I decided to start cleaning from top to bottom with paper towels and a spray bottle of 409 and a solvent tray of naphtha for cleaning the removed metal parts. I first removed the upper blade guide assembly (blade rollers) and detail stripped it, re-lubed and reassembled. No surprises here. To remove and clean the telescoping blade guard (removal is the only way to get it clean) requires some more work. There are two small screws that secure it to the saw frame behind the upper door. The bottom bolt is easy; the top bolt is inaccessible behind the upper wheel. Since I wanted to clean everything now while I am still excited with my new toy (a month from now I won't be as enthusiastic about detail cleaning!), I decide to "go for it". Removal of the top wheel is easy. One largish hub bolt was removed which allowed me to use a large three-jaw puller inside the wheel spoke holes. No difficulty, the wheel slid off with minimal torque on the puller screw. Behind the wheel is a wide spacer. After marking the outline of the blade guard flange with a marker pen for realignment, I pulled the guard and cleaned it up easily with a brush and the naphtha pan. Removing the guard allows easy access to the guide support assembly that is also well greased up. I decided not to further disassemble this section since major realignment could be involved. A toothbrush and rag on a stick did an adequate job. I did notice several things at this point. All of the alignment adjustments on the saw so far are either slots with cinch bolts or jamb bolts/nuts. Išll comment on this later. Next came the blade tension assembly. I carefully marked the "calibration" of the tension gauge, removed the tension unit, cleaned, greased and reinstalled. No surprises or difficulties.
That was about it for day one of cleaning, about 4 hours and one roll of paper towels later.
Day 2, I proceeded to clean the lower half of the saw (table on down). Removal of the table was easy, just one big bolt that locks the tilt on the trunion needed to be removed. The table is very heavy! (24x17˛) It should be noted that the trunion is located well off center from the table and once this bolt is removed the table can easily fall off to the side. Once removed, I cleaned both sides of the table but I decided not to remove the trunion from the table. There are four bolts that connect the two together, but each one also acts as a jamb nut to help force the table into shape and align the two parts. Many degrees of freedom here to play with so I'll wait until I am ready for serious aligning and squaring before touching these bolts. Cleaning was still easy enough with a rag and toothbrush. A quick check with a straight edge showed the table was dead flat.
Disassembly of the lower blade guides was exactly like the top. I decided to remove the lower wheel to clean behind it and get a good look at the brake/kill switch mechanism. I pulled the drive belt by releasing the motor tension adjustment (a jack screw). The wheel came off with only hand turning of the puller screw required, very smooth. No grease behind the wheel to worry about but I did notice that the brake pedal was shipped in a retracted position. I had to relocate a screw attached to the brake arm into the hole in the pedal to set the mechanism up correctly. I had read about people using the mobility kit (which attaches to this brake pedal) to move the machine before securing this second screw. The result usually was a sheared screw. A little further cleaning of the lower chamber followed by removal of the door hinges for degreasing and the saw was ready to set up. I'll wait for another day to do this. The motor power is supplied through a short cord with no plug attached. Based on Erikšs statements, I mounted a small metal electrical box near the motor and wired in 25 feet of 12/3 cord with the proper plug for my 220 volt power outlets. Second day cleaning and reassembly took about 2 hours.
Adjustments and Observations
The table The table had a nice smooth finish with the only defect worth noting, a dime sized area of porous casting. This was still flat and was only cosmetic. I didnšt see it until the table was cleaned and I was waxing its surface. The finish was a bit better than my Unisaw, it had the large circular grind marks which indicates Blanchard grinding I think (?). Other user reports I read had stated that the finish was relatively rough compared to other saws so I guess they have improved the finish in response. The casting is thick and was obviously painted before surface grinding. The underside is well ribbed for rigidity but plenty of flat areas for clamping feather boards and other devices. I was worried that the long cut for blade installation would give the table a nice place to warp, but the casting design with ribs in the right places made this a non-issue.
