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Author Topic: Cross Tie cutting ideas  (Read 6223 times)

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Offline jclvsall

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Cross Tie cutting ideas
« on: March 06, 2014, 11:15:09 PM »
Calling all cross tie cutters or former cross tie cutters!!! 

Hold in yer hernias and share your wisdom.

My partner and I are looking for ways to up production of cross ties.  We got a nice surprise yesterday when we delivered ties.  The price went up again and substantially.  This means we can afford to buy more logs and cut several other sizes!  We had focused on the 7x9 and 8.5x10 but now we are looking at the 6x8,7x8 and 8x10 as financially viable.  This means we will be cutting many more ties.

I have been over the forum looking at cross tie threads for quite some time as we have taken on this venture.  There are a few things I didn't see covered that I know you guys have experience that could be shared.

My question is mainly

"What have you done to streamline cutting ties?"

Background info.  We are running 2 mills side by side.  One man per mill.  One older LT40HD and one older TK B20.  Logs are delivered bucked and ranging from 10"-15" DIB.   We are loading from the ground (no live deck) with the hydraulic loading arms.  We are moving logs to the mill with a skidsteer. We are offloading in either "hernia position #1"  or "hernia position #2"!  We are getting good money for our sideboards in oak otherwise it is chicken house boards!  Walmart is out of Ibuprophen!

We are mainly looking for ideas to man handle the ties quicker.  I have an idea of rigging up a gravity roller on the B20 to push the ties onto to roll them down to a rack at the tongue end of the mill.

Any other thoughts on cutting methods/theories and offloading ideas would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks
Brian

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.  Ben Franklin

Offline WH_Conley

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 11:45:17 PM »
A dead deck, that is what I use. 2 men on one mill. A tie size log can easily be flipped with a cant hook. Hydraulics are powerful but slow seeing as how you don't have a Super. Pull slab, loosen clamp, flip log, tighten clamp, off load slab while sawyer is sawing the next one. Rinse and repeat. Get a set of rolls to get them on somewhere. Don't clean any that need it on the mill, too slow. When you get done at the end of the day, or my preferred method is the next morning while it is cool. Lay ties out on a couple of poles and clean them, enough room between the first and second to turn it. Work right on down the line. Does a chicken house board pay enough to saw it? I found on cheap siding lumber it makes me more money as firewood. Bundle and stack with loader, when cold weather hit it will leave.
Bill

Offline jclvsall

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 12:57:04 AM »
Thanks WH Conley,
What do you mean by a "dead deck"?

Chicken house boards are getting 200/mbf. That is the gum, hickory, maple etc.  The oak siding is 700/mbf.  So we do recoup a little on the mixed hw 4/4 @ 200.  The rest goes for firewood. 

I appreciate the ideas.  We don't clean on the mill we clean them when we are loading them as you say too much time on the mill. 

We do use the hydraulics to turn the logs though.  With the TK it is a bit quicker than the WM.  My buddy turns his logs on the WM with a cant hook more often than with the turner.  I can flip them pretty quick with the chain turner on the B20. 

Brian
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.  Ben Franklin

Offline dgdrls

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 06:04:03 AM »


 
I think this for a "dead deck"?

I agree with HW_C, two men on one mill and get some rollers to move off slabs and finished ties.
work together with the B20, use the log turner and develop a rhythm.

good luck and good news on the price of ties
DGDrls

Offline RayMO

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 08:54:22 AM »
I think 2 guys on one mill is more productive . The dead deck is a must for tie logs . Load it up and then go like mad with second man off-bearing and bringing more logs for deck . A short sawyers cant hook is faster than a claw turner by far in most cases on small "tie" logs .
 Dead rolls are a back and time saver . Build a stack rack with a down slope to the back stops and place so you can slide drop ties onto rack off rolls . Faster to clean on rolls with two guys rather than handle twice in my experience . Get a pickaroon or tie hook if you dont have one as it is a finger and back saver as well as a time saver .
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Offline just_sawing

