Woodsman Power Saws


Owen Stackhouse

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24/6/9 Merrill & Barnwell In the Nov/Dec 1982 issue of GEM, questions were asked about the small two-cycle engine called the Little Woodsman that was built at Eureka, California. Two brothers, Douglas and Cliff Merrill, plus a partner, Abraham Barnwell made and sold this drag saw. Barnwell made all the patterns. He passed away many years ago, but at this writing the Merrill brothers are both alive and well. The following is from an interview I had with Doug Merrill:

This overhead view illustrates one of the very first Woodsman Power Saws. Only about 100 of these were made. It had a babbitted outboard bearing, but was later changed to a ball bearing. Note the slanted cooling fins as referred to in the interview.

A closeup of the engine used on the Woodsman Featherweight saws. This later style used straight fins in the flywheel and straight fins on the cylinder. Although difficult to read from this angle the casting opposite the flywheel reads, 'Little Woodsman, Eureka, Cal.'

Only about six of these gas-powered winches were made, and several were used to pull up shake bolts in the woods.

Cliff Merrill is on the left, and brother Doug Merrill is on the right in this 1946 photograph. The large crate was being shipped to French Equatorial Africa, and contained ten of our Woodsman Power Saws. The official company name was Woodsman Power Saw Company, Third & L Streets, Eureka, California.

This Model 15 Samson truck is of 1920-21 vintage, and belonged to our next door neighbor. The 71/2 HP engine on the truck powered the saw. Two screw jacks were lowered when sawing to stabilize the unit. It could cut up to 40 cords per day. Photo courtesy of Harley Crawford.

Here is Cliff Merrill beside the first prototype saw that was made while he was still working for the woolen mills. The mill let him use their machine shop when he wasn't busy at the mill.

Q. Whose idea was it to develop the Little Woodsman drag saw?

A. This was the total idea of my brother Cliff.

Q. When did you first make and sell the Little Woodsman?

A. It was developed just before World War Two, but due to the material priority, we couldn't start production until 1944-45.

Q. How many people worked in your plant?

A. Up to 8 people, plus my brother and I when we reached full production.

Q. What type of work were you doing here before you developed the saw?

A. My brother Cliff worked as a master mechanic in a woolen mill and I worked in the woods.

Q. How many saws did you build?

A. A total of 3000.

Q. Were there any design changes during production?

A. The only changes were in the cylinder head and the flywheel (to improve) cooling efficiency. The first cooling fins were on a slant and the later heads had the fins straight across. The early flywheels had moveable fins and the later wheels had the fins cast solid. With this change we gained about 2 horsepower. From beginning to end, every part was interchangeable.

Q. What length saws were used, and who made them?

A. The blades were made by Simonds Saw Company of Fitchburg, MA. The blades were thick at the teeth and thin at the back. These were developed to cut the very large redwood logs and keep from getting the blades pinched. These were a very fast cutting blade and with the saw in prime condition, and at a speed of 220 strokes per minute, we could keep up with a chainsaw. The blades came in lengths from 3? to 14 feet, and a few were welded up to 20 feet in length.

Q. What did the saws weigh?

A. In working form and heavy wood service they weighed 250 pounds-the L-W (lightweight) weighed 90 pounds. Both used the same engine.

Q. Where were the castings made?

A. Various foundries around Oakland, California. I (Doug Merrill) did the machining on every machine that was built.

Q. Were most of the saws sold locally?

A. We had dealers around the world. Most units were sold on the West Coast from Santa Cruz to Washington state, or wherever there was large timber. Some were shipped to Malaya, Singapore, and French Equatorial Africa, among other places.

Q. What was the price of your saws?

A. The Farmer's Model sold for $250 and the Professional Model was $270. They were basically the same except for the wood in the frame.

Q. When did you end production?

A. Production finished in 1952. The chain saw made our machine obsolete.

A special thanks to Harley B. Crawford, 5070 Algiers Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95405 for sending this material, and for taking the time to interview Mr. Merrill. A number of photographs are also included, and their accompanying captions make them self-explanatory.

24/6/10 McCormick-Deering Q. Can you tell us the year built, new price, and other information on the 15-30 McCormick-Deering tractor shown in the photo? Kermit H. Wilson & Company, 1108 Riverwood, Burnsville, MN 55337.

A. Without the serial number we can tell you very little about this tractor, probably nothing that you don't already know. The serial number plate should be on the firewall, just above the belt pulley. If it is missing, the number will be stamped on the tractor frame. Given this information, we may be able to pass along specific information.

24/6/11 Mogul and Famous Q. I have an IHC Mogul Jr. engine and a Famous 1 HP model. What are the proper colors? Vernon Jackson, Hunt, NY 14846.

A. The Mogul should be comparable to DuPont Dulux 93-29609-H green and the Famous 1 HP should be IHC red.

24/6/12 IHC 'M' and FBM 'Z' Q. What is the year built for a 3 HP International engine, s/n W 19818, and the proper color? What is the proper color for a FBM 'Z', s/n 174545, and what is its age? Also need some parts for these engines, and wonder where I might inquire for same. Paul Kauffman, 1426 College Parkway, Lewisville, TX 75067.

A. Your 'M' engine should be a 1920 model. A comparable finish is DuPont 7498D Green. The FBM is of 1916 vintage. It is finished comparable to DuPont 93-72001 Green. Parts for both should be available from several of the GEM advertisers, as well as at the numerous swap meets around the country.

