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Beerfarmer
Beerfarmer's picture
Help Me Decide

Hello,

I've been reading as much as possible on mills on and off for the past couple years but after trying a friends Woodmizer LT15 this weekend I've decided it's time to purchase.  I'm in northern Alberta where I'd have a tough time finding anything over 24", and only softwoods exist here (poplar, spruce, pine). I'm just looking to make boards for corral panels, and some small beams and boards for a sauna I plan to build. I have a John Deere 7510 tractor and also a skid steer, so moving the trees isn't an issue for me, and I'm not serious enough to need hydraulics.

I'm not certain about having a trailer or not. At the time I can't decide if I should get one or not, and for the extra $1800 I'm not sure if I'd use it. If it's easier to use a trailer mounted one for ergonomics or log handling I would like to hear, if not I'd just take the deal being offered now and and get the extra support stands.

I originally planned on a HD36, but I see the LM29 would probably do everything I want. I guess my biggest concern is that the rails on the LM29 don't look as robust. I want to buy a mill to last a long time, though it won't see an insane amount of hours. The dog system on the HD36 seems a lot better than the LM29, but perhaps the LM29 is completely functional and I'm just looking for reasons.

The HD36 with trailer is $11600 Cdn and the LM29 (no trailer) with the Honda 13hp engine is $6400 so you can see I'm dealing with a massive spread and just want to spend my money once and on something I'll be satisfied with.

Thanks for all your advice!

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

I have an LM29 and love it. I've cut bigger logs than it should handle, but I trim or split them first with a chainsaw.

I can cut about 12'5" logs easily, with slabs about 2"X22", and so that should work for you.

I have a mobile one, and I move it often. I also have to readjust the alignment often, because things get out of alignment on rough roads.

If you don't need mobile, I would not get the trailer. If you have an existing trailer, that may also work. If I were pretty much located in one place, and I were buying a sawmill today, I'd not have a trailer.

 

I have the 14 HP Koehler, and it cuts everything I need. I think the Honda would be about the same for torque, but possibly better fuel consumption.

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

Beerfarmer, welcome to the forum!  I second r.garrison's advice.  LM29 ought to be a good mill for the cutting you describe.  As long as the frame is well supported, you won't have any problems with it.  Get a good cant hook and you'll be good to go.  Mills hold their value well, so you could always upgrade if you decide to.  Keep us posted.

Jaxrecwood
Jaxrecwood's picture

YES! A good cant hook should be called a CAN hook! I have and LOVE my Woodchuck canthook. I use it to easily rotate and pivot logs. Its a time and back saver.

A good farm jack is also money well spent. I would stay away from the Harbor Freight ones as they seem to not actuate easily with any load. A good jack will help with all kinds of log moving.

- Don

 

Beerfarmer
Beerfarmer's picture

Hi gents,

Sorry I had gotten locked out from the forum for a bit, but I was able to read your comments. I originally posted my question about 5 days before it showed up after being reviewed. In the mean time I kept going around in circles, then a new YouTube review of the LM29 popped up and sold me on the 29 so I placed an order that day. It's currently on a truck heading towards me. 

I did upgrade to the Briggs Vanguard engine since I posted. I assumed the 13hp Honda would be enough for me, but I didn't want to regret not buying a bigger motor first so I bit the $800 bullet. I also ordered a cant hook, 4 feet extra track (wishing now that I had ordered 4 more), and with the current deal I got the auto-flow lube and bigger legs.

Post Oakie, when you say frame well supported, will 3x12 planks on the ground and mill set on top be considered good enough or what do you recommend to ensure it's sturdy?

 

Thanks,

Bruce

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

With the LM29, the primary decision on the bed will be the weight of the logs. Norwood has a calculator for Apple and Android that can tell you the weight of logs for different species.

Your mill should be set so the weight of the logs won't cause uneven pressure. If the boards flex, then you will possibibly cause the track to get high spots or sags, and will need to readjust when you would rather be making sawdust.

I would start with a guess that the 16' logs, if you are cutting 24" diameter, will be about 3000 pounds. So, what will the boards be setting on, and will the combination keep things square?

I would suggest 4X6 boards, but 3X12 boards will do great on edge, but I would make certain and securly fasten the mill to the top edge; 3" isn't as wide as it seems if you are loading a ton and a half on the top, and something slips and bounces a little.

Post Oakie
Post Oakie's picture

When I ran an MX34 as a stationary mill, I used 6x6 supports crossways, one under each crossbunk.  The weight of the log is concentrated at the points where the crossbunks attach to the frame, and that's where the support needs to be.  As R.Garrison says, it is a good idea to attach the frame to the support, but I let the 6x6 supports "float" on the ground to absorb side impact.

Jaxrecwood
Jaxrecwood's picture

Don’t waste your time with a stationary mill. Go mobile or go out of business. A mobile mill is a tool where a stationary mill is more of an expensive hobby.

- Don

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

A lot depends on the purpose. I bought a mobile mill, but considered a stationary mill.

The reason for buying a mill was because there isn't a large size sawmill in the same county as my tree farm. When I have quality logs, I actually get paid when they are hauled; for anything below grade, I'm lucky if I get what it cost to haul them.