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 09:38:22 AM »
With the present prices for ties it is better to not take lumber out of the twenty cent boards. Think of it this way you are using your time to cut .20 cent lumber or .6 cent lumber. When a Log cost .40 cents a 14 inch cost $20 dollars. You make a 10 minute four cut cycle time (one man operation) and have $6.00 profit. You cut the lumber and you have  25 feet average for and additional $5 dollars but your cycle time has tripled. This means at an hour of work has made either 36 dollars throwing away the side lumber or 33 dollars for both the lumber and boards.
 It hurts  t and I spend a lot of time trying not to sell 20 cent lumber. but these are the fact and on the smaller logs the margin is larger.
 Also being a one man operation Rollers rollers and more rollers. I put the Slabs in a firewood tote that Allows me to run a Chainsaw down both sides and have firewood. I run a Hearty door furnace and burn the junk for myself. I sell the hickory separate to the outdoor cookers, (This is one place to cut boards they love it for better control throw boards and slabs in the same place). Dry gum and such will go as firewood but you just let them load their truck for a set price all you have done is cut and dump. When the trash builds up scoop and burn. The ashs are more valuable on your pasture.
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Offline jclvsall

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 10:55:15 AM »
This is great!  Keep it coming.

Got pickaroons, can't find short cant hooks.  Been looking.

We have a sort of "dead deck" set up with used crossties on the ground leading up to the log lifters.  seen here.  https://www.dropbox.com/s/pro5oqgtwbsdkta/b20%20_1.jpg

The dead deck that dgdrls posted a picture of looks sloped toward the mill.  How do you keep the logs from rolling off toward the mill?  Pegs, blocks, stops of some sort i assume???  Are you still using the hydraulic lifter to put the logs from the deck to the mill or do you just roll them?  I would love a close up of where they meet to see how you are doing that.

just_sawing your math logic is our constant discussion. Our logs are .35cents  We are getting .70 for ties and for oak siding lumber (minus pith boards).  We are getting .20 for mixed hardwoods and if we could cut hickory without killing the blades we could get .50 for that.  We are just about to the place you are suggesting, not cutting .20cent lumber.  Especially with this hike in tie price. 

We are seriously considering going to one mill and upgrading to a higher production mill.  We hear a myth that there is a bandsaw out there that will cut 100+ ties per day.  Does anyone here own one?

Thanks guys
Brian
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.  Ben Franklin

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 11:28:50 AM »
Welcome to the Forum!

LogRite makes a couple of different short cant hooks. I think mine is the 30", and they have a "Mill Special" with a baseball bat style handle.

I don't know anything about cutting ties, but I would suggest running just one mill with two people and see how it compares to running the way you are now. In theory, the more time the band spends in wood, the more productive and efficient you will be. I would also look into any material handling you can get that keeps you from having to lift ties. I picked up several sections of roller tables at the scrapyard once for $60.
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Offline WH_Conley

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 06:55:32 PM »
    Just for quick math. You get 2 1x6's side lumber at 20 cents. 8 board feet at 20 cents is $1.60. That 2 more cuts and 2 edging cuts. You just spent enough time to make another tie. If it is too thin a slab to get a pallet cant out of it is losing you money at  20 cents.

   I did a little experiment one time, I saved a bundle of pallet lumber out of the sides. I kept track of time, labor, fuel, blades how much firewood was to sell. Everything I could think of. I then counted out the same number of logs and made 4 cuts and done. By the time the smoke cleared, less blades, more firewood. Me, my mill and my loader worked for $20.00 for a days work.

