Jan 24 2016

Tour a Steam Powered Sawmill

Published by at 2:11 pm under Documentary,Woodworks Library

The Phillips Brothers Mill has been a sawmill in operation since 1897 in and around Oak Run California. Oak Run is located approximately 25 miles east of Redding California. The Mill started as water powered, and was moved around to a couple different locations during the early part of the 20th Century, and has been powered by a Steam Boiler at the same location since 1933. Today, it is the last fully steam powered mill in America, and still owned by the Phillips Brothers family. Today it is part of a Phillips Family Trust and resides on a forest preserve of 920 acres which is meant as a sustainable forest for use by the mill. In 2002, the mill was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Edmund Philips, the original purveyor of this mill began at the age of 25, using parts from a defunct mill in the area which had been in operation during the 1870’s and some of these parts remain in the mill’s Log Carriage of today.

The mill consists of a Steam Boiler that runs four engines. The main engine runs a line shaft that powers the Log Carriage and the Head Rig Circular Saws and the adjustable edger saws. The saw is an upper and lower blade design where the main saw (lower) is always employed, and the upper saw is engaged when sawing wider logs. The lower blade is 52 inches and upper is 48 inches. The are configured in a stagger and over lapping way so that they both cut the same kerf, but the lower cuts first, with the upper saw overlapping about an inch in the cut.

The second engine is an old Skagit Winch which pulls logs from the spring fed mill pond and up a chute into the mill near the log carriage.

A third vertical Peerless engine powers a conveyor belt that transports sawdust and wood waste from the mill to the boiler for fueling the operation.

The fourth engine powers the cutoff saw.

Please enjoy the following video from MrShoptaw Productions and YouTube.

Please check out their Video Page!

There are many more interesting details about the Phillips Brothers Mill and it’s lumber heritage. Please feel free to check out their web site and watch their videos. If you are interested in more information about line shafts and machinery, we have several texts available called: Modern Machine Shop Tools Their Construction, Operation and Manipulation found in the Machine Tools Section of the Woodworks Library. Also: On the Arrangement, Care, and Operation of Woodworking Factories and Machinery A Complete Operator’s Handbook, and: Power Transmission By Leather Belting. You’ll find them in the Shop Machinery Section of the Woodworks Library.

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