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Davis & Wells
Los Angeles, CA; Lynwood, CA
Wood Working Machinery
Horizontal Boring Machine
Date of Manufacturer:
3/10/2009 8:32:16 PM
I bought it on eBay off of a guy near Pasco WA. On eBay it was described as being in 'fair' condition, with not much other info, and the photos were not that clear. I rolled the dice and bought it anyways. Borrowed a truck and drove down there and back in one day (6 hours each way). The previous owner was a very nice chap, helped me load it in the truck. The thing is fairly compact, but one person cannot lift it - too much cast iron. He had a shop full of woodworking gear, told me he had acquired it from a friend and never used it. So no real history on it.
Turned out to be in better shape than I expected. The motor works, which is a good sign! Also the spindles seem to run quiet. And the paint is in great shape, I would imagine that it is original. I did a quick scrape of part of the table with a razor blade, it came up OK. I brushed the dust off and then used some automotive cleaning compound on a portion of the paint. It cleaned up well so I plan to do the rest of it. The spring action is a bit stiff and jerky, I am sure a bit of lubrication will quickly solve that problem. Also, the table is stuck, won't move up and down, but again I would guess that some lube will help. I think that very dry eastern Washington climate has helped preserve it, there is virtually no rust other than on the tabletop.
It is similar to others that are pictured on this site. Some differences though are that there is no guard for the belt - perhaps missing in action, or maybe a feature that was available only later in the manufacturing run? Also no mortising lever or backstop. The table is drilled for a backstop though, it should be straightforward to make a replacement. The engine is different than on the others pictured on OWWM, it's a Westinghouse, but is 1/3 HP like the others. The paint is a light green with a speckle or splatter of white over it. There is paint on some of the bolt threads, as well as on the edge of the leather hold down, which makes me think it has not seen much use. The words "Davis & Wells, Los Angeles" are raised on the side. It is hard to tell from the other photos on this site, but some of the other machines pictures appear to have the lettering recessed rather than raised?
There are also the tantalizing remnants of a decal on the top of the machine. It appears to have been round, with a thin gold border outlined in black. Blue and red bits are visible, as are yellow areas with red and blue polka dots. Further searching on the OWWM site and others failed to yield any clues. Maybe an original Davis and Wells decal, or perhaps one added by a previous owner along the way?
My plan is to clean it up minimally and then use it, mostly with a 1/4" end mill for mortising. I do need to find one of the elusive 'Jacobs 34b' chucks, as it only came with a threaded 1/2" bit. I think the biggest part of the work will be to take the motor out of its casing and blow all the old dust out.
So I am pretty happy with it so far.
** UPDATE FEB 2008 **
I bought a chuck, it is a Jacobs 3B. There are a number of chucks that will fit, this was the first one I found at a reasonable price. A chuck is pretty much mandatory to be able to use this machine.
Even though the motor worked well, and the spindle turned with only a small amount of run out, the horizontal action was pretty stiff and jerky. So I wound up disassembling the unit completely, replacing all the bearings that guide the spindle in and out, and cleaning and greasing everything that wasn't nailed down. It sure works a lot more smoothly now! It was very cheap to buy new bearings. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures while I was in the middle of it.
** UPDATE MAR 2009 **
OK finally got the table cleaned up, took off the hold down, machine is in the basement shop now, works great! I use it for "the sport of freehand mortising" that I was taught at the Inside Passage School. Somehow the last picture came out really green compared to the others.
The whole machine
Holddown, spindle, etc.
Composite of serial # and decal remnants, with motor tag
me + irfanview
"Clean" table, "new" chuck
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