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Thread: Bandsaw review (Steel City 18in)

  1. #1

    Bandsaw review (Steel City 18in)

    Well, I got power over the last weekend and finished assembly and tuning last night so I figured I could share my observations.

    Overall, I am very pleased with this purchase. It should do everything I can concieve of needing to do at this moment. Very robust and sturdy design. It is not a Mini-Max or Laguna etc. but I don't think it was intended to be. I would like to have access to the Grizzly/ Rikon/ Jet and Delta offerings of this size to make further comparisons. (if you have one and would like to have hands on access as well, give me a shout)

    Assembly was very straight forward, there are a couple of details that could have been mentioned in the manual. (had I taken pictures/paid more attention at the show it would have helped) Specifically the orientation of the angle iron for the rear fence support and that the "goo" on the trunion mounts for the table was actually assembly grease (to save you from having to do it when installing the table). Actually, assembly consists of... uncrate everything, install the table, install the fence and rails and go thru set-up adjustments.

    I did find two things that are annoying and will be calling after the holiday about... 1. blade clearance insert. This has to be modified (at least on the one shipped with mine) to clear the blade.

    Thankfully, I put it in and was turning the wheels by hand and heard the set of the teeth making contact with it before I started it.

    The next I didn't notice until I had been running it for a while and smelled something like a burnt belt. I opened the lower cabinet and saw some black 'soot' at the bottom... did some checking and found the culprit...

    The wheel brush was smashed down against the tire. I broke out the wrenches to adjust it... one slight problem... it was already adjusted to the limit. For the time being I am going to live with it but it will be mentioned.

    One more review, comment... I ordered a number of blades from suffolk (timberwolf) I installed one of the 1in blades (ordered 2 one of them as a spare)that I ordered. Setup as instructed (flutter test etc...) and the first 1in blade that I tried I could not get to settle down and run smooth. I was cranking on the tension to the point of hearing the motor change pitch. Backed off the tension some, shut it down switched blades and this one had no issue fluttering and getting back to stabil. I can still hear the weld as it hits the tires but it isnt nearly like the first blade. I am assuming there is a bad weld on the first blade that I tried resulting in unstability and noise? If this is the case... might suggest ordering in pairs in the future...

    I still have a lot of learning to do with bandsaws and this bandsaw but with anything... it takes time. I have no doubt that this was the right decision for me at this point. Some minor annoyances but I am assuming that I would have critisizms of any bandsaw that I purchased.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    I'm sure it is a great saw. There are always adjustment glitches with any new gadget. Have you tried facing the opening of the insert to the rear? If that doesn't work you might just have to hog out the opening a little more.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Waterford, MI
    Brent. Is there any room for adjustment in how the table bolts on? I'm wondering if you've got a way to move the table so that the insert slot is centered on the blade. Course that would mean the lower bearings would have to be adjustable in that same direction too, but I'm wondering if that's causing the problem. As far as the brush goes, is the bracket leg that bolts to the saw slotted as well (which would raise it) or just the leg for the brush attachment?
    Link to my ongoing ClearVue DC Install on CV's site: http://www.gallery2.clearvuecyclones...s-Mini-CV1400/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Cambridge, Mass
    Hey Brent. I'm no bandsaw genius, but I noticed something in your first picture that intrigued me. The throat plate seems symetrical and logic would dictate that the blade should be ideally in the middle of the slot. The left hand bearing seems located properly (based on my crude overwrite below).

    So my question is: What's happening behind that shroud?

    Regardless of the throat plate issue, shouldn't the blade be right next to that bearing?

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    I mounted the plate both directions and still the same. The guide bearings are pretty large and are hidden by the blade guard. None of the bearings are making contact. Marsh Powertools suggested (where I purchased) that I move the table/ trunions to center it... Not going to happen as everything is fixed in relationship with the frame. I can order new plastic zero clearance plates but its the little details that bug the begezzus outta me. FWIW... the pict that shows the blade making contact with the frame... the blade tension is relaxed. Doug, I took the brush off and its slotted everywhere but just not enough... I have run it long enough now that the bristles are worn abit so its not so much of an issue other than the point. I will be requesting one from customer service. When I get froggy I will break out the rattail file or dremel and correct the situation. Otherwise I have no complaints.

    I ran some 8/4 oak thru it and it didnt miss a beat. It would cut as fast as I could feed it. I will try a bit of re-sawing this afternoon and see what happens...

    I figured I would post a largely unbiased hobbiest review... I have no practical 'hands on' points to compair against other than watching Doug's MM in action. I am a CAD designer by trade and little details catch my attention.