    Slabs get bundled with steel banding at whatever the loader will pick up. I went for about a pickup load. Let people bring a trailer in and wait til you have to reload the deck. You can't make money stopping production to load a bundle of firewood. They want to get it tied down before paying and want to talk. Get on the loader, drop a bundle on, load your deck, collect the money and get back to sawing. The banding pays off in the long run, slab customers are not in your way slowing you down that. I have tracked those sales too, they do make money.
Bill

Offline drobertson

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 07:18:49 PM »
After reading this thread and thinking on it, I think I know what I might attempt to do with your current set up.
This is all contingent on how you deck the logs for each mill, and what the intentions are for the end product.
I would set the smaller logs that won't make 7x9's on the smaller, slower mill.  The larger logs that make good 7x9's go on the faster mill.  I would take off any side lumber that is available from each one if the lumber is marketable with a profit for you.  I see no reason to waste resources for a quick buck, thinking that there is no way to re coop the time and expense.  If the volume is up and steady, then there will be an outlet.  It will take a little home work to find the buyers if not already found.  I would consider making 4x6's from the smaller logs which should bring near or around 300/thsnd rather than sawing out for 200.  And as mentioned earlier, get lots of rollers and have easy access with the loader. Double handling is a killer.   david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline WH_Conley

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 09:58:48 PM »
Where are you located, jclvsall? We all have been in a state of confusion a few times. That does not give the rest of us an idea where you are. With members all over the world there are bound to be a few members close to you that can give you better advice.
Bill

Offline jclvsall

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2014, 08:56:35 AM »
Well WH_Conley I will spare you the long answer...

The mill is set up and I am cutting ties in Riceville TN.

Our slabs right now are getting chipped to pay our "usage fee" for the skidsteer and prentice loader.  The guy is letting us cut on his place and use his equipment in trade for our slabs to be chipped and sold by the ton to Bowater.  Sometimes we have a firewood customer or two but that is rare. 

      I did a little experiment one time, I saved a bundle of pallet lumber out of the sides. I kept track of time, labor, fuel, blades how much firewood was to sell. Everything I could think of. I then counted out the same number of logs and made 4 cuts and done. By the time the smoke cleared, less blades, more firewood. Me, my mill and my loader worked for $20.00 for a days work.

I have done similar experiments but not a whole day.  I am a little confused by the way you explained this.  Are you saying you only trimmed for a full day and comapred it to cutting logs for a full day?   Or are you saying you compared two days milling logs ;one day cutting out side boards and one day only slabbing.  You may have just saved me a day's work trying it out myself. 

Right now our logger is in a hickory thicket and we just can't cut production with hickory.  So the oak and mixed HW is comming a little slower than we would like.  We had decided that with the oak we only make out better cutting 7x9's and 8.5x10's.  If we couldn't make an 8.5x10 we would cut it down to 7x9 and get the lumber to sell at .70cents.  With the other species we slab heavy and square up the biggest cant we can and then cut lumber down to the tie.  That way the boards are square edge with no further cutting needed.  We do end up with some edging but not much.  The problem is that the production rate at that speed is very slow!  This means it stains and can only be sold for pallet stock @ .20cents.  Fortunately we can load it with the ties because it goes to the same place.

Now we are looking at cutting all size ties due to the price hike so that will change our cutting habits.  Here are our current tie prices.  We only get 700/mbf for oak lumber.  We just wish we could cut ties out of poplar! 
6x8 515/mbf
7x8 621/mbf
7x9 690/mbf
8x10 641/mbf
8.5x10 631/mbf
 
Thanks Brian
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Offline just_sawing

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2014, 09:56:18 AM »
I led into a production mill and the problem that I have is a 6 minute cycle time for a tie also meant three trucks 12 people three loaders and another 100K worth of production equipment.
 If I have one person that can hold up to me I can saw (and have ) 50 ties in a day and that is with side lumber. If you gave me 13 inch logs 60 degree no customers a clean production area I could cut 100 with two people. The problem with that is now there is two to three hours getting the area clean and ready to do it again. 
 I do run a Seventy 62 horse cat.
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Offline jclvsall

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2014, 11:11:08 AM »
just_sawing, I agree.  Set up, clean up, loading, unloading, shmoozing, brewing coffee, strapping, greasing, shoveling sawdust and sleeping do cut into production. 

