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.
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
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)
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!
Keith Carlson 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.
With a phase converter you can use it. You can also replace the motor.
Sell the three-phase and purchase a single phase.
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.
Depends on what you have for transportation. Two guys should be able
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.
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.
I bought an early Unisaw and rebuilt it. I replaced the motor w/ a
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.
Thanks for the advice. Luck was not with me, though. The saw was posted on
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.
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.
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
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:
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.