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Saturday, March 28, 2009

HOM: Layout--#2, The Four-foot & The Deck

Here ya go -- more excruciating details! I am sticking these in because having a good overview of the plant & the operations might help you out when I get going on the personal events & episodes. Too, it ain't done this way anymore. OSHA and technology changed the mill just like they have changed the world, so this is sort of an historical record. --- Visualize: Veneer peels off a log in a lathe the way a roll of toilet paper unrolls. The main part spins and the tissue/veneer rolls out. The details differ between lathes. Oh, and the logs were 105" long, not 8'. --- #2 lathe was a much different setup than #1 and running it required two people -- one to run the lathe itself and one to feed the logs into it. The lathe operator stood on the far side of the lathe facing the deck. The "spotter" -- the person feeding the logs into the lathe -- stood on the near side of the infeed with his back to the deck. On my shift, Melvin Hanson was the spotter. The infeed was level and controlled by the spotter. He would run the logs forward till one reached the end and rolled off into a pair of vertical jaws. The spotter would close these jaws, which would center the log. Midway between the lathe and the infeed was a pair of massive hinged arms. These arms sat, open, on a pair of heavy steel stops aligned with the vertical jaws. The spotter would clamp the arms shut on the ends of the log, open the jaws, and rotate the arms forward so the log was suspended over the lathe, then run the infeed forward and drop/clamp a new log into the aligning jaws. The lathe operator would lower the log into the lathe, run the hydraulic rams with chucks into the ends of the log, open and lift the arms, and then begin to spin & peel the log. The spotter would then run the arms over and back, pick up the next log and drop a new one into the jaws. While he was waiting for the lathe, the spotter would roughly scale the logs on the infeed & record the measurements. If the logs were too big for the charger -- the log handling mechanism -- the spotter would use a crane to lift the logs and move them into the lathe. Both of the big lathes had these electric chain hoists. Over the center of each infeed was a heavy steel track. The hoist ran on this track and was controlled by a small box that hung off to the side on a cord. The hoist could be run up and down and back and forth. The hook was a telescoping rod with an inward-facing hook on each end. A chain ran from each end of the hook to a central chain dangling from the hoist. This setup allowed the hook and/or the log it was holding to be spun through a full 360 degrees. As you will see, this was a required feature. The operator would run the crane up over the offending log and lower the rod till he could hook the far end and then the close end into the log. Raising the log would tighten the hooks into the wood. The deck hand or spotter and the lathe operator would then maneuver the log in until the lath chucks could catch it. --- The four foot was rarely run, and its infeed sat behind the deck. When the 4' was running, the Cat operator would dump a load of small 8' logs on deck. The deck hands would move them back onto a set of rollers and cut them into 4' sections with a hydraulically controlled saw resembling a chain saw bar, then operate the rollers to dump the logs onto the infeed for the 4' lathe. The 4' lathe was like a miniature version of #1, run by one person. Cores from the 4' lathe went up a steep conveyor and dropped onto a belt mounted well above the deck and from there went across the mill and into a huge drum chipper. --- The deck itself was about thirty feet square and sat perhaps five feet above the ground. Working on the deck, you faced the top of the "H", looking toward the vats. #2 lathe was on your left, at your feet were two steel-lined bins for core, at your right and a few feet above you was lathe #1. Two steel conveyors met in the middle, carrying cores from each lathe. On the left side about six feet back from the conveyors was a hydraulic log splitter. At the back of the deck behind it was a 4' wide conveyor going up to the belt carrying wood to the chipper. There was a ladder beside it. There were a set of powered steel 1'x4' rollers running side to side across the back of the deck about three feet in from the back edge. Centered at the back was the stair to the main floor of the plant. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)