Birk operating the model sawmill

Birk operating the model sawmill at Utah Antique Machinery Association's show in Salt Lake City in September of 1986. The mill saws logs 4' to 6' in diameter into lath size boards. It was powered by a 6 HP Hercules engine owned by Harold Probasc

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557 East 3460 North, Provo, Utah 84604

Birk Petersen, secretary of the Utah Antique Machinery Association, builds another one! This time it's a one-quarter scale, working model of an American sawmill.

It all began a year ago last summer when Bruce Rogers, president of the Utah Antique Machinery Association, said, 'What we need in our association is a sawmill.' That's all it took to get my mental gears a whirring. A full-sized sawmill is a bit cumbersome to store and transport to meets when one lives in a subdivision and uses a Dodge Aspen station wagon for transportation so the decision to make a model was quite easy.

I located a couple of people who had sawmills and decided to copy one owned by Bud Parker in southeast Salt Lake valley. Bud, being an old machinery buff himself, was more than willing to let me take measurements of his mill. I spent several days at Bud's sawmill making a detailed, dimensioned sketch of every different part of the mill. Photos were also taken to capture fine details. On Xerox copies of the sketches, all dimensions were reduced to one-fourth original size and marked in red. Using the reduced dimensions, wood patterns and core boxes were made. There were over sixty of them. Using the patterns and core boxes to form sand molds, aluminum and bronze castings were made, well over a hundred of them. The castings were then machined as required.

I make my own gears, and there are twelve of them in this little model. It would be much easier to buy gears from someone like Boston Gear, but in small sizes they would not be spoked and they just would not look right.

When the original mill uses 1/8 diameter cotter pins, and you scale the size down to one-fourth, it becomes 1/32' diameter. The 1/32' diameter cotter pins are not readily available at the hardware stores so what does one do? Simple, just draw file a piece of .035' diameter wire to half round, bend it around another piece of wire to form the eye, and snip it off. Presto! You have a 1/32' diameter cotter pin.

Small bolts available at hardware stores do not look right either. The heads have screwdriver slots rather than being hex shaped, and the nuts are way out of proportion size-wise. Most of the bolts used in this model were procured from Cole's Power Model Shop in Ventura, California. However, sizes that were not available were machined from hex bar stock procured from PDM's Steel Service Center in Spanish Fork. Total construction time was less than a year of spare time, and all of the work was done in my home workshop. What will the model sawmill be used for? I plan to take it to antique machinery meets and demonstrate it. (Play with it!)

At the time of this writing, I have just completed a model storage barn in my backyard that will be used to store and display some of my gadgets.

What will my next project be? It's a lot easier and faster to design something in your mind than it is to find the time to get it built, so there are many things I would like to build. One thing that has my interest now is an antique, gasoline engine-powered 'Rube Goldberg' type ice cream making machine complete with an ice grinder and some sort of music making equipment, and a few other mechanical parts that do no useful work at all except amuse people. Whether it will materialize or not, only time will tell.