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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?
Please.

The owner came on a few minutes later
Have you got the extension table?
Yes.
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 area59@verginmedia.com

By visiting the workshop at the following address
(prior appointment recommended)

White Rose Armoury, Unit 59,
Clocktower Business Centre,
Works Road, Hollingwood
Chesterfield, Derbyshire,
United Kingdom
S43 2PE

 

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

Wadkin PJ Dual Arbour Saw

9 Responses to “I thought I bought a PK….”

  1. mark roberts says:

    Hello Arthur, I quite like the look of the saw. Why do you not like tilting tables? I gave my PK a good christening today, I did lots of work for a friend of mine. I have one problem and thats is I need to improve my dust extraction. I have a little chip exrtractor venting outside and it cant move enough air.
    Mark

    • The owwm says:

      Mark,
      The tilt top saws were notorious for skewering people. It’s almost impossible not to be in harms way when using one. If you’re ripping on the left side of the blade, the scrap will fall off of the right and end up on the blade. When that happens, it’ll get fired back at the operator. If you ever hear stories about someone getting speared by a table saw, it was most likely a tilt top. As far as I’m concerned, two of the greatest inventions of all time were the tilting arbor and the ball bearing. I know alot of folks still use these saws, but I just don’t get it.

      -Arthur

      • Dev Emch says:

        Well, they are great saws and worth having….. but they are antiques…. and what most ardent users DONT tell you is that they have FOUR or more OTHER saws in the back room with ball bearings and tilt arbors…… but it does draw the macho up large to show off and tell folks that you still use a tilt table saw…. its like our stanley…. yes, “I drive a stanley to work”….. but I dont admit that the stanley IS work and I need to get it into the garage to tear down or repair something….

  2. Dave McLaren says:

    Very nice find Arthur. I agree that it might not be the best user saw, but for a collection and an example of early Wadkin it’s great.

    Dave

    • The owwm says:

      Dave,
      I agree on the importance of the find. I’ve not encountered one of these saws in all of my searching and travels. It will make a nice cross-cut saw. And given the fact that it’s got a tilting fence, it can be used for about 80% of the major operations of a dimension saw. Thanks for providing the dimensions on the stop bar.

      -Arthur

  3. Matt Prusik says:

    Artie:

    Congrats on a fine acquisition and successful receipt in the US!

    Stay well and God Bless you and your sone for his military service.

    Matt Prusik
    South Amboy, NJ 08879
    USA

  4. Dev Emch says:

    Tilting top or not, this is a cool table saw. I guess its in *YOUR* red and white barn… at least for now…. I know of another red and white barn that will gladly accept this if you decide to cancel the lease so to speak.:):):) Keep up the work on your adventures… we truly love to see and read about them. I am really itchin’ to get my PK home and get it working. Almost got my cummins out and down to R.M.Cummins…. but I made the mistake of buying an “ORANGE” engine lift hydraulic ram….. OPPS…. the old arn always works and I should of known better. Again, thanks for the post. This is a rare saw and the photos are a wonderful resource and record of such. Great Job Arthur….. D.

  5. J. Vibert says:

    I’m not a fan of tilty’s either Arthur, but you have to admit, it’s still a very cool saw, and if you’re going to own a tilty it might as well be a Wadkin… ;)

    Shame it didn’t come with the original motor. That ‘C’ face mount is massive. I can only image the motor that hung off the side of that beast…

    Your PL is the first Wadkin I’ve seen that has the fence rule etched, rather than an insert like the PK.

    Nice fine on the sander as well…

    Jarrett

    • The owwm says:

      Jarrett,
      I’ve been thinking that the big c-face might have had the countershaft hung off of it. The saw is early enough that lineshaft would have been the predominant power source at the time. Also, the badge imcluded a space for driving pulley size (although not stamped). Overall, it’s a very interesting saw. I’m hoping some sales literature will turn up on it.

      -Arthur

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