Thanks to Mike Rohrer for his help in providing the raw material for this page from his Frick literature collection.


The Frick No. 00 Belt Feed SawmillTo meet the demand for a low-priced, practical mill, suitable for light power, the No. 00 was designed and placed on the market. It met with instant approval for speed, good clean work and low operating cost. It is light in weight, durable, quick acting and accurate cutting. Easily and quickly set up and taken down, it eliminates much labor and expense in making frequent sets. Furnished regularly with 10-foot carriage and 35-foot ways, 15-foot carriage and 45-foot ways, or 20-foot carriage and 55-foot ways, as required. Features include Frick patented belt feedworks with 1-inch belts; cable drive with horizontal sheave wheels; self -aligning Timken roller mandrel bearings; Timken roller bearings on carriage axles, two steel head blocks having ells with detachable steel cut rack bars with provisions for adjustment; two upper dogs; improved combined setworks; mud sills; one cant hook, and necessary tools.

The above illustration is so small that it hardly does justice to the sturdy construction, quality materials and good workmanship which make up this efficient sawmill. The mill is built for fast, accurate work and a lot of it.

Extra attachments, such as binding pulley and frame lumber trucks, taper attachments, foot power receder, saw-dust drag, gauge wheel, lumber gauge board or horizontal lumber scale, Knight dogs, extension mandrels, etc., can be furnished at extra cost.

SpecificationsWill swing 58-inch saw.Husk-Length 6 feet 9 inches; width 2 feet 11 inches.Mandrel-2 3/16-inch. dia., 52 inches long, with 6-inch collar, standard head.Mandrel Bearings-Timken Roller, self-aligning.Mandrel Pulley-22-inch dia., 8-inch face; other sizes to suit power.Feed-1/2-inch to 4-inch; gigback 1/2-inch to 8-inch; 3-inch belts.Carriage-Width 30 inches; timbers 3 1/2 inches x 4 5/8 inches: in standard 10-foot an(.] 15-foot sections.Carriage Axles and Wheels---Axles 1 5/8-inch dia., equipped with wheels 7-inch dia. and two Timken tapered roller bearings in each wheel 3 sets axles and wheels under 10-foot carriage; 4 sets under 15-foot carriage.Carriage Axle Bearings-Timken tapered roller.Set Shaft-1 11/16-inch dia., full length.Setworks-Combined improved type, with hand receder and machine-cut teeth, and pawls carefully ground for accurate setting in as small as 32nds of an inch,Headblocks-Steel, opening 32 inches. Fitted with tipper dog and ells with detachable rack bars and steel cut pinions.Ways-Timbers 3 inches x 4 1/2 inches. Standard lengths in 5-foot, 10-foot and 15-foot sections.Cable Drive-3/8-inch wire cable; sheave wheels set horizontally.Approx. Weight-15-foot mill, 3000 lb.; 20-foot mill 3500 lb.

General Arrangement Drawing


There is a large copy of this drawing for printing.

A semi permanent feature of arguably the worlds biggest vintage machinery show held each year at Portland Indiana USA is the Frick sawmill. The mill is flat belt driven and during the show different motive power is hooked up to drive the mill, mostly steam traction engines are used, but from time to time they hook up a tractor or a stationary engine.1-frick-sawmill

The Frick Eclipse Portable Saw Bench made in the late 1800s and well restored recently to its current condition. This angle shows the blade and tracks on which the log carriage runs.


This shot is pulled back slightly and shows the log carriage already set up with the first log of the day. Note the levers next to the log.


Before the first cut of the day, these guys have checked the belt tension and selected a pulley are are now checking and adjusting all parts of the mill prior to getting going. It is important to do this. There is a lot of energy stored in the spinning blade and works of the mill - this energy getting loose would do significant damage. The mill is also a complex of gears, chains, and clutches which take the single drive and adapt it to simultaneously perform many jobs.


After adjusting the mill, the sawyer (the man in charge of the saw) turned the log on the carriage to achieve the most efficient cut to maximise the plank output.


At last! After all that work, the first cutting begins. The big steel blade howls and screams as it rips into the log carving away a big chuck. Note the levers and the pull on the carriage. The left most lever grabs and holds the log, there are four of these on the carriage. The rightmost lever is pulled by the sawyer to move the log closer to the blade to begin the next cut. It is ratcheted to ensure the size of the plank is even every time.


