RESTORATION OF A Wade One Man Drag Saw

| August/September 1997

3666 Millbrook Terrace, Salt Lake City, Utah 84106

Sometime in the early 1980s while visiting my sister Jane and her husband Jon in northern California, I asked Jon if he knew of any one-cylinder engines in the community. To my surprise he indicated he had one, or parts of one, in his 'bone yard.' When we looked at his machine I saw a small single flywheel engine powering, via a chain drive, a bull wheel and a pitman arm which in turn drove a reciprocating saw holder. All of this was mounted on a badly rotted wooden frame. Jon and I discussed how the machine might have operated and left it as we found it. On another trip in 1990 I asked Jon if I could borrow the outfit for restoration purposes, and he consented. I transferred the saw outfit from his bone yard to mine, suffering only a few detached rotted wooden parts in transit to Utah. In early 1991 Jon sent me a photo copy of an advertisement in a September 30, 1920, edition of the Plumas National Bulletin clearly identifying his machine as a Wade one man drag saw.

Engine Disassembly

In 1992, between other projects, I began minor limbering up of the chain drive and pre-disassembly oiling of engine. The engine was stuck.

In 1993 I began disassembly in earnest. All accessible points were bathed with penetrating oil, and oil was injected past the piston and exhaust port with compressed air. The Wade Company's use of standard pipe threads at the spark plug, intake and exhaust ports greatly facilitate this process.

Although the compressed air system soon had oil moving past the piston, it remained stuck. I heated the piston and cylinder. Overheating resulted in melting of the babbitt main and connecting rod bearings, but some piston movement was gained. I removed the crankshaft and flywheel from the connecting rod and made an attempt to pull the piston from the cylinder by mounting a slide hammer on the connecting rod. The slide hammer distorted the badly rusted big end of the connecting rod. In retrospect the connecting rod was probably rusted beyond salvage.

I finally tapped the piston out of the cylinder by inserting a brass rod through the spark plug hole (this is a headless engine). This tapping produced a minor chip on the upper end of the piston, but I now had a pile of freed parts rather than a frozen hulk!

3/12/2016 12:58:02 AM

Operating one of these saws can be a terrifying experience. There are a lot of moving parts with no guards. That being said, it's a real kick in the butt. Cut up a 4 ft dia Fir log and had the whole neighbor hood there watching and helping.

9/6/2015 12:55:02 PM

Turns out that I owe the author an apology. Wade made different versions over the years and some did have a left hand thread. I strongly suggest each owner confirm the thread direction before working on the saw. Sorry for creating additional confusion over this. Bob

9/3/2015 3:41:59 AM

The author says the crankshaft is threaded with left hand threads on both the flywheel and sprocket ends. The crankshaft is threaded with conventional right hand threads. The crankshaft or flywheel could be damaged if someone tries to remove the flywheel by following the information here and forcing it the wrong direction. I know this article is 15 years old but the text should be changed to reflect the correct thread direction.


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