A piece of Frankenmuth history has been restored!
At some point throughout his lifetime, William “Tiny” Zehnder had secured an original steam powered sawmill machine. The sawmill had been stored at the site of what used to be “Reindal and Bronner Lumber Co.” (Now the site of the Well Spring Lutheran Services) for over 100 years!
This historic gem was in pieces when Bill Zehnder (President of the Bavarian Inn Restaurant) decided it was time to bring this machine back to life!
In 2019, Bill asked Ray Hect (Uncle Ray) if he could get this sawmill back up and running. Ray agreed, and at 94 years young, he began to take the rebuilding of this historic machine under his wing.
The rebuilding did take a few years; first there was the COVID delay, then the power source took a while to get going, (there were a few modifications that were done when they finally got to install it), followed by sand blasting and painting all the parts of this machine. In addition, all the wood had to be replaced due to the rotting. The machine was also converted to run by Kerosene Oil.
Needless to say, it was quite the project to take on!
The machine was completed and finished in 2021 with a grand demonstration of the newly renovated sawmill in action the following spring (2022)!
A sawmill’s main purpose is to cut wood/shingles.
For those wondering how a sawmill machine works, we have broken it down for you piece by piece:
Log Pull down
For now, the sawmill machine sits at Grandpa Tiny’s Farm with hopes to do another live demonstration the following year!
Absolutely awesome project and result Thank you Uncle Ray…and thanks Bill for caring about preserving the area’s history!