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Thread: Is updating old machines sacrilege?

  1. #1
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Is updating old machines sacrilege?

    I'm about to update the fence on my table saw, and I always find myself wonder if this is sacrilege in the sense that there is always a possibility the fence will be seperated from the saw at some point, leaving a less than original machine. I mean, I don't plan to loose the fence, but the reality is that most parts are seperated from their owners in this fashion.

    The other point is that I like original, with anything collectable. Hard to think about machines as being collectable, but there is a certain amount of mojo to those of us that prefer old machines, and I don't expect that mojo to get any less as we move forward, even though our old saws can't do the hot dog trick.

    I'm replacing the fence as I feel a new Biesmeyer will be more accurate and easier to use than the original, which is a complete hunk of cast iron. The old fence weighs about 75-100 lbs, by itself, easy. I looked at the Accusquare by Mule Cab, Incra, Shop Fox, Jet, Vega, GI, etc...but caught a good sale on the Biesmeyer and went with the reputation and simplicity of the fence. Several are Bies knockoffs which says a lot about their design, IMO.

    Had my saw had the nicer rack/pinion fence as some of the older ones do (such as Reg's Ollie), I wouldn't have done this. But I have the standard solid fence which is certainly solid, but not so easy to adjust. In Yates-American ease, this is the Plain Universal micrometer fence vs the Tilting Universal micrometer fence.

    I want to have a table saw I can turn on, anytime, make any cut I need and know that I can easily set it up and make the cut safely, so hope the Biesmeyer meets up to those expectations I have. Of course the best tool for safety is the one between your ears.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    I guess in a pure tool collector's point of view, yeah, you are doing a bad, bad bad thing

    But really, the fact that you saved such a nice old saw from the per pound scrap heap has got to be worth a lot.

    I'd say update the new machine, and it you do and you enjoy using it, then the machine will get another generation or two of use, if you stick with the old fence, it might end up sitting somewhere rusting.

    You bought this saw as a user, not a museum piece, so I'd not worry about it.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Odessa, Tx
    Alan, I agree with Stu,......Put the Biese on it and enjoy the saw. If you are really concerned about keeping it "Complete", then put some preservative on the old fence and it's parts, and wrap them up with several layers of brown paper and tape around it in several places with that nylon impregnated wrapping tape to hold it all together and Clearly mark the package with what is inside. Store it away in your shop attic or somewhere out of the way, and it won't get lost.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Alan, my analogy, that I think you'll appreciate...

    I have one of the very first BC Rich Mockingbirds guitars ever made. It was a prototype made in the very early 80's (maybe late 70's) by Bernard Rico that was sent to friends of his Albuquerque to get their opinion of his new guitar design. (I'm the third owner, and know both previous owners.) This guitar came with active electronics (on a handmade prototype circuit board), but I didn't like the sounds I got out of it. I was used to a dual humbucker passive setup, and knew I could make it sound the way I needed. (I was making my living playing, and bought the Mockingbird to replace a Les Paul Custom and an ES-335 that had been stolen.)

    Long story short, I gutted the electronics, wired it my preferred way, and use it nightly for several years. The prototype circuit board, along with a sketched-up wiring diagram, are still to this day in a Ziplock bag in the case. Knowing the potential collectibility of this particular guitar, I figured even way back then that someday it might be worth returning to original, so I kept all the parts. In the meantime, I used the heck out of it, set up for my needs at the time.

    Seems you could do the same with your saw. Just hang on to the fence. (I wonder if they have Ziplock bags that big?)
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    As Stu said, depends on use and who sees it. I'm a fancier of old muzzle loading rifles. If someone were to show me a nice, old original rifle with a modern scope mounted to it, I think I would have a break-down.
    Folks is funny critters.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    The Heart of Dixie
    Alan, I am sort of in the same dilemma. I have the Punnysaw as you like to call it that came into my shop with almost all he original parts. As you know it is at least uncommon if not rare to find one in the wild all original. The fence was in good shape but the rails were horrible. After much debate I decided to buy a set of long rails and try it. Turned out to be a good choice. I like the original fence it and works extremely well. Not nearly as smooth or easy to use as a Bessy but it's not a bad compromise.

    However, I decided that if it didn't work I would buy a modern fence. Bottom line is I am going to use the saw and if it doesn't work it's no good to me. Of course a Unisaw fence is easier to find than for yours. But it's not like you have a saw that there is only 2 left of and has some extreme value as a collectible item for a museum. If you don't like the original fence, save and preserve it and swap it out. You want to use the saw, not look at it.

