Rebuilding A Johnson Model B Horizontal Band Saw

Rebuilding A Johnson Model B Horizontal Band Saw

Written by : Posted on October 1, 2010 : 29 Comments

This saw was purchased at the 2010 CAMS Yard Sale to replace my Chinese 4X6 band saw, which also found a new owner at the Yard Sale. The Clarke saw was a valuable tool around the shop, used almost every day, but was just a little too small for my needs. For the money, the saws sold at Harbor Freight or Tractor Supply are the best buys around. They all need work to get them working but will get the job done (with varying results) for a minimal amount of cash.
The saw I bought has a much larger cutting capacity, listed as 5X10, but will actually cut 5X13. This added capacity will really help me out, because most of the scrap I get exceeds the 4X6 range.
The saw was built in March of 1957, and by the looks of it was complete with all the parts it left the factory with (except the shut-off linkage). I’m partial to old American tools, as you can rebuild them, and parts are not special order from China.
When I got the saw home, I wanted to just power wash it, install a new blade, and maybe give it a quick spray can paint job. The power wash just drove home the fact that this treasure was just uglier than a bucket of scrotums. I lost control when I rolled in the shop, and about an hour later it was scattered across my bench. Heres a shot of it coming of the truck at the Yard Sale (thats me in the truck), and a couple of shots of it before the cleanup.

As you can see, its not real pretty, but upon closer inspection the only problems that were real obvious were a bad blade and blade guide bearings, and a pretty nasty gash in the table where the blade dropped (repeatedly, by the looks of it). I figured there must be more problems, so apart it came.

Heres the cut in the table, not effecting function; just ugly.

The first step after cleaning and inspection (no other problems were found) was to strip the thing for paint. It was pretty much down to the last nut and bolt, so this was not a big deal. The bigger parts were just sanded and painted (Rustoleum Smoke Grey). I like this because its pretty durable, and can be brushed or sprayed on, and is easy to touch up.

This is a shot of the repaired cut in the table that looked so nasty. This was welded with a mig welder, with standard mild steel wire. I followed Val Sander’s tips on welding cast iron, and it worked like a charm. The pic shows every flaw, it doesn’t look that bad in real life. About this point, I got tired of using my old Sony Mavica, and bought a great Kodak point and shoot. I’m still getting used to it.

The first thing to do was to assemble all the base parts that had been painted, just to get them off the bench and give me some room to work on the sub-assemblies. While I had the saw on its back, I fabricated some linkage for the auto shut off switch, which was missing (no shots of that at this point).

Here, I had to use a Porta-Power to spread the frame to insert the upper body hinge pin in the frame. I’m assuming this is how the factory did it.

This is the offset center on the frame pivot pin. It is rotated to raise and lower (level) the blade at the cutting point. To some degree, it will adjust the vertical angle. Tough to explain, you gotta see it.

The base assembled. Good to have my bench back (kinda). Now on to the sub-assemblies. First the drive wheel transmission. Just couldn’t resist taking it apart once I located some seals.

Cleaned up, assembled, and ready for the new seals.

This is how the wheels looked before the bead blasting; rusty, but smooth and un-grooved.

Heres the front wheel, with adjuster. This is so much better than the Chinese deal its not funny. Really easy to adjust.

With the working parts hung, I needed to get on the drive system (the motor). Anyone who has owned ANY Chinese power tool knows that the horses that they use to rate the horsepower on their motors are much smaller than those on American motors. Sometimes, the horses in their motors don’t survive the trip from China to the US. If you’ve plugged in a Chinese tool and watched the armature of one of their motors drip out of the housing, and onto the floor, you will know what I mean. I was hoping the Doerr 1/2 horse motor on the saw was going to be usable. Despite the stiff bearings and the mouse nest; it was.

I think this pic is the best way to explain Chinese Horsepower compared to Domestic HP. The Chinese motor is on the left.

Here it is after a new set of bearings and a good cleaning, running smooth.

Here we are with the shrouds installed test running the transmission. I hung the hydralic downfeed piston, too. I didn’t take this apart, it wasn’t leaking, and worked well. Maybe I’ll get some seals for it later if I can locate them. I had replaced all the electrical parts, and installed a good heavy 20 foot power chord. The old saw had a chord that was about 4 feet long, major inconvenience. I let the motor spin the transmission (no load) for about an hour. The motor heated to 110 degrees, but when it ran the next night it ran at about 90 degrees, just warm to the touch. Not bad for a 53 year old motor.
At this point, all I had to do was rebuild the blade guides, and install a blade, and I got so stoked being this close to making a cut, I didn’t take any pics. I had been without a saw for two weeks, and the guides just needed a bead blasting and new bearings, so this part didn’t get too much documentation. Here it is making it’s first cuts after a few adjustments to insure a straight, square cut.

