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Over the past week or so, several of you have reached out asking, speculating, wondering what it’s like to operate the Sagar Spindle Moulder with the box joint attachment. I always try to give the people what they want, so here goes:

I moved the machine from the garage over to the shop this past Sunday. I had to rig it up with some temporary power since the machine is setup to run at 400 volts and 50 cycles. I have a special transformer setup that I keep on an old railroad cart. The transformer is setup to go from 240 volts to 400 volts, but can be adjusted anywhere from 380 to 480 volts. The older 50 cycle motors can sometimes be sensitive, so it can take some fussing about to get it right. In this case, I was lucky on the first try and she fired right up.

The first thing I noticed was that during wind-up, there is a certain point where a vibration resonates through the machine. It’s not too severe, but that sheet metal guard shakes pretty good. This was a bit concerning the first few times I started the machine. The same vibration is manifested at the same point on wind-down.

The second thing I noted was that the guarding was not sufficient. In the starting position, the cutter block is well guarded, but when you move the workpiece through the cutting position, the entire block is exposed. Even worse is the trajectory of chips as the last piece runs through the block. While standing in the operators position, you get pelted with sawdust and chips. You definitely need safety glasses, if not a full face shield.

This guy would look like he stuck his head into a chip blower:
Sagar-corner-lock-attachment

This would be very easy to remedy with a sheet of lexan mounted to the edge of the rolling table. You’ll get a better understanding of this point when you watch the video.

I only used 10″ board for my test cut. I didn’t have anything 16″ laying around. Even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have used it for a test. My test boards are clear vertical grain western red cedar. They cut very nice, but have a tendency to chip more than white pine or hardwood. For this reason, I used a sacrificial board before and after my workpieces.

The workholding vise on the rolling table is setup with the bottom surface exactly in line with the bottom of the first cutter. There is a removable rebate plate screwed to the vise. You can cut all of your sides with the plate in and then remove it and cut all of your ends. This feature makes for very easy setup. The fence on the machine is set so you can but the workpieces against it for perfect length of the joints.

I had to mess around with the machine a bit to get the cutters perfectly aligned with the vise. Once I did, I could easily and reliably repeat the process. With this setup you could make 10′s of boxes an hour.

Enough of me blathering on… Here’s the video:

Here are some better shots of the joints. The last picture is the joint I cut after I tweaked the settings a bit. Much improved:

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint attachment

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint attachment

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint attachment

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint attachment

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint  attachment

Joint cut on the Sagar Spindle Moulder using the Box Joint attachment

In summary;

Is it scary? Hell yes!
Daunting? Absolutely!
Terrifying? Sure. Maybe. (the first few times you turn it on).
Dangerous? As currently setup… Yeah… it needs some work here.

Hey, it’s no Morgan, but it is absolutely fit for purpose. I will definitely be looking for some lexan and maybe an air actuator to move the work through the cutter block.

Thanks for following along.

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Lately, I’ve been buying shapers like it’s nobody’s business (meaning I have no business owning this many shapers)  A few weeks ago, I received this little gem from the United Kingdom:

Sagar-9

It’s a very sweet little Sagar shaper with a Wadkin rolling table attachment and a very large set of box joint cutters on it.

Then last week, I was lucky enough to get a call from my friend Jesse alerting me to a Whitney No. 89 that was up for auction in Philadelphia. I already own three No. 89 shapers and the bid price was so high that I passed on it. However, in the catalog was another English gem:

295043b

295043c

295043d

295043h

295043i

A pristine Wadkin EQ. The shaper had all of it’s original switch gear, a 1″ spindle and a brand new Delta single phase three roll stock feeder.

32” x 36” table
220/440V, 3 phase
1” spindle
6,000 & 9,000 RPM spindle speeds
Forward & reverse
Delta 3-Roll variable speed feeder
1 HP, 230V, single phase
S/N EQ430

The current bid was low ($225). I bookmarked it. Jesse was going to the preview, so I asked him to check the machine out. The bad news… the upper spindle bearing was making a whole lot of noise. The good news (and I mean very good news) was that the much sought after fence was on the fl0or behind the machine. This is a beautifully made, heavy cast iron fence. It’s nearly impossible to find one on this side of the Atlantic. The ending auction price was $650. It cost me an additional twenty bucks to get it loaded.

