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.