|Forum topic by Chris208||posted 03-06-2013 03:52 AM||4186 views||1 time favorited||15 replies|
03-06-2013 03:52 AM
Last September I was cruising my local Craiglist’s tools section and saw an ad for a 14” Delta band saw. The seller was asking $60. I had seen examples of this band saw advertised for upwards of $400, so I was intrigued. I called the guy, and he told me that a bunch of people had called, and that a guy was on his way to come look at it, but he would call me if it fell through. I was a disappointed, but got on with my day. At lunch, my phone rings – it’s the seller of the band saw calling to tell the other guy had flaked out. Awesome! I stopped by the ATM, and high tailed it to take a look at the saw. When I got there, the saw was upright in a landscaping trailer. As I got closer, it’s more major flaws began showing. The power switch was nothing more than a light switch, and was dangling by a wire. The table was rusted, but not too badly, the tires were rotten, and the thrust bearings were seized, and partially cut through – by the back of the saw blade! Also, much of the band saw’s smaller parts were coming to me in a plastic bag. The seller informed me that the saw had belonged to his grandfather.
It was in pretty rough shape, but I figured for $60, the motor, and the cast iron frame were worth more than I was giving. I paid the asking price, and the seller helped me wrestle the saw into the back of my Subaru. I was now the proud new owner of an American made Delta band saw!
With a little research I learned that the saw was manufactured in 1994. The previous owner had clearly been very rough on the saw. The entire inside of the wheel housings were coated in a black, tar-like substance, as were the adjustment mechanisms under the table. It appeared that no routine maintenance had been done. I got it sort of put together that night, and turned it on. A terrible grinding, knocking ruckus spilled forth from the machine, as it stood shaking violently. I shut it down and pulled the plug. At that point, I decided to undertake a thorough refurbishing of the saw, which would be my first experience in bringing a machine back from the grave.
I started by completely disassembling the saw and cleaning each piece with soap and water after removal. I took a ton of pictures along the way to ensure things went back on the same way they came off. This was extremely helpful during reassembly. As parts came off, I found that all of the major parts were present, and only a handful of hardware was missing or broken. I also decided to replace all of the bearings in the machine (8 -2 for the top wheel, two for the bottom wheel shaft, two thrust bearings, and two bearings in the motor). Based on the condition of the thrust bearings, I feared that the rest were original to a saw that had clearly been abused. I began researching the small parts I needed using an illustrated parts breakdown I found online. I ordered the parts only to find out that the parts were on back order from Delta. I tried another parts place – same deal. Crap! Apparently Delta is going through some problems, and as a result, it’s currently almost impossible to get parts from them. I posted a thread on Lumberjocks.com inquiring about the parts I needed. The great members at LJs informed me that all of the parts I needed were available, and were not in any way, proprietary to Delta. I ordered a specialized finger spring washer from McMaster Carr, and sourced the rest of the hardware locally. I bought the bearings from McGuire Bearings here in town. They were very helpful, and answered all of the questions I had. I spent $53 for the 8 bearings I bought, which I thought was fair.
Next, I bought new urethane tires ($30), a Kreg band saw fence ($107), Olsen Cool Blocks ($15), and a replacement switch from Grizzly ($23).
With all of my parts having arrived, I began reassembling the saw. Again, the pictures I took during disassembly were indispensable. Combined with the illustrated parts break down, I’m confident that I put the saw back together correctly. Removing and replacing the bearings was the most difficult part of the rebuild, as I didn’t have a bearing puller or press. I had to use quite a bit of ingenuity to get them replaced. Although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I did finally buy a bearing puller to help with the motor bearings. They wouldn’t budge for anything. The bearing puller came from Harbor Freight, cost about $18, and worked great!
Next I replaced the on/off switch. Initially I tried wiring up the new switch the same way the old switch was, but it caused my breaker to pop when it was turned on. With that, I grabbed the multi meter I had liberated from my high school electronics class 16 years before, and set out to figure out what was supposed to go where. An hour or so later, it was done. I don’t know for sure that I wired it correctly, but it turns on, the motor spins in the right direction, and the circuit breaker doesn’t pop, so I must have gotten close. I had to replace the metric mounting hardware that the Grizzly switch came with with standard hardware to fit the saw. Easy enough.
The Kreg band saw fence went on easily. The holes aligned perfectly, and it presented no problems. It’s a sturdy fence, but it does seem to deflect slightly when it’s locked down. This might be operator error. I went with the Kreg over other offerings, because overall, it seemed to have the best reviews.
The saw came with hardwood guide blocks, I think maple. I replaced these with Olsen Cool Blocks, which are spoken of highly. I looked at the Carter bearing guides, but they were way out of my price range. I also replaced the tension hand wheel with a crank I bought from Amazon ($20). I originally bought the crank for my Harbor Freight 14” band saw, but it was a poor fit, and wouldn’t work. It was made to work in Delta saws, and it does. I can now quickly tension or de-tension the blade with just a few cranks.
I follow the Alex Snodgrass band saw setup technique, and after doing that, my saw has no discernible drift with a sharp blade. The saw works great, and should serve me well for a long time (unless I sell it to help fund a larger saw).
From the time the saw rolled into my shop, to now, was about six months, and the total cost was far more that the $60 I paid for the saw. All told, I have just about $300 in the saw. This makes it an OK value, but no great bargain. This also does not include all the hours I put into it. That being said, it was a great experience, and a lot of fun. I can now say that I have completely disassembled and rebuilt/refurbished a band saw, which I would guess not many people can say. Also, I now know the saw like the back of my hand, and maintaining and repairing it doesn’t intimidate me in the least. Although it was a great experience, I’m not sure I’ll do it again – unless I run into another “great” deal.
Because now I’ve got two 14” band saws, I decided to give the Harbor Freight saw to my father in-law, who recently retired, and wants to get into woodworking. Hopefully that will earn me some woodworking karma points.