Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back in the Milling Saddle!

It has been an eventful couple of week since the loss of the 2100s. As mentioned, I picked up a pair of 3120s and a pair of 390s in Victoria, along with a trove of spare parts.

I am on the trail of some new cylinders and pistons for the 2100, if I can get them repaired, I will wind up with seven big chainsaws. 

I took the 3120s into the shop on Monday for tune ups as they had not been run in 2+ years. I was in kind of a rush as I had a long standing plan with my friend Pete who lives in the Okanagan to do some milling on Thur/Fri at the beach.

I picked one of them up on Wed afternoon, the other needed some oiler parts. At the same time I dropped off the 390s for their going-over. 

The bad luck started immediately thereafter when I tried to mount the 3120 to my homebrew mill which had previous been driven by the 2100. Turns out the 3120 is bigger than the 2100, and interfered with one of the threaded rods which was threaded into a hole in the bar. So a long story, and a long cold dark evening, but I had to redrill and rethread a new hole in the bar, I lost about 1 1/2" of cut width, and then I had to change the mill itself since the threaded rods it mounts on were now closer together.

So on the chilly Thursday morning we selected a couple short pieces of horse chestnut and an elm crotch to work on. The chainsaw gods were continuing to conspire against me though. The saw  troubles started immediately and I did not put saw to wood until about 1 o’clock.  This included a 3120 problem, problems with my last functioning 2100, and eventually a desperate run to the shop to fix the 3120. Luckily it was an easy fix and I was also able to pick up one of the 390s which was now ready. I eventually got the 390 into action and started milling up the horse chestnut, wound up taking ten slabs 2 ½” thick off the two logs. My buddy was working away on the elm.

Two small horse chestnut logs
Elm crotch

Friday morning we started in on a log that was covered in burls. It might be maple, but we are not sure. Again, a lot of planning and set up required to get the best cuts, but I eventually started taking off slabs. Soon the oiler adjustment screw fell out of the 390 and it wouldn’t oil any more. So I switched back to the 3120. That was the end of my saw troubles, but now it was time for my mill to act up. Turns out the last minute mods I made to accommodate the threaded rods being moved closer together were a bit weak and allowed the mill to flex, causing it to dive and jam in the wood. My buddy's saw refused to start for most of the day on Friday as well. Finally by Friday afternoon we had two saws in action, all the log set up and trimming was done, and we were able to make some good progress.

 Burly Mystery log

At the end of the day on Friday, in addition to the ten shortish horse chestnut slabs, we drove away with ten 10’ elm slabs at about 1 ¼” thick, and eight 10’ maple? burl slabs, plus a bunch of burls and shorter pieces of the elm.

My share of the loot

I went home, showered, had dinner, then slept for 11 hours! Can’t wait till next time!

 End of the day, beach in the shade, the 'banks' of Spanish Banks visible. 
Tough place to work!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Husky 2100 - RIP

It seems that my recent milling marathon in New Westminster described in my last post was tough on more than just my lower back. Both of my Husky 2100 saws that I used on that adventure have been pronounced DOA at the mechanic's shop.

They told me that the saws were starved for oil in the mix, and that I have damaged the pistons and the cylinders by running too lean. New pistons can be purchased for these old-timers, but new cylinder heads cannot. So I am done.

I checked the 2 stroke oil the shop had recommended I use. It came with a convenient measure for 1 US gallon / 4.5 litres. Unfortunately the measure was 100:1!!  So no wonder. I can't understand why the manufacturer would recommend 100:1, and why the chainsaw shop would suggest that brand to me. I also can't understand why I didn't read the fine print on the oil containers more carefully!

Luckily, I hit the jackpot. A guy I know from a chainsaw milling forum that I participate in turned me on to a fellow in Victoria who was selling four older (not as old as mine though) Husky saws, two 3120's that are larger than the 2100, and two 390's that are slightly smaller. Plus he had a couple 'parts saws', and a ton of accessories, including bars, chain, mufflers, air filters, etc. In fact he was a very nice retired logger who had done a lot of milling at the end of his logging career. They have seen some use, but looked to be in good shape, better than my old saws were. A quick day trip to sunny Victoria via ferry and I came home with my car loaded with the loot.I'll go through it over the next week.

