2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3, Page #20[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Collector Owns More Than 1,800 Chainsaws
The retired mine worker also collects hit-and-miss engines and tools associated with industries in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He was inspired to collect chainsaws after seeing a pile of them at a scrapyard.
It bothered him because, “That’s history and they are just throwing them away.” Ketola started using chainsaws to cut wood when he was growing up, following family traditions started by his great-grandfather who moved from Finland to Michigan to farm and build log cabins.
Within a few months of his scrapyard visit, Ketola had about 3 dozen saws and was asked to display them at his town’s Gwinn Fun Days in 2006. That led to more donations to his collection and a pattern. Go to a show, get more saws.
“People see them and they appreciate it. They want me to have them instead of throwing them away,” he explains, adding he also purchases saws. “I love auctions; that’s where I pick up a lot of saws and other tools. I’ve also got a network of people that watch for chainsaws and buy them for me in my price range. Thanks to them I’ve received a lot of saws I would have never gotten.”
That’s led to some unusual pieces including a Russian chainsaw that was expensive but worth having.
He also has a Remington pneumatic underwater saw, which was used to clear remains of old docks, piers and bridges. He has left-handed saws, reciprocating saws, saws with circular blades, saws that accommodate attachments such as augers, and one saw that runs on kerosene.
“I have an old electric 3-phase saw made in the 40’s. It’s very heavy,” Ketola says.
The old 2-man saws are all very heavy, weighing up to 80 lbs. When they used sandcasting and made them out of aluminum it made the saws lighter. It wasn’t until 1952 that the float-style carburetors were changed to diaphragms so the saw could be used in any position.
“What surprised me most was the different places they put the recoil to start them. Some are on handles, some are on the right, some left and some in the middle,” he says.
Ketola stores the chainsaws and his other collections in 8 log buildings that he has obtained from people, torn down and restored, refitting them with original beam-style frame roofs. To show the saws, he loads up a 12-ft. covered trailer that has shelves.
“I put in 120 chainsaws or so, and I leave room because it’s not uncommon to pick up 20 to 30 saws at a show,” Ketola says.
He is also a blacksmith so he can make parts to repair his engines, tools and saws.
“I just like mechanical things. It’s just the history of the whole thing that I really enjoy. Mining and logging built this part of the country,” he says.
Ketola is happy to let visitors traveling through the Upper Pennisula see his collection. Just call ahead.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gerald “Mutti” Ketola, P.O. Box 211, Gwinn, Mich. 49841 (ph 906 251-8762).
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