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Powermatic Machine Co.
McMinnville, TN; La Vergne, TN
Wood Working Machinery
Powermatic Model 141
Date of Manufacturer:
11/26/2003 8:17:56 AM
A Powermatic 141 14" Band Saw Named Gumby
The Executive Summary:
Despite it's Gumby-like profile and puke green paint color it's a very nice saw.
The Long Drawn Out, Blow-by-Blow Description:
I had not intended to buy this saw. I was just minding my own business when I approached the other man's garage where the saw was temporarily residing . When I entered through the overhead door I heard the saw whisper my name. So what was I supposed to do? Uh-huh, you betcha, I bought it.
Before We Get Started:
Ever so often I refer to a saw on the Photo Index owner by Rick Horner. Rather than duplicate shots of my saw I'm leaving it to you to take a look at that saw. This way we get more mileage from our allotted three pix minimum. His saw can be seen at:
A Brief History of The Model 141:
My Powermatic catalogs are few and far between so I can't pin point the exact year this model was first put on the market. It doesn't appear in some material I have dated 1956 but does show up on a 1963 price list so we have a short date range to work from.
The original saws were painted the familiar (some say pretty) Powermatic Green and had the elliptical logo on the upper door. Mid-vintage saws were painted Powermatic Garish Green and the logo was switched to a rectangular red plastic piece screwed above the elliptical space where the original logo sat. They also added a stripe for the race fans. The newest machines were painted Powermatic Gold and retained the rectangular logo and racing stripe. When all of these changes were made I do not know.
The saw became no more in 2000 and has since been replaced by Powermatic's own Delta clone made by some nice children in some far away third world country that is offering the best rates at whatever time in history you may be reading this.
Powermatic No. 141 14" Wood-Cutting Band Saw
Serial No. 741252
Date of Manufacture: 1977
Blade to Frame: 14"
Under Guide To Table: 6 1/2" (I have measured this as 6 1/4")
Blade Speed: 3000 SFM
Max. Blade Width: 3/4"
Blade Length: 94" to 96"
Weight with Stand and Motor (Crated): 355 lbs.
Other tid-bits of information are sprinkled throughout this write-up.
The Saw, The Entire Saw and Its Every Part and Piece:
My initial reaction to this saw was a good one though I must confess some things have me scratching my head a little. I'll get into that later on.
The enclosed stand is made up of heavy gage bent sheet metal and is welded where the top joins the sides. All the corners are rounded which adds to the stand's strength. A 12" X 18" motor access door looks sufficient to access the motor but it takes a bit of doing to get at the motor mounting screws. Actually you need for one of your arms to be 8" shorter than the other. It's this very reason I don't like enclosed stands but that's just me. The drive belt exits the stand through a small rectangle cut in the top and this is in turn covered by a piece of sheet metal formed into a tombstone shape. The small opening makes it damn near impossible to align the two pulleys and I ended up using a blade from a 24" combination square with the flat against the two pulley rims. The stand has tabs at the base for bolting the machine to the floor. The footprint of the stand measures 16 1/2" X 24" and stands 22" tall. This particular stand has rust at the rim where it sat in contact with a wet floor. The belt cover was severely bent in but easily flattened with dead blow hammer backed up by a couple bags of lead shot.
This particular machine is fitted up with a single phase Leeson 3/4 HP TEFC motor. Powermatic originally listed the saw with 1/3, 1/2 and 3/4 HP motors. I've yet to get into whether or not this motor will be sufficient. I suspect it will for my usage. The motor sits on a heavy gage steel platform that is hinged one edge and held by cap screws at the other edge. This platform is a real pain in the *ss to get set correctly for reasons covered above.
The single phase saw appears to have always been fitted out with a Furnas Cat. No. 12BA106778 two-button switch. This is mounted through the front of the stand and sits about 16" off the floor. This is, in my humble opinion, too low. You practically conk your head on the table reaching for it. On this particular machine the last owner confessed to me that the switch was broke (in the On position). When I pulled it apart I noticed that the Off button had been installed upside down. The way the switch works is, the On button is molded plastic and has a ramp at the back side (inside the switch cavity). The Off button has an opposing ramp molded into it. When the saw is switched on the On button goes into detents on the inside of the switch mechanism. By pushing the Off button the two ramps meet and the Off button ramp forces the On button from the detents. Needless to say that once this was set right the switch works fine. I will note that this switch takes more than normal pressure to operate.