Here’s a picture of it at home with the fence mounted:

Wadkin EQ Fence

Wadkin EQ Fence

 

Finally, I was doing my usual digging around on e-bay early yesterday morning and I ran across an auction for a Yates N-4 shaper. It had a fence on it and was located in nearby Brooklyn, NY. It was scheduled to end later that morning, so I bookmarked it and set a reminder to check back on it. When I finally did check back, it was only at $102. I decided to place a bid on it and checked back later that afternoon. Much to my surprise and delight, I had won it for a whopping $122.50

N4-eb

n4-2

$_57

n4-5

n4-3

n4-4

Now part of the reason for the low price was the issues with removal, which were pretty clearly spelled out in the auction listing and the Q&A submissions and responses. I’m familiar with the location and have both delivered and picked up machinery there. The only way out is on a pallet jack, using a freight elevator. When you get to the first floor, there’s no street level access, just a couple of loading docks. This is pretty daunting to most folks, but I’ve got some ideas on how to get the machine into the bed of my truck. I’ll post a follow-up after I pick the shaper up.

N4QA

N4LD

 

So, that’s three new shapers in two weeks. Add this to the eight I already have and you might start to think I have a problem.

Thanks for playing along.

 

 

 

 

 

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On a recent trip to England, this little spindle moulder caught my eye:

Sagar-8

I had been looking for a cheap shaper I could steal the fence from. I have a few European machines that are missing the split style fences that mount into the dovetailed slots on the table. As an example, this Pierre Benite shaper is just about perfect, but lacks a fence:

Pierre Benite Shaper

 

I decided to take a closer look at the machine and realized that it had a number of features that could be quite useful.

First, it has this add-on sliding table:
Sagar-7

It only has about a 24″ stroke, but still very useful with this heavy vise/clamp:

 

Then it has an overarm bearing support for a long spindle:

Sagar-13

 

It has a bunch of spare parts ( spare spindle, cutters, etc)

Sagar-18Sagar-11

I might have bought it just to get the handy little Spanner bracket:

Sagar-17

This shaper is belt driven. The design is more like the Wadkin EP or the old Onsrud  where there are v belt pulleys at the lower end of the spindle and the spindle moves through the lower bearing block:

Sagar-14

Sagar-16

The original contactors and switchgear have been replaced with a modern mag starter and placed on the outside of the machine. The original cover plate is still there for the push buttons, but the innards have been removed.

Sagar-15

 

It’s also equipped with a hand brake and spindle lock:

 

Sagar-5

 

Getting a single machine moved from The North of England to Somerset New Jersey is a somewhat costly proposition. It’d have to be a pretty nice machine to warrant the expense and trouble. This is especially true considering the abundance of very good American made shapers  that are available these days.  It would have to be a pretty special machine. Right?

Well, it does have one feature that puts it over the top:

Sagar-9

That would be 16 inches of box joint (corner lock) cutters. Here’s a closer shot of the stack:

Sagar-12

I have not disassembled this spindle yet, but these are all carbide tipped with spacers between them. I’ve seen a few shapers with a small stack of dado cutters setup for this operation, but never anything like this. Between the spindle setup  and the rolling table, this machine is every bit as fit for this purpose as a Morgan box cutter. Since all of those machines now reside in a low, dark, non-descript warehouse in south central Pennsylvania or an old airplane hanger in central Vermont, this is the next best option. For my purposes, this is better since I have a shaper a tenoner and a box joint cutter in one machine. It was a whole lot less expensive too. Given the propensity of some folks to spend six thousand dollars (or more) on a single box joint machine, this was a bargain at 180 quid.

 

Addendum 05/04/14: I was browsing my Wadkin tool catalogue (1952) this morning and realized that the fence, rolling table and cutters are all an add-on from Wadkin. It’s designated as the “Corner Locking Attachment Type E.F.” What’s interesting is that the kit on my shaper is nearly three times as high as the spec shown in the catalogue. Most likely a piece of custom work.

