Unisaw restoration project: good idea or money pit?

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I'm considering buying an older (1951, according to http://www.owwm.com/Delta/VintageProject/Part1.asp ) Unisaw, but it has a couple of problems, and I thought maybe I'd run it past the group. I've Googled quite a bit, and have read what's on OWWM. The owner is asking $350 for the saw.
My motives: I'm interested in the saw to use, but particularly because it's an older machine. I've ended up with mostly 1950's-vintage Rockwell tools, and there's a nostalgia factor for me. Most of what I have has been in good shape when I bought it, but this saw would be a big project.
First, it's pretty rusty. All surface rust, as far as I can tell, but it's everywhere. I'd want to disassemble the saw, sandblast and have it painted, and put it back together. This doesn't appear to be particularly difficult, but it certainly looks like a lot of work. I'd probably send the arbor to have it checked and have the bearings replaced.
Even with the rust, the elevation and tilt controls work pretty smoothly, with no obvious slop in the worm gears. As far I can tell, the saw is complete except for the motor cover. The trunions appear to be in good shape.
Now for the negatives: The two big concerns I have are the table and the motor.
I wasn't able to check the table for flatness, but it wasn't obviously warped. But it has a chunk of iron missing where the right extension bolts on. That's a little worrisome, but I plan to use a plywood/MDF/etc extension table there with a 52" fence, so maybe not a big deal. The bothersome crack is at one of the holes on the front where the fence would bolt on--this concerns me more, because I don't think a fence rail would be adequately supported. I would consider replacing the table, and even though it wouldn't be original, I would like to have T-slots anyway. If I decide to replace the table, other than price, any comments on whether I should buy a new one, or is there any advantage in finding a similar vintage to the saw?
The motor is a three-phase motor, and it's the old style, of course. I understand that I could install a new motor, but I'm not willing to cut the cabinet to allow it to tilt--for me, that crosses the line into destroying the nostalgic value of the saw. So I either have to find an old-style single-phase motor or buy a phase converter. I'm familiar with conversion issues and I think overall I'd rather find a single-phase motor, but I understand that's very difficult.
An old-style round rail fence is included, but I think they're essentially worthless--I would buy a new Biesenmeyer or Unifence.
Bottom line: my brain says this saw would be a lot of work, probably not a good investment, and potentially a real money pit. My primary goal is to end up with an older machine that's in really good shape. That's more important than cost in the long run, but I don't want to waste money, either.
So, should I buy the saw and take on the restoration project, or just keep looking for an old saw that's already in good shape? Are there resellers who specialize in vintage or restored machines?
Does anyone have a cast Delta table, motor cover, or old-style single-phase motor they want to sell (or an excellent-condition single-phase 50's Unisaw in central North Carolina)? If so, email me--you'll get an automated spam filter response, but click on the link in the email and it will go through.
Thanks, Heath
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Hang loose..... the Keefer (Unisaw A100) will get wind of this post in a second or two and give you all the inspiration and info you need to do this. We pay him big bucks - so expect a lot......
Yep...here he comes....... sit back and enjoy...
Bob S.
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Sorry to disappoint Bob but I was pressed for time. He can search the OWWM or Al Gore's Google if he wants the whole nine yards but he'll have to piece it back together. Actually I think Heath (rhymes with Keith) has his attitude adjusted correctly, he's only wanting a nudge in the proper direction.
UA100
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I saw an original 'footed' Unisaw like yours at a farm auction last weekend. The motor had been replaced as well as the fence. Otherwise it was in pretty sad shape. I didn't stick around, but I bet it went cheap amongst all that farm machinery.
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
  Click to see the full signature.
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My Old Tools wrote:

You didn't by chance look to see what the serial number was?
UA100
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On Thu, 27 Nov 2003 10:05:56 -0600, Unisaw A100 wrote:

99 *snicker*
-Doug
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It maybe just my phobias in play, but I run when I hear of things like this. All too often, pieces of metal missing can suggest metal fatigue and that scares me. I've experienced it first hand and it could be tantamount to a sand-castle just before a wave hits.

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Both breaks are at bolt holes, so I suspect they occurred when the saw was being moved or disassembled. If I buy the saw, I will in all likelihood replace the table.
Thanks, Heath
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Heath Roberts notes:

Nah. Braze the repairs, file down, and re-tap the holes.
Charlie Self
"Say what you will about the ten commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them." H. L. Mencken
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Heath,
There is a pre-70's Rockwell saw for sale in the triangle right now.
Go to the triangle.forsale newsgroup if your interested - the post was put up at about 2pm today.
Good luck
-Rob

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Thanks for the pointer, but I'm looking for a Unisaw, and this one's a contractor-type.
Heath
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As of a short while ago, Ebay had the following: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item%76761232&category 810 $700 now bid, something like 2 days left. Overarm guard and all.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item%75900917&category 810 $695, no fence, no bites yet, about 2 days left. Kind of high.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item%77219935&category 810 $395, about 4 days left. It will go up.
Charlie Self
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Heath Roberts wrote:

I don't consider myself extraordinarily gifted when it comes to re-builds but I had somewhere around 3 weeks with my saw. There were no difficult mechanical issues other than re-working the arbor and I farmed that out.

