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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cleaning Up a Delta Band Saw and Installing New Tires (Model 28-185)

Okay - here is my first world problem: I have a large Craftsman 12" Band Saw. It is from the late 60's/early 70's and while not elegant or something I'd base a career around, it gets the job done. It is a bit of a beast though and changing the 80" blades every time I want to so do something fine is a pain. I decided I "needed" a bench top band saw that I'd use for detail work and could keep a small blade on while I had a medium or large blade on its big brother.

I won't bore you with the details of my Craigslist/Freeserve/OfferUp/LetGo searches. Suffice it to say, some people are nuts. Some crazy low and even more crazy high offerings for what in many cases were saws that may be dangerous or unusable.

Eventually I got wind of a 8" Delta that is from the mid-90's and looked to be in good shape. The ad promised that it "ran great." I like my other Delta tools so for $55 I was all in. Problem was it was about a three hour round trip to even look at it. So my brother, who lives much closer to the seller,  did me a solid and offered to pick it up. I asked him to confirm that it ran. It did so he picked it up for me. He even dropped it off at my place so I was super happy about the deal.

I figured I was going to need to see how to adjust it so I grabbed a copy of the instruction manual for the 28-185 8" Bench Band Saw from (A fantastic source for manuals.) I was actually pretty giddy when I turned it on and it purred. Okay, time to clean it up and start making fiddly stuff!

My first bit of apprehension came when I noticed what looked like little pebbles on the table and inside the casing. They looked like the gravel in a fish tank but were soft and felt like rubber. I thought what were they cutting with this little guy? I imagined blocks of ballistics jelly and then headed off to bed with visions of little intricate wooden creations dancing in my head.

Well, then in the full light off the next day, I realized the source of the pebbles. The tires were a wreck, The tires had pretty much disintegrated and the wheels themselves were filthy. When I had test run it before, the bottom wheel had stopped where there was some rubber left, So at first glace the tire just looked dirty but it was actually almost completely gone. the top wheel was even worse.  Now with more realistic goggles on, I started noticing the rust, the dirt and just the bleachhhh all over the saw. I put me in a funk for a couple of days.

Well, a certain wise freshwater crustacean on the other side of the Potomac told me to put my big boy pants on and reminded me that it was exactly what I wanted. So what if it needed tires? He would have replaced them even if they hadn't been a complete wreck because new tire are BETTER than worn ones. Hmmmm... quality. There's a word I don't focus enough on. He was right, Time to roll up my sleeves and make this abused cast away into a valuable member of Team Toy Making Dad.

So I won't go through each step but let me tell you what I used to clean the saw:

  • Lacquer Thinner - (Basically acetone but with additives to slow the drying time.) I used it to get the adhesive and residue left from the old tires off of the wheels. Use in a well ventilated place unless you want to go to a happy place and pass out. Also, wear gloves.
  • Denatured Alcohol - I didn't want to leave any of the harsher residues behind so I used this to clean the wheels of lacquer thinner and parts I dipped in rust remover.
  • Tool and Bit Cleaner - I used it as a general cleaner. It seems very mild and I figured, good enough for blades, good enough for the other metal bits.
  • Krud Kutter The Must for Rust rust remover - Yeah... this stuff worked crazy well. It did take the paint off of the rusted parts as well but hey, no complaints. If (when) they get rusty again, I'll just clean them a second time.) Also... Krud Kutter... sorta Kinda Kinks if you ask me. No doubt named by a Well Respected Man.
  • Alumaslick Spray - This was used to loosen up the mechanics on the Dancing Man. music box. The vast majority of the saw is actually aluminum and this is labeled as a lubricant and preservative. So I used it to give a quick coat on pieces once they were fully cleaned.
Again, I won't go into every screw and nut, but here are the main points and some of the trickier or more interesting bits.

Before After

 The top wheel came off with a large flat head screwdriver. The bottom wheel had a small Philips head that immediately stripped when I went to remove it. It eventually came off and was replaced with a hex head screw (3mm like almost all the other screws on the saw.) . It attaches directly to a shaft on the motor and it has a small key that locks the wheel to the shaft.

 The upper guides looked awful but after a pretty quick cleaning they really looked brand new. The support bearing really loosened up after the cleaning and now spins freely. The bottom guides were actually in relatively good shape. I think they were more protected from the elements since they were inside the case. Here they are after being cleaned.

This is a close up of what the Krud Kutter rust remover does. The screws did have black paint on them but that was removed along with the rust. It is really just a 10 or 15 minute soak in the solution and then I cleaned them off with the denatured alcohol and bit cleaner. They were finished with a light coat of the Alumaslick lubricant.