Castings and Finish
One of the things I noticed while disassembling was how well all parts were finished. Welds were all smooth and sharp edges on the table and fence nicely chamfered. The "hidden" castings were left rough however. I had noticed when I first moved the table from it's 45 degree tilted position (as shipped) to flat that the motion was kind of rough. After removing the table I saw why, the edges of the machined trunion ways were rough and sharp. A quick pass with a file cleaned it all right up and tilting is as smooth as I'd expect it should be. All castings appeared to be iron with the exception of the blade guide holder thing-ma-job. It looked to be aluminum.
I had heard that the newer saws were being shipped with upgraded fences (taller). My saw came with a very robust cast iron fence a full 4" high and 1" thick, machined on the top and both faces. There were no predrilled/tapped holes for mounting risers as stated with the old model fence, but no big deal. The fence walls are about 1/4" thick (interior is hollow) so drilling/tapping will be easy enough and provide plenty of meat for bolt holding strength once I decide what additional fence accessories I need to add. The fence slides along a solid steel square guide bar with a Inch unit measuring tape riveted onto the top surface in a shallow recess. At 3/4˛ x 1˛, no worries about this puppy getting crushed or bent! The guide is attached to the table with two short flat brackets that give plenty of adjustment room in every direction but up/down (could do this with washers if needed). The slide that mates the fence to the guide bar is a hefty cast iron part well machined and smooth operating. A single screw lever locks it to the guide rail. Inset into this slide is a sight glass that has a pointer and magnifies the scale on the guide bar. There is enough parallax as you move your head side to side while aligning up the mark to make this fence measuring guide very iffy for anything better that 1/8" inch. A fixed pointer that slides directly on the measuring tape would have been more useful. There is adjustability to align the measuring tape with the blade by moving the fence guide bar, but I consider this fence position feature of the saw useless. Išll stick to using a steel ruler between the fence and blade to get my settings. The fence adjusts for blade lead by pivoting on a roll pin and clamping with a bolt. A very sturdy and nice arrangement but be warned! When I was removing the fence from the slide to clean, I taped the pin down so I could more easily separate the fence. It turns out that the pinhole drilled into the slide is a blind hole so if you drive the pin too far, it'll be very difficult to remove. Fortunately I stopped short with about 1/4" to spare and was able to ease it back out with some pliers. As an afterthought I really didnšt need to take these two pieces apart. The fence rides on the table via four machined flats on the fences lower edge. Squaring for vertical should be easy enough with a file once the saw is fully set up and aligned. A quick check with a machinists square shows it is within a hair of being dead on.
A band saw does not get the daily adjustment of table tilt and blade guide adjustments like a table saw does (at least in my case) therefore I donšt expect the mechanisms to be as "user friendly" or refined. Of note is the table tilt trunion. There is one largish bolt (easily accessible) to loosen before you can tilt. The trunion also includes a readable angle scale and crisp pointer for angle referencing but I'd feel better using a dedicated angle gauge if I required accuracy better than a few degrees. The lower blade guide assembly is aligned by a slotted bar and one bolt. All fine adjustment is done with fine pitch screws and sliding bar locks on the guide holder casting so this coarse adjustment will only need changing when the table is tilted. The lower guides can be positioned very close to the table top surface this way.
The upper wheel location (tilt and blade tension) uses a nice beefy casting with a lead screw arrangement and close fitting spindle carrier that rides in a ground slot. Tilt is accomplished buy a pivot rod at the upper end of the assembly. Fore/aft location of the wheel axis is controlled by another set of jamb bolts. The only reason I could see needing to adjust these is if your blade ends up tilted excessively with the table. The lead screw rides on a roller thrust bearing with flat races for nice smooth operation even under heavy blade tension. The wheel co-planar adjust has a locking lever to keep everything set.
Wheels The wheels are massive cast iron with only three small oval cutouts that effectively create three spokes. It would be best to describe them as solid rimmed wheels. I saw evidence on the backs of the wheels where balancing was done both with securely riveted weight additions and small holes drilled into the rims. The tires are "flat" and fit into grooves in the wheels. Runout was within 0.002˛ at the rim in both axis.
-Bruce (continued in part III)