Wadkin EF CornerLock

 

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The machine in question is my Yates American Y-30 Snowflake Bandsaw.
8429-A

I had been using this saw as you see it on the trailer for a number of years. It only needed a set of guides and I had it running as my primary resaw. I ended up buying a big Wadkin PBR earlier this year and decided I should go through this saw to clean it up both in appearance and function.
Now to be clear, the saw was running fine. I decided to take the upper wheel off the saw so I could get the guards off and have them powder coated. Now I’ve rebuilt a number of Yates American bandsaws. They always use two taper roller bearings on the upper shaft. These are pretty much arranged the same as the wheel bearings on a car. I was surprised to find out that this particular saw used an entirely different arrangement. The upper shaft had two double cone tapered roller bearings. In essence this is four bearings on the upper shaft. Here are some exploded views of the bearing assembly:
Bearingassy-1
Bearingassy-2

There was about 5 LBS of grease in the housing between the bearings. Once I got it all cleaned up and washed the bearings out, I realized that the bearings were pretty badly worn. It’s easy to see looking at this race:
354A

No big deal, I’ll just order up some new bearings. I called my favorite bearing house (Bearing Depot in Middlesex NJ). I told them I had a Timken 359D that I needed to replace. Long pause…

Are you sure on that number?
Yes…
I cant find anything. Can you double check the number and get back to me?
Sure.

I went out to the shop and took some pictures of the bearing and e-mailed the bearing house. They called me back the next day saying that this bearing wasn’t available.
Ok. I’ve been pretty lucky finding new old stock bearings. I checked my usual sources and located two sets at a supply house in Kansas City. I booked the order on-line and waited. A day or two later I got an e-mail from the supply house stating that they didn’t really have the bearings (it was a problem with the inventory database not being updated).
Ok. keep searching.
After an exhaustive search, I was able to locate the bearings in two locations. The first was Amazon.com. They had them for $411 each. These were minus the 354A races, but those were readily available from a number of sources for $16.00 each. That’s $886 + shipping. The second source was Nanjing Bori Bearing Co. in Nanjing China. They had the complete setup with the races for $76.00 each + shipping. Shipping was $86.00 (express), and there were some fees associated with using PayPal. All in, it was $279. I was able to speak on the phone with the sales manager (Emily (surely not her real name)). She confirmed the bearings were in stock and could be shipped right away. Now I will admit that I was somewhat hesitant to buy three hundred dollars worth of bearings from an unknown source in a country where I would have little or no recourse to the law, but I eventually talked myself into it. I went ahead and placed the order. Three days later I got a call from UPS asking me what was in the package. I told them and they confirmed that the shipment would clear customs that evening and be delivered the next day.

Now I fully expected to receive a set of bearings made in China that met the same spec as the Timken bearings. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found this:
359TD

This was a very pleasant surprise. Two completely match sets of Timken bearings, races and spacers for a third of the best price I could find here. The service was exceptional and given the language, distance and time zone barriers, Emily went above and beyond in making this deal work. It looks like I’ve got another good source for hard to find bearings. I’ll probably try running some of my precision bearing needs through this source. The ABEC 7 seven bearings are pretty expensive from my traditional sources. Maybe I can save some money on these as well.

So… back to the question: “When is it OK to buy bearings in China for a classic American Old Woodworking Machine?”
When you can get the same bearings at a third of the price you’d pay here in North American.

One thing I want to be very clear on.. I don’t equate “Made in China” with inferior quality. I think you can get very high quality goods from China. You can also get cheap crap. The same is true of US manufactured goods. The real problem is that we (all of us) really like our cheap crap.

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Whitney Fence Part 2

So this is what I’ve been able to accomplish so far:

Flattened base and two sides using a large shell mill:

Drill the mounting holes and define layout for the fence support bar bores:

Drill the first holes using a 1/2″ x 8″ bit:

Open the holes to a larger size with stepped drills:

Open the top hole with a roughing mill to allow the use of a larger end-mill tool holder:

Bore the bottom hole using a 1-1/2″ rough end mill:

Use the adjustable boring bar to open the hole to finished dimensions:

Repeat the same steps for the other side:

Use the adjustable boring bar to finish both sides to the final dimensions:

Ok, so what you can’t see here is that the table is locked in the Y axis. This ensures proper alignment (height) of the fence bars.

The next step is to clean up the surface finishes and then start with the lathe work on the fence bars.

Here’s a link to a video version of the description.

