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Author Topic: Modern take on water-powered mill?  (Read 5048 times)

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Offline DaleK

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Modern take on water-powered mill?
« on: June 22, 2014, 08:55:30 PM »
Took the punks to the local mill/museum Ohara-mill.org this weekend and I got to wondering, if the electricity and oil shut off tomorrow, how would we use water power to do the job knowing what we do today? Direct drive, generate electricity to run an electric motor, hydraulic, maybe even use the water flow to compress water for it's own system to drive hydraulic motors while exchanging the water constantly to keep it cool? Bandsaw, circular, stationary head or moving? Just got a brain worm and want you to throw out ideas. I'm thinking using a wheel to pressurize water would be pretty slick
If I Sang about a saddle with a lasso and a gun,
You'd thing about a cowboy beneath the prairie sun
But I sing about a pine tree with a bucksaw and an axe
I sing about a big man, The Canadian Lumberjack.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 09:08:40 PM »
There was a lot of old water power sawmills around here.Most only ran in the spring. That was when you could dam up a brook and nobody cared.
It could be done,but would probably need the dam in place all ready.
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2014, 09:25:53 PM »
Hydro-electric ;)

DGDrls

Offline homesteader shane

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2014, 09:27:00 PM »
hi dalek
where ya from. i live five minuits from ohares, done a lot of milling their as well

Offline ozarkgem

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2014, 09:27:48 PM »
I would love to have an old water powered mill. There is an old dam and turbine not too far from here. The mill is gone but I always wondered if the powers that be would let you use it again.
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Offline Don_Papenburg

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2014, 10:02:37 PM »
The wizards in the gov  are wanting to eliminate the hydroelectric dams .
And don't you dare dam up a creek or stream to be a productive citizen . Least not with out you getting an environmental  impact study done . an Army corp of engineers permit . Epa study and resulting permits.OSHA might want to stick there nose in on this also. I am sure that there are at least ten more gov. make work busybody money extorters that will have to get involved . and not one of them could use the others info . each will have to bother you at a separate time on a different day .  and after ten years and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ both above and below the table  you will get a permit to open . then about a week before you open someone from the EPA will pull your permit because the thought they saw coal along the stream.
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Offline boscojmb

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2014, 10:39:54 PM »
Unless you live on a huge river with a substantial vertical drop, and in an area free from government regulation, water power is probably not the best choice in an energy crisis.
Wood gas would be my first choice if gas/diesel, or electric was in short supply. I have seen it in action, and it does work. You can do it your self with out permits and red tape. There are other folks takling about it in the Alternative methods and solutions board.
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Offline stumpjumper83

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2014, 11:13:37 PM »
Well part of the reason water powered mills were so common is that water was also the main means of log transport.  Now that we don't float them, water is not nearly as viable.

Now if diesel and electric become hard to get what do I think will take over?  Recycling of already milled wood.  Its a lot easier to pull a couple of nails to get a board than it is to saw that board by hand.  Its not just the milling that's fuel dependent but the entire process.  The fuel to cut the tree down, drag it to a road, haul it to a mill, move in onto the mill, move the boards and scraps away from the mill, and the list goes on. 

But to play the game, the easiest and quickest to do is probably wood gas.  Find an old farm tractor, convert to wood gas, and convert your mill to a belt or pto drive and your milling again.

Offline backwoods sawyer

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 12:25:25 AM »
How big of a wheel would you need with what volume of water
 to run hydrualic or electric?
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 02:57:33 AM »
Well if you are running an Electric sawmill in the Sth Island of NZ, 98% of the power is coming from water.  :P

As for running a water powered mill? I'd suggest reciprocating "sash" mill. This looks like an old manual pit saw, but mounted in a frame and powered (by whatever). Doesn't need lot of power, as obviously 2 guys can cut through a log with one. OK it takes a while, but they can get there, with maybe 1/2 hp combined? It's not essential to maintain a certain RPM like it is to keep a band or circle saw cutting straight, so if you water flow is low, you just cut slower.

If it was just a lack of fossil fuel or mains power? Wood powered sawmill. Either a wood gas fed engine, or a steam powered boiler. Not as convenient as just flicking a switch or gassing up an engine though. You basically need another worker(s) to tend to power plant. And the engineer needs to be at the mill 2 hours earlier then everyone else to get the fire going and some steam pressure up.   On an industrial scale of course it's practical. A lot of big mills here run co-gen plants with maybe 20 mW generating capacity. They are still on grid power, and can buy in extra power if needed, or sell excess back to the grid when possible.

As others have said, the regulatory red tape to set up any serious sort of hydro power is a big issue. If a weir was still in place it's probably not so hard to get approval to pull some water out of a tailrace onto a wheel again. But setting up much more than a micro-hydro from scratch would take some serious paper work.

But if I was trying to build an off-grid, zero fuel, sawmill I'd build a sash saw, and power it with a maybe 2,000W electric motor. This could then be run off any power source, using batteries and inverter if needed. Then a micro-hydo, wind generator, solar panels etc could all feed into the battery bank. Backup power would be a small generator. Lots of ideas at old sawmill museums. 100 years ago there was little mains power, and they ran sawmills. Those ideas will still work, and you can update the technology as appropriate.