    The saw holds no disappointments... its a new product and things get missed often by those working intently on them. I deal with it every day at work.. no big deal but I am dissappointed in the first blade that I tried. Suffolk will be getting a call on Tuesday...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Thanks for the review Brent. I very much like reading this sort of "real hobbyist experience” review as opposed to the big “shoot out” reviews that we often get in magazines.
    Cheers, Frank

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
    It appears the blade is against the right side of the back thrust bearing. The blade is meant to ride against its face, not on the side of that bearing.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  8. #8
    Steve Clardy Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Wenzloff View Post
    It appears the blade is against the right side of the back thrust bearing. The blade is meant to ride against its face, not on the side of that bearing.

    Take care, Mike
    Yep. I can't see it clearly for the orange guard, but thats the way it looks to me.
    Thats why the blade isn't centered in the insert, and its eating up the bracket below.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Atlanta, Ga.
    Afternoon Brent...

    My first post so I guess that makes me a "newbie". I wish my body felt that way! ha.. ha... Doug S. asked me to come over from Knots (FWW forum) to look at your problems with your new Steel City 18" BS. My curiousity was aroused after someone posted about it looking just like the Jet 18" and they were wondering if it was a copy? I had a down deposit on the MM 16" at that time but it still led me to the IWF (International WW Fair) in Atlanta to compare it to Jet and others for those that don't have the capability to see one first-hand.

    Strickly a small seed of curiousity at the time, but soon that seed grew into a deeper interest. After 20 hours of going over every inch of it and it's competitors at both IWF and Redmond & Son Machinery here in Atlanta, I drew some conclussions. I showed up armed with machinest straight edges., machinist squares, tapes and 35 years observation and tinkering with WW machines.

    My findings turned from curiousity to passion resulted in a long review thread at FWW Knots (I'm SARGE..grinder47) there and several follow up threads on which is current as a poorly executed review of the SC 18" just appeard in FWW in this month's issue. I along with others have re-futed that review as the reviewer is not a band-saw man, just a paid reviewer who has written some very good articles for the mag.. but apparentlty not a very good working knowledge of machinery. He found ans issue that should have never went to press before calling SC and getting it corrected as it was isolated and the title generate unfounded negative impressions. If I were Steel City I would be on the phone to Taunton Press on Tuesday when they open and I'm sure they will be.

    Sorry to all for being so winded.. but when you spend the amount of time I have with this BS.. you ain't gonna cover ir all in a para-graph! :>)

    I will try to be as brief as I can... I notice you are slightly annoyed that the insert in relationship to blade is off center.. and that the bracket for the wheel brush got drilled on a Monday or Friday by someone having a industrial "bad hair day".

    Every one of the Steel City 18"s are not precisely center of insert aligned. If the blade is touching the edge of the insert slot, that is the worst I have en-countered so far. But.. being in the center of the slot is has nothing to do with the proper function of the saw. I looked at an "old iron" vintage 36" BS recently up for sale in Ark. at an auction. 2000 pounds of premium cast iron on that Tannewitz that didn't miss a beat 24/7 on a production line and guess what? The blade didn't ride center insert but what difference to the quality of the machine did it make. None! Solution.. enlarge the insert or even better yet put a zero tolerance on and drill some hole that will help with dust collection on what is already the finest dust pick up on any BS I have already seen.. barr none. And yep, that's includes the Itallion Stallions as MM, Laguna, Aggazani, etc. etc. I build Muscle Cars and I have never seen a steering wheel mounted dead center on the dash baord of them or any other car. Do they still function?

    The brush was jammed into the wheel at the finest adjustment. The brush must not only touch the wheel to properly clear saw-dust, it must have decent pressure to lightly scrub. Solution:.. Take your shop scissors and trim the bristles to a point that occurs.

    My thoughts are if these are the only points you found that you are not totally sastified.. you are a lucky man and Steel City did a fine job of engineering the saw before it delivered. Shakespear wrote, "Roses have throns and Silver Fountains mud".. And that is true with every peice of WW machinery (especially BS's as they are the most finiclky machine in your shop). Ask Doug what he has to do on his Stallion MM 16" to get the lower door open fully as the rear wheel on the mibility kit won't allow it to clear from the factory. Take a look at the armadilla tail (guide bar safety shield) on his Max and see if you have perfect access to the uppper bearing without visual interference. Same on your Steel City. The manufacturers have to extend the shield down over the bearing per thier countries export safety regulations to ship over-seas. Solution: Cut if off just below the bracket. Call MM tech and they will tell you to do the same thing. High tech stuff on an expensive saw! Ask Doug what he has to do to curve cut with a 1/2" or under blade.. and the MM still remains probably the best of it's class as I have viewed them.

    So.. instead of fret over spare change, should we not see if the other factors that the large bulk of your investment went for contribute enough to over-ride the petty issues? I think so... Have a look under the hood.. at the chassis.. drive-train.. motor components.. pullies.. tension springs.. etc.. etc.. That's where preformance is going to come from...