 

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This one has been on my backlog for quite a while now. I was going through some of my old e-mails and came across this item. Anyway, here it is:

Back in 2011, as I was compulsively rummaging around on craigslist looking for another Whitney saw to add to the collection, I came across this ad for a weathervane:

 

ANTIQUE 1880′S HORSE WEATHERVANE – $3500 (INDIAN WELLS)


Date: 2011-10-17, 9:50AM PDT
Reply to: sale-usutb-2654271745@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


 

THIS HORSE WEATHERVANE WAS ONE OF A MATCHED PAIR THAT CAME OFF AN OLD BARN OWNED BY BAXTER D. WHITNEY CO. IN WINCHENDON, MASS. THIS BARN WAS AN OLD MACHINERY COMPANY AND WAS USED FOR PATTERNS STORAGE. THE BARN WAS ESTIMATED TO BE OVER 100 YEARS OLD. THIS EXCEPTIONAL WEATHERVANE WAS PURCHASED FROM THE KENNEBUNKPORT MARITIME MUSEUM IN KENNEBUNKPORT, MASS. IN 1988.

THIS REGAL HORSE CAN BE DISPLAYED INDOORS OR OUTDOORS. WHEREVER THIS HORSE IS IT ALWAYS ATTRACTS ATTENTION. A MAGNIFICENT PIECE OF FOLK ART. IT MEASURES APPROX. 40 INCHES LONG AND 43 INCHES HIGH

SERIOUS BUYERS ONLY PLEASE. CALL (xxx)- xxx-xxxx

  • Location: INDIAN WELLS
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Although I was not exactly a serious buyer, I went ahead and contacted the seller. A few days later I got an e-mail from the buyer with a bunch of photos:

The seller supplied a phone number so I called and asked how they knew this piece originated from the Whitney complex in Winchendon. They explained that the weathervane was acquired from the Kennebunkport Maritime Museum in 1988. They were even able to produce a copy of the letter from the KMM giving some level of provenance for the weathervane:

Of particular interest to me was the statement that the weathervane came off a barn used to store patterns. This is interesting since I knew that the bulk of the patterns from Whitney ended up being moved from Winchendon to Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1950′s after Newman acquired Whitney. The patterns were stored in the attic of the Newman engineering building until it was demolished in 2012. At that time they were moved to an undisclosed location in SW PA (along with untold amounts of documentation, literature and photos dating back to the early days of Whitney’s operation in Winchendon).

I poured over all of the historical photos I could find of the Whitney operation in Winchendon. I couldn’t find any with a barn or similar building with the weathervane. In fact, the only photo I could find of a barn with a horse weather vane was the one below:

I ended up not pursuing this item, but would still like to find some historical evidence that it was once on a Whitney building in Winchendon.  I’d appreciate hearing from anyone that possesses or has access to historical photos from Winchendon.

 

Thanks for looking.

-the owwm

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So… Let’s say you’re driving down the street and you see a hulking hunk of iron machinery sitting on the curb with a cardboard sign with the word “free” scrawled on it with a broad tip marker; Or, maybe an elderly relative passes away and you’re the person responsible for cleaning up the mess they made after 50 years of hoarding junk (I pity the poor soul that get’s that job on my rat hole); Or maybe you are going to an auction and are interested in bidding on a piece of old machinery and just don’t know how high you should go; Maybe you see a piece on e-bay or craigslist or kijiji or some other site and you just don’t know if it’s a deal or if it’s fool’s gold…  How do you find out what the real value of this junk?  You could go to a whole bunch of auctions and build your own index of prices, but that would take years… You could check prices on e-bay, but it’s gotten to be very difficult to tell what something actually sold for versus the typically unrealistic asking prices. You could ask a machinery dealer to help you value the piece, but they have an interest in preserving their business model (buy as low as possible and sell as high as possible), so any opinion there will likely be colored by their goal of making money.

What other choices do you have? You could go to an on-line community of collectors and restorers and ask them to collectively help you with valuation. Unfortunately, they’d be unwilling to offer you any help at all. And any do-gooders, helpful sorts, etc that you might find there are prevented from helping you by the rules:

Appraisals: Do not ask for or give appraisals.  Without seeing a machine in person, there are too many unknowns. In addition, prices vary considerably by location, condition, age, ease of pick up or delivery, and so on.  Your best option is to search for available sale prices, such as completed sales on eBay (as opposed to listing prices with no bids), listings on our own “Bring Out Your Dead” forum, and other sale sites.