The table is made from aluminum so there was no rust but plenty of dirt. When removing the angle guide from the table, I was pretty shocked to see that wasps had taken residents in the saw at some point. Those are Mud Dauber nests. So they apparently don't sting often but they kill spiders, and I sorta like spiders. They have also caused at least two fatal airplane crashes. Seriously... I'm not making that up.

The upper guides are raised and lowered by a pretty solid gear adjustment. There is a plastic guide that thanks to a spring keeps constant pressure between the toothed rod of the upper guide assembly and this adjusting gear. The gear itself is held in with two tiny set screws that attach it to the adjustment knob. Even though parts of this are plastic, it cleaned up great and seems very solid and has held up well over 25 years (some of which appear to have been pretty rough.)

The latches for the door seemed to be a lost cause until I took them out and cleaned them. They are basically a hinged screw that goes through a rubber washer. They didn't work at first because there was so much rust on the screw it couldn't hinge properly. They had also been tightened too much.on the rubber washer. You need enough play so that when the latch is pushed down, it can pull the nut and washer on the end of the screw back to compress the rubber washer and catch against the round hole in the bracket attached to the frame. Once cleaned and adjusted, they work great.

The biggest problem with the saw was the condition of the tires, I ordered new tires from Sulfur Grove Tool. They have quite an assortment of urethane band saw tires. They also have a wicked cool video on how to get your tire on the wheels with a super handy jig.

If you are going to install new tires, you really should watch the video linked above, but in general the idea is...

Take a 2x4. Clamp it to a bench. Put the wheel on there and mark the center and a spot about 3/4" from the outside of the rim. Then drill  two holes in it.
My holes were 7/16" and I put lengths of 7/16" dowels in there, The one on the outside edge of the rim was drilled at a very slight angle.
Now put the wheel over the little dowel and a piece of PVC (in this case 1/2") over the other dowel. This will work like a bearing.
Then slip your tire around the PVC and start to fit and stretch it around the wheel. Take your time and just keep feeding it around the wheel. The dowel/PVC bearing gives you a third hand. A hand that holds the tire way stronger that you could ever hold on your own.
The band is TIGHT. It takes a fair amount of effort to get it on but this jig really worked. No heating up ties or worrying about damaging them. The first wheel took a couple of tries but only took a few minutes. I knew what to do with the second one and it probably took less than a minute or two to get on.

After it is on, remove the PVC sleeve and then the dowel. Use the PVC pipe to smooth the tire into place and make sure it is properly seated in the wheel groove.
So one more wipe down of the case and then it was time to test with a new 1/8" blade. I actually read the manuals on tools (shocker, huh?) and even though I have a fair amount of band saw experience, I was surprised to see this. When using a 1/8" blade, you actually adjust the lower guide to this angle so that the support bearing will be close enough to the blade to do its job. Sorta cool.

I made my guide adjustments, put tension on the blade and fired this little guy up. Motor runs great and I fed him his first of what should be many pieces of Clementine box wood. I used the miter gauge from my stationary belt sander which fits perfectly. Good clean cut. I'm super happy.

So there you go. Maybe I could have spent another week or two looking to save another $10 or $15 but then again, maybe I would have gotten something in worse condition. The clean up effort was fun and very satisfying. I also feel like I know every inch of this saw now. Looking forward to making a lot of sawdust and hopefully a lot of toys and memories as well.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Building a BRXLZ Football Helmet

It is no secret to anyone who knows me for more than five minutes that I am big Skins fan.
"Burgundy and Gold until I am cold" 
They are my team, through thick and through thin.
I know it is irrational, and in some ways, that makes me like them even more.

So at this year's "Secret Santa" at work, a buddy got me a gift that all but screamed "BUY ME FOR TOY MAKING DAD!" It is a non-Lego, lego type building kit of a Redskins football helmet.

Here are the facts...

  • The company name is Foco but the building system is BRXLZ
  • Maybe pronounced Bricksells?
  • Foco makes BAZILLIONS of team collectibles for all the pro leagues in the US and about 100 universities.
  • They make helmets in two different sizes as well as player figures, mascots etc for all the NFL teams.
  • They also cover sports leagues all over the world with a mind boggling array of products. Their stadium kits are pretty amazing.
  • This kit has 1589 pieces when completed.

I still have all of my Legos from when I was little and I still break them out to build the occasional battlecruiser/aircraft carrier hybrid. One thing that I don't like about modern Lego kits is how many specialized pieces there are. Don't get me wrong, the kits are amazing and bring joy to millions but they aren't my bag. I like it old school. No specialty pieces. Just building blocks.