1st cut, on medium speed.

A few wafers at varying thicknesses. Good square cuts. A few more adjustments……

Showing off. This cut was in the high speed pulley, and was .020 inch thick. This cut took less than a minute, and was a joy to watch. It was a 3 1/2″ blank of 4140 steel, cut with a 10-14 tooth Irwin bi-metal blade. The blades for this saw cost almost three times what I paid for the blades for the Clarke saw, but judgeing from how well the saw works with a few preliminary adjustments, I will be very happy with it. I’ve got a few more things to do to it (install the shut-off linkage, and make a stop for repeating cut length), but right now I’m just getting caught up on cutting stuff up. I’ll take some more shots of it when I get the final steps done, and get it out in the sunshine.

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29 comments

  1. john Pohlhaus on said:

    Highly Impressive.

    This is my first viewing of a CAMS post.
    What an excellent job.

  2. Great restoration! just found your site through the CAMS listserve, very nice. Ihave restored several woodworking machines from the 40′s and 50′s and am getting into metal working now.

    I hope to attend a CAMS meeting soon, thanks for sharing.

    Chris

  3. John,
    Very nice! Could you tell me the length of blade your saw uses and if a manuel is available on line.
    Thanks
    Bob

  4. Hi Bob,

    MY saw uses an 89 inch (or 7 foot 5 inch) blade (your saw may be different). I’ve been using an Irwin 10-14 TPI bi-metal blade from ENCO at about 33$ per copy with good results on steel and aluminum of varying thicknesses. It’ll cut thick stainless, but likes an aggressive feed rate, so the metal doesn’t work harden while cutting. I’m looking into getting a band saw blade welder, to drop the price on replacement blades, I was used to paying 14$ for blades for my old 4X6 Harbor Fright saw.
    I got a 10 page manual/parts manual from Ozarkwoodworker on Ebay for about 20$. I didn’t find it all that spectacular (most of his manuals ARE). I haven’t found too much on the Johnson B model out there, but will put it on the site when I find some. Enjoy your saw.

    Mick

  5. Mick,
    Thanks for the info. I too got a copy of the manuel from Ozark and you’re right there wasn’t a lot in it, but it’s a start. One thing it mentioned, but did not show, was chip brushes to clean the blade. Did your saw have them? Where would they have been located. The saw I’m working on also has a coolant pump which I was able to get running. If you’re interested, I would try and send some photos. Thanks again.
    Bob

  6. admin on said:

    Bob,

    I’d be very interested in seeing any pics you could send, and will post theme here if thats OK with you. Most of the chip brushes I’ve seen (Mine doesn’t have any) have been right in front of the trailing guide bearings, just behind the cut. I have seen others mounted farther rearward, between the guide and the drive wheel. I think a piece of felt folded over the blade would be enough to wipe the blade clean. This has been a project I’ve been wanting to do for some time, maybe I should get started on that. I just acquired a nice old Silver 20″ vertical band saw, and might make one for that saw too.

    Mick

  7. Mick,
    I’ve cleaned up the manual from Dake and made a couple of copies and would like to send you one, if that’s possible?
    Bob

  8. Bob,

    Hey, Thanks! That’d be great. I’ll Email you to get you the address, hopefully you’ll let me publish it here. I’m sure other folks would like to see it.

    Mick

  9. admin on said:

    ***UPDATE***
    I have uploaded the manual Bob sent me in Blog entry titled: “Dake Johnson B Model Horizontal Band Saw Manual”. Thanks Bob!

  10. USMCPOP on said:

    I just got one like it. Do you have any sources/part numbers for seals, guide bearings or the gearbox gasket? Thanks.

  11. admin on said:

    USMCPOP,

    Congratulations, its a great saw. Check out the blog entry on April 17th; “Dake Johnson B Model Horizontal Band Saw”, You can download the factory manual, which has all the part numbers. I bought my bearings on Ebay, or you can get the part numbers off the original bearings and go to your local electric motor shop and match them up. I used Loctite Gasket Eliminator on the gearbox (no leaks), and got the seals from a place called Industrial Components. I’ve had zero problems with my saw, its a real workhorse.

    Regards,
    Mick

  12. Todd on said:

    Hey Mick I picked up a saw just like yours and im going to refurbish it as you did. You said “I followed Val Sander’s tips on welding cast iron, and it worked like a charm.” Do you have a link to these tips? You did a great job on your saw.

