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By the early 1900s the gasoline engine was reliable enough to
have many practical uses on the farms throughout the country. The
manufacturers of these engines were quick to realize their
potential and soon adapted them to nearly every chore imaginable.
One of these was the sawing of firewood.
A lot of the people of that time used wood to heat their homes
and for cooking. With a portable saw rig the work could be reduced
tremendously compared to the crosscut saw.
Some of the early manufacturers of these engines made the drag
saw, which was nothing more than an engine connected to a crosscut
saw on wheels. Although kind of crude, it was effective. You could
cut down large trees with it, then cut the trunk into lengths to be
split into firewood.
The portable saw rig was much faster than the drag saw but it
required the trees to be small enough to be handled by hand. The 7
HP Monitor Saw Rig weighed in at 2,335 pounds with a 28-inch blade.
Working speed for this engine was 375 rpm, with a blade speed of
about 750 rpm. Even though it had a metal shroud that partially
covered the blade, it must have been quite an experience working
next to the business end of a machine like this knowing very well
that one slip could send a man to meet his maker in two pieces.
Some of my earliest memories of cutting firewood were in the
late ’50s. I was too young to help, but remember Dad had what
he called a pole saw that he belted to a tractor. We had a few
acres of post oak trees that were about the right size to handle
for the pole saw. I don’t recall too much about how the trees
were cut, but it must have been with Dad on one end and one of my
older brothers on the other end of the crosscut saw or ax. They
would probably be able to set my memory straight on this.
Wasn’t too long after this that we got a chainsaw.
I’ve often wondered what became of the old pole saw. It may
still be sitting in that grove of post oaks where we last used it
some 40 years ago.