So that was a pleasant surprise about this kit. It is all blocks. There are only three "special" blocks and they were just to hold the Skins logo on the back of the helmet in place. Everything is just blocks in 10 basic shapes or so plus the handful of special pieces.

Besides having a lot of pieces... did I mention that most of the pieces are small? I mean really, really, really tiny.

They come in five colors. This is them in order of most to least pieces included in the kit. The black and brown pieces can be a little hard to differentiate without good light and they are a little hard to pick out in the instructions compared to the red/burgundy pieces.. On thing to keep in mind is that the brown pieces are only used on the Native American face logo on the helmet. (Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, the former President of the National Congress of American Indians, helped design the logo. It is a composite of six photographs of Native Americans that he submitted. It replaced the "R" logo that Vince Lombardi introduced to echo the Packers' G logo helmets.)

The instructions are almost IKEA-esque in that there are no written instructions. It is all pictures. It shows where each block goes and the instructions are in color. For the most part, each step in the instructions (and there are 66 of them) is a layer of blocks or a sub assembly. The current layer is shown in color and all previous assembly is in gray. (Or it might be grey, I couldn't tell.)

There are a few steps that are sub-assemblies and they work just like the rest of the instructions except that they are added as one piece to the main assembly at the next step. This is part of the front of the helmet (not a Romulan Bird of Prey.) On each page there is a color call out that shows exactly how many of each block is needed for that step.

The first step was sorting all the colors. Taking the time to sort the colors was time well spent. It really helped later. You would think that it would make sense to have bagged the colors separately, but hey, what do I know.

Once sorted, I got to work. I found that the instructions were 100% accurate. I had to refer to the instructions with a magnifying glass at times, but all the pieces went where there were supposed to. My advice is to get familiar with the little plastic pry bar removal tool included with the kit. You will make mistakes. If you get to step and something isn't right, back up and take pieces off until you are definitely in sync with the instructions.

Another piece of advice - DO NOT GLUE THE PIECES!
Yes the face-mask can be a little fragile and fiddly, but if you glue it in place as some Amazon reviewers suggested, you won't be able to adjust it to fit the rest of the helmet. Be patient. You may need to adjust it a few times. Big deal.

Take your time. It's gonna take hours. Embrace the challenge. Think of yourself as a manual 3-D printer.

When I was finished there were 69 extra pieces bring the whole piece count to 1,657. These were definitely extra pieces which is a nice touch. I did notice there was one extra of each of the special pieces. So, you could probably lose a piece or two and still get by but you'd be cutting it real close.

I think I had about 7 or 8 hours in on the build and it was immensely satisfying once I was done. I know it is just following the instructions and it is a model/puzzle and not a toy per-say, but it was a lot of fun. I like how it came out and it will have a special spot on my shelf for years to come. I highly recommend it.

And now, with assistance from Kira, Teddy and Scott Joplin, I present the entire build in 3 minutes and 30 seconds...

Friday, January 11, 2019

Repairing a Reuge Dancing Clown Music Box

I had seen "Dancing Man" around my in-law's house since my wife and I started dating in the late 80's (Just to be clear, 1980s as opposed to 1880s.)

Dancing Man is actually a clown. He lives in a tent shaped wooden windup music box. The "Can-can" plays while he does a goofy unpredictable dance. (Actually, truth be told, the Can-can is the dance, the music is from Jacques Offenbach's Galop Infernal) It is a neat little action and he really seems to come alive with his body going one way and his legs every which way.

Over time though, his dances started to slow down and his musical accompaniment was missing a few notes. My in-laws asked if I would take a look and I jumped at the chance. I was really curious as to how he worked. I also knew how special he was to my wife and wanted some "Boy, I'm sure glad I married a  tinkerer man-child and not someone who was tidy and wealthy" attention.

When I got him home and on the workbench though, I got cold feet. There were three screws on the back and two underneath. There didn't seem to be an easy way to remove the Dancing Man from the box. I had visions of unscrewing something and hearing various snaps and "sproings" as springs went in every direction. I set him aside. After all, the first words of the Toymender's Oath are "First do no harm."

So this fall rolled around and I decided it was time to take a more serious look and hopefully get him up and dancing for Christmas. I did a little research and thanks to the old sticker on his base found out Dancing Man was actually a music box made in Switzerland by the famous Reuge company.