    Thanks Todd

  13. admin on said:

    Todd,

    Thanks, Val Sanders is the Welding Guru in the CAMS club, and knows more about the molecular makeup of metal than I will ever know, so I won’t try to explain the procedure here. His method is fairly low tech, and is effective. I’m going to try and get him to write something up that explains it in simple terms that I can publish here.
    I hope you found the B Model Factory Manual Download I added a while back. It should be helpful when you start the rebuild.
    Good luck with the saw.

    Mick

  14. John Trumble on said:

    Do you know the where you purchased the seals for the gearbox? The part number on the seal is 482090 and is a National oil seal. I tried to find the place you called out as Industrial Components but with no luck. I’ve tried all the autoparts stores in my area and can’t find one anywhere. HELP!!

  15. monkers on said:

    I just got this same saw and was wondering if you have any photos of the electric switch and auto off feature as mine is missing completely. Also, where did you obtain the seals for the gearbox? Thank you, and great job on the saw, hope mine looks half as good when Im finished with it.
    Craig

  16. John,

    I can’t find the contact info for the named vendor I used for those seals, but if you have a National seal number, you should be able to ORDER one through your local NAPA auto parts dealer. If that fails, try Motion Industries here:

    http://www.motionindustries.com/motion3/jsp/mii/index.html

    There should be a local franchise around you, and they deal with tough orders every day. Thats where I have gone for lots of oddball stuff lately, and they always get the job done.

    Mick

  17. Monkers,

    I don’t have any pics of the linkage for the shut-off switch installed. I haven’t put it on the saw yet (its something I had to fabricate). Its nothing elaborate, just a simple linkage. The seals can be had at:

    http://www.motionindustries.com/motion3/jsp/mii/index.html

    I would clean the old seals and get the factory numbers off them for when you call them. These guys are indispensable if you have any old machines that need parts. Give them a try.

    Mick

  18. Interested read on the bandsaw. I am just completing a Marvel 612. From your photos, my Marvel uses the same transmission and blade wheels. I had been wondering what to do about that uglyblade gash in the base. I was surprised you welded yours. What i intend to do is mill out a rectangle the fit a piece of keystock, secured with a couple of setscrews. that will give me a sacrificial insert for the future. I’ll see out that works out.

  19. Rex,

    I had planned on milling a 1/4″ slot where the blade dropped, but was in a hurry to get the saw running and just let it fly. The blade tracks straight enough so that i now have a nice clean blade line in the base. I guess I’ll deal with it in another 30 or 40 years. Sounds like your plan for a sacrificial insert might be the way to go.

    Mick

  20. Jim Bishop on said:

    Very nice job on the saw, and thank you for posting the manual. I also just picked up a Model B over the weekend. Looking at mine, I think there is supposed to be a trough where those ugly cuts were that you welded. It’s needed to allow the frame to drop through the cut and work the shutoff. Mine has a couple stray cuts, but the factory machined trough is visible. Mine also has a Doerr 1/2 HP motor, single phase, which leads me to think they were OEM.
    Jim

  21. Thanks Jim. I think you are right about the trough for the blade. You can see that there was no evidence of what was there when it left the factory. I just let my blade cut a new slot, and I’ll deal with it when I rebuild the saw again in another 40 or 50 years. I’ve heard from quite a few owners with Doerr motors, and think they must have been OEM.

    Mick

  22. Mick,
    Do you happen to have any close up photos of the “sliding weight” system? Mine is missing and I would like to know how to make one up for it. Also, how is your motor mounted” Mine is cobbed up and Id like to see the original set up if possible. Thank you,
    Craig

  23. Craig,

    I have to drag the saw out to make a rolling base for my new welder (probably this weekend), and will try to get some shots of it then.

    Mick

  24. MIKE TORIGIANI on said:

    I HAVE A JOHNSON B MODEL THAT I HAVE TAKEN APART ALSO . WHERE DID YOU FIND THE ROLLER BEARINGS FOR THE BLADE . THEY DO HAVE A NUMBER ON THEM BUT CAN,T SEEM TO FINDTHEM . ALSO A SEAL KIT FOR THE HYD. CLINDER . THANKS

  25. Mike,

    The four rollers that ride on the side of the blade are Fafnir ND 3201 metal shielded bearings (quantity 4), and the rollers that ride on the back of the blade are 200 KDD (also metal shielded, quantity 2). I bought mine through Motion Industries, but they should be available through any small electric motor shop.
    I haven’t addressed my hydraulic cylinder yet, but I think the kits are available at Dake/Johnson. Download the manual here:

    http://bluechipmachineshop.com/bc_blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/B_Saw1.pdf

    You will find all the part numbers for the parts you need. They might be a little pricey, though.

    Mick

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