March, 2019: In the works, restoring Chamberlin Mill’s 19th century saw.

This winter a group of expert volunteers has begun working in earnest to resurrect the 19th century circular saw that for many years produced lumber at Woodstock’s historic Chamberlin Mill until the Mill ceased operation in the late 1960s. 

Andy Q., George F., and Nate R. bring solid experience to this task.  Andy, a member of Pomfret School’s Facilities Mechanical Department, owns and operates his own saw in Pomfret. His saw, almost identical to the one found at Chamberlin Mill, is one he rebuilt years ago from a “heap of parts.”  George is in charge of saw maintenance at Hull Forest Products in Pomfret, and has worked most of his adult life in the lumber industry.  He grew up near Chamberlin Mill.  Nate, retired founder of Putnam’s Fluid Coating Technology, Inc., brings a multitude of welcome skills and connections to the task.

For a number of years this group, spearheaded by Andy,  has carefully stored important parts of the Mill’s original saw, and searched for replacement parts they would need.  Several years ago, a generous door, an acquaintance of a Chamberlin Mill, Inc. board member, made a quantity of parts available to the restoration effort.  Then, in November, 2018, while making a daily internet check for remaining parts, Andy spied an identical 1870 vintage Lane #1 saw for sale. He sprang into action immediately and within four days began retrieving parts of the saw from a snowy Vermont woods.   Using Nate’s truck and trailer, Andy, George and Nate, hauled two more loads of parts to Connecticut.   All necessary metal parts for rebuilding the saw were finally in place.

All that was needed was a replacement “set beam” to which all the metal parts attach.  While the original beam still exists, it had been exposed to the elements and was too deteriorated for use.  Such a beam, however, is not an everyday find.  Here Nate’s connections came into play.

In his retirement, Nate has volunteered regularly in the machine repair shop at Mystic Seaport, working on projects connected to the Morgan, its great whaling ship, refurbishing with others the 1928 Studebaker engine that provided power to the Chamberlin Mill saw in its late years of operation.and more recently, helping to support  the Seaport’s restoration work on Mayflower II for Plimoth Plantation.  Through this last connection, Nate secured a timber large enough and strong enough for Chamberlin Mill’s set beam. This timber had originally been part of the Groton Pier built in the 1890s.  After the pier was dismantled in 1980, this timber was shipped to a Virginia dealer. It was brought back north in connection with the Mayflower II restoration.  The remainder of the original timber will be used for the Mayflower II.    

With all metal parts available and the new set beam on hand Chamberlin Mill, Inc., the non-profit steward for the historic Woodstock sawmill, hopes to bring the saw back to life within a year.  Once rebuilt, it will be reconnected to the rebuilt Studebaker engine that once gave it power, and begin to produce lumber again, though this time for public education and enjoyment.

 Visitors will have an opportunity to observe the saw under reconstruction and to learn about the process of its rebuilding at an event to be held on May 4, 2019 at 1 P.M. at the Mill.  (Raindate May 5.)  Type your paragraph here.