    I (hopefully) have bought a 12" Hall and Brown jointer. Somewhat uncommon I think, but I don't think it has any collectors value? No one on OWWM showed any interest but me. But it has the dreaded square head cutter and babbitt bearings. I would love to keep this original if I can do so safely. I bought this machine to use, not to look at. If I can't use it safely or it doesn't do that job I bought it for I am either going to sell it or modify it. I am thinking of trying to add a guard to it. If that doesn't work out then I will probably go to a round head and that means adding pillow block bearings. I would hate to do it but it's not wanted by any museum. If I can't use it safely then it is of no use to me.

    Enjoy the Bessy!
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.

    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  7. #7
    Hi, "Regs ollie". I like that fence. It is a 2 type ajustable. But the bessie is something I am contemplating. I am trying to buy a 270-D at present and might be selling the "Oliver. Reason is NOT that I am dissatusfied with the saw in amy way except it will only cut 2 1/4" above the table. The 270 will cut 4" and it has the same fence system. I will have a extention table on the 270 that will allow me to cut 42" also so adding the bessie will not happen. Not that It would make a differance about the type of fence because it is s tool to be used not looked at. I don't collect tools I buy them to use. If I can improve one in some way its to my advantage to do so. I guess thats why there are Olivers, Northfields, Yates, etc. They atr all alike with some little added attraction that makes it a little different and more user friendly. So add it if you like and it will help you, some of those fences are good boat anchors for sure

  8. #8
    Alan DuBoff is offline Former Member (by the member's request)
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Folks, I have been a collector of things for many years, and funny Vaughn, I had a bunch of old rich guitars that Charvell used to make for him at one time. Grover Jackson sold them to me and my partner, and we sold them out of our shop.

    I have a '59 p-bass, and I have the tuners in a zip-loc in the original case. I replaced the tuners with exact replacements and have the bass in a gig-bag, so the original case and tuners is in the garage.

    I plan to do the same with this fence, and possible the guard.

    Yes, I want a workhorse, I bought this saw to do just that.

    Jeff, I'm adding a real Punisaw fence to mine, so it will be a cousin to yours!<g> I will certainly save all parts, as I would if I had yours or another saw, but like you I want to use and build a lot of things with the saw. The Bies does look nice, looking forward to getting the fence also, I only got 1 carton from the mail room at work. I think your old jointer will have some cool mojo, and aside from color I don't imagine you'll relace too many parts, unless it has a square head, but I wouldn't consider a square head to be collectable (by maybe fingers are ). Typically a jointer is not something you would consider putting a new fence on though, not like a table saw, if that makes sense. That is unless there wasn't one there to begin with, hence my comment about being seperated from their original owners.

    Reg, I guess the 2 1/4" could be a limitation, 3" would be more comfortable. I didn't realize the 232 would only provide 2 1/4" from the 12" blade. I missed out on what would have been a very cool deal, I was trying to trade 250 bf of hard maple I bought for $.50/bf for an Ollie 88D, the big mother of all Ollies, but I didn't get it.:-(

    I would love to have a slider...

    I get 4 1/8" off a 16" blade, and 3 1/8" off a 14" blade. I have 5 z24 14" blades I bought for $12/each...beautiful cut BTW. I can put an 18" blade in my saw and get 5 18" out of that...but if I start ripping 5" of stock on my table saw, I hope I take a time out and get a cold shower first...before I do something so dumb...

    I don't want to be cutting 4" on my table saw, and 3" might be the limit before I head to the band saw. I sometimes contemplate, if I was to have only one saw it would probably be a band saw, it's way safer than a table saw. As I recall, you have the lucky so-and-so...I envy all owners of snowflakes, what a machine. I will find one someday, when I have room for one when I build my new shop.

    Yes, this saw of mine is going to be a worker, and I need to tune it up to be able to meet my needs, the main reason I even considered replacing the fence.

  9. #9
    Well I will soon be the owner of the 270-D.... I will put it throught the same deal as the 232 befor I put it into service. I might keep the 232-D but as I am looking for a 24" sander too I might finance it with the selling of the 232 I don't plan on cutting anything thicker that 3" on it but was wanting to use it for cutting tenons for ones or twos. And it has an extention table that will allow me to split a shee of ply on the 96" . Thats the reasoning for the up grade. So now i am set to cut sheet goods. I just hope I can set the 232 up to do dados on a regular basis and not have to sell it. Its one nice saw and I really hate to part with it.
    Yessssssss I do have a snowflake coolllllllll machine


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