Thursday, 22 December 2011

Magnificent

For years now, I have been talking about - well, belly-aching about, finding a large bandsaw. My current bandsaw is a 16" Laguna - the first model with the ceramic guides. While this saw has been a good little saw for me, it has many limitations. Most of these limitations have to do with capacity and are not really a fault with the manufacturing. Most modern bandsaws tend to have really large re-saw capacity, but woefully inadequate table sizes. They also tend to have welded steel frames and are much lighter than vintage machines. And a personal pet peeve - they have very poor dust collection - more on that later. Vintage machines on the other hand, tend to be massive beasts, with huge tables and very limited re-saw capacity. I suspect the idea of re-sawing veneer was a crazy notion 60+ years ago - you could easily buy thick ‘real’ veneer. This was my great conundrum. Do I get a really big new machine with way more re-saw capacity than I will ever need in order to get a large enough work table, or do I look for a vintage machine that has the rare feature of a large re-saw capacity?

Here is my quick list of criteria.
- re-saw capacity of at least 16" (to match my 16" jointer)
- enough power to re-saw 16" comfortably
- tables at least 24"x30"
- at least a 28" wheel to give me decent cross cut capacity
- dust collection that actually works

I had narrowed it down to 3 machines (in no particular order).

The Agazzani B32 has great specs. Large table, great re-saw capacity, plenty of power and all the modern features one would look for. I had tried an Agazzani a few years ago and noted it seemed nicer than my Laguna. Dust collection - not so great.

A Zimmermann. This is a very rare bandsaw and I was only made aware of it by a friend of mine who has one. These were patternmakers saws and have similar specs to the Agazzani, but made to an even higher standard (so I am told). They are almost impossible to find used so it quickly fell to the bottom of the list due to availability.

A Yates Y30 ‘snowflake’. These are usually pre-WWII machines and are about as easy to find as a Zimmermann. They are called snowflakes because the upper wheel cover is perforated and looks like a snowflake. As soon as I saw a photo of this saw - it was placed that the top of the list. All things being equal... this machine is the most aesthetically stunning bandsaw I have ever seen (that also meets current safety standards).

So the hunt began.

The Agazzani was an easy find. Jesse at Eagle tools was a great help and was able to get all the information I needed - and then some. This very quickly became the only new bandsaw I was considering.

I put out a few feelers for a Zimmermann and eventually found one. The asking price was $10,000.00 which was more than I was willing to spend.

In February, I came across an ad for a Y30 and was directed to Pleasant Street Machinery and this link in particular. I called Pleasant St. and spoke with both Joe Snider and Ben Rock (the owner). Within 20 minutes, I knew I was at the right place. They both had a passion for vintage machinery the way I have a thing for planes. Everything felt right. One of my requests was that the machine be overhauled and any restoration work (other than new paint) be taken care of. This is a massive saw and I do not have the space, or frankly the expertise to know how to do it. I also asked that the tires be replaced. Over the course of the next several months, Ben or Joe would send me updates on the progress. They even posted a few on YouTube - here and here. It was at this point that I was grateful that I had not taken on the restoration!

There were a few setbacks and delays, but on December 5th - I was told it was ready to ship.

There is another whole side to this adventure that I have not mentioned yet and it has to do with the limitations of my workshop. I have an pair of doors that give me access to our parking spot behind the shop (below the bell shaped light).



Trouble is, these doors are not as big as they should have been (not a word Raney). The opening was 7'1" from the bottom of the header to the concrete floor. When I made the doors, I used some re-claimed white pine from the drive shed of our first house. They were a little under 7', so I had to fill in some space at the top of the door. I am sure you can see where this is going. The Y30 is just over 7'6" tall with the upper wheel in its normal position. The upper wheel does come down quite a bit - to just under 7'... without a pallet.

So, on my 40th birthday - I spent most of that unusually warm Saturday taking the doors off and stripping it down to the framing. I then re-assembled everything and put it back in place with a few strategic screws. The plan was to be able to pull the screws out and knock out the top trim work and gain the much needed 5" of extra height. That was the plan anyway.

Ben and Joe were very aware of my height restrictions and the thought of tipping a 2,300lb machine to wheel it in was pretty much out of the question. So they made a special pallet that was just high enough for a pallet jack to squeak under. It was made from oak 2x3’s and was constructed in such a way that the sled feet could be removed if we needed another 3/4".

