Rockwell Bandsaw: Parts Cleanup

I started work on cleaning up the Rockwell bandsaw I posted about previously.  As mentioned before, the table and the lower blade guide setup needed some attention.  Here’s what I’ve done to them so far.

Here’s the view under the table.  The gray parts support the table and hold the lower blade guide parts.  Removal of the table consisted of unscrewing the large knobs sticking down and lifting the table up.  The rest of the parts can then be unbolted from the saw body.

Here’s a better view of the rusty table.  Can you guess where the miter gauge sat?

The best way I’ve found to clean up a rusty cast iron table is to use a wire cut on a right angle grinder.  Fork out the money for a good wire cup.  Not only will it last longer, it won’t shoot you as much with wire pieces while you work.  Be sure to wear eye protection when using wire wheels or cups as they do shed.  I’d advise hearing protection to if you don’t like ringing in your ears.  Below is a picture of the table midways through the wire cup treatment.  Using the wire cut will quickly remove the rust without damaging the table.  It will leave tracks though.  They’re only faintly on the surface and you can’t feel them at all.  You can see them though.

Here’s the table after the wire cup.  At this point it is smooth and you could consider it finished.  I wanted to even out the color of the surface and remove some of the staining though.  To do this, I block sanded by hand down to 400 grit.

After the sanding the table looked a lot better as seen below.  I could spend a lot of time on the table to make it look brand new but, to me, it isn’t worth it.

While I was using the grinder it suddenly made a popping noise and vibrated like crazy.  I quickly shut it down and found that it had self destructed.  The metal part broke and then ripped the screws out of the plastic housing.  I really haven’t used this that much.  So, I’d say it broke before I expected it to.  Luckily, I had another grinder to fall back on to finish the table.

Here’s the bracket that holds the table and lower blade guide mechanism.  The knobs at the front move the lateral blade guides and the bearin that controls the blade in the thrust direction. Due to the rust it was very stiff and needed a good cleaning.

Disassembly was pretty easy though a few parts needed persuasion with a hammer.  Don’t beat directly on metal parts with a metal hammer though.  Use a soft faced hammer or a block of wood between the hammer and part.  Even then go slow and be careful not to break anything.  If it doesn’t move with light tapping stop and rethink.  As always, penetrant is your friend with rusty things.  Here it is in pieces.

I cleaned up the parts using a wire wheel on my small drill press and then buffed the parts lightly with a buffing wheel.  Here’s a set up shot showing the wire wheel.  The wire wheel works great for quickly rusting small parts that are flat.  It can grab your parts and sling them across the room though so be careful when using it.  As long as you don’t let the wheel catch an end of your part it won’t throw it.  Also, I don’t use gloves when using the wire wheel.  I fear the wheel grabbing a glove and dragging me with it much more than the wheel brushing your skin (which, from experience, doesn’t do any damage).  I got rid of the red paint on the knobs with some acetone and a lot of scrubbing.  There’s still some traces of the paint but you have to be close to see it.

Here are the parts all cleaned up.  The top and bottom ball bearings that block the blade in the thrust direction, top right in the picture below, were both toast.  How do you know there bad?  The bottom one was locked up and wouldn’t rotate at all.  The top one would rotate but felt lumpy when rotated from the grease drying out inside.  These bearings can also completely dry out so that when spun they spin freely for a while.  A good bearing should turn smoothly but have enough drag from the grease inside to slow it quickly.

Usually, I order bearings from a company that provides high quality, brand name bearings.  To replace these two bearings though. I went to Ebay.  I picked up some cheap ones since they don’t have a harsh life and I can monitor them quite easily.    When the bearings arrive I’ll put it back together.  Hmm, with these bearings being shot I’m not wondering about the ones on the wheels…

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