Vaughan Drag Saws

The Vaughan drag saws appear to be the earliest of the relatively light weight two stroke cycle units to be marketed.  They were designed as a complete machine with an engine made specifically for the saw and not "borrowed" from some other use.  They made their first appearance in early 1909 and were available in one form or another until sometime in 1948 which shows just how good the basic concept was.  These saws were manufactured and sold by the Harsch Machine Works of Portland, Oregon.

As far as is known all Vaughan drag saws came on a wood frame, never on a steel frame as some later similar saws did.  The cooling uses a small water tank with a thermo-siphon system that has no water pump.  The ignition on the earliest ones utilized a battery and buzz coil to power the sparkplug.  Around 1915 Vaughan started offering a magneto as an extra cost option to the battery and coil system.  Both Fairbanks Morse and WICO magnetos have been seen on existing saws.  These two cycle engines used oil mixed with the gasoline for lubrication but sometimes a drip oiler was attached to the crankcase for additional lubrication.  The cost of these saws was $145 prior to 1917 and then started to rise.

In addition to the common types shown here Vaughan is known to have produced at least two unusual devices.  One was known as the "Vaughan Portable Steam Drag Saw" which was designed to be used where an existing steam source was available and the other was known as the "Special Heavy Gas Pond Machine."  It was apparently designed for heavy duty continuous use at a log pond location and circulated the pond water through the engine for cooling much like a marine engine and was fit with much heavier duty running gear for the saw itself.  It weighed in at 425 pounds which was more than twice the weight of the standard units.

This first group of pictures shows one of the very early examples which has a serial number of 32.  This first type is distinctive due to the fact that the crankcase is completely enclosed and has no removable access cover.  The ignition was provided by a battery and buzz coil and the engine was rated at 4 hp.  This type appears to have been available from its introduction in early 1909 until late 1915.

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The next four images show another old style saw that could be considered a light weight unit as it is only rated at 2 hp.  It was possibly produced in 1915.  One interesting feature is that there is no manually controlled clutch, just a slip clutch in case the blade binds while cutting.  This also was set up for battery and buzz coil ignition and there was no removable crankcase access cover.  The serial number on this saw is 7156.  

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This next set of pictures shows the engine only of a newer style of saw from Vaughan.  It most likely was produced from December of 1915 to sometime in 1927.  This style was also rated at 4 hp. but differed from the earlier style by having a rectangular shaped removable access plate for the crankcase.  This plate was secured with six bolts and allowed the big end of the connecting rod to be serviced without having to disassemble the entire engine.

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From 1927 to 1948 or so Vaughan produced a lighter weight 3-1/2 hp. saw designated as Model "L".  The diamond shaped 4 bolt crankcase access plate is an easy way to spot this model.  The following pictures are of a 100% original example showing the proper color green engine and mechanical pieces on a red frame and also the distinctive access plate.

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Made during the same period (1927 - 1948) as the above saw a new style heavy weight Model "D" was also available.  This came with a 4 hp. engine and can be readily identified by its round 6 bolt crankcase access plate.  See it in the pictures below.

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Back to Drag Saws

Updated: 07-05-2008

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