With a mill, I can take below grade logs and make marketable lumber. 

 

But, if you don't have your own logs to mill, I agree; go mobile.

Beerfarmer
Beerfarmer's picture

Hey thanks for the info guys on the leveling, I'm actually still a fair amount of time away. I did use my brush mower to cut down a nice patch to work beside my burn pit, but winter has now settled in and progress slowed. Assembly is taking about as long as I expected, which many people would call slow. I've only got about 1.5 hours after the kids go to bed to actually do all my work, so the sawmill sits alone most nights. I've started assembling the saw head and things are going well, the directions are quite good. I do have concerns about how I'm going to get the whole thing out of the shop since I don't have the trailer package, but I'll really get concerned about that when the time comes.

As for mobile that would have been nice, but it really is just an expensive hobby to me so I decided to go no trailer. I'll probably never sell any boards, and if I do it will just be some 2x6's for corral panels. I have an 18' deckover trailer with ramps and I just bought a winch to haul any logs I find out in the bush and bring home. I've also got a half section of my own, with about 140 acres in trees that I can use my tractor to fetch. I have a full time job, a side job with the skid steer, cattle and bees so there's a lot of irons in the fire so there wouldn't be much time left to do any sawing for anyone else if I did go mobile. Like I said before, just looking for some corral panels when I need and to make my dream sauna.

r.garrison1
r.garrison1's picture

If you are planning on trailer decking, having the extra length of a stationary mill would be nice. You can add sections, and cut deck boards for 30' trailers, which I can't with my mobile setup. 

Of course, you will have to buy a number of additional lengths, but it may be worth it.

wbrent
wbrent's picture

Hey Beerfarmer. I’m in a similar position as you but a month ahead. Bought exactly what you did except with the 14 hp Kohler. I’ve been sawing a pile of cedar I’ve had laying around for the last two weeks. I’m thrilled with how it works so far. I put the bed together in my barn and then me and my boys moved it outside to finish it. Once done I moved it again with no problems. Couple of slings off the tractor bucket to lift off the carriage. Me and two boys carried the bed to its new spot. Take your time putting it together especially the bed rails - getting the components good and flush with each other. Don’t worry too much about levelling until you get it to its final resting spot. I also have the long legs that came with the deal. At first I had them sitting on 6x6’s but found that a little high. It is now on 3x6’s. I put crushed rock underneath. Seems good so far. I’m about to tie them all together today. If you have any questions about putting things together feel free to ask while it’s fresh in my mind. One thing I forgot was to put the hose on the oil drain of the motor. Had to suck the oil out to do its first oil change. So don’t forget that. I think the Briggs has one as well. Finally. Once you get up and running take a day off work!  I’m in the same boat as you. Dark when I get home from work. I don’t have power near my mill so can’t even possibly go out at night. Weekends can’t come soon enough. Now a just need a tractor of my own. Lifting logs just won’t do. 

Beerfarmer
Beerfarmer's picture

Hi wbrent, thanks for th reply. I've got mine mostly put together, just need to get some gas in it and finish off the last couple hours of assembly. I only really had two issues, one with the battery. I was told it would be an AGM battery but an empty lead acid came with it so I'm unable to use the electric start right now. My oil drain is a little different on my motor so I don't need the hose on until it's change time, but I did make sure I put the drain plug in now.  The instructions were surprisingly very good. Sometimes trying to find what box a part was in took a bit of time but other than that I appreciated the actual photos not just sketches.

 

I'm going to have to take off the saw head with my tractor as well. And like you I am going to get some friends to help move the carriage. Did you put the slings right down low when you lifted your head off? I thought I'd use the eyelets at the very top of the frame but then realized they are only attached by a couple bolts to the vertical risers.  It's full on winter here now so I'll be unable to make a really nice spot to saw on, but I will use 3x12's instead of 6x6's too to avoid the height. I'd like to take a day off to saw but that's probably not going to happen but luckily I have a diesel light tower that will be able to light up the darkeness. First thing after the saw is made is to make a set of bunks for the logs as I've only got my tractor at home now as my skid steer is set up elsewhere for snowplowing and my tractor loader skills aren't as good as my skid steer skills.

 

My other issue was with the blade adjust rod bracket. The instructions said to attach it to the plastic cover but the holes weren't there, only a really big slot that the bolt fits through so it wouldn't tighten onto the rod bracket. I keep trying to attach a picture but it keeps saying it's too large so hopefully people can kind of get an idea of what I'm meaning.

wbrent
wbrent's picture

Unless you plan to syphon the oil out you need to have the hose on first. Otherwise when you pull the plug oil is going to spill all over the carriage. At least thats how it is for my motor. Syphoning out the oil is no big deal though. I lifted the carraige using shackles tied to those eyelets. I too had the same concern that they are only held on by set bolts, but I called Norwood and they assured me that they are designed to be lifted from those points. Still I just limped along with it very close to the ground .paranoid it was going to pull apart. And yeah I though that there should be holes and not a slot for the rod bracket. But I was still able to use the slot and tighten it up with no problem. HAve fun with it. Im loving mine.