Tool Trek #1: Powermatic 60 8” Joiner

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Blog entry by magaoitin posted 01-23-2017 11:38 PM 1006 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Tool Trek series Part 2: Rockwell 28-3x0 Bandsaw w/3 phase motor »

Over the last 18 months I have been finding some great deals (and some not so great deals…) on equipment to fill my new shop. Like quite a few woodworkers on LJ’s, I have a couple pieces of 3 phase equipment I have picked up at auctions, relatively inexpensively. And now need to run them on single phase power.

When I moved, I had done some research, and planned on getting 3 phase service to my new shop, and just be able to just plug it in and Shazam!

As with most things in my shop build-out, Shazam quickly turns into a wet sounding fizzle, followed by a small wisp of smoke. While I have 3 phase power available at the front of my house, I cannot afford to get it run to the back of my property and my shop.

(The Power Company quoted $15k-$18k that I would have to pay to upgrade the transformer, and then I would have to run power from the pole to the shop, around 200’-250’. Spending $20k to be able to save $4-$5k on equipment isn’t a very good ROI. And in the long run probably wouldn’t add any value to my house. Plus it comes with the risk of having to upgrade my home owner’s insurance to a commercial policy.)

I purchased an older Powermatic Model 60 Joiner at an auction (just before I moved into this house and thought I would be getting a 3 phase panel) for $200.

This was through an online auction site where I live, but I couldn’t take any time off from work the day before the auction to inspect. I ended up bidding, based solely on 3 photos the auction house posted. When I went to pick it up, the blades looked in good shape (and were sharp) and the bearings turned easily.

No rust on it anywhere. It was coming out of a cabinet shop that liquidated everything, so I felt fairly confident that it worked. The worst that I could imaging is that the bearings would be worn out due to its age.

It had a relatively new electrical enclosure added to it with a new on/off switch, and a new SJOOW wire and receptacle.

After this last weekend, this has turned out to be one of the not so great auction purchases (so far), But I figured I’d start a blog on it and maybe get inspired to do something with it (maybe a full rebuild and teach myself something about motors)

The best I can tell from the serial number is this is a 1961 model, with the original motor. I only know that because the nameplate on the motor lists the Frame as a 203, and those motors are only found pre-1964.

From Vintage

While I know enough to be dangerous to myself when it comes to wiring Single Phase 110/220v power to a receptacle, I don’t really understand how 3P motors work. If it is more complicated than plug it in and press the green button, I am at a loss. I know next to nothing about 3 phase power, motor starters, contactors, or thermal overload breakers on equipment, so I need something simple and inexpensive to start out.

PRICING – from most expensive (and difficult) to least expensive:

A digital phase converter for up to 5 HP is $1,300

This seems to be the Cadillac of choices. Quiet, efficient, and doesn’t take up that much space for what it is doing, but the price tag is Cadillac as well. A 5 HP is the smallest I have found.

Super Hillbilly (no offense to any hillbillies) Build your own 3 phase generator $$$ ???

Get a big inexpensive used 3 phase motor, say 10 HP, and match it in HP to a big used single phase motor 7-10 hp. connect the shafts with a shaft-coupler. Wire up the single phase motor and let it drive the 3 phase motor. This setup creates 3 phase power by running the 3 phase motor backwards, (which really doesn’t matter to the motor which “direction” it runs. You generate just under the 3 Phase motors output (something like 90-95%).

A new single phase 1.5 HP motor is around $600

And has a whole slew of issues with matching motor frame sizes (especially on a machine older than 1960’s), fabricating brackets, sizing belts, and new pulleys. Finding a good, used single phase, 1.5 hp motor is a challenge.

A Rotary Phase Converter up to 3 HP runs around $400

Not too bad for price, but these are fairly noisy and most are quite big to have sitting in the corner of the shop.

VFD 3 HP around $170

Great option for the price, but you need to know a little more about wiring that I currently know. The VFD I am looking at (and many LJ’s have blogged about) is the VECO FM50. Apparently you are supposed to hook the VFD directly to the motor, bypassing the on off switch and any motor speed controls all together. The VFD turns the motor on and off and is the motor controller. You can add an auxillary on/off switch, an aux. reverse switch, and an aux. speed control (somehow). From their website, online manuals, and schematics I haven’t figured out exactly how yet, but it does say it is possible.

