Winch Production Frame portable sawmill has arrived in Tonga

The Winch Production Frame swingblade mill is Peterson’s most versatile sawmill model, popular for both the mobile contractor and the fixed location operator. It’s the ultimate go-anywhere, make-any-wood-product sawmill.

Now there’s a production frame sawmill, and a trained sawmill operator, in Tonga.

Robert Buster first contacted Peterson Portable Sawmills in September 2017. Aaron Kalan sent him information about the four Peterson swingblade models, as well as links to video and articles exploring the range of swingmill options. On the phone, Aaron learned that Bob is a builder by trade, as well as the local Pastor, on the island of Eua in Tonga. Their goal is to produce beams and dimensional timber, from logs around 2-3 foot in diameter. Aaron suggested that a Winch Production Frame might be the preferred sawmill for use in Tonga.

Over the next few months, Bob and Aaron discussed track extensions, the maximum length of log which could be cut, the advantages of an Electric Winch as opposed to the manual winch, and the accommodation-training package for any new Peterson sawmill purchase, including the Winch Production Frame model that Bob was considering.

So it was agreed. Bob placed an order and made payment for a Peterson 8″ 27hp Winch Production Frame swingblade sawmill and all the extras that had been discussed : Hi/Lo track upgrade and extension, Weatherboard Attachment for cutting tapered boards, Clip-on Slabber, Electric Winch, and Planer Blade.

The Buster’s mill was shipped to Tonga before the Peterson factory closed down for Christmas. Bob Buster and his son Jacob flew to New Zealand and had two training sessions, one with Chris Browne on his 10″ Winch Production Frame at a contract milling job, and a follow-up with Aaron at the factory next day. The time and attention to detail from the Peterson team was much appreciated by the new sawmill owners.


      • “Thank you for the warm welcome and assistance in training you gave Jacob and myself while there at Peterson’s in Rotorua. We were very taken with the professional and yet personal way you treated us during the 3 days we were with you. Thank you Chris for taking us on site to see the set up and operation of your 10″ WPF mill and also Aaron for the additional instruction on various aspects of each component of the mill in the workshop. Thank you Kerris and Chris for opening your home for us during our stay. It is one trip we will not forget.”

Back at the Peterson Factory, once Aaron felt confident that the Busters were careful and competent sawmill operators, Bob purchased the Sanding Disc Kit to complete their Winch Production Frame toolkit.  With their range of accessories, the Busters can cut boards, make tapered weatherboards, plane and sand beams to a smooth finish, and also slab timber.

Bob Buster with new Winch Production Frame, still in packing crate
Winch Production Frame Swingmill arrived in Tonga, still in packing crate

On their return to Tonga, Bob sent the following email : The mill arrived in Tonga while we were in NZ and it was taken off the main wharf and to the ferry for its 3 1/2 hour journey to ‘Eua. We managed to get it into the shed but have been hindered by the rain since its arrival so we have yet to unpack it, except to take the top off to see if all was there in it. So far there is nothing missing and no damage from what we can see. Naturally we are chaffing at the bit to get it out to start milling and at the moment it looks like it won’t be until next week as it has not stopped raining since we returned.

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