I sussed out that the three screws on the back were to hold the musical movement in place and that the two screws on the bottom held the box together. Once I took the bottom screws out, I could see that the box was assembled with routed dadoes and rabbets.
The boards holding Dancing Man and the movement are made of plywood and the rest of the box is solid wood. Everything is painted. The decorations are not decals.

The Dancing Man's dance motion comes from a bent wire that is held in place by a screw on the musical "comb" (more on that later.) The end of that wire is moved by a very small cam. That cam sets up the irregular motion of the the Dancing Man. I was able to get a screwdriver in sideways to gradually work the screw out that held the wire from Dancing Man. Just a 1/4 turn at a time being careful not to damage anything.

  1. The cam that sets off the irregular dance
  2. The drum spins and those pins are the pattern for the song. Notes play as those pins pass through the comb.
  3. The comb. Several teeth appear to be missing.
  4. The empty screw hole that holds the wire and clip that makes dancing man dance.
  5. On/Off pin. Pushing it in from the back of the toy pushes a wire that interrupts a small spinning fan causing the movement to stop.
  6. If the fan can spin, the music plays. When it stops, all music and motion stop.
  7. The spring. The winding key is is on the other side of the plywood.
In researching I found that the main reason for music box slowdowns is that the movement needs to be lubricated. It may be that old lubricant has solidified or gotten dirty. Several spray lubricants were mentioned, at least one of which had to ordered by the case! Ummm maybe if I was in the business of fixing every music box ever!  I eventually purchased a single can of spray lubricant intended for aluminum windows. Although the movement is clearly not aluminum this sort of lubricant was what was called for.

After using some rubbing alcohol soaked cotton swabs and compressed air to give it a general cleaning, I moved on to the spray lubricant. I sprayed some into a plastic cap and then used a small artists style paintbrush  to dab the lubricant on to the various gears.The difference in the speed of the movement was immediate.

Original on the right
Replacement on the left
The next issue was that he didn't sound right. He was playing too slowly and the lubricant had helped that but notes seemed, even to my tone deaf ears, to be missing. There were clear gaps on the comb.

While it is possible that the missing teeth are by design, it didn't make much sense. Why remove teeth? If you didn't want to play a particular note, the pin on the drum for that note could have been left off. This music box was sold with several other song possibilities and that would be handled by using a different drum. No need to customize the drum and comb for each combination. 

I purchased a set of Reuge replacement combs on a certain online "auction" site. The replacement comb was the same size and had the same number of teeth as the original but the screw holes did not match. Here is the old one on top of the new one. Grrrrrr.

Lucky for me a wise crustacean just happened to be at my place during his football team's bye week and he set about reshaping the hole with some very fine needle files. Both holes needed to be adjusted. I wanted to fire up the rotary tool but slow and steady wins the race and saves the day on this.

Next came dozens of attempts to adjust the comb just right. Most of which were wasted since I knew I'd have to take at least one screw off for final assembly. Eventually I had to just take the leap and hope for the best on final assembly.

Crawfish had suggested just a soft cloth and warm water to clean the 40+ year old box. I was pleasantly surprised to see how effective that was. It had really held up well under the day to day dirt. I didn't try to touch up any of the paint. He had be played with a lot of over the years so he had earned any scars.

After I reassembled him I needed to replace the little balls that marked the top and corners of the tent. Only two of the original five metal balls had survived the years. The ones that were left were 9mm brass balls with tiny rods that fit into holes on the tent.  I had to laugh that when I searched for "9mm brass" on the internet; I immediately got a lot of ammunition hits in my search results. Changing the search to "9mm ball" didn't help since that is an ammo term as well!

So a friend of  mine, who pretty much has the entire contents of a Hobby Lobby in her basement, hooked me up with some 3/8" wooden balls. Not exact but close enough. Since I wasn't using the originals, you won't know they are a little bigger. I used a drill press vise to hold them in place while I drilled a 1/16" in hole in them. I glued a small nail in place and then cut the heads off the nails. Instant rods.

I used metallic gold acrylic paint and then finished them off with  a top coat of high gloss spray acrylic. I then used tiny dabs of hot glue to hold them in place. I didn't want to epoxy them in case someone wants to do a true restoration. They look like they belong.

Here he is as he was initially playing along with a look at his music box and one of his post new comb tests.

And here he is all done.

On Christmas, my in-laws were pleasantly surprised and genuinely happy to see Dancing Man back in action. They have certainly been amazing to me and my family over the years so this was one of those times where there was certainly joy in the giving. It was fun to work on and very satisfying... and that fact that he sorta creeps my sister-in-law out was an added bonus!

Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


About Me

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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.