Powermatic 221 direct drive vs belt drive

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Forum topic by reidboat posted 05-30-2015 05:25 PM 1014 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 558 days

05-30-2015 05:25 PM

I just bought a ‘60’s vintage ,Powermatic 221, 20” planer that has a ,direct drive, 10 HP motor. Of course the motor sits up much higher, connected directly to the cutterhead, but the other arrangement is for the motor to be mounted lower on the machine with an arrangement of belts I assume, transferring power up to the cutterhead. I know the belt drive version ups the speed of the cutterhead somewhat. This lower motor configuration seems quite a bit less obtrusive to me in the shop, and so, before I devote much thought or research to reconfiguring my motor placement to that lower position, I wonder if anyone has done or considered doing this? Or does anyone know the basic pros and cons of either installation, other than of course the maintenance of belts?

2 replies so far

View WhyMe's profile


615 posts in 1026 days

#1 posted 06-01-2015 12:44 PM

I’m inclined to say the belt setup is better because of higher cutter speed. What type of couple is used to connect the motor to the cutter being direct drive? Seems to me belt drive would be more forgiving on the motor and cutter alignment.

This is why I’d change it to belt drive…...

“Powerating speed is 4600 RPM (belted) with 13,800 cuts-per-minute (50 knife cuts per inch) at 20 feet per minute feed rate. Direct drive operating speed of 3600 RPM yields 10,800 cuts-per-minute (40 knife-cuts-per-inch) at 20 feet-per-minute feed rate.” Per

View MrUnix's profile


4233 posts in 1664 days

#2 posted 06-01-2015 01:09 PM

I would be inclined to leave it the way you got it. I’m not sure how hard it would be to convert, but finding parts and getting it working might lead to some unexpected surprises. Plus, to me, it looks like the motor up higher would be less obtrusive. With it up high, you have more room underneath, giving an apparent smaller footprint.

221 direct drive:

221 belt drive:


PS: With the motor low like that, I’d probably be hitting my shin on the motor every time I walked around the thing :)

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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