Well, I thought I’d share these modifications in case someone wants to tinker with their saw as well.
The quick release mechanism as described here requires that you drill holes in the machine and fabricate some metal. If you are not comfortable with either of those then this may not be for you. What I fabricated works but is not pretty so keep the laughter to a low roar! Your design will vary depending on what parts you decide to use.
First off, it was necessary to perform the standard tune-up stuff and getting new Olsen Pro blades made things go a lot better with all cuts.
The first thing I did was to buy a 10-pack of good bearings and replaced all 6 on the saw.
I had one freeze up and undid the retaining screw. That’s was enough for me to replace them all. Bearings were from www.usabearingsandbelts.com – part number ‘626 Bulk’. These have a rubber seal on both sides and they are holding up very well.
Some help with tracking!
I noticed that when the upper wheel was nearly vertical the tracking became erratic. I’d adjust the blade tracking knob and it would not change until suddenly it went way too far. What was happening is due to a lot of play in the pin that links the tension assembly. The slot that the pin rides in allows too much play and when the wheel is near vertical it moves back and forth within this small tolerance. A very small move here can make a big difference in the tracking. My solution was to mount a stiff spring at the top of the bracket that the wheel is mounted too. This keeps a constant pressure on the top of the bracket and does not allow it to flop towards the knob side of the cabinet. The spring rubs against the inner part of the cabinet and does not obstruct any of the adjustments. I drilled a hole near the top of the bracket and installed a small bolt and nut, allowing the bolt to extend about ¾” past the nut. The spring I used would not stay on the bolt so I wrapped some tape around the threads so I had to push the spring onto the bolt.
Using a 1/8” blade.
I noticed some comments about not being able to use a 1/8” blade on this saw. The problem is that the thrust bearing cannot be adjusted far enough to keep the guide bearings away from the teeth. Using a 1/8” blade requires a more meticulous setup because of the tendency for the blade to twist easily during use. On this saw, I simply lengthened the slot where the thrust bearing slides so that the bearing bolt could move about 1/32” further. Please note that all I did here was lengthen the slot. The manufacturer is responsible for the lousy job of cutting the slot with uneven sides.
A quick release assembly.
Before I go any further, I need to discuss something about this saw. As it is sold, there is no spring tension on the blade. When the tensioner is turned by way of the knob on top, there is a direct upward pressure on the blade. This, in my opinion, is a recipe for breaking blades. When you tighten the knob to the point where the blade is stretched to its limit, you enter into the danger zone. Tightening it any further means that something else is going to flex, move or break. I am quite sure that when I began using this saw I was doing just that. Thankfully, I never broke a blade.
I looked at a lot of web pages that dealt with quick tension release mechanisms and how the various ones worked. My solution is no jewel but it works in my case. It needs some refining but the basic idea is there. The wheel moves down about 3/32” when released. You might think that is not much but actually it is almost too much. When I first checked the saw before this modification, I only needed to turn the knob 1.5 turns and the blade was no longer resting against the tire. That was problematic because if the blade moved, just turning it 1.5 turns to tighten it may cause the blade to end up off the wheel. That is because the saw does not use a tension spring. My design does. Also, since the bolt is metric and has a 1.25mm pitch, that means it originally moved about .073”, which is less than the 3/32” mentioned above. However, when it now moves down to release the tension on the wheels and blade, it still has some of the spring tension applied so that the blade does not come off the tire. And when I need to change blades, I simply release a little more tension and the blade comes free.
I welcome reports of observations from owners of larger saws as I am interested to know if the blade comes away from the tires when the quick release lever is activated. My guess is that it does not.
I started out by considering an assembly inside of the upper cabinet but since the clearances in there are so close, it just wouldn’t work well. I knew that what I had to do was move the pressure point on the tension adjuster above the top of the cabinet so that some kind of release assembly could be incorporated. It had to provide a solid foundation for the blade tensioner(that’s what they call the large threaded nut that is turned by the knob). That foundation also needed to be relaxed so that the tension on the blade would be relaxed.
Most of the bigger saws have a tensioning spring. And the idea is a good one. Sadly, for some reason it wasn’t used on this saw. However, I now use tension springs. It should be noted here that I made a number of cuts through a 4” stack of maple for a bandsaw box while using this tension mechanism. The cut was great and did not waver from vertical, even on the tight curves.
OK, what I did was move the knob and tensioner nut to a point above the top of the upper cabinet. This was done using a coupling nut, nuts for locking and threaded rod. My platform is a metal plate, made from half a 4” hinge. The plate pivots down at an angle which releases much of the tension on the springs, and therefore on the blade.
The platform plate is raised and lowered by using a push/pull toggle clamp with a small screw threaded into the end. The other end of the plate rests on the heads of 2 short carriage bolts utilizing the rounded heads as a base.
I experimented with a lot of springs and ended up using a smaller one inside of a larger one to get the amount of tension I wanted, compressed about 3/8-1/2” during use. Note here that the image shows the small spring is somewhat deformed. Through my testing, I had cut it in half and widened the end. Widening the end may be necessary to prevent it from sliding into the center hole of the plate, depending on the size of hole you cut. I found it best to create an elongated center hole due to the angling of the plate during use. The small carriage bolts are ¾” long and they set the plate about 5/8” above the cabinet top.
The toggle clamp I ordered was McMaster #5093A55, which looks like a toy. It works but I will be looking for something larger and stronger. You will have to figure out the best position for the toggle clamp you use and mount it to the side of the cabinet. I drilled through and used some cutoff 8-32 bolts and nuts. The M8 coupling is McMaster number 93355A105. The springs, nuts and threaded rod I got locally. The rest I had on hand, because I never throw anything away! Including the bearings, my investment here is less than $40. It will also be necessary to drill out the black tensioner knob so the threaded rod can pass through it. The cap comes off and most of it is hollow so you won’t have to drill very far. And, since I am using the same knob that easily comes off of the tensioner nut, I still use that as a reminder to re-tension before using the saw. I take it off and place it on the table next to the blade. I considered using a much longer 5/16” carriage bolt in place of the other hardware. But, that would requite that I buy or make a different knob and some other reminder method. Also note that you should use the original washer between the springs and the tensioner nut to prevent the ends of the spring from digging into the nut. A little lube here also helps.
Information about the parts is noted in the picture below.
This image shows how the rod and coupling go together. The rod coupling must be cut because if the limited vertical movement distance between the original pressure point and the top/inside of the cabinet. If it is too long then it interferes with the plate above.
This shows the 2 positions of the toggle and pressure plate.
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