Engineering a Better Log Deck

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If a lumber mill asked to build a tree-length log deck, how would you do it? You’d probably first ask how it is usually done.

Log decks are commonly built with a single, large head shaft with massive bearings and an exposed drive sprocket. Some decks use two- and three-piece head shafts with couplings—an improvement against a single-head shaft, as multiple-piece head shafts reduce the shaft length, which makes it easier to replace the bearings. However, they also make aligning the shafts difficult.

Problems with Log Deck Designs

Despite the improvements, there are problems with this design:

  1. Shafts are massive. They’re expensive, exposed, hard to align, and hard to handle.
  2. Bearings are massive. The bearings have the same problems as the shafts. Plus, you need a crane to handle the bearings. It’s also impossible to slide a bearing off a damaged shaft after a few years, which means mills have to replace the shaft and bearings all at the same time. That makes for a very expensive project.
  3. Massive gearboxes. These gearboxes are expensive, hard to maintain, hard to replace, and costly to keep on hand.
  4. High horsepower demands.

We looked at this design and weren’t satisfied. We asked how it could be better. How could it use less power? Be easier to work on? Be more reliable? Be smarter?

Better Log Deck Designs

After researching what works (and what doesn’t work), we came up with the following solutions:

  • Independent strands with individual drives at each strand.
  • Bearings that are small enough to be handled by someone without a crane.
  • Head shafts that are smaller and short enough to be removed easily.


  • Our design uses 3-7/16” x 12” head shafts vs. a single, 25’ x 10” head shaft.
  • We use 3-7/16” flange bearings vs. 10” head shaft bearings.
  • We excluded couplings, so there is no coupling to align.
  • We have a ¾ horsepower motor driving each shaft instead of a 60-horsepower motor and a $55,000 gearbox.
  • We designed the deck with ten bolts to install, which makes installation much easier than the challenges that accompany the weight and alignment requirements of most systems.

These differences mean that it takes an hour to change out a strand (not days) and minutes to replace a bearing (not hours). That’s smart design working for you to keep you productive and profitable.

Call or contact us to learn more about how our decks and troughs can work for your business.

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