 Coming Out of Active Pass, Vancouver in Distance

In other news, I pulled a load of wood out of my kiln this week. Pictured is a piece of 'fiddleback catalpa' that was in there. Who knew that catalpa had fiddleback? Who even knew there was catalpa?! This chainsaw milling gig sure turns up some quirky stuff!

In the bad news department, my neighbour whose garage I use for woody activities has listed his house for sale. It appears the luxury of a second shop is nearly done, and I will shortly have to make some tough decisions on what to keep and what to move along.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A week of Milling

I spent three straight days this week at a wood chipping yard in New Westminster, milling up three western red cedar logs and one spalted maple log. I know I am not the speediest guy at the best of times (just ask the guys on my hockey team), and I guess the same applies to my milling!

I went out the week before and sussed it out, as mentioned in my last post. So I showed up 7 AM on Monday all ready to go, but apparently my contact had fallen off a chipping machine on Friday, and was still in the hospital. In fact he remained in the hospital the entire week with a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain. It was really an awful thing. Fortunately he will recover, he had not fallen into the chipper, but onto the ground beside it, probably a good 8 or 10 feet.
The Chipping Machine

So the mood at the site was somber. Pretty rough guys, colleagues of his, were nearly in tears talking about what had happened. Not to mention the place was swarming with WorkSafe folks. Since the machine he fell off was immediately beside where I was working, I couldn't run the mill while they were there. That really hit my productivity for the first couple days.

Meanwhile, a constant array of trucks were arriving and dumping various wood waste. This was my favourite below, a steaming pile of ground up Christmas trees that smelled great! My least favourite was a huge truck full of sawdust which the wind blew right towards me. I had to run like mad to get out out of the dust cloud when he dumped it.

Despite my first impressions of how horrid and industrial this place was, it actually kind of grew on me. Tugboats were going up and down the Fraser river, the local rapid transit trains would shoot by silently through the trees, and the occasional float plane would buzz overhead. The guys who worked there were very helpful and interested in what I was doing. And the weather was decent. For February. The world kind of slowed down for a few days.

So, on to the wood. WRC is of about zero interest to cabinetmakers. But in this case I was milling it up for a company who sells the slabs on line.
Second WRC Log

Nice colours showing on the end of the maple log!
Note the nasty split in it. I subsequently rotated the log 90 degrees (by hand) so that the split would be captured in a single slab, rather than affecting most of the slabs.

By the end of the third day I had 13 WRC slabs and six maple slabs. I milled them all to 3 1/4" thick, and most were 12' long.

At that point I had had enough and I called it done! I had touched up the chain several times, enough so that the rakers needed filing again. Also two of my saws need to go to the shop for tune ups, they kept stalling on me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wood Cutting

Up the Sunshine Coast to get some arbutus with the IP folks, unfortunately it turned out to be fir. That was a drag since while arbutus is a super cabinet wood, fir is not a desirable cabinet wood! Especially this one, which while large appeared to be second growth with fairly wide growth rings. Good for 2x4's I suppose.

This thing had washed up in a winter storm 3 years ago and still had a huge root ball on it.

We got the root ball off, which was an an adventure. Several of us slipped on the slimy rock on the beach and hurt our dignities. A chainsaw bar bar got bent, the root ball made a huge crash as it fell back, then it slid down the rocks and almost right into the sea. Exciting!

The root kind of looks like a giant octopus or something just waiting there!

Then the cutting proceeded. Only took off a couple slabs, but they were a ton of work. Luckily lots of helpers were there so they were doing most of the pushing!

I had spent the better part of the day filing and setting the rakers the day before, I am pretty sure that everything was tickety-boo with the chains. I had noticed this toughness with large old floaters before, I am not really sure why they are such beasts.

Anyways, next up are some western red cedar and a large maple all salvaged from a property in town and sent out to a local chipping yard.  I get to mill up what I can, and what I don't use, well you don't want to know! (Hint: they are in a chipping yard . . .) The ambiance is totally opposite my usual pristine beach milling site, it's a filthy dirty noisy heavy industrial site. They have several huge and noisy machines that chew up old pallets and scrap lumber and unwanted trees etc. The place is like something out of some kind of apocalyptic movie. It's littered with debris and mud and garbage. I am sure no-one will even notice my chainsaws' noise above the rest of the din.