Restoring a Wade Drag Saw

An account of restoring a Wade drag saw, including restoration methods used such as taking photos, creating sketches and disassembling and cleaning parts.

Restoration of a drag saw

Photo courtesy of Wesley B. Hammond, Leicester, N.Y.

PHOTO: WESLEY B. HAMMOND

Content Tools

Learn how a machinery enthusiast went about restoring a Wade drag saw. 

The enclosed is an interesting account of restoring a Wade drag saw. The picture was taken at the Hemlock Fair Gas Engine Exhibit, Hemlock, N.Y. July 23, 1966. It is of Mr. Hammond standing beside the restored drag saw he tells about in the story. A beautiful job!

I built an airplane engined snow plane but took up Skiing so had no time to use it and decided to sell. I advertised and a gentleman came to look it over and at the same time noticed my old engines. He told me he had a drag saw which was in running condition that had a two cycle engine on it and wondered if I would be interested. We made a "deal" and I took the drag saw in trade on the snow-plane. It would run but the flywheel wobbled excessively and I found out why later. I had never heard of one like it but did remember seeing one similar lying on the floor at the Mendon museum at Harry Schoff's place. The man I bought it from had bought it for the engine and intended to use the engine for pumping water for irrigating his garden but never got around to rigging it up. The man who owned it before had bought it new and used it for many years. The last time he used it he claimed he cut over 500 cords of wood that winter with it. He said the crankshaft had been broken and welded but it worked all right with the weld.

I wrote to the company shown on the nameplate and got a prompt answer much to my surprise. They told me it had been shipped and sold February 22, 1936 and that the frame was painted green, the cast iron parts were all black, and the water and gas tanks were both painted red. They also stated they would do everything in their power to get me a new set of decals but I haven't received them as yet. The operator's manual I received was most helpful in timing the engine as I could find no timing marks.

The gentleman who originally owned the engine said he had a new connecting rod, manual, and new crankshaft which arrived after he had had the old one welded and that he would find them and give them to me. I guess he never found the manual or crankshaft but he did send down a connecting rod a few days ago.

I started the restoration by taking all sorts of pictures, making sketches and noting any item which might help in reassembling. I disassembled everything, cleaned all parts and wire brushed them to the bare metal. I found the crankshaft had been broken right at the main bearing where the flywheel fastens onto it. The so-called welder had Vee'd out both sides of the shaft and, of all things, brazed it together. He had not only used braze but since he had no way of aligning it the job ended up badly out of alignment and he had built up one side with brass and filed off the other side of the shaft to attempt to make it run somewhere near true. How it stayed together at all I'll never know but it had up to this time at least. I put the crank in the lathe, cut it off square and bored a hole in the end. Secured a piece of good tool steel and turned a dowel on it to fit the hole in the shaft and then arc welded it with some special chromium nickel rod designed for such application. Ground the whole journal with a tool-post grinder and then turned the rest of the shaft for the clutch attachment parts. I found the main bearings were pre-cast in a mandrel but designed an aluminum device to hold things in place and poured and scraped new bearings. I had honed the cylinder and found the rings to be in good shape. The piston pin was badly worn along with its bushings so new ones were in order. Since the crankcase is split I could pour a new rod bearing with the parts assembled and with a little scraping it fitted fine. The frame of the machine had some cracks which had to be welded and it was necessary to make new wood handles. The log dogs were rather "beat-up" so it was necessary to reforge them. The gas and water tanks were full of 'goop' and the gas tank had some holes which had to be repaired. The clutch is composed of several plates made of sheet steel and since two of them were worn paper thin had to cut out replacements. New countershaft bearings had to be poured, the cam bearing on the slide adjusted and the saw blade gummed, set and filed. All parts were painted with primer and at least two coats of enamel, the pin striping was done and the assembly started. Everything went together well but the timing of the engine was a guess and by gosh situation.

Finally the day came when it was time to attempt to start it, This engine is started by pulling against compression, turning the flywheel by hand backwards and it started the second try. The manual suggests that it can be run on straight gasoline but it is better to mix the oil with the gasoline and still use the drip oiler provided. The main bearings are lubricated with grease cups and I suppose the drip oiler could lubricate the connecting rod bearing and the piston pin bearing but it seems like the rings would run rather dry on straight gasoline. The crankcase is provided with a drain cock so one can easily drain off any "flooding" when attempting to start the engine.

The rig vibrates a great deal and is rather heavy to move so it appears to me that it would work best on large diameter logs where one wouldn't have to move it often and it could work to advantage. The company that built the rig is located in Portland, Oregon and has been in business since 1865 though I don't know what they are manufacturing at this time.

This is a 20-40 Rumely and Pitts bean thresher owned by Leonard James, threshing beans 5 miles west of NaDoleon, Michigan, on the Raymond Hyatt farm in 1963. The engine was built in 1918 and the separator in 1906. Bob James is feeding the separator.

The Oliver Corporation is on a hunt for old Hart-Parr stationary (oil cooled) No. 1. They have no trace of it after it left the University of Wisconsin Museum. We give a photograph of it here. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated by this company. You may write to Mr. G. R. Gregg, Jr., Oliver Corporation, Charles City, Iowa.