I’m not sure why this rule exists. They give a bunch of reasons that don’t make any sense to the newcomer or casual visitor. More of a RTFM response than anything else.  They also have a real aversion to any sort of controversy. If there was a difference of opinion it might result in a healthy argument which is definitely discouraged. Anyway, you won’t get any help from this group either.

I field a handful of requests for appraisal on value and fitness of purpose on a weekly basis. This week the number of requests finally hit the tipping point and I started thinking about what I could do to streamline the process. This page is my first attempt at the improved process. First I need a few lay out the terms of service, disclaimers, etc:

  • I’m not an expert. I see a lot of machines. I go to more auctions than anyone I know. My guess at what something will sell for is usually pretty close.
  • I make mistakes. It has cost me money. If you listen to me, it could cost you money.
  • I’m not a machinery dealer. I’m an IT guy and a machinery opportunist.
  • Valuations are tough to do from pictures and written descriptions. Factors that affect value are often missed in pictures. Old repairs, wear and other factors are difficult for the uninitiated to spot/gauge.
  • Prices do vary widely by region. I’ll try to factor this in. Just remember that if you’re in Seattle and you see a much different price in New Jersey.

I’m going to do this with the comments section of this page. Just post your request in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of the page. I’ll review the request and post my answer in a reply to the comment. I’ve also enabled the ability to upload pictures with your comments. I strongly recommend that you use this feature as it will vastly improve accuracy. At least you’ll be able to scroll through the requests and see if something similar was already submitted.

Eventually, I’ll try to install a discussion plugin which will allow a little more flexibility in the request and response. I may even ask some other folks to act as experts in certain areas. We’ll se how this goes first. If there’s a big enough demand, I’ll work on improvements and expansion.

You can find the new submission page in the tabs at the top of the home page (it’s the fourth tab from the right):

 

Appraisal tab

 

You can post your request in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I’ve just installed a plugin that allows images to be attached to the comment. Look for this at the bottom of the page:

Image submission with comment

Image submission with comment

 

Thanks for looking.

-the owwm

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I recently acquired a new shaper (and a quest machine). It’s a Baxter Whitney No. 89. This is the largest of the single spindle Whitney shapers. These machines have huge tables and are bullet proof. I already own one No. 89, but this one is… well… special… What’s really unique about this machine is the overhead bearing support on the spindle. This allows the use of very large heads and very heavy cuts without deflection in the spindle.

Here’s a close-up of the overarm (outboard) bearing assembly. The lock collars on the support bracket allow the bearing to rise and fall with the spindle:

On first observation, the spindle appears to be proprietary. After disassembly, it becomes clear that the shaper uses standard spindles which can easily be changed out for different sizes:

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The trouble with this machine and most big American made spindle shapers is the lack of a fence. In most cases, this machine would have been used with rub collars or had a makeshift shop-made fence clamped to the table. I’m a big fan of the European style shaper fences. In particular, I really like the fences on the SCMI heavy duty shapers. I’ve done allright over the years buying SCM basket case machines and stealing the fences from them.
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Here are a few pictures of the SCM fence I’m most accustomed to:
On a Invincible T120 Shaper

On an SCMI T100 Shaper

And.. another view of the same fence

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This got me thinking about what it would take to build such a fence from scratch. The design is pretty simple. A robust cast iron body with a heavy split fence of which the two sides can be adjusted independently. The fences are attached to steel bars or tubes that pass through the body and can be fine adjusted with a handscrew. The bars would need to be of a substantial diameter (2″+) in order to cary the weight of the fences and be robust enough to withstand deflection caused by pressure from a feeder.

As stated above, I really like the SCMI design. However, there are a few things I don’t like. most notably, is the split side where the fence support bars pass through the body. These are split to allow the fence tubes to be locked into position by compression of the opening with a large handscrew. I’ve seen many cases where these were cracked or broken from overtightening or fatigue. This is also a difficult feature to cast and machine.
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I decided to come up with another approach to this feature.