A Static Phase Converter for up to 3 HP is $70

Simple wiring, but you immediately lose 1/3 of your operating power. A 1 ½ HP motor will only give you 1 HP output

In my mind, swapping the motor out with a single phase is the best solution, but the cost and hassle is the tough part. It would also allow me to sell the equipment easier down the road though, when I want to upgrade to something newer. I’ve spent the better part of a year looking on craigslist and at auctions (along with local electric motor shops that rebuild) but haven’t come up with anything I wanted to mess with, and it has finally come to a time in my shop when I can start setting up equipment.

I have found that upgrading a motor on a machine prior to 1964 is complicated. There is a NEMA Motor Conversion chart out there that says that my motor (Frame size 203) was rerated in 1964 to a Frame 143T.

A new single phase 1 ½ HP Dayton motor for the 143T frame (Grainger is on the pricey side). So this is my worst case cost right? Just buy a new motor and slap it in there?

Again, no so fast.

When they rerated motors in ’64 they also changed the mounting holes, dimension of the shaft off the bottom of the motor, and the shaft size. Even the RPM’s of the motor have changed slightly. My motor is a 3600 RPM, all the current 143T frame motors I have looked at list 3450. Not a big deal, but still, not a single thing lines up with the old motor specs. Nothing will mount up without fabricating a baseplate, buying a new pulley wheel, and resizing a custom belt. So it is going to be a major pain to swap the motor out.

As a result, my Joiner has sat in my shop waiting for me to get my build-out done (going on 18 months).

For my first 3 phase conversion project, I settled on a Static Phase Converter from North American Phase Converters

Mainly this was due to the price; I paid around $60 for this converter, which is 1/3 the price of a VFD. If it worked well, I figured I could just buy a new Static converter for each piece of equipment I bought, or possibly save up and get a rotary converter or maybe a VFD to run everything.

I bought the SPC-3 (Static Phase Converter) model that runs up to a 3 HP, 3 phase motor from a standard 220V-240V double pole breaker. The downside is that a Static Phase Converter runs your equipment on only 2 of the 3 legs of power, and as a result will only operate at 2/3 power. My joiner has a 1.5 HP motor, so I would only be able to use 1 hp at full speed. I don’t really have a problem with this right now. I am not a production shop, and if my equipment runs slower than designed it probably isn’t going to hurt anything. Worst case I can think of is running really dense material through it, might cause the machine to bog down or maybe burn the lumber a little? I have never owned a joiner and the last one I ever used was back in high school shop class (which just happened to be this exact make and model)

Wiring a static phase converter looks relatively simple, a lot better than a VFD or a Rotary Phase setup:

The plug in the wall goes to the Static Phase Converter (SPC) and simultaneously to the Motor Starter Switch, splices 2 wires, add a 3rd, and you’re done. The big green and red buttons on the front of the machine work. So let’s get to work.

So I open up my control box to replace the receptacle and wire…


HMMMM…A bunch of loose wires to the motor contactor and Thermal Overload, and to be honest I don’t know what they do or how they work. I have never tried to wire a 3 phase motor before, and the only on/off switch I have ever worked on was simply replacing one switch with an exact match.

Multiple Green wires going to the on/off switch, a green wire jumping from the front of the Controller to the back of the controller for no apparent reason. Green wires from the Controller to the Thermal Overload and on to the on/off switch. Why is every wire green?!?

Plus there is a smaller wire headed out the back of the Electrical box (and connected to some auxiliary port in the Thermal Overload breaker, just dangling and not hooked up to anything. I think this was linked to a dust collection system so when the Joiner was turned on it kicked on the DC (or maybe just to a light so you could see the motor was on?). I really have no idea.

The wire at the Green Arrow is the receptacle to plug in the wall
The Blue Arrow is the wire to the motor
But no idea what the smaller gauge wire at the red arrows are for

I am going out on a limb and assuming that this is why I got the Joiner for $200, and no one else bid on it. Control wires might have come loose, and someone probably didn’t want to pay to have an electrician rewire it. I can’t get any information from the manufacturer of the Motor Contactor and Thermal Overload Relay switch to figure out how which wire goes where, and every online wiring diagram makes no sense to me. Since I don’t have 3 phase power I wasn’t going to trial and error it to see which wire did what, especially with throwing a phase converter in the mix. If I buy a new Contactor and Thermal Overload relay I should be able to get some technical help from the manufacturer, but that is $100+, plus there is no guarantee the motor will work. I could hire an electrician to come out and hook it up, but again that’s $100+ and no guarantee that the motor isn’t fried.

