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Ground cover recommendations for a sawmill?

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Ground cover recommendations for a sawmill?
Posted by gpharo on Saturday, July 6, 2019 2:23 PM

I am ready to add ground cover to my Sawmill,  I would like to know what others have done or seen. I am debating using sawdust?  Ideas and pictures are welcome.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:03 PM

Sawdust?

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Posted by wvg_ca on Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:04 PM

sawdust on the areas close to the saw ... going to darker cover the further you get away ...

just like the prototype ..

 

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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:56 PM

Depends on the era. A more modern sawmill has most areas paved with concrete around heavy use areas and is immaculately clean. Anything before say 1970 muck everywhere would be a good choice.

Real sawdust is hard to get fine enough to look good so tile grout does the trick once again. It doesn't matter what colour you use if you have some left over from projects. It paints really well to whatever colour you desire and with weathering powders finishing the look you will be pleased and so will the camera. 

You don't see much spilled sawdust at a modern mill as it is a really explosive fire hazard. Lots of vacuums on site to take the sawdust to a barge or rail facility well away from the mill. The older mills relied on more conveyor systems and thus there was spilled sawdust everywhere.

Brent

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Posted by cowman on Saturday, July 6, 2019 3:59 PM

Sawdust reduced to HO scale would  be quite fine.  Find a yellowish, light brown fine ground foam to represent your pile where it is coming from the blade.  There are usually plenty of spills, as they get wet and older, they darken. Most mills I have gotten sawdust from have dirt yards, some have a cement pad for the sawdust bin and a front end loader to load trucks, others had an overhead bin to load trucks.  First place I got it from, you brought your own shovel and plenty of armstrong.

Your size of operation and era will make some difference in the equipment you have around the mill.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, July 7, 2019 10:36 AM

As Richard points out sawdust does not retain the fresh sawdust color for very long once it is exposed to the elements and is driven on and walked on etc.

Indeed the texture of sawdust (versus wood chips) is so fine that even the finest ground foam strikes me as too textured.  From a scale perspective it would look smooth but with a tendency to be in irregular little piles and ruts.  In very old photos of sawmills - it looks more or less like the surrounding mud.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, July 7, 2019 10:41 AM

One of the best displays I saw was they used dust from sanding, grit determened how fine. The dust was put at spill ponts like under the saw and near converyers.

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Posted by Mmbushnell on Sunday, July 7, 2019 11:40 AM

Having once operated a (rather primitive) sawmill, I can readily advise that sawmills generate LOTS of sawdust.  Clouds of it, piles of it, literal mountains of it -- there is sawdust everywhere!  And wood chips, as well.  Decorating every horizontal surface, and much of the semi-vertical surfaces.  Fresh sawdust from green lumber had a tendency to stick and to cake, if allowed to accumulate.  Managing the sawdust is a major consideration in sawmill operations, otherwise the mill would be quickly buried in sawdust.  

Modern mills have vacuum collection systems to handle the sawdust.  Primitive mills had sawdust (or tail) chains, typically running perpendicular to the carriage track, out from the headsaw, to drag the sawdust to an out-of-the-way pile.  As others have mentioned, sawdust is a considerable fire (and explosion) hazard, especially in enclosed spaces.  (My mill was open-air, under a shed roof, which somewhat mitigated that hazard.)

Drop-off -- the initial (and final) slice of a log, and the edges trimmed off a raw plank in the resaw, usually not suitable as marketable lumber -- was another scrap product headache generated in abundance.  Primitive mills usually had great piles of it.  

Real sawdust might not be suitable as a modeling material, because of the scale problem.  A fairly fine material, suitably colored, might be a better choice.  Fresh sawdust is typically a golden-yellow color, while aged sawdust has more of a tan to light brownish cast.  Really aged sawdust went to dark brown and then gray.  

As others have mentioned, primitive mills were typically low capital investment enterprises, usually situated on raw dirt.  Modern mills tend to be entirely enclosed, climate-controlled, in sheet metal buildings. 

 

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Posted by jjdamnit on Sunday, July 7, 2019 12:06 PM

Hello All,

Mmbushnell
Modern mills tend to be entirely enclosed, climate-controlled, in sheet metal buildings.

Well that's easy enough to model...Wink No ground cover required!

I know that didn't help.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, July 7, 2019 2:09 PM

Forgive the possible hijack of the tread, but can't you also use the same type of ground cover for a lumberyard?   Prob not as much saw dust generated.  Sorry again to possibly hijack the thread!