The Saw Frame (Major Casting):
This is where you have to stand back and admire this saw. The box casting that makes up the saw is as wide as and as tall as the head on Gumby-like profile of the saw. Most people are used to seeing saws like the Delta or Delta clones where this casting kind of peters out once its above the table or the time honored C-frame as seen on larger saws. This box style casting has been used on other saws but they have been mostly aluminum of pot metal. The casting varies in thickness (typically its 5/16" thick) and is ribbed. On the down side the saw is a pain to clean even with a small nozzle on a shop vac. To get the saw totally clean you will need ample dosages of compressed air. There is no provision for fitting the saw with a raising block, i.e., Delta 14"/Delta clones.
The blade covers (the front doors) are made up of heavy gage bent sheet metal hinged at the column side and do a very adequate job of sealing the interior of the saw. Spring clips hold the covers to the saw casting quite well. The upper and lower covers hinge independently of each other.
There is a 2" aluminum pipe exiting the underside of the saw just below the lower blade guides. It hasn't been put to use yet so nothing can be said as to how useful it is. It does accept a 2 1/4" Sears shop vac hose quite well.
Now for the inside of the saw.
The wheels are cast iron and on this saw balanced by drilling out the back side of the wheel (as is typical). The tires look to be original (there is paint over spray on them) and I have not removed them for replacement. They are actually in good shape. I have been told though that the wheels are not crowned and that crowning will have to be done when the tires are replaced, i.e., the tires will have to be ground. Bearings appear to be good and I have not changed them.
Upper Idler Casting:
This is a typically constructed bracket riding in slots for the up and down and hinged to track the band. The mechanism for tightening is made up of a threaded rod that exits the top of the saw frame casting. There is a small chart on the inside of the saw for setting tension for the particular blade being used. Wheel tilt is by way of a knob at the back side of the saw. This all appears to be a sound design and looks easy enough to get into should the need (bearing replacement) arise.
The table measures 14 7/8" X 14 7/8". It has a standard 3/8" X 3/4" miter gage slot and is split to the side to allow blade removal. A cap screw attached to the back of the saw frame can be set to stop the table at ninety or swung to the side to allow for a 15 degree left tilt of the table. This particular table doesn't align without the tapered pin. There are provisions for attaching the pin to a chain that screws into the side edge of the table.
Now this is where the train comes off the tracks.
Rick Horner has a really good picture of what I'm about to get into here so now might be a good time to take a break and check that out. Again, here's the link.
The trunnions for this saw are very heavy gage bent sheet metal. This really surprised me. After seeing the thought that went into the saw so far I saw this as something of a let down. The trunnions are spaced about 12" apart making for a pretty stable platform. As received the rear trunnion on this saw was bent and pretty rusted. I could have attempted a shop fix but I had also noticed that they only made contact at one spot with the trunnion bracket so I went ahead and ordered up a new set from Powermatic. The new set fit like a glove. In fact, when I first got the saw it took a lot of untightening to get the table to tilt and even with that there was some roughness to the movement as it slid along the arc of the trunnion bracket. With the new trunnions it's like butter. The trunnions are tightened down with ball end loose T-bar style head bolts that do not clear the saw frame (hence the loose T-bars). Two block castings bear against the inside of the trunnions to secure the table. It's a wee bit on the crude side but it gets cruder.
The Trunnion Bracket:
This is where I think that maybe the engineers at Powermatic might have run out of R&D money or just got bored with the process and maybe turned things over to some summer interns (see Rick's picture). This bracket sits on the lower portion of the saw frame and is bolted at the back with two cap screws. At the front side they used a piece of bent steel with another cap screw. In the end it works but its not the most awe-inspiring thing you'll see this lifetime.
Lower Blade Guides:
Into the trunnion bracket is the lower blade guides. Again, go look at Rick's picture and I'll walk you through this. The side guides are chevron style and that's all fine and good. Where the trip turns strange is the back up bearing. It is made up of a pin with knurling at one end and threaded at the other. In the middle it has a seat turned in it (diameter change in the shaft) for the bearing. The principle behind this is, the back up bearing is seated and secured on the middle portion of the shaft. A short (but heavy) spring goes onto the shaft (at the back side of the bearing) and this assembly is screwed into a hole tapped at the back edge of the trunnion bracket. To adjust the back up bearing to contact the back of the blade you turn the knurled knob. The spring is there to offer resistance and is all that's there to keep this setting in place. In other words, there isn't a set screw to hold the shaft. Now, in theory I suppose this isn't a bad thing but with the saw I have I can wiggle the shaft 1/32" each way all the way around. It's not exactly a confidence builder.