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My final design combines the features of the SCMI fence with those of the early Jet fences. Now the only thing left to do was create a pattern. I did this in a two step process. The initial pattern was made from cedar blocks and then sent out to the foundry to be cast in aluminum. I then took the aluminum casting and tweaked it to represent the final design and sent it back to the foundry to be cast in iron.

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Here are a few pictures of the rough casting:

As mentioned, it’s heavy. Weighing in at just over 50 Lbs.

It’s a hollow core and is internally reinforced to avoid stress, fatigue and failure. Particularly around the bores for the fence support bars:

So this looks like a pretty good start..
Right?
Not so fast.
This is where the title of the article comes in…

It was only after I got the rough castings back that I realized how big a job this would be to machine. The big problem is with the bores for the fence support bars. The body of the fence is almost 8″ deep. Ideally, you want to do the bore directly through in one pass to avoid issues with mis-alignmemt.

As an aside, this reminds me of a conversation I once had with the owner of a US based woodworking machinery manufacturer. I had disassembled one of their big jointers and noted that it had three double-row self-aligning bearings on the motor/cutterhead. I thought that these were mistakenly installed as replacements. The owner corrected me and said they were indeed the original bearings. When I asked why they used these bearings, he explained that they didn’t have the machining capability to run a bore that long in one pass. Rather than retooling (way too costly), it was easier to just let the bearings correct the alignment issues.

Now I know that these bars don’t require the precision of a cutterhead, but I’d like to get it as close as possible. And the engineer in me wants to do the bore in a single pass. My ToolMaster mill only has 4″ of quill travel. This means that the bore will have to be run using the knee movement rather than the quill. That’s a shame since I have a power quill and it’ll be alot of hand-cranking. The next issue is the diameter of the bore. The design calls for 2-1/8″ bars to support the split fence. That’s a big hole to push through in one or even several passes. It’ll need to be done in a stepwise fashion using a combination of drills, end mills and boring tools.

The rest is easy (relatively speaking). The bottom (table side) needs to be flattened. The two sides will need to be squared with the bottom. Finally, the bars will need to be turned on the lathe and the split fence will need to be cut and finished. Then there’s a bunch of small stuff for fasteners, adjustments, etc.

View the video on the concept and rough casting

Stay tuned here for the next installment on this project. I’ve already accomplished a great deal. I just need to get it documented and published.

-the owwm

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Wow. That Sucked.

If you tried to visit this site recently, then you probably noticed that it went completely dark for an extended period (thirteen days to be exact). If you live in the northeast, then you know we had a hurricane come ashore here in New Jersey. That’s two years in a row that we’ve taken a direct hit. After the experience I had with hurricane Irene last year, I was better prepared. I had recently installed a 37 KW generator. This was a much better setup than the two small gensets I had last year. I also bought a backup sump pump and cleaned out the daylight drains in the days before the storm. Most of the damage we suffered in Irene was from water. With Sandy it was the wind. During the first few hours of the storm the lights started to flicker and brown out. By 9PM on Sunday evening, we completely lost power. I was concerned about the sumps, so I went to the basement and checked the pits. Both were pretty much dry. Next I went outside to check the daylight drains. These empty out about 800 feet from the house. The wind was blowing so hard that I had a tough time just walking across the front yard. There was alot of debris blowing through the air and I could see shingles and branches flying by. Every once in a while I would get hit by what felt like a tennis ball sized object.

Suprisingly, the drains were pretty dry. It wasn’t raining that hard and so I decided to leave the generator off-line until the next morning. The wind really howled until about three AM. The sky was constantly being lit up by the subtations near the canal as they flood and shorted out. The high tension transmission lines in the distance could also be seen lighting up the sky after one of the lines broke and shorted out. The only good news was that the rain never came as predicted. Things calmed down quite a bit by the next morning. When I went out to start the genset, I immediately noticed that there was some serious wind damage to the neighbors trees.

These pines had been planted twenty four years earlier when the house was built. The wind ripped one out of the ground, pushing it onto the others, which fell like dominos from the weight:


Next I went to check the road to see if it was passable. On the right side three big oak trees had been ripped out of the ground and were laying across the road:

Turn around to the left and several more large oak trees had fallen across the road. These trees had ripped all of the wires down for a span of three poles:

You can see the phone cable and the CATV hardline laying in the road. That hardline is the reason this web site went off line for so long. In the picture below, you can see that the power lines were also broken on both sides of the pole:

Remember those tennis ball sized objects that were pelting me in the dark the night before? Well it was pretty easy to figure out what they were the next morning:

Osage Orange fruits. The trees usually drop these after the leaves are gone in the fall. I was finding these 100 feet from the hedgerow after the storm.

