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Restoration of Vintage Machines

Restoration of Old Woodworking Machine (I)

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I have several power tools that are old vintage machines. They include: (1) Rockwell drill press (1950s), (2) powermatic tablesaw 66 (1960s), (3) powermatic jointer (1970s), (4) Powermatic planer (1970s).

I love old woodworking machines; out of the vintage machines that were manufactured in last century, I prefer the ones made around 1970s. A couple of reasons for the preference: (1) 1970s was before the finite element analysis (FEA) becomes popular. The FEA is a modern and accurate computational method for calculating structural stress of a machine. This method allows for a significant material (steel) saving for the design. However, before this method becomes a mainstream technology, engineers had use empirical equations and big safety factors in the design, which results in heavy cast iron and extra materials. So we often see the machines made at that era are heavier and last forever. (2) 1970s is before the exodus of U.S. manufacturing. This is not saying stuff made in Asia is no good; but we do notice the decline of the quality of those made from overseas. (Remember the primary objective of shifting the manufacturing to those low-cost center is to reduce cost, which is often at the expense of product quality.

There are a few highlights in buying vintage machinery. One is that the purchase price is generally a lot lower; people usually sell these old iron at a fraction of the price of a brand new product. The second point is that there is a lot of challenges in loading/transportation/unloading these machines. The last point is that, to use them, restoration is usually necessary.   In next blog posts, I will discuss the last two points in more details.