Upper Blade Guides:
Things only get marginally better at this point. The upper guides are made up of two ball bearing side guides and a ball bearing back up guide. The side guides are fixed into blocks that ride in ways. These ways are secured to a shaft that in turn goes into the guide post and secured by a thumb screw that is tightened against a flat machined into the shaft. The back up bearing is fitted to the end of a threaded shaft that goes into the guide post and also secured by a thumb screw. This thumb screw has a brass plug where contact is made with the threaded shaft to minimize damage. My only problem with this set up is, to set the side bearings you have to loosen a hex head cap screw (right hand bearing) and a Allen head cap screw (left hand bearing). It's a little on the "gross" side to get everything loosened, aligned and tightened up. By the way, the reason for the mixed fasteners is the clearance at the back side where only a wrench can get to the right hand side. The blade back up bearing on my saw is too large and actually makes contact with the side bearings. I will look to see if I can find a smaller diameter bearing.
Per the parts list the bearings are Fafnir 200PP (4-total). These are as common as dirt and can be cross referenced. I paid $4 locally for one (an import).
The guide post is made up of a 1" X 1" solid steel bar that rides in a casting secured to the inside of the saw frame. It is held in place by two straps across the front and fixed along its travel by a threaded shaft attached to a knob exiting the frame from the side. At the bottom it is machined to take the upper blade guides and blade guard. A compression pin at the top of the post prevents the guides from crashing onto the table. A very nice and simple touch. The blade guard consists of typical bent metal. All in all it's a workable arrangement.
That's it for the blow-by-blow. I'll wrap this up with some "after market" fiddling performed on the saw and my over all impressions of it.
When I first received the saw I felt it wasn't bad enough to warrant a "ground up" restoration. It really was in good shape with the usual exceptions of the bright metal parts weren't bright. I really wasn't in the mood to have yet another machine backed up in some numbered rat hole awaiting attention. To this end I buffed up the more "patina'd" parts, gave the saw a thorough cleaning and spent time with alignment.
For the most part everything was pretty well aligned. The table was out (low) at the back and was shimmed .020 to get it square to the back side of the blade. The guide post had some play, which was taken out with some brass shim stock wrapped over the strapping that holds the post in place. I also paper shimmed the casting holding the guide post to get it to stay aligned throughout its travel up and down. Really not a whole lot needed to be done.
There was a red fuzz on the table that I went at with a single blade razor. When I was done the table was as slick as glass but retained the deep patina of aged iron. The milling marks are finer than what I'm used to seeing on table surfaces leading me to believe that the famed Powermatic Mirror Finish isn't a recent innovation.
The blade ran dead on the center line of both wheels. This was in spite of the fact that the wheels were not coplanar. I have since been taught that this is OK (The Myth of Co-Planar).
I thought the vibration from the saw was pretty bad. I switched out the drive belt with a Fenner link belt and the shake pretty much vanished. There is some slight shake left and I suspect it's from the tires as they feel a little bumpy. I'll contemplate grinding them at a later date.
The upper wheel tightening shaft has a noticeable bend to it and begs to be removed and straightened. The shaft holding the upper blade back up bearing must be bent to cause the bearing to touch the other bearing. With the upper wheel tightening shaft I can only assume that some putz used it as a handle to carry the saw.
As was mentioned I did order new trunnions from Powermatic. The front trunnion ran $19 and the rear ran $12. The extra was $7 for the two tiny holes for the tilt scale drive screws. A new tapered pin was $8. Anything else was gotten from the hardware store.
I have this habit of buying orphan Allen head wrenches at garage sales and my stash of these are doled out as needed to make up maintenance kits for various machines. This machine sure seemed to want to deplete my collection. In all there are five Allen head wrenches required for various screws. In addition there are the usual hex head cap screws.
I've come to believe that the machine was assembled and painted in place. The reason is, there is over spray on just about every part that doesn't (shouldn't) get paint. I've looked at this pretty hard and I don't think it was the work of a later paint job by an end user.
I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that I think parts of this saw are inferior. OK, I think that things could have been done better but all in all it all works and that's what matters. The truth of the matter is I now know what it might be like to be in love with an ugly woman. After some final tweaking I'm pretty happy with the saw. I haven't had much time to cut with it or put it through anything extensive but I did mount a new blade and it seems to enjoy cutting. As I have mentioned (several times) it is one ugly thing with the paint job and the Gumby profile but there's a certain endearing quality to this ugliness.
Would I recommend this saw to a friend? Yes, if the friend has some technical know how to get around the saw's more interesting "features".
Saw Back Prior To Final Assembly (Table Missing)
Shot Of Upper Blade Guide, Guide Post, Etc.
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