I decided the left side was my best bet for a quick opening of the road. I got the chainsaw and the tractor. After about 20 minutes I had cleared a good path. Right after I finished pushing the limbs out of the road, I got off the tractor to pick up some small debris. When I got back on it, it wouldn’t start. Turns out the fuel solenoid picked a convenient time to give up. I ended up having to tow the tractor back up the hill into the driveway. I couldn’t completely clear the road because the phone lines were pretty badly stretched under the trees. I just cut a swath wide enough to drive through:

So now I have to get the tractor fixed, so I go to call the local John Deere dealer. No cell service. It looks like the local Sprint tower rook a hit as well. It’s only five miles away, I’ll just drive over. Yeah right. That five miles was littered with downed trees and power lines. These first pictures are about 3/4 of a mile down my road. Once again, the power lines had been pulled down for several pole spans:


The five miles to the JD dealer turned out to be closer to 15 with all of the obstacles and detours:





I also realized along the way just how lucky we were. A few poor souls ended up with trees on top of their houses:


And some more photos of just how badly damaged the power infrastructure was:





The end result of this was no power over a very large area for an extended period of time. All businesses were closed. No convenience stores, no banks and no gas stations. I had picked up a transfer tank fron Tractor Supply the day before the storm. This gave me 100 gallons of fuel for the generator. The genset has a six cylinder engine and consumes just over a gallon an hour. On day two I went out in search of fuel. There was none to be had anywhere (including the NJ Turnpike). On day three, a local Sunoco station opened. There were instantly lines that stretched for miles at the gasoline pumps. However, there were no lines at the diesel pumps. Since the stations were running on generator power, they would only accept cash. I managed to get 20 gallons. I did this for the next several days until finally the attendant warned me that the station was about to run out of fuel and wouldn’t be getting a delivery for several days.

Here’s a picture of the lines at a local Shell station. This line was almost two miles long and the station had no gas to sell:

We started cutting back on running the genarator to four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. At my rate of consumption, the fuel would run out in three days. Over the next few days, I drove around the area looking for diesel. There was none to be found. I was just about to call it quits and move to another location for awhile when I happened to see a heating oil truck on the road. I called my fuel company and asked them to deliver 200 gallons. It was there the next day. This gave me enough of a buffer that I felt like we could hold out for a bit longer.

One week after the storm I saw PSE&G trucks on my road working on the power lines. When I came home later that evening, I noticed that most of my neighbors had power. When I got to my end of the road it was dark. I went out the next morning to see what had been done. To my dismay, the line had been capped about a mile from my house. They did this so they could bring a couple of very large subdivisions on line. It took another week for them to come back and get my power turned back on. In order to do this, they had to string new power lines for the last mile or so of the road. Once the power was restored I had to wait for Verizon and Comcast to come back and run new wires for their services. My internet access was finally restored last night.

In the end, we got by with minor damage to the house and barn. The genarator did well. It’s a pretty nice unit. It has a six cylinder Cummings diesel engine. It has a switching regulator and can put out single and three phase power. Here’s a few pictures:

I need to find an auto transfer switch and install a remote start/kill switch in the house. Another nice thing about this unit is that it’s not turbo charged. It spins at 1800 RPM and is relatively quiet. I might buy a 20′ sea container to house it in permanently.

Oh yeah.. Remember that fuel solenoid? After taking an hour to get to the dealership, I was surprised to find him open… But he didn’t have one in stock.

I ended up breaking the pin off the old solenoid and reinstalling it. The tractor runs fine, but you have to stall it to shut down. It’ll do until the new one arrives.

Anyway. Glad to have the lights restored and glad to be back on-line.

So… Let’s say it’s Sunday afternoon in late October. You’ve just spent two days cleaning up your American Sawmill Machinery 30″ bandsaw. The whole machine is back together and looking very smart.

