Witte Drag Saw Restoration

A project 60 years in the making


| August/September 2010



witte drag saw 2

Don Shivley’s Witte drag saw was missing a magneto when he bought it so he devised a new ignition by using a set of points that were laying around from an older automobile and the automobile’s coil and battery.

Editor’s note: The following article is Don Shively’s account of restoring a Witte drag saw written by Leroy Peters. 

My story begins about 60 years ago when I watched my neighbor sawing logs for firewood with a Witte drag saw.

Of course, at that time, all we had was a two man hand operated crosscut saw, and sawing wood with a gas engine looked quite appealing to a young man such as myself.

About 20 years ago, I was visiting that neighbor and they asked me if I would like to have that antique gas engine and drag saw. Of course, I couldn’t answer yes soon enough!

A project begins
The drag saw sat in my barn for 20 years, during which time I restored a sawmill to saw logs into lumber. After that project was finished, my wife, like all practical wives, suggested that this little Witte saw would be much easier to work on and not be as much work as that massive lumber sawmill. So, like a good husband, I took her advice and began the Witte drag saw restoration.

When I originally took it home, the wood handles were missing or rotted beyond repair. There was no magneto on the engine, the gas tank was missing and the engine was in a total state of disrepair. The piston, however, was not locked up, so I was very fortunate.

The first thing I did was clean out all the corrosion that was in the water tank. It was quite full of various unknown, corroded material (gunk). Then I restored the wood handles to make the engine easier to handle.