If all you are interested in is an investment I would lean towards consulting with a money person instead of a bunch of weekend wooddorkers.
If you are worried that you'll hate the saw when its done onna 'count of how much it costed, well, that's another issue. If it helps any I'll confess that I had $750ish in my saw when it looked like this.
http://www.owwm.com/PhotoIndex/detail.asp?id
I can't tell you what I had invested by the time it looked like it looks in the last picture. I guess if time is money I probably have two new saws in their somewhere but we are also speaking of the oldest known Unisaw on the planet. I started the project with the mantra, "Unisaw on the installment plan". And that's the way it ended. What I'm saying is, going in knowing you'll get poked in the ass makes getting poked in the ass a whole bunch easier. Attitude is everything.

Understood.
Saws come in all flavors from Sad Bastard Left For Dead up to Pristine, Was Found In A Climate Controlled Warehouse In The Original Crate. Most of what you'll find is something in the Rode Hard, Not Cared For, Hung Up Wet to maybe, Rode Hard, Tended After, But Rode Hard. I find a lot of the former but little of the latter. It's out there but not for $350. I would think you could/would find one from a dealer in the *less than a thou* range that may only need the Biesemeyer.
By the way, smart move on dumping the Jet Lock.

Jeff Hoffman at Walker Turner Serviced Machinery, LLC traffics in restored machines. While he tends to concentrate on Walker-Turner he has been known to bend genders. You can e-mail him at snipped-for-privacy@juno.com

SNORK!!! sorry. You'd have to been in on that conversation from the beginning to understand.

Now I thought this was the place in the world where every stick of furniture was made? Aren't you guys swimming in old machines?

That's like posting a letter and the mailman bringing it back for you to re-lick it.
Keith Bohn
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Unisaw A100 wrote:

Dang, how tall IS O'Deen, anyway? :-)
--
To reply, change the chemical designation to its common name.


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Rumours put him at 6'6" and around 280lbs. For most of us that would be reasonable specs for a bandsaw.

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Still waiting to have my blade tension adjuster installed. Otherwise I'm good to go.
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Steve Turner wrote:

I'm average height, i.e., kick backs on the saw hit me below the belt line and midway towards my boys. As you can see from the picture Paddy has to be fit out with a cup.
UA100
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<insert big grin here> Tales of a Boatbuilder Apprentice http://pages.sbcglobal.net/djf3rd /
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There has to be a tremendous amount of satisfaction in converting something like that to a beautiful, new looking, fully functional, shiny tool. It looks great!

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snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com (Heath Roberts) wrote:

This isn't a difficult job to do yourself. Replace the bearings (http://www.ntnamerica.com/Engineering/PDFs/2200/brghndlg.pdf has some dos and don'ts). There should be a wave spring (like a thin bent washer) pressing against one of the bearings. If it's not there, make sure to replace it since it preloads the bearings and reduces play in the arbor.
Put the arbor back together and get a dial indicator and magnetic base (cheap and handy for other jobs). (1) Put the indicator on the shaft, spin it and find the maximum difference in plus and minus readings (the runout). (2) Put the indicator on the flange and repeat. (3) Shake the shaft in each direction to check for play. With any luck, you'll have less than 0.002" in each test. If not, it's time to double check the bearings were assembled correctly then replace the arbor shaft or find a machine shop that can repair the arbor.

You can find a welder and have the existing table repaired by welding up with high-nickel rod. This leaves a silvery spot on the grey cast iron, but it sounds like the two problem areas will not be visible after the saw is assembled.

This would make me want to pass unless I could negotiate a big discount -- It'll be easier to find a complete single phase saw than just an old-style single phase motor. Lots of single phase hobbyists repowering old three phase industrial machines. No industrial users repowering old homeowner saws.
As you say, you could use a modern motor ($250? plus starter) and cut the cabinet, but then, what's the point of rebuilding this old machine?

A motor cover just went on ebay for $238: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item#60031259
If you just wanted something solid to cut wood, this could be a good purchase. But given that you want a restored, complete machine, add in the cost for the missing parts and contracted work needed. (Perhaps something for your time, too.) I'll bet that total will be more than a more complete, single phase machine.
Good luck with it.
Tim
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