I watched the Y30 makes its way from outside Chicago to a terminal in Cambridge Ontario - about 25 minutes from here. From Cambridge, we had made arrangements to have it transferred to a lift gate truck so it could be lowered to ground level. In a perfect world, the truck would back up to the shop, lower the machine and we could wheel it in with a pallet jack - easy-peasy. I called the shipping company in Cambridge to request that they call me an hour ahead of time so I could prepare the area and remove the door trim - I did not want to waste the drivers time. I also mentioned that they should bring the shortest lift gate truck they had as maneuvering might be an issue. The next day, while on the phone, there was a knock at the door. I went downstairs to find the truck driver standing there - in front of an 18 wheeler. So much for planning ahead.

And it was raining.

Thankfully, my friend Terry was available to help me out and he arrived within 10 minutes. I took the truck driver back to the shop to show him the situation. His first comment was “why didn’t they put it on a smaller truck?” My thoughts exactly. He thought it was worth a shot though. I knew what we would have to do. There was no way he could back up to the shop door, so Terry and I started building a platform on the gravel driveway so we could keep the saw at the same height as the shop floor. We laid down a piece of plywood and then a layer of 2x10’s and then another 2 layers of plywood. In the rain. The truck backed up to within about 7' or 8' - that was as close as he could get. Then he opened the truck door. They had put the Y30 onto another pallet to make it easier to move. We were now at least 5" too tall to clear the shop door - the bottom pallet had to come off. So we unloaded the whole thing onto the plywood platform and watched the truck pull away. Still raining.

Keep in mind, this is a 2300lb bandsaw, and while it is not as top heavy as most bandsaws - it is a scary looking monster when resting on a plywood and lumber platform on a gravel driveway and all you have is a narrowish pallet jack. There is a very short list of people that I would be comfortable helping out with a situation like this - and Terry is the top of the list. He is likely more safety conscious than I am - which was perfect.

The first challenge was to remove the bottom pallet. We raised the whole thing with the pallet jack and cut off as much of the lower pallet as we could. Through a process of raising everything and blocking in various stages, we were eventually able to remove the lower pallet completely.

We took a deep breath and moved it into position. Sadly, we were so focused on getting this done that I did not take any time to take any photos - which is too bad - it kinda looked like a war zone with pallet parts and blocking everywhere. This is the first photo I took...



... showing the whopping 1/2" of wiggle room we had to work with. But... the saw made it into the shop safely.



Here is another shot of the saw which shows the oak pallet. Despite all the rain, the saw was totally dry.



And the saw unwrapped.



And the back view.

I had previously downloaded a copy of the manual for the Y30 to find some of the specs. This is when I learned that the blade length was 17'2". I contacted my blade supplier and ordered some blades for the saw. They were to arrive within a few days.



(the motor plate)


One other major issue was power. The Y30 has a 3hp, 3phase direct drive motor. No chance of swapping the motor or getting 3 phase power, so I had to choose between a phase converter or a VFD. Phase converters are great if you are running multiple 3 phase machines - one phase converter will do an entire shop. Plus they are quite economical. This is my first and only 3 phase machine though, and there were several aspects to VFD’s that were intriguing. They offer speed control and you can make a lot of adjustments to starting up and shutting off.

Stan - a childhood friend of mine, is a bit of an electronics wizard. Actually - he is a wizard on many fronts - his machine shop is pretty amazing. He also sells and modifies VFD’s and was willing to help me out with this project (he also lent me the pallet jack to move the Y30 around).

Stan came over on the weekend with a 15hp VFD. His experience with old motors was that the stated hp was usually a conservative estimation and that this one would act more like a 5 or 6hp motor. The 15hp VFD would be able to handle whatever the motor threw at it. We pulled the plug from my Laguna bandsaw and used it for the Y30. We connected it to a dedicated 30 amp/220v receptacle and turned it on. The lower wheel came to life and within a few seconds it was up to speed. It barely made a sound. The motor was drawing 5-6 amps at full running speed. We turned it off and the wheel was still turning 20 minutes later. Granted - there wasn’t a blade - but still pretty impressive. We started it up again and measured the draw on start-up. It was in excess of 20 amps on start-up so we turned it off again and Stan re-programmed it to start up slower - he added about 4 seconds to the start-up time. This time, it maxed out at a 10 amp draw. That was pretty cool. Stan also noted that from a safety perspective, we should strive to have the wheel stopped within 10-15 seconds of hitting the off button. This could be done by reversing the flow of electricity and using it as a brake. Ok - this was really cool! He also said we may want to consider a braking capacitor. This would add further braking capacity to the VFD. We also recognized that all these numbers and readings were likely going to change once we had a blade on the saw. The blade would add resistance, but connecting the upper wheel could potentially speed things up given the added weight. But this first trial was very encouraging and I committed to a VFD over a phase converter.

