Old power tools unused for years - what maintenance is needed?


I'm a weekend home handyman, not a real woodworker. A long term health issue has me reluctant to spend any more money than I have to. I recently had two tools go bad: a palm sander and a circular saw.
The palm sander was just a matter of a wire nut that had come loose inside (great connector choice in a unit whose raison d'etre is VIBRATION, I might add), but putting the "one-way construction" back together proved too much of a challenge. I threw it out.
The circular saw problem is the brushes, I believe, and I may try to fix it.
But for now, I went "shopping" in my Dad's garage, with his enthusiastic encouragement. In the '60s and '70s he made some pretty nice projects for the house, but he hasn't worked with power tools in a while.
I found an orbital 1/2 sheet sander (chrome, of course) and a 6.5" Skil saw. Both work, at least for the few seconds I tried them.
The sander has no visible defects, but I wonder if there's any lubrication needed after possibly decades of disuse.
The saw plate had a good bit of surface rust, but I managed to get it pretty clean. The blade will of course have to be replaced. Same for the power plug. But what else might I be looking at?
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*snip*

You may need to replace the switch. If you can see the contacts, look for signs of degragation. If the switch is fussy, it may also be an indicator the switch needs to be replaced. That contacts may need to be cleaned, however, and one trick that sometimes work is just flipping the switch on and off quite a few times. (Unplug the saw and just keep flipping the switch.)
There may be internal lube on gears and the like. Some of it will set up and instead of making parts move easily keep them from moving at all! You may need to clean and replace the old lube. (Be sure you use the proper replacement lube!)
Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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On 9/19/2010 4:28 PM, Puckdropper wrote:

Any time you have a switch problem I highly recommend unplugging the piece of equipment and flip the switch a couple of dozen times.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago I was working for a company in southern Michigan near the Ohio state line. We had a Chromatograph that was not working, and I called the service rep who had to come down from Detroit, about a 3 hour trip at that time.
When he arrived with all of his equipment, he came into the lab and walked up to the machine and gave the one knob about two dozen turns, then turned the machine on. It came up perfectly. After spending another couple of hours checking the unit with his testing equipment, he found nothing wrong with the machine.
The bottom line I paid the man for 6 hours travel time plus 2 in the lab to have him clean the switch by rotating it a couple dozen times. It was a very expensive lesson in electronic. Now the first thing I do is flip he switch at the first signs of trouble. (This will only if the switch has a mechanical contacts )
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snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote: ...

Depends on whether it was sealed bearings or not...if it works and doesn't screech, go for it. There are similar tools of that age and older of grandad's still here on the farm that get very intermittent use also--generally never had a problem.
If it's really old, there may be indication of an oiling location or two...

Why "of course"? It didn't get dull from not being used; any surface rust will go away on the first cut or two.
Unless there's something wrong w/ the cordset...
Same thing on the lubrication.
--
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wrote:

In my experience, a common problem with power tools which have been unused for a long time and stored in slightly damp environments is failure of the suppressor capacitors. They sometimes fail dramatically with a flash after a few minutes use - other times you just get a lot of sparking at the brushes. Usually easy enough to replace if you can get them.
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There's something I didn't know. Thanks. I'll run the old blade through some scrap and see what happens. It looks like it may have been a pretty decent one at one time, with probably 80 teeth or so. I've ordered the brushes for my broken saw and now plan to keep the combo blade on that one and a finer one on my Dad's. If I don't have to buy a new blade, so much the better.

Are the plug conductors supposed to be reddish brown? :) The saw runs OK, but I can't in good conscience leave that arc-hazard on it.

By this, do you mean lube should not be necessary unless I notice a problem?
Thanks for the help.
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snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote:

Well, clean them up a little with some steel wool or similar and, unless they are extremely bad shape, which I'd think highly unlikely unless stored in salt-air environment or somesuch, again; "good-to-go"...

If they were sealed bearings and they're not obviously binding, I'd use it and worry about replacing bearings when and if they fail--they're just bearings, after all. If it predates sealed bearings (would have to be quite old), then it will be obvious where it is expecting lubrication on inspection.
The prime thing I do for stuff like that that I forgot to mention previously is to take the air gun and blow them out as best as possible....
A little WD-40 or other light not-sticking lube on switches, blade guard pivot point, etc., etc., etc., ... and generally they'll just pick up where left off unless were weak already.
--
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I probably have the plug, and can probably replace it in the same time as it would take to do a decent job steel-wooling in the small space between the blades. (No, I don't have a dremel. Come to think of it, Dad probably does...)

I'll look. The Skil Saw is probably '60s vintage. The sander is quite beautiful, actually - all chrome, no rust at all. Rockwell, I think. Probably also '60s. Much as it pains me to ruin the esthetics, I'm thinking of trying to pad the handle somehow to decrease the vibration.

There's a good bit of brown oxidized Pleistocene Epoch sawdust in the saw. I'll try blowing it out.

And that. Thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@risky-biz.com wrote: ...

I'd far prefer the original molded plugset over a replacement unless it's really bad and suspect could've done the cleanup in the time spent here already... :)
But, suit yourself; it's your tool.
--
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Much as it pains me to ruin the esthetics, I'm thinking of trying to pad the handle somehow to decrease the vibration.
Keep it stock. Try foam pipe insulation or wear mechanic's gloves.
Per the sawdust: scrape out what you can. Use progressively smaller tools to scrape. Wetting them with oil of some sort may help soften the crud..
Blowing sawdust everywhere is going to be messy at best, and may be harmful. God only knows what may have been around the last time they were used.
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Dan wrote: ...

Cutting wood is messy by definition.
What, specifically, can you imagine is so dangerous as to be potentially an issue in blowing out the innards of a power woodworking tool????? Gad, I'm glad I'm an old pha... and not ingrained w/ this modern view that the most ordinary action is life-threatening...
--
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Happy to report that I cleaned out and lightly wd-40'd my Dad's old saw and cut a bunch of slices off a piece of MDF with it last night. The saw teeth are getting cleaner, and the 40 teeth seem to make a nice cut. It's not the most demanding material, I guess, but the saw ran smoothly.
I also replaced the brushes on my Skil, which seems to have fixed it, although it's still a little loud and "clangy". I think I'll be using that one for less precise tasks. One complaint to any manufacturers that might be lurking: Could you please make your parts either completely symmetrical or visibly asymmetrical? The plastic cover I had to remove to access the brushes was about two "politically incorrect measurements" off from being identical in either possible orientation, but only one way fit.
Next: The sander. I have high hopes.
Thanks to all.
Greg Guarino
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I served as a week end warrior in the national guard about 2 score and some years ago. We were an artillery battery equiped with 105 mm and 8" howitzers. Each year during summer manuvers we had to fire the howitzers after they had sat in the armory unused for a year. The first round was always fired with a very long lanyard with all cannoneers far away lest a weakness in the tube cause a failure.
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The

I'm hoping that these old tools do not have such catastrophic potential failure modes. :)
Greg
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Make sure the guard works on the circ saw. Real important maintenace item.
RP
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