I am curious what mill you are using that you can cut 100 ties a a day on with one helper.  We have tested ourselves and on one mill cutting side lumber we are doing really well to get 5 in an hour.  We don't get any better than that cutting side lumber.  More like 4 in a good hour.  Most weeks we average less than that when you divide our production by 40 hours.  If we were just slabbing and it was gum I could see 8 in an hour.  But that is still only 80 for a 10 hour day never shutting down.  Your numbers are impressive.

I talked to Baker and they claimed that they have a customer with a blue streak that can put out 600 ties in a week.  I don't know the set up but that is smoking for a mobile band.

Brian

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 11:19:08 AM »
He has an LT70 with the 62 HP CAT. The highest production mill can't produce without the right material handling. Getting rid of any bottlenecks is as important as the cutting capacity of the mill. An LT70 can drag back a tie easier than an LT40, as well as being able to unclamp with the sawhead at the far end of the mill.
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Offline drobertson

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2014, 08:22:28 PM »
I will add to justsawing's post. and agree with his numbers, with the 70 a 100 a day is most definitely possible.  Live deck, edger and a straight line set up. sawyer, edger man, another off bearer for ties.  Not tooting any whistles, but before the back surgery I was doing 50 a day alone.  Rest assured this requires a little hustle and sweat.  It also included side lumber edged on the mill.  Might be the reason for the back surgery, not sure, probably not, but fewer the steps the better, very time sensitive.  A good running chain saw, and forklift a must. Know the logs before sawing, culls are a killer, but will show up at the worst time at times, these are 4x6's  without a second thought. Go to the next, then the next and then the next, all day long, the only way to kick them out as far as I can tell.   david.  Low over head is a good thing in regards to paying help, just remember, to keep the blade in the log, there needs to be someone moving the stock.     david
only have a few chain saws I'm not suppose to use, but will at times, one dog Dolly, pretty good dog, just not sure what for yet,  working on getting the gardening back in order, and kinda thinking on maybe a small bbq bizz,  thinking about it,

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2014, 12:13:36 AM »
I haven't sawn many cross ties, but I saw against the clock all the time. 
As others have said, if the saw is not in the wood, you are not making lumber.  So whatever else you are doing at that time is NVA (Non Value Added) or otherwise know at WOT (Waste O Time) ;D and is hurting production.  So you and your buddy take a hard notice at what you are doing every single time the saw is not spitting sawdust.  Then take a good look at that particular process or step and see if you can eliminate it, or at least reduce it. 
Its amazing how much time time you can save by just being more efficient, identifying and eliminating unnecessary steps.

Do you have a clock right where you can see it, all day, every second?
I hang a big analog clock with a second hand right in my eyesight when I'm sawing, so I know when I am losing time, every time.

Remember that the key isn't to work harder to make more production, it's to be more efficient, which generally means less work anyway.  So the goal is to saw  more wood and sweat less.

If you haven't already, I would suggest watching some of the videos of fellow FF member Bibbyman sawing ties and squaring logs.  He makes it look effortless and cranks them out every few minutes.  Do a google search for Warden Sawmill Videos and you'd find several.  I've watched them many times and I always learn something. 
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2014, 12:41:32 AM »
<<snip>>
I am curious what mill you are using that you can cut 100 ties a a day on with one helper.  We have tested ourselves and on one mill cutting side lumber we are doing really well to get 5 in an hour.
<<snip>>
Brian

Five in an hour?  So, there is 24 hours in a day - take 4 for sleep and there you go - 100/day! :D
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Offline just_sawing

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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2014, 07:34:11 PM »
For that production you have to have three people and that isn't going to edge just ties. Basically four cuts and go. As I said the angle of the dangle is going to have to be just right. 50 with one person with the thirs hadling resaw is normal. I operate alone because even that can be done I was tired of sweating to look up at one of the help leaning on a stack watching this 60 year old work.
I get to take a coffee break with out it costing me 20 bucks an hour and wondering are they going to work that day.
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Re: Cross Tie cutting ideas
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2014, 08:57:57 PM »
Did someone say Tie Production .
Bill
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