Critical checks to make on a used Unisaw?


Found a used Unisaw for sale locally - they're asking $100. I cruise through the ads once in a while hoping I might find a well-made old machine at a good price. This saw is older - not as old as Keith Bohn's A-100 Unisaw shown on owwm.com - but as described seems to be in good shape, and it would have to have some major problems to be worth less than $100, right?
I'm hoping to get ahold of the seller tomorrow and check it out. What I'm wondering is - what are the critical things to check to know if I should walk away from it. I know I can't use it if it has a 3-phase motor. Should bring a straightedge to check the flatness of the table. What else? I think I've read trunnion bearings, but I'm not sure how to check those.
Also, in case this thing is for real, I want to be ready to cash & carry, what's the best way to move this? About how much do they weigh? How difficult is it to remove the top and move the cabinet and top separately?
Thanks so much for any advice.
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Keith, I can't offer you any valuable advice but from my experience seeing older Unisaws it would take a cracked table top or trunion to keep me from buying one for $100 (or if the blade tilt and height mechanisms have perished.
Even if the motor is bad or 3 phase you could obtain a modern working 3hp motor cheap enough to justify your purchase. Although I have a new Uni, I was very tempted to buy a 40 year old model last month for $300 just to use it in my garage as a rough lumber cutting tool. That old unit looked older than me but it ran (single phase, 230volt) nicely. I have never disassembled a Uni but it looks straighforward. Borrow, rent, or buy (they always come in handy) a heavy duty refrigerator mover with a strap function and you could probably move it your self - except getting into the bed of a pick-up. They weight over 350 pounds (I think the quoted weights of 400 plus include the cast iron wings which are removable). Good luck with this, I hope it's a gloat! Marc
Keith Carlson wrote:

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marc rosen wrote:

Or with at tune-up you can use it to make fine cuts that are every bit as good as those you make on your new saw. The the mechanical operation of the old saw isn't any different than your new saw. Ok, maybe a new set of bearings are in order for the older saw.

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Keith Carlson wrote:

With a phase converter you can use it. You can also replace the motor. Sell the three-phase and purchase a single phase.
Should

Sure, if it is really bad you may wish to pass. Though if that's the only issue, new tops can be purchased.
What else? I think

Not sure what bearings are in the trunions. However if you remove the 4 bolts holding down the top you can check the guts for cracks. Also check the teeth on the trunions.

to lean it up against the bed of a pickup and flip it up on its top and transport that way. First though, stuff a towel between the motor and the top of the opening and crank the motor up so it doesn't flop around while in transport.
Removing the top, like I said is a matter of removing 4 bolts. (PLACE THE BOLTS & LOCK WASHERS IN A PLASTIC BAGGIE & LABEL WITH A SHARPIE IMMEDIATELY) The saw is easy to reassemble if you know which of the smaller parts are which.

Also, don't worry about a little surface rust. That can be cleaned up.
Bearings can be replaced. The Saw Center charges $80 or so to replace the arbor bearings. You can replace them yourself, there are directions on the saw center's web site, but you will need an arbor press. The motor bearings are a bit more difficult.
One more thing, get the miter gauge if it is there.
Good luck.
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On Sun, 17 Sep 2006 05:26:54 GMT, "Keith Carlson"

I agree with Marc that a failed critical component may be driving the price. 3 phase generally just knocks the price down to about $4-600.
A recent ebay search revealed some components such as trunnion pieces available. I don't know whether that's a one off, or if they're regularly available. Still, I don't think I'd want to rebuild, but you may be more receptive to it.

Don't be too quick to let 3-phase deter you. To expand on what Marc said, you can buy a brand new, direct replacement Baldor motor for around $3-400. Even when you add that to the $100 you'll get the carcase for, you're into a Unisaw (with a brand new motor) for under $500. Sweet. By the way, the motor mount for the Unisaw is proprietary, so you're pretty much stuck with the price I mentioned for a new motor, unless you're able to find a servicable used one (and then watch carefully that it has the Unisaw mount).
You may also want to consider a 3-phase converter, whether mechanical rotary or VFD (variable frequency drive). I understand from posts over the years that the rotary converter can be done quite inexpensively and allows that 3-phase motor to run (albeit at reduced HP) from a single phase source.

Take the top off. Makes everything manageble.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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On Sun, 17 Sep 2006 05:26:54 GMT, "Keith Carlson"

single phase one. The top had some water damage. I tried buffing,sanding etc but wasn't happy with the results. So I took the top off and had it reground. It worked great, but the miter guide slots became shallower, so I had to grind down the mitre guide "rods.". I added a biesmeier fence and built a table, and placed the whole asssemobly on an HTC rolling stand. The old units had cast iron bases, very heavy and stable. The saw was really great.
Unfortunately, I sold it before I moved from LA, thinking I'd find one in Chicago, but no such luck.
I'd suggest making sure the tilt and blade raising mechanisms are running smoothly, and the blade spins well. Othwise you my have to replace the bearing too. Parts are generally available, if you've got the time.
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wrote:

Craigslist at 9pm last night, I didn't see it and reply until a little after midnight. Was hoping that people would have better things to do on Saturday night than read the tools ads, but apparently there were others who beat me to it. Seller never contacted me, and the posting is now gone.
Oh well....
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Keith Carlson wrote:

Better luck next time. If that's the saw I think it is it had the vintage switch box and cover. That alone was worth more thab $100 so you would have had a fantastic deal indeed on that baby.
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Hello Keith, Sorry to read that you did not get achance to see the Uni. I would like to know its condition. Another one will come along soon. Marc
Keith Carlson wrote:

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Marc, I posted a couple of pics to a.b.p.w of the saw. These are the pics they had posted with the craigslist ad. Looks to be in pretty good shape for its age. Wish I could have gone to check it out in person.
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Almost "all" parts for a Unisaw can be had.
Some parts are very hard to find but very few.
If the saw is in one pice with no major rust on cabinet that can not be repaired, there would be VERY little that would stop me from buying. Even lousy sheet metal can be fixed.
Missing parts hand wheels,dust covers,motor covers, cracked tops and three phase motors present NO major challenges.
Sometimes, the journey is more fun than the ownership.
The saw weighs "about" 380lbs and can be disassembled for transport. The motor and top can be taken off with basic hand tools.
You will be amazed at what you can end up with with a little sweat equity.
Keith Carlson wrote:

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