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Restoration of Vintage Machines

Restoration of Vintage Woodworking Machines (V) – Unloading Machine from a Truck

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It is relatively easy to unload a machine from a trailer; but it could be a challenge to safely  unload a 400lb machine from a truck bed.

There are a few ways of attacking the problem. One is to build a wooden Gantry Crane using 4 by 4 lumber. Below is a picture of the one that I built:

The design of the Gantry Crane is pretty much following the design here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtPU1pOTLH4

The other method is to use an engine hoist, like the below picture where an engine hoist lifts up a 400 lb Powermatic planer above the truck bed.

After that you back out the truck and lower the planer, as shown below:

Restoration of Vintage Machines

Restoration of Vintage Woodworking Machines (IV) – dissemble/lubricate/assemble

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The first thing I would do before dissemble a vintage machine, after unloading it into my shop, is to print out a machine manual and a part list with the drawings of the machine. The machine manual and part list can be found at http://vintagemachinery.org.

I would dissemble the machine and compare it against the drawings. This will help me identify any missing parts and also help me understand how the parts are assembled together. I also would label every part that is taken off from the machine and store them into a plastic bag. In addition, I took  pictures during dissembling.

For nuts/bolts that are hard to turn, I use WD 40 or Blaster Penetrating Catalyst. To lubricate, I use machine lub oil for general lubrication. On my jointer, the threads on the machine lead screw are smashed. I used dies to clean the threads.

 

Below are a picture of the dissembled jointer and a picture after restoration (I am too lazy to re-paint it, BTW):

Restoration of Vintage Machines

Restoration of Vintage Woodworking Machines (III) – transportation

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After winning an auction, usually it is the buyer’s responsibility to load the machine from the seller’s place and haul it back to the buyer’s shop (transportation). Sometimes, the seller is even located in another city. For example, I have transported a Powermatic 66 tablesaw from San Antonio which is a 3-hour drive (one way).

It would be convenient to use a truck for this purpose; if not, you can rent a U-Hall trailer (with a ramp), and in this case your vehicle obviously must be able to haul the trailer. If you are lucky, the folks at the seller’s place have a means to help load the machine into the trailer (for example, use a forklift). If this is not an option, you still could dissemble the machine into manageable pieces and load the parts into the trailer. Remember that those vintage machines could weight 300-500lb

After loading it, the machine has to be secured in the trailer or truck bed; the easiest way I found is to use ratchet tie-downs. Those sold by Harbor Freight are actually pretty good for the price (disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Harbor Freight by any means, except being a customer with them).

Haul-Master® 62818 1000 lb. Capacity 1-1/2 in. x 10 ft. Ratcheting Tie Down Set of 4Haul-Master® 62258 700 lb. Capacity 1-1/4 in. x 16 ft. Ratcheting Tie Downs 2 PcHere is a picture of my PM 66 tablesaw tied down to a trailer:

Here is a picture of my jointer secured on a trailer:

After arriving my garage, to unload the machine from the trailer, I used a hand truck. I first remove the parts that can be easily taken off, for example, tablesaw top, jointer fence, etc… then tilting the machine body against the hand truck. All the transportation and unloading were done by myself alone.

Restoration of Vintage Machines

Restoration of Vintage Woodworking Machines (II) – Identifying Old Machines

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I usually prefer vintage woodworking machines auctioned by local schools. Through talking to people working in local schools, I found that the primary reasons that those machines are auctioned is because the school purchased newer equipment, or the woodworking program is terminated and the machines become no use. This generally means that the auctioned machines are still functioning. Another advantage of purchasing from the schools is that the schools would not use the machines as hard as a commercial shop; they even do not run the machines every day; the machines are not worn out.

However, what could happen to those machine is that some small parts are missing (abused by school kids); thus part of the restoration is to find the missing parts.

Note that I usually do not buy vintage machines from the Craigslist. My experience is that the old machines on the Craigslist are either too expensive or the machines that I like are hard to find.

The auction site usually puts very limited information of the machine on the auction page; you need to find the specs of the machine. I find a few webpages are extremely helpful:

Old Woodworking Machines (http://owwm.org)

VintageMachinery.org (http://vintagemachinery.org/)

It seems the organizers of above websites are actually the same bunch of people.  The first website focuses on the user discussion (forum based); the second is more like a database for collecting all the documents. I use the first website to ask a specific question that I could not find an answer; I use the second website to find the specifications of the machines.

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.