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Thread: Walker Turner Drill Press Restoration

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, SC
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    8

    Walker Turner Drill Press Restoration

    I have lusted after a Walker Turner bench top drill press since I was a kid. My father had one and, it was the smoothest drill press I've ever used. Last Winter, I located one for sale at the Savannah River Plant in Barnewll SC, near my home in Columbia. I bought it from the government property disposal officer, sight unseen. That was probably a mistake. I drove over to pick it up and when I saw it, my heart sank. It was in several large pieces with a box of "miscellaneous parts." The table looked like someone had knocked great chunks out of it with a ball pein hammer and the column was corroded and pitted all the way through in several places. Moreover, it was infested with bad critters. I had to remove several mud dauber wasp nests from the main casting and the belt guard before I could load it into my car for the drive home. I didn't take photos of the machine at the time because I wasn't at all sure I could save it. I did, however, take a shot of the table and the column later to document how bad it was. Here's the shot:



    The machine turned out to be a Model 1200. It's a late 1940s or early 1950s update of the model 900 that most people are familar with. The 1200 is basically the same machine as the 900 except for a more streamlined cowl over the pulleys and belts. They use most of the same parts.

    I was fortunate to find Jeff Hoffman at Walker Turner Serviced Machinery, LLC in Connecticuit. Jeff specializes in reconditioning Walker Turner and other vintage machines. He has a wealth of knowledge which her shares unselfishly and, I might add, with a great deal of patience. He had all the parts I needed, including the non-standard, extended race, main quill bearings and the original color machine enamel.

    I had planned to buy a Baldor motor for the press, but Jeff talked me out of it and into using the original motor that came on it. When I wired up the motor and turned it on, it slung dirt and debris all over my shop. As it turned out, the motor had its own colony of mud dauber wasps hiding inside. I sent it to Jeff. He rewound, rewired and repainted it and replaced the bearings. It runs like a brand new one. Here are before and after shots of the motor:





    After several months of nasty, greasy work, four-letter words and e-mail correspondence with Jeff Hoffman, I finished the job. Here's a photo of my prize:



    Since I took this shot, I have replaced the rotary switch you see in the pic with the correct Cutler Hammer 3 pole pushbutton switch. I have replaced the original table locking bolt and handle (which was missing from my miscellaneous parts collection) with a non-correct spring loaded clamp handle; but apart from that, as far as I can tell, the drill press is about 99% correct with the original specs. But more important, it is just as smooth as I remembered my Father's.

    Interestingly, this drill press was built in approximately 1950 or '51. Harry Truman signed the Letter if Agreement with duPont that established the nuclear weapons production project at Savannah River in 1951. Based on the timing, I am pretty certain that my drill press was one of the original pieces of equipment purchased for our nuclear weapons operation at SRP. This historical provenance makes the machine all the more interesting - to me at least.

    This project took way longer and cost way more than I though it would. But I didn't undertake this to save a buck, and I ended up with exactly what I wanted, so I'm happy. It took me a month to get my greasy workshop cleaned up and now I'm back to woodworking.

    If this looks familiar, bear with me. I have posted some of this on other boards, but I wanted my drill press rehab project to be part of the "Old Iron" board here on Family Woodworking.

    Hank
    Last edited by Hank Knight; 06-29-2007 at 08:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
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    that`s one sweet drill press hank!
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Tokiwadai, Japan
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    That's one beautiful DP, and a great restore job you did. Any details, pics on the table restore? Congrats, and thanks for posting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, SC
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Cook View Post
    That's one beautiful DP, and a great restore job you did. Any details, pics on the table restore? Congrats, and thanks for posting.
    Thanks to you and Tod for the kind words. The table restoration was easy , I bought a new one from Jeff Hoffman. Mine was too far gone to save.

    Hank
    Last edited by Hank Knight; 06-29-2007 at 09:25 PM.

  5. #5
    Really great job! You brought this on back from the brink!

    Wes

  6. #6
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    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    Excellent job, Hank. I doubt it looked that good when it was brand new.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    The Heart of Dixie
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    Thats a beaut for sure! It will look better once it gets a bit of sawdust on it.
    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.
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  8. #8
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    Nov 2006
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    Albuquerque, New Mexico
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    Wonderful post Hank. You did a remarkable job restoring that old beauty. After working in the government R&D world for the last 30+ years first at Los Alamos and currently at Sandia Natíl labs, I have witnessed an obscene amount of great old iron scrapped. Itís really great to see an old classic return to life.
    "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
    friend...if you have one."
    --George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

    "Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second..if there is
    one."
    --Winston Churchill, in response




  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
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    That is a great looking drillpress. I am glad to see it didnt end up in the scrap pile. Is there a chance you can send me Jeff's contact info? I have a old Walker Tuner tilt table saw that I would like to bring back from the dead.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tokiwadai, Japan
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    Al,

    Here's some info for you...

    The "Service" company is where you can get the parts and info.

    http://www.owwm.com/mfgindex/detail.asp?ID=808

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