Rebuilding A Johnson Model B Horizontal Band Saw

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.

Please have a look at the and let provide your special maintenance and tool needs..

32 replies
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  1. mick
    mick says:


    Thanks for letting me know about the dead link (its been fixed). The access problems are due to some new security measures that have been installed recently.

    My B model looked pretty sad when I first got it, but purrs like a kitten now. Most of the parts are available locally, and theres nothing high-tech about it. I look forward to years of service from mine. Good luck with yours.


  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    Thanks, Mick. My saw appears to be older than the manual, but as you said there is nothing hi-tech about it. It does need a clean-up, but for now it works, and will be used until I have time to get it done.


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