24/6/13 Oliver '99' I have an Oliver 99 on factory rubber, but would like to find a set of steel wheels for it. Are there any other steel wheels that will interchange, such as IHC etc.? Any help will be appreciated. Marvin L. Proctor, 1326 East Third, Pratt, KS 67124.

24/6/14 FBM 'Z' Q. What is the year built of a Fairbanks-Morse 3 HP 'ZC' engine, s/n 780286? Also the proper color. Earl D. Smith, 404 Forest Hills Dr., Greenville, TN 37743.

A. Your engine was built in 1934. For color, see 24/6/12 above.

24/6/15 Titan 1 HP Q. Is the IHC Titan 1 HP engine all red, or is it painted like the larger Titan models? Andrew Richley, 1456 Rt. 354, RFD 1, Attica, NY 14011.

A. We've run across them both ways, and in fact, it appears that they may have come from the factory with an all-red coat, or with a red body and the olive green flywheels. However, the majority seem to be completely red.

24/6/16 Cletrac track rails Edwin H. Bredemeier, Rt 1, Box 13, Steinauer, NE 68441 would like to know where new rails can be obtained for the Cletrac tractors.

24/6/17 Associated engine Q. What is the proper color for an Associated 1? HP engine? Fred Steinkamp, 1622 No. 15 St., Beatrice, NE 68310.

A. Our records show DuPont 93-2622-H red as a comparable color.

24/6/17 Model T Mower Q. I have purchased a self-propelled mowing machine conversion with a McCormick-Deering mower powered by a Model T. Has anyone heard of such a conversion? The 'T' frame was cut behind the front seat and the drive shaft shortened to about 10 inches. The differential sits over the mower axle, and the two are bolted together. The axle shafts are cut off and fitted with pinion gears that mesh with larger bull gears bolted to the spokes of the mower wheels. The steering shaft, throttle shaft, etc. are all extended so that the operator sits in the mower seat in its usual location. Any information would be appreciated. Tony Friga, Rt 3, Box 200, Willow Springs, MO 65793.

A. It's quite possible that this was a conversion unit offered specifically for the purpose, but it is also possible that some enterprising individual built this machine, using parts from other conversion units or farm machines to achieve the finished product. A photograph of this unit would be very helpful to anyone attempting an identification of the machine. If we can be of help, let us know.

24/6/18 Stuck Pistons The adjacent photo shows a method I use to successfully remove a stuck piston from the Lauson engine shown here. This particular 5-ton hydraulic jack can work in a horizontal position. A ? inch thick piece of steel was placed between the piston head and the hydraulic ram. Rod couplings and threaded rods were used to extend the head bolts. (The steel buffer plate between piston head and hydraulic ram should be a loose fit in the cylinder so that pressure is placed on the outer periphery of the piston, rather than on the rather fragile piston head). Arlie and Judy Levy, 1206 N. Fremont, Janesville, WI 53545.

24/6/19 Sieverkropp engine Q. I recently acquired a Sieverkropp engine made in Racine, Wisconsin. It was patented in December, 1910. Any information on this engine will be greatly appreciated. Weldon Zimmer, RR 1, Armington, IL 61721.

A. Beyond the information on page 465 of American Gas Engines, we have no other data on Sieverkropp.

24/6/20 Bovaird & Seyfang I have a Bovaird & Seyfang Model K engine with a 5? x 8 inch bore and stroke, s/n 1299. Any information regarding this engine will be much appreciated. Bill Mort, PO Box 23, Salisbury, PA 15558.

24/6/21 Page Garden Tractor Any information regarding a Page Model ZA10FS, 4 HP garden tractor will be much appreciated. It was built by Pioneer Mfg. Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Specifically I need information on the transmission parts. Karl Pendleton, 320 Forest Home Dr., Ithaca, NY 14850.

24/6/22 Ospraymo Engine Recently, an Elmira, N.Y. built, Leader 'Ospraymo' spray rig came into my possession. It is in good working order. It has a 4 HP Elmira Leader open crank, hit & miss gasoline engine complimented with a 3 cyl hi-pressure back-geared pump. The unit has two 41/2 ft. spoke type steel wheels attached to the channel iron frame. A 250 gallon wooden tank is situated transversely therein. This whole unit was made in Elmira, N.Y. by Field Force Pump Co. Just how many units Field built like this and how many different sizes would be great to know.

The governor on this engine works backwards from standard practice- instead of using governor force to engage the pickblade on the push rod, it works this way:

The governor pick blade is fastened in 'teeter-totter' fashion on the cam arbor. It hooks up on to the pushrod detent from the underside. The governor is a single weight mounted to a spoke on the flywheel. It works in normal fashion except the governing part extends around to the opposite side of the crankshaft. When centrifugal force is exerted on the weight, it pulls away from the shaft. Meanwhile, the arm on the opposite side pulls in toward the crankshaft. The other end of the 'teeter-totter' arm drops toward the crankshaft in sympathy with the governor arm. There is a heavy spring hooked onto the detent end of the 'teeter-totter- arm. This spring pulls the arm up into the push rod detent. So, in short, this engine governs by spring force instead of mechanical leverage force as most hit & miss engines do. This system works good until said spring goes bye-bye. Failure results in a disastrous runaway of the engine. Some other features of this engine are: Essex generator valve (carburetor), 5 x 5.125 inch bore and stroke, very heavy construction, very heavy flywheels, Wico EK magneto, water-cooled head.

Information on this engine or the company will be much appreciated. All letters will be answered. Brian M. Lynch, RD 2, Box 134, Genesee, PA 16923.