Cross cutting on swing table saw bench circa 1955
Photographs courtesy of Abbie Gordon, Banchory.
Converting tree trunks into specific length timber products on a MacConnel? saw bench. The MacConnel had a swinging saw bench in that the table on which the tree trunk rested, swung forward thus pushing the stem sideways into the fast running saw blade. This design did away with the laborious process of at least two men and often more, holding the stem and then all pushing it uniformly into the saw blade. The tree trunk has to remain at right angles to the blade in this action and if the tail man moved less or more than the feed man, the blade of the saw would jamb and most likely stop the engine.
It looks like a Lister or Petter? diesel engine with two cylinders and would have had two compression levers on top. Starting would have been by means of rapid turns of a starting handle which was only possible by opening the compression valves in the firing cylinders. Once the starting handle was being turned as fast as possible either one or two of the compression valves were closed and the flywheel momentum along with the continuing effort on the handle was generally enough to over come the high compression in the cylinders and the diesel would hopefully ignite. It was very arduous and warm work if the diesel was reluctant to fire in the cylinder and a number of starting attempts required.
Not seen here but there would have been a graduated measuring stick fixed to the swinging bench so that the operator could clearly see how far the tree had to be slid along the bench to reach the correct length of the product. Note also the improvised apron made from a sack to protect the operator from the often wet and muddy tree stems.
Location and operator are not known.
Picture added on 30 January 2011