Ian
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Offline ozarkgem

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2014, 07:47:17 AM »
quite a few steam engine powered mills around at Steam shows. Course you have to have a crew and someone who knows about boilers but looks like they could put out a pretty good pile of lumber in a day. Maybe some one knows how many  BF you could saw in a day with a steam powered mill. Haul the logs with a team of horses just like the old days. On a small bandmill your could use solar power.
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Offline dgdrls

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2014, 07:15:37 PM »
How big of a wheel would you need with what volume of water
 to run hydrualic or electric?

Big question,  lots depends on Head pressure and flow 
Lower the head the more water you need to make equal power of a higher head system with less volume.

Straight numbers,  746 watts per HP.   

http://www.reuk.co.uk/Calculation-of-Hydro-Power.htm

DGDrls


Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2014, 07:50:06 AM »
I've been eyeing off one of these:

http://www.borealiswoodpower.com/index.php

Nice little setup, can be set for automated feeding and uses the exhaust heat for chip drying. Not big enough to run my show but... it's a start, a place to learn the technology. The basics are quite simple and you can do it yourself from scratch but.... my biggest limiting factor is always time to tinker.

@ Ianab I know where theres a sash saw sitting disassembled in a shed, it was the last one in operation up here... might need some serious water though, it had a throat that would fit a 9' diameter log. :o
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Offline EZland

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2014, 08:53:27 PM »
Water How about horses?

 
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Offline mikeb1079

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2014, 10:54:10 PM »
now that's "old school"   :o

also aweome.   :)
that's why you must play di drum...to blow the big guys mind!
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Offline yellowrosefarm

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2014, 09:22:57 PM »
quite a few steam engine powered mills around at Steam shows. Course you have to have a crew and someone who knows about boilers but looks like they could put out a pretty good pile of lumber in a day. Maybe some one knows how many  BF you could saw in a day with a steam powered mill. Haul the logs with a team of horses just like the old days. On a small bandmill your could use solar power.

I was getting ready to say you guys need to get out to some steam and gas shows. Steam was the king of logging and sawing for many, many years. Every steam show around here has a sawmill belted up and sawing and they make quite a pile of sawdust in a day. You need water to keep the boiler full and a pile of slabs to burn............and the knowledge to keep from blowing yourself up :o The latter being in the shortest supply nowadays.

Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2014, 08:12:25 AM »
As usual Ian came up with the most viable solution a sash saw, they have meager power requirements and are kinda easy to set up. Old Sturbridge village (in Ma.) has a working up and down mill and the stream is not that large. Such saws are as slow as a lazy turtle. The suggestion of woodgas is probably the most practical, no gov. oversight or inspectors. Frank C.
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Offline Sawyer697

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2014, 08:43:20 AM »
EZland, Looks like the Old Order Amish in  Paraquay, None in the US that work like that, all horses and Gasoline here, They are making hay today on my Property. That is real old style. Thanks for the video!
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2014, 10:20:12 PM »
As usual Ian came up with the most viable solution a sash saw, they have meager power requirements and are kinda easy to set up. Old Sturbridge village (in Ma.) has a working up and down mill and the stream is not that large. Such saws are as slow as a lazy turtle. The suggestion of woodgas is probably the most practical, no gov. oversight or inspectors. Frank C.

The only sash I've seen was at Tarzali sawmill. Mill closed and all the gear was sold about three years back - though I don't think the big sash had been in operation for a while. I believe (before my time) that it had originally been steam powered but had later been converted over to electric. It was still in use sometime into the late 80's I think... reducing monster rainforest logs to a point that could be handled through the circle mill. I saw it working once when I was a kid and (hazy recollection) didn't think it was that slow: certainly a lot faster then quartering those big logs with a chainsaw would have been. Kerf would have been around half inch or so... needed to be to keep that big mother straight I guess.

You don't cut every board with a sash... you break logs into cants and flitches you can handle through the benches with it, and a #1 bench here would normally run a 36"circle or possibly larger. 6 cuts can drop a monster of a log back to workable sizes - so even if it is slow the volume of wood coming off it is sufficient to keep a crew busy.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Modern take on water-powered mill?
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2014, 11:28:53 PM »
This is an old (1800s) sash mill that's in the Kauri Museum.


As you can see it's mostly wooden and probably constructed on site.

It would have been powered by something like this.


A "portable" steam engine. It's not self propelled like a traction engine, but could be towed by a team of horses to a new mill site when they moved. I think it's rated at ~4hp, so it's not going to drive a more modern mill design, well not one that will handle 3ft dia logs anyway. But the sash saw will gnaw it's way through them.

So from the original question, I've just looked back at some of the old school ideas that worked in the past. They would still work today. Not as fast and efficient as a modern mill, but if you are dealing with limited power (water, solar, wind etc) then you go with something that will at least work.  :)

Ian
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