One really nice benefit of the VFD is that I could remove the 3 phase magnetic switch box from the back of the saw. you can see it in the above photo of the back of the saw - that massive green box in the bottom right corner. With that gone, I could move the bandsaw 10" closer to the post and regain some much needed space.





Here is a shot of the 3 phase box removed and the gap it created. You can also see the 15hp VFD on the floor beside it.




This is the 3 phase box. I will certainly keep this in case the next owner of the saw (Riley or Lucas maybe?) needs it.

The next task was to move the bandsaw into position. I was not able to use the pallet jack for this so I decided to use a crowbar and some blocking. I cut a notch into the oak sled foot and used blocking and a crowbar to slide the saw along.



Once I had the bandsaw backed up to the post, I wanted to move it over a few inches to line up the inside edge of the frame with the edge of the post. I placed 2 long maple runners under the bandsaw in the other direction and moved it over.



Here is the Y30 in its final position. I placed it on 3/4" thick pine feet just in case I ever needed to get under it for any reason. There are notches cut into the feet so a pry bar or jack can be placed under the main casting.

There are several features of this saw that are quite astounding when you consider it is over 70 years old.

The first, and maybe most important one is dust collection. It is my impression that dust collection on bandsaws is always an afterthought - even on European machines where safety and health concerns are usually a little more important (think Festool). My Laguna bandsaw is a perfect example. The only dust port on the saw is in the back, bottom left corner - as far as you could possibly get from where the dust is actually created. I ended up building a plywood box that encloses the entire area under the table just to capture the dust.




It work very well, but the whole time I was making it I grew increasingly annoyed that I was doing this, and not the designers and engineers at Laguna. And not to pick on Laguna - this same lack of attention to dust collection appears across the board.

Contrast this with this 70 year old machine. There is a dust chute fully integrated into the main casting of the Y30. When I first opened the stove doors to the lower wheel, I noticed an unusual area just above the wheel.



It only took a second to figure it out - the dovetail on the right was the best clue. It is a slot which is meant to hold a piece of wood that deflects the dust into the chute. Brilliant! I grabbed a walnut scrap and with the blade removed, fit the dust deflector.




By manually rotating the wheel, I was able to cut the zero clearance kerf into the deflector. I also made a zero clearance insert for the table and will make new pairs of inserts and deflectors as I explore different blades.



The dust chute is a straight shot down the inside of the casting and ends up at the bottom corner just below. The outside diameter of the outlet was a perfect fit for a 6" flex hose.

Which brings me to another aspect to the saw - which is related to dust collection. I knew that the trunnion on the Y30 and Y36’s were massive, but this was the first time I had seen one in person. Massive is an understatement! The trunnion on the Y30 is 13" wide!




This is totally overkill, but I suspect there is a hidden benefit beyond the obvious. The trunnion is so massive, it completely encases the underside of the table including the lower blade guides. The effect is the same as my plywood box under my Laguna - the dust is captured.



Here is a shot of the front of the bandsaw and the cover plate to the trunnion.



With the cover off, you can see the lower blade guide. With the trunnion being so large, there was ample room to comfortably adjust the lower guide.

Once I had put my dust collection system back together, I turned it on to see how much suction there was. It was able to pull sawdust off my hand in front of the walnut deflector. Finally, a bandsaw with decent dust collection.

At this stage, all that remains is to get the 7.5hp VFD and install it. Given that it is 2 days before Christmas, I think I will have to wait a little bit longer before I can take the first test cut.

25 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

Wow. That is one massive machine. Does your table saw seem a little redundant now?

22 December 2011 22:40  
Anonymous Michael Gatling said...

Konrad,
Great post! Sweet saw! Now I can't decide what I want (need?) worse, a K13 or a Y30......

23 December 2011 00:58  
Blogger Richard Wile said...

Good Story Konrad, lots of work for an important upgrade!

