive? Is the setworks complete or is it broken up. If you have a millmachine,you should be able to make parts for the setworks. The pual (sp) are what wear-out.

Offline Frickman

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2003, 01:19:37 PM »
Congratulations Thesteamshop on joining the ranks of sawdust addicts. Don't spend too much time or money looking for parts, anything you might need can be made at any well equipped machine shop. Put your mill on concrete, you will be glad you did. The old timers who put mills on wood posts did that as only a temporary setup, as they moved the mill to the timber instead of the timber to the mill. Frost is not your only concern, the weight of the mill and logs will settle wood posts into the ground over time.

Figure out how to install accurate setworks. Logs and lumber are much too valuable to waste due to innacurate setting. Also, a setworks that is "loose" can be very dangerous. Whether it is manual or automatic, if the headblocks move while the log is in the saw things can get very ugly. You may be able to adapt the setworks and setshaft from another make of mill, if that is necessary.

You mentioned that you are designing a layout. Put the basic mill in with a temporary log deck. Saw a few logs and you'll see where everything should go. Remember that in small logs about fifty percent of the volume is waste, either slabs or sawdust, so plan accordingly.

A Detroit will power your mill easily, but you said you might run it with a steam engine on occasions. Decide if you want to run it off the Detroit or steam, it will be difficult to use both. The mill, and especially the saw, will become accustomed to running at a certain RPM and horsepower with the Detroit. If you change it to steam engine, you will be changing the RPM and HP. The saw will start to do all kinds of strange things with the change. I've been around some steam sawmills, and they don't have the horsepower or RPM's of diesel. Also, the RPM's fluctuates alot more with steam. You might be able to do it with two separate saws. I've found that it's all I can to to keep one saw running good. If your mill uses a flat belt, friction feedworks the change in HP and RPM's may affect it also.

Good luck on your project, I hope it works out well.
If you're not broke down once in a while, you're not working hard enough

I'm not a hillbilly. I'm an "Appalachian American"

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Offline D._Frederick

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2003, 03:39:34 PM »
Steamshop,
If you want to use both a steam engine and a diesel, you should install a jackshaft, (a 10 ft shaft and two bearings with a coupler) you have two pulleys, sized for the steam and diesel. I have seen them use a 60hp Case traction engine at the Steam-Up @ Brooks, Or. They saw up to 2 ft dia. fir log and there is no hesitation or waiting for rpm to build back up. You should find out what rpm your saw is hammered to run at then get pulleys of the correct size. I see no reason why you can not use both.

Offline Buzz-sawyer

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2003, 04:20:26 PM »


Welcome!
One important consideration is simple ....GRAVITY...By placing you log storage/feed bunks at incline (to the mill) , and your log yard area at incline....to the bunks..
you will be happy with the ease of movement!
Don Here is my mill set up
click this link http://www.forestryforum.com/cgi-bin/board/YaBB.pl?board=sawmill;action=display;num=1057247948;start=0
    HEAR THAT BLADE SING!

Offline AtLast

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2003, 07:15:10 PM »
LOVE those old pics...and the fct most of those " old mills" are still working today...

Offline Thesteamshop

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2003, 11:03:44 AM »
Thanks for all of the input so far.

Mitch that is very simular to mine exept I have the friction feed. The mill still looks very similar today.

As for what kind of hydraulics it has.  It has a hydraulic motor, chain driven to a 90-degree gearbox, with a solid coupling to the set shaft.  The original set-works is there and can be fixed but without the hydraulics I have no means of power receding.

Sounds like concrete is the way to go.  

Sawdust removal.  Currently I have a barn cleaner that was placed under the track inline with the husk.  It exited at a 45 degree up from underneath.  When I saw the mill operate before we disassembled it, the barn cleaner did an ok job in that area but what about under the rest of the track.   Seeing as I am starting at a new site anything I could do here to make it better.

Slab removal.  What ideas are out there for slab removal, I have seen some small mills pile it and then pick it up and saw it with a cross cut or chain saw.    The large mills that I have toured chip it all.   What about a swing saw?  Is it worth the time of sawing it or sell it as slab in full length.   I could use the swing saw for trim downs to remove that bark on the ends.
Mike

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Rebuilding a # 3 American sawmill
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2003, 02:50:47 PM »
Swing saws are okay for trimming boards and for cutting slabwood.  I've seen some that use a small conveyor to take away the slabs and end trims.  The cut wood will fetch more than the long slabs and is probably easier to sell.  

For long slabs, we used to make a bunk out of old log bunks from the log trucks.  We made them 4'x4' and figured about a cord in each bundle.  We would then put a band around it and wait until we could sell it.  Ended up with lots of slabs and no market.  

A barn cleaner for the sawdust will work fine.  To go the whole length of the mill will invite all sorts of bark and wood chunks into your sawdust pile.  That wouldn't go over too well in my area, but may be okay for yours.  I've always seen them at a 90 degree angle from the saw.  But, any setup that you come up with will work.

I'm not sure about your American mill, but all the mills I have run have had a power receder.  Is there any way of putting one on?  Was the mill set up with one at one time?

Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.


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