The sawyer is controlling the progress and speed of the carriage using the lever in his hand. At any time he can stop, or reverse the carriage to prevent damage if the log binds on the saw.


It is a little hard to see in the image but the stand to the right of the saw dust pile holds a moving conveyor chain. The chain is an endless loop which runs from under the mill to over the pile. The chain drags dust out from under the mill as it turns. This very simple invention keeps the cutting deck clear of dust while removing the need for a human to get under the blade.


This is a 40hp case driving the mill with the flat belt. This engine had it easy, sounding even and "happy" when under load.


After the case, a Frick traction engine was mated to the saw mill.


The engineer steamed the Frick hard to make steam for the cutting, when the safeties popped they started cutting on the mill. The black smoke indicates that the engine is working extremely hard.


I own a somewhat industrial Rosebery 2C hopper cooled rig with a steel frame saw. I have a selection of blades from 1m (3') through 3m (10') for different sized logs. It is great fun (but seriously hard and dangerous work) to run a sawing operation at a show. rosebery-new-record-drag-saw


In addition to the saw you will need

  1. a couple of logging wedges (a little like an axe head)
  2. a big hammer (A BFH if you like)
  3. an axe and/or log splitting axe
  4. a log :) - I like a nice meaty 2 - 3 ft diameter log
  5. saw blade lubricant (water works fine - but if you like a little flair for the dramatic, a friend of mine who shows saws and who likes to keep a little mystery in them makes bottles of what he calls "saw elixir" - this is actually water which has been standing with leaves in it for months and is quite black - it does not help the cutting any more than plain water but it looks good :)
  6. some metal pickets to hold the log (stops it from rolling away) - I use star posts - (metal fence posts with a star cross-section)
  7. dogs and chains for moving the log
  8. a cant hook for rolling the log around
  9. a crow (or breaker) bar
  10. an on-call tractor is useful if the log is really big
  11. an 2nd person
At each show I attend I try to bring two items, a normal engine and the saw. When you feel like ignoring the saw (and you will) you can play with the normal engine.

I always work in a team of two - you really need two people to help move everything around, there is a lot of equipment to look after and it can be hard to place the saw on a big log. The saw operator most devote 100% of their attention to the job at hand. When sawing you develop quite a crowd as it is rare to see a saw running at a show. The 2nd guy keeps the crowd happy by explaining the operation and how things are going so the first guy is not distracted by questions. I usually make a cut every 15 to 20 minutes so the log will last out the show.

Before I get into the procedure - this is dangerous - it can be done safely if you are careful and devote 100% of your attention to the job - these tips are not enough for a first timer to run a rig, try and find someone else who regularly cuts to help you the first few times

Old drag saw

This magnificent saw belonged to a member of the Yarra Valley Machinery Preservation Society. This unit is considerably older than mine.

To make a cut I follow this procedure

  1. brace the log with pickets
  2. inspect the area to be cut to make sure there are no nails, or steel posts embedded in the log
  3. place the saw blade onto the log and run it back and forth to make sure it will extend through the whole log and not get stuck
  4. remove the bark around the area of the cut (this is not necessary to cut but does stop it being thrown into the crowd, into your face, or onto other exhibitors)
  5. inspect around the cutting area, remove any tools, chains, etc which might foul the saw
  6. inspect the saw for broken or bent teeth - broken wont matter much, but bent will - fix any before starting
  7. inspect the saw for straightness - if it is bent have a blacksmith straighten it
  8. inspect the teeth for sharpness - if they are blunt have them sharpened some time
  9. inspect the saw rig and engine (belts, pulleys etc) - grease where necessary, apply belt dressing where necessary - make sure the rig goes in and out of idle smoothly
  10. set the saw to idle
  11. use the hook and pin on the saw rig to firmly attach the rig to the log, hammer the hook in a little then use the lever to pull the rig down and hammer the pin into the log - if you have a locking ring use it - if you have brakes on the cart apply them (on mine you tighten the wheel-nuts until the wheels will not turn any more) - I've been warned not to chock the cart as if the saw gets stuck, the whole rig can be pushed backwards or pulled forwards until the engine stalls, if you chock it, it might turn over and snap the blade
  12. start the engine (let it warm up)