23 December 2011 06:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Kevin,

The table saw has been somewhat redundant for a long time already. It is only used as a cross-cut sled or for the odd piece of plywood. I will not rip solid wood with it. Ever. Which meant my Laguna did 97% of all the wood cutting.

Cheers,
Konrad

23 December 2011 08:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Michael,

That is pretty funny. If you find a Y30 - get it - I plan on making planes for a while yet:)

Cheers,
Konrad

23 December 2011 08:55  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Richard. Next time you are over you can try it out if you want. But consider yourself warned... you know what happens when you visit... :)

Cheers,
konrad

23 December 2011 08:56  
Blogger mckenzie said...

Ah man, tool envy over here. I've seen a Y30 and Y36 in person and they're quite impressive machines, i know you made the right choice. I have a vfd for my disc sander, and although i do like all the features they offer, i wish i bit the bullet and got a rotary phase converter (the machines i'm adding tend to be 3 phase). I'm no electrician but i think a 3 hp motor will act like a 3hp motor, unless there's something seriously wrong. A 7.5hp vfd might be over kill, and they get very expensive after 5hp.

Congrats!

Tyler

23 December 2011 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Konrad,

I'm delighted that you finally found your snowflake. I don't think you'll ever regret it. You really can't do better. I look forward to seeing updates once you start using the saw. 30" is a great size. They're not nearly as common as 36", though.

Dan

23 December 2011 11:55  
Anonymous NIels said...

Congratulations, best self-bought christmas present ever!
That's one sexy beast from a bygone era. I can't wait to see some of massive resaws you pull off that baby.
Cheers,
Niels

23 December 2011 15:34  
Blogger mokusakusensei--woods teacher said...

I taught at a high school in Utah and I had a 36 YA. I timed its start at 14.5 seconds. Smoothest bandsaw ever. The saw was sold when they tore the old school down and made a new shop in the new school. I have no idea how much it sold for, but I know that it was less than $1000.

23 December 2011 20:37  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks tyler,

I noticed the Y36? in the background of your radial saws post. funny how you start seeing them everywhere once you are aware of them. I have gone for 10 years without having to deal with 3 phase - but you may be right in the long run - who knows where all this may end up. At this point, I cannot imagine replacing my 16" jointer for something bigger... but who knows. The reason for the 7.5 Hp is because it has a better capacity of slowing the motor down once you hit the stop button. That was the theory anyway. I will certainly write another post once the Y30 is alive.

Merry Christmas,
Konrad

24 December 2011 08:13  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Dan. I can hardly wait myself. I am hoping there will be some time next week to install the VFD and fire it up. I am not sure why the Y30 is less common than the Y36 - maybe worth asking at Yates.

Merry Christmas,
Konrad

24 December 2011 08:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Niels - and I agree - the best self-bought Christmas present I have ever bought! And don't you worry - there will be a post as soon as something big gets sawn in half.

Merry Christmas,
Konrad

24 December 2011 08:17  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Mokusakusensei,

Wow - that must have been a sad day to see your shop of 31 years torn down. And to see the Y36 disappear. Hopefully it went to a good home and is still being enjoyed. I will see if we can time the start up of the Y30 to compare them - thanks for the reference time.

Best wishes,
Konrad

24 December 2011 08:23  
Blogger Tico Vogt said...

Congratulations Konrad. The whole operation, from how you determined what you were going to acquire, to the rehab of the machine, and to the decision over the VFD is impressive. It's enough to cause a certain amount of envy in your readers. To top it off you have a friend like Stan.... where do you find guys like that?

I'm curious about the fantastic design of the vented upper door. It must have been costly to manufacture. All purely for aesthetics?

My take-away from reading this post and Ron Brese's about moving his huge machine this Spring with Jameel's help is that the cost of hiring professionals to do the complete move has to be factored into the price tag. I have one former friend who turned sour on me after being asked to help me move a 20" Rockwell band saw into my shop when it was delivered ahead of schedule and dumped in the rain on my driveway. An hour of awkward back twisting and knuckle bashing was something he never seemed to get over!

This summer I read a fantastic biography of Samuel De Champlain which has fired me up to travel north next year. Maybe I'll swing by to have a re-saw.

24 December 2011 08:47  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Tico.

It was a really long process, and while there were moments when I grew impatient - I am glad I waited to find my dream saw. I think there are others that would have done everything I wanted - but I would have been somewhat disappointed. As you observed - the look of this saw is in a league of its own.

