Large Belt Sander

Anyone ever turn a treadmill indo a belt sander? You can pick up used treadmills for $25 - $50. What do you think?
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Interesting idea, might work. However, plan on replacing the motor. I don't see any way that one of the 1/2 or so HP motors will be adequate. The commercial wide belt sanders have from 15HP on up. I can easily trip the 1 HP motor on my Performax. It would be really nice if Performax would make a 16/32 w/ a 5HP motor.....
--Rick
On Sat, 17 Jan 2004 21:34:17 GMT, Joe Willmann

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And you are going to get the belt for this sander where?
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Mike G.
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Naturally the whole mechanism would have to be gutted. Maybe use the treadmill guts in a shop built frame. It is just a thought. I haven't a clue what size motors are in the things bu it seems that all the basics are there.
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Joe Willmann wrote:

Yes. It didn't work very well.
I cut the frame down sort enough to fit the biggest belt I could get my hands on, and I think I removed the platten completely. (I was using it to sand round things, so I didn't want a platten.)
My tensioning mechanism was just a piece of angle iron with some bolt holes tapped in it. The idler roller was (already) tapped to match the bolts, and I applied tension by tightening the bolts and thus pulling the roller further away from its counterpart. This was *very* fiddly.
The rollers weren't crowned, and I wasn't able to crown them very well with anything I had at hand. They were also very small in diameter compared to the rollers on a real belt sander, which I don't think did anything good for belt life.
With the very fiddly tensioner and the uncrowned rollers, tracking was a *serious* problem. This thing ate expensive belts for breakfast. Whirr, WHUMP, damn. It worked beautifully when it worked, but it spent more time down than up. It also took forever to change a belt, because I had to remove two long bolts to get one side of each roller unfastened.
Adding to the other problems, it was unwieldy as hell. Too big to use horizontally, so I used it leaning against a leg of my workbench. It was always getting in my way.
If I were going to do it over, I'd scrap the stock frame entirely and shop build something. Turn larger diameter, crowned rollers on the lathe, bored out for metal axles I guess. (I didn't have a lathe back then.) Rig it up for reasonable belt changes. Some kind of spring-loaded tensioner like the real belt sanders have. It could be done, but I'll probably never get around to it.
If you happen to live near Christiansburg, VA (or want to pay for shipping), you can have this one for free. Make something out of it. I was going to make it into a lathe, but I wound up buying a real lathe. I thought about using it to drive a motorless bandsaw I have, but it would be so unwieldy. I'll probably find a use for it eventually, if I let it sit here long enough, but I'd just as soon give it to another tinkerer to cuss at and trip over.
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For rollers I was thinking of using plastic pipe slipped over a turned wooded rod. For crowning I was thinking of just trying to wrap duct tape - man's fix for everything. If I can get the profile right then I would use fibreglass to duplicate it.

I live in Oregon. I could probably buy a lage belt sander for what the shipping would cost.
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Joe Willmann wrote:

Tried duct tape. It was hard to get right. I think you'd have better luck getting a crown profile on a lathe.

Unfortunately, yes. I guess I'm stuck with mine then too. :)
If you come up with anything good, be sure to share.
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 20:09:02 -0500, Silvan

I have heard that those motors make a decent light power feeder....
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How about using the treadmill belt, gear down the motor so it runs slower and use it as a poser feed from a 6 inch diameter drum sander about 24 inches wide? That way the drum is gust wrapped with an adheseve sand paper.
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