    now the fun starts - be really careful here

  13. while holding the handle on the saw blade to hold it clear of the log, use your other hand to engage the belt onto the driving pulley just enough to get the saw moving slowly with the belt slipping
  14. guide the saw so on the first couple of strokes it brushes the wood and makes a cut line, after it starts to bite in let go and engage the drive fully (at all times through the cut stay close to the lever so you can pull it to idle quickly if you need to)

    the cut begins

  15. once the saw has cut in down to half its depth poor in a little lubricant (water) - each time the saw progresses this much poor in more lubricant
  16. once the saw has cut down to 1.5 times its own depth, hammer in a wedge being careful not to drive it so far that it hits the blade (this will jam the saw and might break the blade or belt) - every time you lubricate or when the saw seems to be labouring give the wedge a whack with the hammer - as you get further in you may need a second wider wedge to replace the first one (I had a black smith make me one at a show which starts at a point like a chisel and ends up like the back of an axe head - it is perfect)
  17. repeat k & l as much as you need to - you cannot over lubricate
  18. when the saw just starts to brush the dirt put it back to idle immediately
  19. stop the engine
  20. there is a good chance the log is not cut through yet, especially if it is big and heavy and the dirt is soft
  21. drive your wedge in with the BFH until the remainder of the log splits off and falls over (watch your legs and feet)
  22. (optional) use your axe to split the round up and stack it for firewood away from your working area
  23. loosen the tension on your chain, remove the hook and pull the pin (dig it out if you need to)
  24. lift the saw away from the log (be careful it can be hot)
  25. pull the saw rig back from the log in preparation for the next cut
  26. have fun!

Above all else, remember this is really dangerous, my saw will cut through a 3' log in a few minutes, it will cut through your leg in about 10 seconds. At the first sign of trouble you must intervene and stop the saw if it is safe to do so. You will have about 1/10th of a second to make that call. If it is not safe, just stand clear and warn everyone else to do the same.

If the saw has jammed, pull the lever to idle and stop the engine before attempting to loosen the blade. My rig is very well designed in that you can put enough pressure on the idler pulley to run the belt, but not so much that the rig will move if the blade jams - the belt just slips (and smokes) - shut it down quick and there will be do damage.

If anyone has any comments on how I run my saw, I'd love to hear them and discuss any thoughts you have - I try to be as safe as possible and I try to force myself to follow my procedure. I also make sure that my 2nd has been instructed in handling the saw particularly shutting down both the saw and the engine just in case the saw gets me.

I do know that a commercial operator of this sort of saw would not go to the extent that I do, but I'm there to have fun, to instruct the crowd, and to come home with the same number of bodily attachments I went there with :)


At the 1999 Upper Yarra Draught Horse and Olde Time Festival was the first show that I had run my saw. Although I had cut some wood with it, I really had little idea how to go about it - I understood the mechanics well enough but it was not until I met up with Alan Shepherd a member of the Yarra Valley Machinery Preservation Society that I really gained an understanding on how to run the machine reasonably safely. I owe a great debt to Alan for steering me right. On the day of the show, a few moments into my first cut Alan asked me to stop so he could take a look at the belt as he thought it did not "sound right". Sure enough, the belt was too long and allowed the idle pulley to rub on the drive pulley during the forward stroke of the saw. I had heard the same noise but thought nothing of it. Just after this I managed to snap the belt, and again Alan came to the rescue. Teamed up with Graeme Reid another member of the club the belt was removed, trimmed, new combs selected, fitted, and finally joined using only the tools a bush wood cutter would have had with him (axe, knife, wedge and of course, fencing wire!). Please read more about fixing the belt..

Disclaimer: The tips contained in this document outlay how I run a saw rig. This is not necessarily the right or only way to run a rig. The document does not provide enough information to run a saw rig without further help or instruction from an experienced person.

Finally, if anyone has any books or documentation on any brand/type of saw rig that they would like to share with me, please e-mail me.

Ronaldson Tippet Drag Saw

This is one of Allan's machines, a Ronaldson Tippet Drag Saw with wood frame driven by a Rosebery 2C 2hp vertical hopper cooled engine. This machine dates from the 30's I understand. It was seen in action in 1995 at the inaugural Science Works Power Of The Past in Spotswood (just outside Melbourne) Victoria. Sorry for the picture quality, but as you may have guessed the quality of digital cameras just was not the same back then :)