So right now I have a $260 paperweight sitting in the corner collecting dust.

I just ordered a VFD (for another more recent 3 Phase auction purchase) and figure that is the easiest way to test the motor.

Setup the VFD, wire directly into this motor, bypassing the controller, thermal overload, and on off switch, and see if it starts. If the motor is good then I can decide on how to proceed. If the motor is smoked, well… that leaves me with only one option; replace the motor.

It will still be a good deal at the end (I hope) if I can salvage an 8” Powermatic Joiner for less than $1000 (and an older 100% American made model at that). I still have my hopes set on what would be an insane steal for less than $500.

I did pickup a Jet Dust Collector this weekend at an auction that has a 2 HP motor for $50. I figure if I have to fabricate mounting plates, brackets and pulleys for a new single phase motor, why not scrape the whole 1.5 HP 143T frame thing and get any single phase motor installed? I am not even sure I would have to add a potentiometer since the RPM’s on the 2 HP motor are similar to the 1.5 HP, and I think all that matters is the RPM and not the HP.

Definitely more to come this year.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

5 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5544 posts in 2687 days

#1 posted 01-24-2017 04:12 AM

Failure is always an option. I found a Delta DJ20 8” jointer in Portland for $575. Perfect condition.

I say start over, and see if you can recoup some of the cost.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Lee's profile


98 posts in 752 days

#2 posted 01-25-2017 12:59 AM

Well, I would go with the phase converter, save the vfd for something that needs speed control. One thing you need to check is if the motor and starter coil are 240 volts or 480. the motor can be configured either way, but the coil on the starter can’t. coming from an industrial shop it could be wired either way, hope this helps.

-- Colombia Custom woodworking

View magaoitin's profile


246 posts in 823 days

#3 posted 01-25-2017 09:03 PM

I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. I still have a number of options to research that wont cost much, and even the more expensive option of getting a new motor is not that bad. $600 for the single phase motor, and I end up into it $800 for an 8” joiner that is heavier and more robust than anything on the market today.

If I can use the VFD wired directly to the motor, and verify that the motor works, then I am hooking up the Static Phase Converter to it. (And most likely will end up paying an electrician a couple hundred bucks to sort out my controller and thermal overload wiring.)

How do I tell what voltage the coil is? Do I need to take the coil off the motor (or at least the cover off from the coil)and see if anything is written on it?

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View maxhall's profile


75 posts in 2075 days

#4 posted 01-26-2017 02:48 AM

highly unlikely that the 3 phase motor is fried. I would spin the motor by hand to see what the bearings sound like. That is likely the only thing that may need some service for the motor. Replacement of two bearing and you’re good for another 20+ years. The other check is to megger the windings of the motor to check their insulation resistance, because if you have a shorted field winding the cost to get a motor rewound can be pretty pricey (I wouldn’t immediately jump to this conclusion/ or even worry about this).

If a motor is 220/440V that means that in the motor peckerhead (not the endbell but where the wires exit the motor) depending on how the wires are connected determines if its wired for 220v or 440v. There is probably a schematic on the inside of the cover that will help you ascertain how its wired. This will let you know if the controller is 440v or 220v. What are the specs on the VFD you purchased?

View magaoitin's profile


246 posts in 823 days

#5 posted 01-26-2017 03:41 PM

maxhall,Thanks for the reassurance and tips on the motor. I plan on pulling it out this weekend to see what I can figure out. I hope it is a 220-230V.

I purchased the VFD for a Rockwell Bandsaw, and it would be convenient if it worked on the Joiner as well. It is a 2 HP TECO FM50 from FactoryMation

AC Drive, 2 HP, 230V 1 – 3 PH input, 230V 3 PH Output, 7.5FLA IP20.

Can a motor be switched form 220/440V with just a new starter?

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

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