But wait… Where is the upper guide block? You tear through the entire shop trying to figure out where you squirelled the damn thing away. After an hour of searching, no luck. Now what?

Let’s look at how much a replacement block will cost… $300+ for one block?!? No way. That’s more than the saw cost. So, you start thinking… (this is where things go right down hill). You look at the Carter guides on the Yates American 30″ bandsaw. They are made of cheap pot metal. This stuff is extremely brittle and weak. One of the mounting screws was over-tightened at some point, causing the body to crack. I’ve always dis-liked these things. Everyone I’ve ever seen was broken or had a big chunk out of it.

Surely there must be a better design.

Back to the computer.

The first promising prospect was the Paddock # 20. It has a grooved thrust bearing at the back and a set of bearings in place of the standard guide blocks. The body is cast aluminum. I’ve seen these before and always assumed that they were antique. In reality, they are still in production today (just using the original design/pattern).

Paddock Guides

Price: $265 for the number 10. I assume the number 20 is substantially more. Definitely a better value than the Carter, but still a lot of money for a set of guides.

Then there are the Wright guides. These are the same style as the Carter guides, but the body is also cast iron rather than carboloy. These guides feature two sets of guide blocks (one above and one below the bearing).
Nice.
Good sturdy assembly. Spare parts are readily available.

Wright No. 1 Guide

Price: $289 for the number 2. Definitely the best value for the money.

Ok. So the Carter guides are out. It’s a toss-up between the Paddock and the Wright (I’d probably lean towards the Wright).
I should just order them, but I’m exceedingly cheap.
I can’t help but think that I should be able to come up with something better for less money.

Back out to the shop. I tear through all the bins and cabinets and piles of scrap metal and come up with a pile of parts:

The pile consists of three bearings, an old block of aluminum scrap, some hex screws, washers, nuts, plug screws and a piece of hardened pin stock.

As with most of these projects, the plan developed as I went along.
First, I wanted the double bearing guides, rather than the typical blocks. I also wanted a thrust bearing that didn’t cause too much friction.
After about an hour and a half of messing around on the old Toolmaster mill, I came up with this body:


You’re looking at the back/left side of the block.

The slot in the center is for the thrust bearing. The slot at the bottom is a recess for the nuts on the hex screws. The round hole bored at the top is for the mounting stud (threaded hole is for the hex plug screw that tightens against the mounting stud. The threaded hole at the center is for the hex plug screw that pushed the hardened pin stock against the center race of the bearing.

Some other views of the block below:

Right. It’s literally a block. Nothing pretty about it.

Now let’s put it together and see how it looks:
First an explanation of the mounting of the thrust bearing. I took a piece of hardened pin stock and ground it to fit into the center of the bearing. I left a slight shoulder on it so it would press aganst the center race. The bearing is placed in the slot with a washer to the left and the pin stock is pushed through. This is followed by the hex plug screw, which presses against the pin; locking the center race of the bearing against the washer and the shoulder of the pin.

Here’s an exploded view of the thrust bearing assembly:

A close-up of the pin. The thrust bearing is the wider of the three (left):

And, a number of views of the assembled guide unit:

Not bad, but will it work? The block is definitely sturdy.
To adjust for a wider blade, you just add two bearings and longer hex screws.
The bottom corners could be rounded off.
Next step is to test it on the saw.

Should be interesting.

Oh.. And now that I’ve spent all this time and effort on the replacement, you can bet that the missing guide will turn up out of nowhere.

Update: When I got home from work today I went out to the shop and mounted the new guides on the bandsaw. The short of it is that they fit and work great.

So, let’s summarize: The parts were basically free since they were just laying around the shop. It took about two hours of machine time (most of which was planning). I got a very sturdy set of guides with easily replaced components. Looks like success to me.

I’m already looking at improvements on the design. I think I can reduce the height of the block by 25% by moving the mounting stud lower. This means I’ll need to use a thicker piece of aluminum. A benefit of doing this is that I can use a much larger thrust bearing. This will also add some rigidity to the entire mechanism. This will very likely end up being a cast part. It looks like a pretty straightforward pattern and it’ll reduce the number of machine operations required to go from raw materials to a finished part.

Here are the drawings of the current vs. the improved design:

Bandsaw Guides

And finally, the video of the guides in operation can be seen here:

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