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Posted by jjdamnit on Sunday, July 7, 2019 3:10 PM

Hello All,

kasskaboose
...but can't you also use the same type of ground cover for a lumberyard?

Growing up the local lumber yard that specialized in exotic and hard-woods also had several saws to cut lumber to the customers specs.

There was always sawdust around the saws and it seemed to permeate the entire yard, even into the office.

I don't see why utilizing the same material for a lumber yard would be any different than a saw mill- -perhaps only the quantities strewn about.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Sunday, July 7, 2019 5:20 PM

Sawdust at the mill is much more coarse than iny your shop. Sawdust from your shop might be about right.

A sawmill such as was on myu grandfather's property was a portable gas powered thing. Most sawdust was blown into a pile for later sale, but much asw around the saw. No vacuums out in the woods.Had to rough cut it in the woods, there would have been no other way to get it out.

 

 

ROAR

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by gpharo on Monday, July 8, 2019 12:41 AM

Thank you to all, after reading this thread and following a suggestion from Reddit to use Google Earth, I finally know what I’ll do. Dirt ground cover for the log storage area, a sawdust/dirt mixture by the saw and belt, and concrete in the lumber storage area. 

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Posted by joe323 on Monday, July 8, 2019 6:29 AM

I would think the sawdust is vacuumed up and sold to among others the people who make those fake firelogs (Duraflame) which are as I understand it a mixture of sawdust and wax.

In theory, one could model the sawdust being loaded into a gondola or hopper and taken away.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by WILLIAM SHEPARD on Friday, July 26, 2019 4:54 PM

joe323

I would think the sawdust is vacuumed up and sold to among others the people who make those fake firelogs (Duraflame) which are as I understand it a mixture of sawdust and wax.

In theory, one could model the sawdust being loaded into a gondola or hopper and taken away.

 

Couple years ago I saw a video about grinding up leaves for ground cover. There will be two different type of material when done, fine and not so fine.  The video I watched used wet leaves ground up in a blender then drying in an oven, then sorted fine from course by sifting them through a screen.  I already had dry leaves so I skiped the mixing water with them in the blender.  And no need to dry them in the oven. (my wife would never let me dry leaves in the oven anyway) 

I put the rough stuff around forest areas and around my sawmill, the fine stuff goes where ever there is more heavy traveled and city areas.  Make sure it stays dry or mold will begin to form and you'll have to toss the whole bucket.   When gluing down I add some Lysol to the white glue and water mix. Experience will show how thick you can make the mix.  Too thick and you will need to apply it with a puddy knife, thin you can apply it out of the container with a paint brush. 

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Posted by Mmbushnell on Saturday, July 27, 2019 11:21 AM

joe323

I would think the sawdust is vacuumed up and sold to among others the people who make those fake firelogs (Duraflame) which are as I understand it a mixture of sawdust and wax.

In theory, one could model the sawdust being loaded into a gondola or hopper and taken away.

 

 

That is correct -- modern sawmills have vacuum collection systems for the sawdust, chips and kerf material.  Sawdust and wood chip management is a practical necessity; not only is it a nuisance, it is a fire and explosion hazard if not effectively managed.  In sufficent quanties, it has economic value, so they sell it. It gets formed into fireplace logs and is added to many other products. 

Many manufacturers now offer HO scale wood chip cars -- extended side hopper cars -- another revenue and operational opportunity for your model railroad. 

Older, more primative backwoods-type sawmills put much less effort, and capital investment, into managing sawdust.  

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, July 29, 2019 8:49 AM

Do some use actual sawdust or the ground foam that mimics yellowish leaves? 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, July 29, 2019 11:00 AM

These photos which I took in 1965, I think, show an older mill.  The b&w doesn't help much with the ground cover, but I recall it as mostly dirt and gravel.... 

The twin stacks suggest that the mill was steam-powered (I recall that the saws were belt-driven), but can't say for certain.

...with lots of weeds...

The sawdust was taken care of in the beehive burner, to the left in the photo below...

There was also a pretty snazzy-looking water car, painted silver, for fire suppression....

Wayne

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Posted by WILLIAM SHEPARD on Monday, July 29, 2019 11:46 AM
Saw dust might work for O scale or bigger scales, now if you had sanding dust from fine sanding, it could work for HO or N scale. Sawmills use saws with teeth around the 2 teeth per inch, the size of the chips (dust) are considerable larger than home saws but even with 60-80 teeth per inch would generally be too large for HO scale.
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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, July 29, 2019 12:07 PM

Sanding dust would work, but you could also use un-sanded tile grout in a suitable "sawdust" colour.

Wayne

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