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On sawmill ground clutter (from an Ask MR in the August issue)

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On sawmill ground clutter (from an Ask MR in the August issue)
Posted by rrinker on Sunday, June 28, 2020 1:06 PM

 The question was about sawdust, wood chips, and bark around a sawmill scene. The suggestion was to use sandpaper to create material from a real piece of wood. I got to thinking on an expanded version of that.

 I would tend to think sawdust would be the finest material, wood chips in between, and pieces of bark would be the largest. As such. I'm thinking that, depending on scale, using various grades of sandpaper to make each material. Say 60 or 80 for the bark, 120-150 for wood chips, and 220+ for sawdust.

 Wood chips and sawdust, when fresh, would be the natural wood color. Bark - my idea here is to dye half of it the same color as the tree trunks, and the other half a couple of shades lighter since the inside of a chunk of bark is usually lighter than the outside.

 I don't plan on a sawmill on my layout, so maybe I am completely off my rocker here. Sounded good when I thought of it though.

                                              --Randy

 


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Posted by RR_Mel on Sunday, June 28, 2020 3:28 PM

Randy

I serviced two-way radios at a local sawmill (New Mexico) in the 60s and unless it was really different than other mills it was very clean.  I don’t remember seeing any scraps on the ground, only dirt or mud depending on the weather.  They sold the scrap cuts to local people for firewood, they would drive up to a shoot that would drop the cuttings in to a ½ or ¾ pickup and there weren’t any leftovers on the ground, a worker guided the shoot into the truck bed and controlled the flow.

They had a blower system that sent the sawdust to a storage bin similar to a grain elevator that loaded railroad cars.

They limited the loads to pickups at $6 per load for scrap, some large bark, and cut ends of up to 2’ long.  Mostly Pine or Aspin, some Maple.

I never visited a sawmill in the mountains, maybe they weren’t as clean being as they most likely weren’t controlled by some law. 

Mel


 
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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, June 28, 2020 5:09 PM

 The questioner is modeling a sawmill of the 1920's, so I suspect without all the modern dust collection equiment, it was a much dirtier environment. Plus it sounds more like a rough cutting backwoods operation. 

                                   --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, June 28, 2020 6:03 PM

Most of the sawmills that I've visited, in northern Ontario, used beehive burners to get rid of the bark, sawdust, and wood chips...

Wayne

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Monday, June 29, 2020 11:00 AM

rrinker
 

The question was about sawdust, wood chips, and bark around a sawmill scene. The suggestion was to use sandpaper to create material from a real piece of wood. I got to thinking on an expanded version of that.

   --Randy

 

I'll be including a small saw mill on my c. 1900-1920, NE PA layout, and was wondering what were the end uses for sawdust that was collected and shipped.  I seem to recall that some was used for insulation in ice houses and reefers (?).  Maybe for extracting chemicals?

Jim

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Posted by davidmurray on Monday, June 29, 2020 4:12 PM

hardcoalcase
I'll be including a small saw mill on my c. 1900-1920, NE PA layout, and was wondering what were the end uses for sawdust that was collected and shipped

Jim: bedding for horses, especially racehorses?  

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, June 29, 2020 4:27 PM

Sawdust is good insulation, but murderously inflammable.  Plenty of 'patent' additives, some actually working (but at the cost of health consequences many times worse than stopping the support of combustion) ... just the thing for the progenitor of GERN back in the patent-medicine promotion days...

Sawdust was a common flooring both for 'improved dirt' or for anywhere there would be spillage -- saloons, butcher shops, circus arenas (in place of sand) or slopped-in ice and snow from the street.

it was a common thing for dunnage and machinery packing up to the invention of machine-produced excelsior (wood wool).

Certain types were aromatic, or could be used as 'filler' in sachets and the like.  I remember cedar sawsust in particular as an alternative to naphthalene mothballs...

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, June 29, 2020 7:22 PM

I have never actually been in a sawmill, but I have been at log loading sites where felled trees are skidded in to be loaded on trains or trucks.

