Six years ago (coincidentally, to the day!) I posted this description of a Buffalo Forge drill press that I restored.
About a year after that, I fixed up an old Buffalo Forge post drill.
Now I have another Buffalo running that is between the size of those two. It is a 10” camel back flat belt machine. I have had this sitting around for about five years and finally got to work on it. It looked like this:
I had an old 1940s-era 1/4 hp motor available and decided to use it for this drill press:
Before spending too much time on this project, I tried a “proof of concept”. I put some oil in the oil holes of the motor and the drill press. I cleaned the ancient grease out of the gears on the drill press and added some new grease. Then I used some clamps and a V-belt to set up this contraption:
When I fired up the motor, it all held together. I expected the belt to come flying off, but it kept itself more or less centered on the crowned drill press pulleys. I even drilled some holes:
My goal was to get the machine in working condition and remove the excess rust, but not try to “restore” it to a shiny like-new condition. I’ve learned a lot about these considerations through volunteering at our town’s Historical Society.
I needed to replace the V-belt pulley on the motor with a crowned flat belt pulley. I made one on my lathe:
I bought a belt locally. If anyone is near Worcester, MA and needs a belt for just about any application, old or new, give Hudson Belting a call. They are great and have been in business for 160 years – about 75 at the current location. They made me a belt to my exact specification while I waited. My son and I got a mini tour of the place. The belt was half the cost of buying it online. It is actually a nylon belt with leather facing. It is not supposed to stretch like a leather belt does. If it does, Hudson Belting will cut it back to the original size for free. This greatly simplified my design for mounting the motor.
Here is a close-up of the belt material:
I took most of the machine apart to clean, check and lubricate. It is amazing to see how this thing is constructed and how well it has held up to all the use that it has obviously had, I used scraps and pallet parts to mount the drill press and motor such that the belt has the correct tension. This way, I can move it easily (well, with some help) if I don’t like where I have it now and not have to fiddle with the belt tension again.
I doubt that this drill press was designed to run very fast. I will only run it on the largest pulley of the three on the drill press. I made the motor pulley 2” in diameter, which is already pushing the minimum for the belt. The motor runs at 1725 RPM. After the reduction of the pulleys and the internal gears (22/28), the bit is running at 600 RPM,
I really enjoy working on old machines like this one. This won’t replace my modern drill press for most tasks, but I will make a point of using it when I can so that I can hear that great sound of the belt running around. Here is a photo of it in place in my workshop. I have it on a not-so-great bench that was there when we moved in.
Here is a metal plate identifying the original seller.
-- “And the products of wealth push you along on the bow wave of their spiritless undying selves.” ― I. Anderson