Turns out she was the PK’s older, less refined sister……
Buying on e-bay can be challenging. This is especially true when buying on the other side of the ocean.
One day back in January, I was doing my usual roundup of Wadkin machines on e-bay when I stumbled upon this saw:
The listing said “Wadkin Circular saw”
I thought I was looking at a first generation PK. The right extension table was off the saw. The overhead crown guard was there. It had a protractor, a tilting fence and a small swivel fence. The opening bid was low.
I contacted the seller:
Hi. I’m calling about the Wadkin saw you’re selling…
Sorry. That’s not mine. I’m selling it for the guy next door. I don’t know anything about it.
How can I reach him?
You want me to go next door and see if he’s there?
The owner came on a few minutes later
Have you got the extension table?
Have you got the quadrant?
What’s a quadrant?
ahh.. the split miter fence?
Right. No. I don’t think so…
The saw was located in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Not the best location for pickup, but I did have 20 ft of floor space left in the container. I decided to put a snipe in on it. A few days later I got the notice from e-bay that I owned the saw. I called the owner and told him I’d be in England in a week’s time, and made arrangements to go out and see him.
I had business in the city of London and then out at Witham. I also wanted to go out to Felixstowe to see the items I had accumulated. Finally, I wanted to make a visit to my son who is stationed at one of the RAF bases. I decided to rent a car. I had to take a cab from the city center out to Barking to pickup the car. When I arrived at the rental facility, they kindly informed me that my car had not arrived. Even worse, they didn’t expect it for several hours. They finally told me that they found another car and it would be there shortly. When it did arrive, I was stunned to see that it was a giant Mercedes sedan. Now I had never driven in the UK (or any place where they drive on the left side of the road). I had really hoped for a compact car to make this experience easier. There are two things about driving in England that will raise your blood pressure. The first is the roundabout. Now we have traffic circles in the US. The problem is that we go around them counter-clockwise. In the UK, they go clockwise. Two more things you’ll learn pretty quickly; If you hesitate entering or exiting a roundabout, the other drivers will let you know how bad you’re driving; And.. some hand signals are universal. The second item that will raise your blood pressure is when you’re driving in the countryside at night and you encounter a car coming at you from the opposite direction on a very narrow road.; As soon as you see the headlights, you think “hey that car is on the wrong side of the road and so am I”…. every fiber of your being wants you to veer to the right side of the road. You have to physically fight all your instincts to avoid doing so and causing a collision.
I finally made it up to Chesterfield in the late evening. The owner of the pattern shop (Kevin) lived nearby and was able to meet me. The first thing I noticed when I entered the building was that it was empty; except that is for my saw and a huge double disc sander. Kevin was retiring after decades in the business and had liquidated all of his machines and tools. He showed me to the saw and I immediately realized that this was no PK. To start with, it had a huge belt drive motor hanging off the back. Second, it had a tilting table. When I cranked the table up, I was amazed to see a big gearbox inside the saw. I got a flashlight and looked at the badge. PL-105. Now I’ve heard of a PJ and a PK, but never a PL. I really, really dislike tilt top saws. But.. I already bought the saw. Oh well. I turned my attention to the double disc sander. The machine was badged Metalclad. It had tilting tables, full guarding and a bunch of spare sanding disks:
I asked how much. He gave me a price that was well below what I paid for the PL. I agreed and told him I’d have my trucking company come by to collect in a week’s time. Before I left, Kevin showed me some photos of his shop and some of his projects. Of special note was a pattern he made for the replacement of some iron gates at St. James Palace. He described the entire process in detail and showed me photos of the patterns and the finished product:
Finally, Kevin asked me if I wanted to meet his neighbor (the guy who had acted as our go between on e-bay and the phone). As we walked around the building, I noticed this sign on the building:
As soon as we opened the door there was an incredible clatter. Dave Hewitt, the owner was running an air powered peening hammer. There was another guy in the corner polishing a piece of metal on a buffer and there was a gas powered forge burning. It took a few minutes for Dave to finish what he was doing, but once he did, I got the full tour of the operation. The piece of metal he had been working was a breast plate for a suit of armour. On shelves around the room were helmets, pauldrons, gauntlets and breast/back plates. Some were finished, some a work in progress. Dave described some of his customers and even told me about films where his work appeared. This was a very impressive operation and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see Dave at work. Here’s a photo of Dave working his magic on piece of metal:
And here’s a finished piece of work from the White Rose Armoury:
If you’re interested in finding out more about Dave or his operation, use the contact info below:
Contact White Rose Armoury
By Telephone – (44) 01246 475782 – ask to speak to Dave Hewitt
By Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By visiting the workshop at the following address
(prior appointment recommended)
White Rose Armoury, Unit 59,
Clocktower Business Centre,
Works Road, Hollingwood
I had the saw and the disc sander collected and moved to Felixstowe. It took another four months to accumulate enough machinery to finish out the container and have it shipped to the US. It arrived at the end of May and it’s taken me until now (August) to look at the machines in any detail. Here are some pictures of the saw in it’s present state and some observations on it’s features and functionality:
From the front, she looks pretty much like a first generation PK:
The dust conductor and cover plate look like the PK (although this saw had the cover plate replaced with a formed piece of sheet steel)
Here’s where we see the real difference. The original motor appears to have been mounted to a c-face. It’s now been replaced with a belt drive motor hung off of make-shift brackets. The overarm crown guard was mounted to the side of the saw rather than the normal bump-out at the right rear corner of the table:
The rear of the saw is very similar to the PK with the same brass trunnion guides:
The right extension table was located and sent along with the saw. It has the scale inscribed (continued from the main table) up to 24″. Included with the saw was this small swivel fence. The locking handle has the wings broken off and the lock-knob has been replaced with a nut:
The main rip fence is very nice. Very much like that found on the PK. It tilts and has a micro adjustment:
The protractor gauge is very heavy. It fits into a straight slot on the table:
The protractor has two holes for stop bars (one on either end). The sliding table has a cast iron handle at the front left corner:
The crown guard is solid brass. It includes a special 45 degree overhead riving knife:
The serial number 105 is inscribed at the front edge of the main table. The right hand protractor slot has a filler strip held in by recessed screws. The letters G, H & H are inscribed in the filler strip:
The badge with the Model PL, Serial 105 and test number 4818. The driving pulley speed field has been left blank. Note the old Wadkin & Co badge:
Like the PK, this saw has solid brass trunnion guides inscribed with the tilt angle to be read out on the corresponding pointer:
The lock for the rolling table is missing the handle that withdraws the pin:
The rolling table rides on bearings that are captive in brass retainers:
Although there was no quadrant with the saw, the table is inscribed with the scale. It is also has threaded holes for the right/center locking screw and the swivel/arc hand-nut. I put a quadrant from an older PK on the table. The right screw and the arc line up with the holes in the table. The table is not bored for the quick-stop pin holes:
The PK quadrant aligns perfectly with the scale inscribed in the table:
The threaded center pin is screwed in and the arc aligns with the threaded hole in the table:
The table is bored with counter-sunk holes to accept wood filler strips on the edge of the rolling and main tables:
The saw arbour is driven by a gearbox inside the body of the saw. The gearbox has a 2:1 ratio:
The saw blade is raised and lowered as the entire gearbox assembly is rotated via a worm-gear attached to the handwheel at the front of the saw:
The table is tilted by a jack lever/worm gear attached to the handwheel at the right side of the saw:
All in all a very well built saw. It’s unfortunate that it has a tilting top. I’d be very interested to see some literature and get some opinions as to where this saw appeared in Wadkin’s line-up. I’ve seen pictures of a PJ. It was very different in appearance, but had some similar features to the PL. They may have been produced at the same time. I would guess that’s the case given that all of the parts for the PL (fence, protractor, swivel fence, etc) have a casting mark of PJ followed by a number.
Here’s a picture of a PJ that came up for sale last year in PQ Canada. Note the similarities in the fence, hand-wheel arrangements, trunnions and table lock. I Understand that this is a double arbour saw.:
Wadkin PJ Dual Arbour Saw
Tags: old woodworking machines, owwm, Sliding Table Saw, Thornycroft, Wadkin PJ, Wadkin PK, Wadkin PL