There were a few manuals on-line that I downloaded and I one of them mentioned the vents in the upper door. It said “...which provides for air circulation, cuts down windage, and is more rigid than screen or sheet metal.” The door itself is extremely heavy so I can see the comparison to a sheet steel covering. but for me - the aesthetics of those top wheel covers is just pure inspired design. I am working on a blog entry that is all about this - once functionality has been solved - it is the designers job to impart beauty.

Your comment about having friends helping with moving things really struck a chord with me Tico. It is a really important point and has me thinking about the manner in which my circle of friends help each other out. This could be another blog entry too!

By all means - if you are ever up this way please feel welcome to stop by for a visit and a re-saw.

Merry Christmas,
Konrad

24 December 2011 09:34  
Anonymous Chris Bame said...

Awesome saw Konrad. And I thought my new Festool cordless drill was a good self-bought Christmas present. I'm curious what is the smallest blade you can run on a big bandsaw like that?

25 December 2011 04:45  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Chris,

Don't apologize for your Festool drill - that is a pretty awesome self-gift too. And this was a once in a lifetime thing for me. It was a very long time in the making.

I have a 1/2" blade on it right now (not running yet), but the tension guide has a marking for 1/4" so I would assume a 1/4" blade would be fine too. I have used only 1/2" blades on my Laguna for the last 6 years for everything from re-sawing to cutting out plane parts. I will start there on the Y30 and see how it goes.

Cheers,
Konrad

26 December 2011 09:23  
Blogger Al DaValle said...

Konrad,

That is exciting! I have an Agazzani I bought the 3-phase version. I bought it from Jesse at Eagle. They were great to work with. It was an ordeal getting it into the basement and setting up the phase converter but well worth it in the end. I don't know if I will ever be able to get it up those stairs however!

But let's see an image of the top wheel...the snow flake.

Merry Christmas!
Al DaValle

28 December 2011 21:40  
Anonymous Eric said...

Konrad,

Wow, congrats. Gary Rogowski at the Northwest Woodworking Studio has that same bandsaw. I've seen it many times and it is an impressive piece of old iron. Rogowski is a bandsaw afficionado (and loves old Yates machines), so if you have any questions about it, you might give him a shout. A picture of Gary's can be seen here at one of his student's blogs.

28 December 2011 23:21  
Anonymous Jamie Hubbard said...

Hi Konrad, I'm pretty new to this (the technology side), love the bandsaw, it just looks like a brilliant machine.
I've been looking at your blog for a while now, your planes are fantastic, and your cabinet making is great, and the photography is excellent too.
I'm just in the middle of being made redundant from a boat builder in the Midlands in the UK, and really want to get back to woodworking full time, and making planes. I met up with Bill Carter nearly 20 years ago, at a David Stanley Auction, while I was at college (I'd left work to do full time college) and that’s when I made my first plane. A trip an hour or two up the road was all it took to be totally bowled over by Bill and his fantastic creations, I wasn't with him for long, but the impression on me was so great. So now I’m going to set up on my own, to make furniture and planes. I’ve started a blog, www.worcestershirecabinetmaker.blogspot.com I hope it’s not too similar to yours, but it’s by no means set up properly yet, I’ve got pictures to take, and add to the title, and shift some things around, but the blog is just so useful for keeping in touch with progress. I will be meeting up with Bill and Sarah in March at the next David Stanley tool auction, where I hope to purchase one of Bills planes.
It will be a while before I’m set up properly, due to extending the house to create more room for the family and a workshop for me, If you get time have a look.

Many thanks

Jamie Hubbard

1 January 2012 11:01  
Anonymous Wilbur Pan said...

So jealous. Raney told me about your bandsaw/door issues. Glad to see that it all worked out.

2 January 2012 22:53  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Al,

The only down side to all this I feeling badly that I did not support Jesse at Eagle Tools. He was a great help every time I contacted him. I know the feeling of not wanting to move... the more I pack into my shop... the more I dread the thought of ever having to move it!

I will post an amateur photo of the upper wheel covering in the next post.

Best wishes,
Konrad

6 January 2012 22:14  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the link. I have it running sweetly now, but if I have any questions - I know who to check with.

Cheers,
Konrad

6 January 2012 22:15  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Wilbur,

Yeah - Raney rubs that one in as often as he can. Can't say I blame him though:)

Cheers,
Konrad

6 January 2012 22:16  

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