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Somehow, Pat `Knuckles' Driwrott, incompetent as he was, managed to keep his sawmill, which he swindled in a poker game, in operation until his son, George, took over the operation. George, being a very sound and sober businessman, the total opposite to his father, was able to turn the struggling sawmill into a very profitable concern. His biggest headache was keeping his father’s hands out of the till, so he bought him a new Bentley motor car and a gentleman’s suit so he could swan around the site feeling important but cause no real damage to the day to day operations. In fact, the sawmill became so profitable that the old mill couldn’t keep up with all the orders, so plans were drawn up for a bigger and more up to date mill. This time the structure would be built out over the log pond instead of beside it, which would facilitate much easier and more efficient hauling of the logs into the mill. Click on the link for more about  DRIWROTT SAW MILL No.2 

Once the site for the new mill had been chosen and the log pond bulldozed out, the dozens of tree trunk poles that would form the basis of the structure were driven into the ground. Construction continued at a frantic pace, with the old sawmill having trouble keeping up with the supply of heavy timbers that were required. A shortage of flooring boards meant that only the essential areas were covered. This also was a big saving in costs, which pleased George greatly! As another cost saving, George was able to obtain a large enough quantity of second hand flat roofing metal to cover all the building. While a little rusty, they would do the job until funds became available to install a more permanent corrugated iron roof. The manager’s office and the mill office were built out on a platform over the pond, which gave both a good view of the pond and the working of the mill. Once the structure was completed, the small nearby stream was diverted to fill the log pond. 




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This ‘O’ scale (¼ to the foot) model of the ‘Driwrott Sawmill’ was started in August of 2002, with the first drawings to put all my ideas on paper, or in this case on the computer screen, and completed in January of 2003. All the concept and working drawings were done using a professional CAD program. This allowed my to vary my ideas while still maintaining the original concept and working drawings.

It also allowed me to print out the working drawings to use as templates. The CAD program is also invaluable when scratch building details like roof trusses, all the various machinery in the mill, stairs and the many other details required.

Information on how a saw mill operated was gathered from various sources, mostly from the model press. Most of the information on the saw mill machinery came from a series of articles called “The Sawmill Chronicles” by Reg Shaffer in the ‘Short Line & Narrow Gauge Gazette” from July/August 1984 to May/June 1986 (all now out of print).




The base measures 610 mm by 1150 mm (just under 4’x 2’) and was built using 6 mm & 3 mm MDF board with a 30 mm by 19 mm pine frame. The base has a framed edge of old weathered fence palings which compliment the model. The base can be seen in the photograph opposite.


SELLEYS 'NO MORE GAPS™ is spread over the water area to achieve a depth of about 2 to 3 mm. Before it starts to dry, I used an old disposable brush and dipping in the brush in water, spread the NO MORE GAPS out in an even layer over the surface. As the NO MORE GAPS starts to dry, I pat the surface with the flat of my hand. This will raise the surface in a nice wave effect. When dry, the surface can be painted a green/blue with ochre near the pond edge. When fully dry, apply several layers of a full gloss spray to complete the effect. The photo shows the pond with the mill under construction. see "Lakes, Ponds & Waterfalls" for a more detailed article on this.



With a model structure of this size and complexity, there are always some interesting statistics. The model required about 800 hours work over 6 months to complete. If I charged $10.00 per hour for my labour (which is pretty cheap), the cost of the model would be $8000 plus approximately $700 in materials.

There are just over 150 piles in varying lengths, with over 300 square notches cut into them. These hold the main structural beams. There are also over 50 curved notches in the log retaining walls. Hundreds of real feet of sectional timber was used in the structure. The only non– scratch built parts are the figures (which I hand painted), the 100 odd pulleys used, the couple of vehicles, some detailing parts and the logs (I don’t know what type of tree they came from).


The following FAQ’s are in the order that I have asked.

The most frequently asked question of all - “ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE IT ALL WORK?”

A definite NO to this question. But if you want to build all the micro bearings, insert them into the pulleys after you have balanced them, get the pulley ratios correct, build all the mill equipment so it is fully balanced and will operate without shaking apart, and find a way to make the belts and have them stay on the pulleys, I will gladly include your efforts in my sawmill, or maybe you could include them in your model of a sawmill.

The next most frequently asked question - “DO YOU SELL THESE MODELS?”

Again, a definite NO. Apart from not being able to part with these models, the figures outlined in the section above rule this option out. While this model may be worth $8700, not many people could afford it.

The third most frequently asked question - “HOW DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH PATIENCE?”

My reply to this question is always - “You only need patience for things you don’t enjoy doing!”, like gardening and other chores that have to be done around the house.

The fourth most frequently asked question - “HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO MODEL?”

A simple answer to this question: “I make the time”. But there are others factors that make it easy to make the time. I have a modelling table set up in the corner of the lounge room where I can leave everything set ready to use. This means that I can watch TV and spend time with my wife while still modelling. As well not having children who compete for your time makes a big difference.


This ‘O’ scale model sawmill contains a fully detailed, lighted interior, which can be a little hard to see with the roof on. The roofs are fully removable to service the miniature lights. The interior features fully scratch-built saw machinery including the log haul winch, log saw carriage, two bladed rip saw, cut off saw, edger and rollers. There is also a fully detailed maintenance and saw sharpening area. All the machinery is run via an overhead pulley system, powered from a steam boiler and two cylinder mill engine, both which are scratch-built. The saws are served by a dust extraction system that feeds the waste into the saw dust burner, located on the edge of the log pond.