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Ol Smoke

A story about a Planer following my Dad....

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This story starts in 1956 and I am about 5 years old.

We had moved to McNary, Arizona so that my dad could build a new planer mill for the sawmill that was there.  A planer is a really big machine that spins rotary knives to smooth lumber boards.

My dad was 1 of 3 guys who knew how to build a planer mill and then setup and run the planer.

So the story starts with us living in McNary and dad builds the mill and runs it for about a year and a half.  In 1959 we move back to Dierks, Arkansas for about a year and then Dad is called upon

to rebuild a planer in Yreka, California.  We spend two years here and then mom wants to move to Klamath Falls in order to be around her church.  While in KFalls, dad is contacted by three men

who want to build a planer mill in Bly, Oregon.  About 50 miles SE of KFalls.  We move to Bly and spend about 1 1/2 years there.  Then we move to Philomath, Oregon so my mom can be near

my older brother while he goes to Oregon State University.  This lasts about 6 months, because my brother moves to Ashland to go to SOC.  So during this time, my dad gets a call from this guy

in Idaho. He wants dad to build a planer mill in Chiloquin, Oregon, which is about 30 miles north of KFalls.  This is 1965-1966.  My brother has since joined the Navy because his Service number

came up for the Army.  Not wanting to be a ground pounder in Vietnam he dives into the first Navy office he can find.

  So we move to a little used Indian Reservation Agency housing place about 7 miles from Chiloquin, for about a year, and then dad buys our first real home in Chiloquin in 1966.  I finish the 8th

grade in Chiloquin and start and finish my high school years there.

So now the fun begins about the planer following dad.

The Stetson-Ross 12 knife planer began it's days in McNary.  The mill there goes bankrupt one year after dad left, because they didn't get a much needed timber contract.  The planer mill is sold,

except for the planer itself.  It goes into storage in Phoenix, Arizona so it wont rust.  This is late 1961.  In 1963 the planer is bought and shipped to Bly for dad to install there. The planer's number is

SR-12-9755  OSH-2.  Which is Stetson-Ross-12 blade-serial number  Offset Heads-2.  Which means it has two side planer motors for doing fancy side scroll work.

In 1964, the Bly mill is shutdown because the owners sold it to another company.  The planer goes into storage in Klamath Falls.  Then dad builds the Chiloquin mill and they buy that planer and dad install's

the same planer for the 3rd time.  In 1968, he upgrades the planer to a 14-knife dual head with compound angled side cutters.  The only planer that can do skill cut master side planning and top and bottom  

planing at the same time.  This is made possible by changing the entire AC wiring of the unit to triple phase 880Volt motors.  These motors ran up to 5,000 amps of electricity.  The electrical company had to

install new poles and wiring from a new sub station built in Chiloquin just to supply the power for the planer.  The three main lines were 2" thick cables.

My dad left Chiloquin in 1973 and wound up in Caves, Junction in 1975.  Later on he would do planer work for a small timber sawmill and retire from there in 1990.

During his stay in Chiloquin, after he upgraded the planer, the mill got an order from back east for 400,000 board feet of dual offset custom dado with swirl edging, 10" x 1" custom Yellow Pine interior wall

siding.  Dad was flown to Virginia, where the pine was coming from, and worked with a specialist in making the custom side heads for the planer.  These heads had to be exactly alike, in order for them

to match the three boards together for a nailless installation.  Each board had to exert just small amount of pressure on the other boards, so that they boards would be pushed inward toward the wall to hold

them vertically.  One nail on every other board was driven into the top a bottom of the board, and then covered by moulding.  After running the entire 400,000 board feet in a single Saturday, dad and his crew  

were given bonuses for their excellent handling of the order.  Dad bought a new pickup with his bonus and I got a new shotgun for trap shooting, and my mom got a dishwasher.

All in all my dad built 7 planer mills in the western United States and one mill in Crossett, Arkansas.  I started school in 1957 in Del Norte, Colorado, then moved to Yreka, and finished the first grade in Montague,

California.  After that I spent only 6 months to a year in every grade until Chiloquin.  I was moved 20 times from birth to 17 years old.  I moved nine more times, until I met my wife and I have not moved two inches

since then.  I refuse to move again.

My dad had a standard 3-R's education to the 12th grade, but he designed and built his first planer mill on a napkin, while sitting in a restaurant with the boss from the mill.  He designed three improvements to the

way lumber was moved in a mill that fed the planer.  To this day, all planer mills use his design and improvements.  With his design of the mobile bunking loader, planer chain pullermen didn't have the injuries to

their backs as they did using the old method.  In Chiloquin, my dad set a record for the most lumber planed in an 8 hour day.  810,000 board feet.  Using only 8 planer chain pullers and a half hour lunch break.  The

men each received a $100 bonus for doing that.  Dad received $400 of which he kept $100 and then split the rest with his crew for Christmas bonuses.  That was my dad and his miracle Stetson-Ross #9755.


PS.  I forgot this.  The serial plate was removed from the #9755 planer when it was finally scrapped in 1981.  I really don't know how the plate came to dad, but he said an old representative from the company had

removed the plate and gave it to him.  When he went through his records he found about this planer being installed 3 times by dad.  My brother had the plate mounted and since my father's passing, my mom has it in

her bedroom.  Upon mom's death, the plaque will stay with me, and then with my nephew.

Edited by Ol' Smoke
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