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In the summer of 2005 I purchased a Frick model-"01" sawmill at a local sale here in Berkeley Springs, Wv. It was still set up on post under roof and had to be taken apart in sections, loaded on transport and hauled to my place. It was stacked under tarp for three months until I got time to start a project of putting it on a steel frame to make it portable. It was the first of September and the Cove Mills Old Farm Association "meet" in Warfordsburg, Pa. was the last weekend of the same. I didn't have much time but it had to be done. I had most of the structural steel to build the subframe so all I had to do was cut, weld, figure out measurements so the wooden frame of the mill would fit squarely on the sub assembly. I dug a couple of house trailer axles out of the junk pile, fitted them under the subframe with new tires, mounted the hitch and walla. Ready to install the Frick Sawmill.

My Father-in law, Pete Mellott, was a sawyer almost all his life. I remember when dating my wife, back in the early sixties, how he would tell the many sawmill stories on a Sunday afternoon or a family picnic. After we were married I heard them over and over but never grew tired of him telling them. He told of how he and his young wife, back then, would "shanny" at the mill. For all those that don't know what that is, because it is probably before most of your times, I'll try to explain it. Back in those days some would throw up a board shack approximately 10'x12' out of rough lumber from the mill, usually second grade stuff. Slap on a tin roof, hang a plain rough lumber door on a couple hinges, throw in a cot or two, a stove of some sort to cook on. a small table, ususlly some boards nailed to the wall with a brace, the chairs and it is ready to go. Usually the wives would take turns at cooking at the camp and sometimes only one of the wives was up to that degree of torture.

Then there were the stories of the time they sawed in what was called the "Narrows". I don't know exactly where that is , but it is somewhere north of US. Rt. 30 and east of Breezewood Pa. He would tell of how he would bank the fire in the steam engine, before leaving in the evening and have to be back at 4:30 the next morning to be sure he had "steam up" at daylight when the rest of the gang got there. When a mill was set up using steam power, it was essential to set the mill close to a stream, because water is the essential source that steam is derived from. It usually took one person full time just to tend the engine. Thus the word, "tender". A word more associated with railroading then saw milling, but the same word covers both. The tender had the job of "firing the engine". That's another one of those word phrases associated with steam power. He had to be in charge of the engine to be sure that there was sufficient steam pressure at all times to render power to the belt that turned the mill. Since the steam engines were a low horsepower machine it was very essential to get all it could deliver. He selected the wood from the mill sight, ususlly slab wood, cut it to a length that would fit into the boiler door and have a plentiful supply ready at hand near the back of the engine. Sometimes coal was used, if readly available. A constant eye had to be kept on the water sight glass to make sure that the water didn't drop below a certain level in the boiler and have ample water supply ready to refresh as needed. There was a tank that could be dumped into where plumbing on the machine would pump from there to the boiler. It was also his job to keep the engine well oiled. On the railroad that was a job all by ityself, called, "the oiler". OH!, I can still hear him tell those stories. You think he was the only one that could tell sawmill stories? Not hardly. He had many brothers, and nephews, and cousins and all those friends that were sawmill people. And to top that all off, they were all deer hunters to boot. "Imagine if you can"?

Myself, I never was around a sawmill much. I didn't know anything about sawing and the sawmill, as far as doing the actual sawing, setting the mill up and such. This was all new to me. So I had to break new ground all the way with this project. When it came time to set the mill on the frame, I had built, I knew one thing for sure. I had a level and straight surface to work from, which was a lot better then those that had to set a mill up in the woods on post and tree stumps. At least I had that much going for me but it was the part that was coming that I needed help on. Only one way to go at it and that was to start somewhere. To me it seemed that I should set the box (Husk) with the saw and all the pulleys and gears on first, square it in place and fit the carriage tracks to that. So that's what I did and that worked out alright. After aligning, leveling, setting the lead and squaring the saw to the carriage, I fastened her down good and hooked the John Deere power unit in place. With a little more trial and error my time was up and it was time to go to the show, without the power unit, because it would be powered by steam or a large tractor there.

In the picture at the top you will see the mill powered by a steam engine that belongs to one of the menbers of the club and the sawyer is a local person (Paul Hendershot) that happened by and done a good job of sawing. It was, to say the least, the central event of the show, however there were many other great things happening all through the show. With apple butter and cider making - live music going almost full time from a covered outside stage - threshing machine demonstration - belt powered wind dynometer - PTO powered dynometer - old fashion stone crusher in action - blacksmithing - hit-and-miss engines - crafts and displays of various items for sale and plenty of food of all kinds. We had a tractor parade on Friday and Saturday around the grounds.

In the photo at the top you will see that the belt has a twist in it. You may think that is because the mill needed to be turned in a certain rotation, and that is correct, but that is not the reason for the twist. A steam engine will rotate the drive pulley in both directions. Just reversing the engine will rotate the pulley in the opposite direction and that is also how reverse ground movement is achieved with the steam engines. The belt is installed in this manor to reduce"belt slap" and thus will stay on the pulleys a lot better without overtightening which may cause the mill to be pulled out of alignment.

When sawing at the shows, we don't cut cross ties but just boards, fence post, 2 x 4s and 2 x 6s. All these are from logs that someone has brought to the show, usually ones that are not so good but make excellent material to make a show of what the mill does and how it works. On every mill there is a sawyer, one who operates the mill, an off-bearer, one who removes the sawed boards, slabs and side cuts, and others who are busy doing all the other jobs neccessary around the mill. The logs have to be kept on the skids, ready for the sawyer to move onto the carrage as soon as the previous log has been processed. The material coming off the mill has to be taken away to make room for more coming, All boards and ties have to be stacked or loaded onto a truck to be hauled away to the place that buys such. There is the trucks coming from the woods, where the logs were cut, which have to be unloaded, sorted and stacked. There is always triming to be done on the logs and lumber. This person is called the , "hacker". He does other similar jobs also

The mill is home now, set up and sawing.

 

 

 

 


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