    You ask about comparison to others in it's class. I have been over the saw with a fine tooth comb and IMO you purchased the finest saw that comes off the Pacific Rim. A few minor changes as I never seen a perfect BS come from any manufacturer and you got a bona-fide medium heavy-weigh contender. I will mention them latter.

    My findings are: The back-frame is well designed which means you can tension hard for beam strenght on large carbide blades if you have the springs to do so. The SC has Double tension springs which can deliver that necessary component. The upper support rail below the wheel has been beefed to aid the fore-metnioned. The wheels balanced.. the guides are eccentric and easy to adjust.. The table is 20'X20X. The fence is good and not many competitors can say that. The saw out weights the others by around 60 lbs. and that relates to virbration dampening. And that extra weight comes from some of the things mentioned above and not by placing an anchor in the base cabinet. Things that really count!

    Enough for now. If I could make a few suggestions for you that might help. If you are going to use the Timberwolve blades, make sure that the insert slot is large enough to accomodate the flutter.. or just take if off when you do the flutter test. And I noticed that you purchased 1" blades. On a machine this size (bearing.. springs.. etc.) I think that 3/4" is plenty. I would never put as wide a blade on any BS as the wheel will accept and that includes the higher priced Stallions.

    Put on the zero insert plate.. And when you notice that the set-screw in the bottom, rear thrust bearing is a PITA... replace it with a Knurled thumb screw. Not necessary.. but I would replace the other thumb screws with a Knurled thum screw also. The size on the regular thumbs is metric M5 x 8 and that PITA bottom rear is M6 x 1. Can be attained at Reid Supply or other machinery suppliers. Reid's ph# is 800-523-0421.. Pt# M6x1 AJ660 and pt# AJ648 for M5 x 8. Hang a flashlight near the saw to see better underneath. It helps on all BS.

    Other than that.. it is up to you to fine tune the machine as any BS has to have done before it can preform at peak. Wheels co-planular.. bearing properly set.. pullies aligned.. blade at 90 degrees to table.. proper blade for job selection.. etc.. etc.. For any that don't have a through knowledge of BS's, Lonnie Bird's or Mark Dugenski's books on BS would be a wise investment. BS's are finicky... if you are not in tune with them they can be the most annoying machine in the shop.. once you master the know-how of making it work properly.. it can be the most flexible machine in the shop! A great BS in the hands of the someone unfamilar is virtually useless. A cheap, poor made BS in the hands of a knowlegeable operator will out-preform the supreme machine with a novice driver behing the wheel.

    And Brett.. if you want to know any detail about the machine I cannot answer, give the Steel City Tech boys a call.. some techs don't know much more than the consumer, but I think you will find very knowledgeable techs at Steel City. You will likely have to wait a few moment as the tech most likley to answer will be out in the warehouse sweeping. (that cracked me up the first time I called :>) And it very well couldl be Scott Box.. warehouse sweeper, technician, and last but not least Co-owner and Co-designer of all the machines at Steel City Toolworks..

    Again... sorry to all about the ultra lenghty post. I got to go down to my shop and get to work on that whie oak kitchen table on "my new BS" I got.That baby has over 500' linear feet of tough stuff (white oak-pecan aka hickory family.. black locust just to see if the "little engine could") shoved at down it's throat from every angle with a 3/4" Woodslicer mounted on those fine balanced wheels. It's taken it all without a burp and asking for more. It's got a permanent job in my shop as the work-horse that could..

    BTW.. I canceled the deposit on the MM 16" as I decided that as I don't turn and need the extra 4" re-saw height.. and the fact that I by accident found a saw suited to my shop needs based on my 35 years of wood-whacking track record. So.....

    My wife being from Pittsburg and the fact that I am blue-collar southern boy that demands good quality at a good price.. loaded a Steel City 18" in the back of my pick-up and took it home to mama!

    And in the words of a truly great American.. Larry the cable-man.. That STEEL CITY "gets er done" and that's a fact...

    Merry Christmas to all from the newbie... and if ya are in the neighbor-hood, drop by as the welcome mat is always out and the porch light is always on at my house...

    Sarge.. jt.. john thompson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Atlanta, Ga.
    Steve and Mike...

    He's got the tenion released with the tension release lever (and a good one at that) as the guide bar is micro-adjustable allowing precision adjustment so the bearing don't have to be adjusted each time you raiser or lower the guide bar.

    I always visually check blade-bearing and gullet alignment after re-asserting tension with tension bar as it does leave the blade dangling as you see in the bottom pics he posted, but it has always returned to the same setting so far. A few turns of the wheel manually after tension is re-set to insure tracking is as you left it is worthy also.. even though I have never had to touch or re-adjust the tracking at this point.

    Brett should have probably tensioned it before he took the pic as it could be very decieving.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails bsaw3.jpg   gb1.jpg   gb2.jpg   insert.jpg   bsaw4.jpg  

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