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He Rebuilt A Working Miniature Sawmill
When a large 1/20th scale, 70-year-old miniature sawmill in the Yamhill County Historical Museum in McMinnville, Ore. needed repair, the Kiwanis Club in charge of the restoration knew that Gary Brooks was the person they wanted to do the work. Brooks is known throughout the northwestern U.S. as a prominent builder of miniature sawmills based on real mills.
“Museum members told me it would probably take 20 to 25 hrs. to get it back in order, so that seemed like something I could do,” Brooks says. “However, nobody mentioned that it had a dozen motors and 18 switches that didn’t work. Their original estimate of 20 to 25 hrs. turned into 20 to 25 hrs. a week for 16 mos.”
Brooks says the saw was functional, but the diorama was missing the log pond and green chain parts, which were 11-ft. long and 30-in. wide, controlled by 18 toggle switches for each of the 18 electric motors. “Someone had rewired the entire mill and added some additional motors and the switch panel, and it was a disaster because nothing worked and nothing was labeled,” Brooks says.
Undeterred, he dove into the repair, tracing the wires and labeling the switches, wires and motors. He replaced three burned-out motors and added a second gear reduction set to slow the carriages while the working saw cut a log. “Eventually I got all 12 independent areas working together so I could actually cut a cant off a log for further processing,” Brooks says.
To document his work, Brooks photographed every step of the reconstruction and put together a manual of 100 pictures to show museum members how the actual mill worked about 100 years ago and how to repair the model if problems occur in the future.
“I probably put in more than 1,000 hrs. on the whole project, but the diorama is now in perfect shape with working parts that show exactly how the mill worked more than 100 years ago,” Brooks says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gary Brooks, 15422 SW Rock Creek Rd., Sheridan, Ore. 97378 (ph 503-843-2966; gebdmd@gmail.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2