At these sites, the trees are debranched, debarked, and cut to length. A clean log is delivered to the sawmill.

These sites are a mess! All the suggestions for clutter around would be appropriate. I have never seen a log loading site modelled on a layout.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:19 AM

Living in Eastern Canada, I have seen many sawmills, active and not-so-active. I think that size, era and geography counts. Large modern operations have the means to collect the sawdust from the source, and they are well equiped to sell/dispose of it. Tiny operations like this (https://faculty.nipissingu.ca/noel/archives/826) will involve crude tooling that does not gather the dust or shavings very well. I have seen many small operations of that sort, that I would qualify as semi-commercial. And in Eastern Canada, fire is not that much of a problem, especially with gas-fired equipment, so the need to keep things tidy on a continuous basis is not the same. Even medium-size outdoor operations will have dust and shavings pretty much everywhere. I would much rather walk on that than dirt when it gets rainy! 

Simon

EDIT: here is one in Australia. See the dust and chips around the equipment.

https://www.dailyexaminer.com.au/news/turner-brothers-sawmillers-and-builders-operation-/2786115/

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 8:27 PM

Overmod

Sawdust is good insulation, but murderously inflammable.  

I recall that another major shortcoming was it retained water like a sponge, capable of rotting out the space it was in.

Overmod

Sawdust was a common flooring both for 'improved dirt' or for anywhere there would be spillage -- saloons, butcher shops, circus arenas (in place of sand) or slopped-in ice and snow from the street.

it was a common thing for dunnage and machinery packing up to the invention of machine-produced excelsior (wood wool).

That's a new one for me! Yes  Any idea how it was shipped to small end users, such as saloons, etc.;  bags, barrels?  I'm always looking for things to ship on my railroad!

Jim

 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:16 PM

Regardless of era the biggest threat to a saw mill is fire.. In that light I've seen photos of old saw mills that was fairly clean with saw dust built up around the saw.. Of course a man or two with a shovel would keep this area clean. Saw dust at small independent mills would just have piles of saw dust near  the saw shed. This was usually loaded into boxcars or early earily semi  trucks and ship to a paper company until woodchip hopper cars and wood chip trailers came into being..

Keep in mind there are off -bearers that stacks the lumber by size and that is a fast moving job because they must keep up with the sawyer. The off -bearing area would be fairly clean as well due to the require speed of the workers.

Also if independent loggers brought their logs to the mill there will be stacks of logs near the saw shed.  

Even in the 20s things would be kept in a safe condition.

 

Larry

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Summerset Ry.


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Posted by NSNYSW74 on Saturday, July 4, 2020 9:53 AM
I worked a summer in a smaller sawmill. Sawdust was shoveled away from the saw every 10 minutes. Any off cuttings were sent to be cut into spacers for drying. Bark would be sent off for mulch. Farmers would stop by for some sawdust for bedding. Larger shavings were normally sent for animal bedding, ie, guinea pigs, hamsters. Most of the sawdust was used for the steam plant on site.
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Posted by wvg_ca on Saturday, July 4, 2020 11:32 AM

i model 1890, and a small sawmill way up north ... and yes, there is quite a bit of small buildup around the mill, and the rail tracks that service it ...

in my world there is no beehive burner, or a need for sawdust for packing, just a bit for insulation on building walls, so it builds up until it's really in the way ...

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Posted by wvg_ca on Saturday, July 4, 2020 11:46 AM

if you want to see what my sawmill looks like, link is

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPzEJq5aac1JT9zZx66_tTpZ-37FtAOflaX68DV

just two photos ...

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, July 4, 2020 2:20 PM

Modeling sawmills, pulpmills and a long list of others is popular on the West Coast as this is what we grow up with. The best sawdust is made with tile grout and it comes in the perfect colours aleady.

Sawdust/woodchips leaving Vancouver probably came off rail cars and is on its way to the pulp/paper mill.

Seaspan Marine - Forest Products - Seaspan

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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