Old Arn Drill Press

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Project by EEngineer posted 03-21-2010 04:04 PM 9817 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’d been looking to upgrade my dill press for a while now. I had a cheap Chiwanese benchtop unit that drilled holes, that’s about all I can say for it. This unit came up on CL. I called on a Saturday morning and went to look at it that afternoon. The motor bearings sounded perfect but the quill bearings sounded a little rough. The chuck key was bent, almost a sure sign that someone had overtightened the chuck. The long drill bit that was still chucked up in it had almost 1/16” of wobble at the end, but I was willing to blame that on the chuck. Every exposed metal surface was rusted but the original paint was in good shape and there was no smile of shame on the table. It was bolted to a heavy metal stand that was homemade but sturdy. So I bought it.

I disassembled the quill to replace the bearings. To my surprise, it had roller bearings (is this normal? This is the first drill press I’ve torn down) and they were in very good shape. The noise was coming from the exposed thrust ball bearing. After cleaning thoroughly and repacking with heavy duty bearing grease, I kept all the original bearings.

Derusting the exposed metal took the most time. I have used phosphoric acid (naval jelly) and Evaporust in the past for derusting. Phosphoric acid will discolor and even remove paint (DAMHIKT) and I have read similar things about electrolysis. Since I wanted to preserve the original paint, I used Evaporust. In my previous experience, it didn’t even touch paint. To do the column I made a special tank out of a piece of 3” PVC pipe with a cap on one end; an overnight soak in Evaporust and the column looked brand new. While cleaning the base, I found a serial number stamped on it, 5800406, and this leads me to believe that the drill press was born in 1958.

As I suspected, the chuck was roached. I originally bought a new 1/2” chuck from HF but it came with MT2 mandrel attached. Although they claimed there was a JT33 taper in the chuck itself I’ll be damned if I could get the mandrel off. Wedges, impact, even a short session with a small sledge hammer wouldn’t budge it. I finally bought a 5/8” chuck from Grizzly – maybe a little overkill for this size press, but the price was right.

The stand and motor got a 2-hour session with a wire brush and a new coat of paint. I wasn’t going for a museum piece; I just wanted a nice clean daily worker for the shop.

Was it worth it? Hell, yeah! This is the smoothest, quietest drill press I’ve ever used. It tracks straight and true with runout that barely moves the needle on my dial indicator. This is a Westcraft drill press – originally sold by Western Auto stores – and it probably wasn’t top-o-the-line in 1958. But it is head and shoulders above cheap Chinese drill presses I see for sale now. The 1/3 HP motor may be a little weak for a 5/8” chuck but I do very little metal work; it should be just fine for wood-working.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

8 comments so far

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3091 days

#1 posted 03-21-2010 04:30 PM

Nice restoration job…How much did you pay for it on CL + new parts?

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3487 days

#2 posted 03-21-2010 05:17 PM

Nice find on the drill press. As I have heard some did have roller bearings in the quill, dont know when that changed. The other gurus at owwm might be able to shed some light. I too have noticed the paint removing power or electrolysis. It didnt bother me as I was repainting the entire machine anyway. The motor does not appear to be original or is it the angle? 1/3hp should be fine as long as you arent trying to spin large forstner bits in oak or maple.

PS I am rstoring a Powermatic 1150A as we speak. Should be finished next week

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3713 days

#3 posted 03-21-2010 06:59 PM

Excellent job on this one : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View EEngineer's profile


1103 posts in 3638 days

#4 posted 03-21-2010 08:12 PM

Chelios -

$75 – drill press
$28 – chuck + shipping
$50 – Evaporust, paint, new bolts, tools (never pass up the chance to buy more tools)

MedicKen -

According to the manual (he had the original dirty paper for it), it was sold without a motor. The motor seems to have been made in 1951, while the drill press was made in 1958. I look forward to pictures of your 1150 when done.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 3263 days

#5 posted 03-22-2010 03:27 AM

Nice job on that press. Years ago I worked one winter building snow plows, the big ones you see cleaning highways and airports. I regularly used an old Buffalo press. that thing was sweet. been keeping my eyes opened looking for one since but no joy yet.

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View Vince's profile


1151 posts in 3454 days

#6 posted 12-12-2010 08:44 AM

Nice work

-- Vince

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#7 posted 04-27-2011 06:22 PM

Nice job on the drill press.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2530 days

#8 posted 05-27-2013 03:14 PM


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