I purchased this as a kit in September 2020 and got it December 2020 via Freight, $4600 shipped. This was my Navy separation present to myself. It took 4 days to assemble (non-consecutive), with 6 hours per day dedicated to assembly. It took longer that it should have because of problems with instructions and build quality.
When the quirks are worked around and figured out, it does cut very quickly, and will likely pay for itself many times over if you have cheap or free timber (and time) at your disposal. I like what the tool is supposed to be, and with some tinkering, it can get there.
(in no particular order)
The advertised “28 inch” log diameter is garbage, because you need the guides for the band blade to stay on the wheels with any sort of resistance (especially cutting such a large log). The real max diameter is 24″, because you absolutely need band guides. You get 12 feet of track, but you can only cut 9 feet max. I built a parking apron to accommodate for the size the chassis takes up on the track.
The web site: https://www.hud-son.com/product/hud-son-patriot-portable-sawmill/ says that it’s been designed with veterans in mind, but this is literally meaningless. It has a red-white-blue color scheme, and that’s about it. There’s no mention of a veterans’ discount, or at all any explanation of what the thinking was. I think it was just weak marketing.
At the time of writing, I’ve cut about 250 feet of 6″ wide lumber, and the blade had popped off a couple times, one was my fault, and the other was the fault of the manufacturer. The “My fault” one was because on the band wheel pillow blocks, I didn’t tighten the set screws enough (or they came loose) and the shaft moved in the pillow blocks. Funny, because I tightened the set screws until my hex wrench broke. The manufacturer fault was because the wheel hub (which is a collet, squeezing the wheel to the shaft) came from the factory loose and the hub walked out of alignment, destroying one of my side guards and damaging several teeth.
Most of the assembly issues came down to incorrect or missing hardware. Many bolts were too long (or missing), and many washers were missing. The instructions were out of date, as many things changed between the release of the documentation and the chassis I received. For example, the log dogs come already assembled, the track wheels no longer come with welded nuts, and the winch required grinding to get the lifting cable to function. There was a big issue with the drive belt idler pulley mounting bracket being bent, so the belt would flip off the drive wheel. This took 2 days to ‘hammer’ out between getting frustrated and other projects.
I fabricated another section of track (I needed to cut 12′ beams), (5′ instead of 6′ because that’s what I had) at the material cost of $55 and took me 2 hours to cut, lay out, and weld without a jig). Hudson charges $500 for a section of track. I am thankful though that the track is easy to copy.
The track itself is too weak to support the log and the mill by itself when shimmed on blocks like Hudson recommends. It should be bolted to a treated 2×4 frame, because it flexes too much under the stresses and causes wavy cuts and vibration in the machine.
The winch I received had the carriage bolt hole intersecting with the drum, so there was no way to secure the lifting cable without grinding at the drum and bolt. I don’t mind since I have a mostly-equipped metal shop, but the average guy probably would. Without modification, there’s no way to get the installation to work right.
The entire chassis (either by manufacture or transportation) is misaligned or bent, as one of the wheels needed several washers to get into alignment. I could have tried to bend it back, but the risk of warping some other part of the frame was too great and for now I decided to live with it.
I purchased a kit as a reasonable guarantee of reliability and assurance of safety. It fails on both of these, and the price is outrageous for the build quality and difficulty of assembly. Alignment of welded parts is essential for kits, and there was multiple failures there.
Lack of accurate documentation is the biggest problem plaguing this build, second to the missing or incorrect parts. As long as the manual says “you may have to hammer the bracket into alignment” then it’s excusable, but it does not.
I would not recommend a sawmill from Hudson if you are looking for a DIY build, because the documentation and build quality is too low to justify the cost.