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Thread: I killed my Hammer A3-31 because Iím a dumb dumb...

  1. #1

    I killed my Hammer A3-31 because Iím a dumb dumb...

    Soooo, all the advice youíve ever heard about not operating heavy machinery while fatigued is apparently true, much to my dismay. This sad tale of woe started out with a full day in the shop and ended with my A3-31 shattered and broken. After working all day, I figured Iíd plane just one more board to finish a cutting board for my mother in-law. Yes, it was supposed to be for Christmas, and itís really late but whoís counting...


    this scrap piece of walnut is tapered and because I was obviously not paying attention, I fed the tapered edge into the planer, not the edge Iíd been planing down. Once the meat of the wood hit the in-feed roller, ďBLAMĒ metal shrieking and the smell of smoke!!! Good grief Iíve killed it!




    Best I can tell, when the taper got too thick, the wood jammed into the cutter, the in-feed roller suddenly stoped and the torque from the motor striped the in-feed roller gear clean off. This caused a chain reaction, pun intended, back lashing the chain which doubled over and jammed into a bracket further down in the transmission drive. What a mess. Did I mention the smell of smoke.

    Of course this all happened on a Friday evening so I had to stew in a cauldron of my own stupidity for an entire weekend while I waited for Felder to open on Monday morning... Long story, short, 5 callers to Felder Tech reps and 3 to a field repair Tech got the chain untangled, a bracket bent back into shape and the transmission and motor tested.

    The diagnosis: on the plus side the motor seems fine and thereís no apparent damage to the other gears or jointer drive. The bad... the threaded stud that holds the in-feed roller drive gear is sheared off and rounded over. Just great... how much is this moment of stupidity going to cost me? Well the tech support guy adds up the parts I need, new in-feed roller, gear, lock nut, etc... about $200 plus shipping. Ok, thatís an expensive mistake and this is turning into an expensive cutting board but I can swing that and swap out the roller myself, right? Expensive but lesson learned and all, I tell myself... Not so fast turbo... very nice field tech guy proceeds to tell me heís never had a customer successfully replace a roller and get the machine calibrated in his 15 years on the job...

    ďNo problemĒ, I tell him, ďIím wicked handy and have already adjusted the jointer tables and all that... I should be fine right?Ē Weíll... not so much he says... Apparently, unless youíve done this swap before and know what youíre doing itís a nightmare. He was very emphatic that Iíd ultimately be calling a tech out if I tried it myself. Ok fine, how much is it to send out a guy to swap it for me... ďHold on let me get you an estimateĒ... Now I live exactly 70 miles from the west coast Felder office, Anaheim and just to get the guy to my house and back... $400! And the time estimate to swap the part and recalibrate the cutter, the rollers, the table, the jointer beds... 6 hours at $125/ hr. WHAT!?! So at around $1500 bucks when itís all said and done, this had better be the most amazing cutting board in the history of woodworking... Crap!

    I told him Iíd have to call him back after I finish smacking my forehead with a framing hammer...

    I then ended up talking to a friend of a friend whoís in the UK and repairs a lot of Euro equipment including Felder / Hammer and he concurred, replacing the roller is a bear of a job. He recommended I look into having a pro welder come over and weld a new gear onto the in-feed roller. He said it would be a lot cheaper and if I had to someday replace the gear I could just cut it off and be no worse off than I am now... He went so far as to say, if this was his machine, thatís what heíd do, and Bobís your Uncle. Hmmm, crazy Brits and the colorful colloquiums.

    Well itís official, Iím a moron, brought this on myself and I should just suck it up and get a welder out here for $300 bucks or so, (Iím guessing, as I havenít called a welder yet) but pride of ownership is gnawing at my shattered ego and I really want my uber expensive jointer/planer combo to be whole again.

    I donít know what Iíll end up doing but I thought Iíd share the moment of inattention that killed my favorite machine and if thereís anyone out there who happens to be friends with the ďgood idea fairyĒ and has an alternate idea on how to bring my machine back from the grave, please fell free to sing out as Iím a wee bit desperate right about now.

    Thanks for reading all this and putting up with my feeble attempts to hide my failings behind a wall of humor.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Cedar Park, TX (NW Austin)
    Ouch ó I hope you really like your mother in law. I got nothing in the way of advice but a lot of sympathy ó we have all been in similar situations.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Edmonton, Canada
    By no means I'm an expert but I have taken apart a few machines and put back together and would try to do at all myself before shelling out that kind of money for a tech guy. Ask if they can provide an instruction set of some sort showing the steps you have to go through.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Davis, CA
    I would check the infeed roller adjusters to make sure they were not harmed by the accident. I have had one of them fail on my A3-31

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    This is a tough call. I just went through a similar, albeit different, situation with the feed system on my FS-350. But the maintenance I had to do to rectify didn't involve tearing down any of the feed mechanism internals...I only had to replace an idler wheel with a tire on it. (that setup lets the SCM/Minimax feed system actually slip if there is a jam) For a deep repair like you are facing, I'd probably opt for the technician, despite the cost. I'm not sure I"d engage a welder like your UK contact mentioned for something like this unless the welder was extremely and directly familiar with this kind of machine. But that's me...and yea, bummer that this happened to begin with. Unfortunately, that's how Murphy works.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Okotoks AB
    I wonder if that gear could be welded back on in situ & have it perfectly perpendicular to & concentric with the shaft?

    Given the cost of getting a tech out there, I'd be inclined to at least give the replacement a try myself. Have you scoured the YouTubes to see if there's any help there?

  7. #7
    Seems like a design problem- a jam really should not destroy the feed roller. That doesn't help you of course.

    Just out of curiosity, how much material were you removing when the jam occurred?

    I would probably try to repair the machine myself with as much advice as I could glean from tech service, but I am used to that sort of work. The welding option could work if you have someone competent, but it is a hack. Having a tech do the repair may be the best choice if you want the machine back to new condition and are not confident in your skills. Bummer.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    West Lafayette, IN
    Iíd do the swap myself, no question. Worst case (assuming nothing else goes wrong), you spend time trying and fail and call the tech.
    But it really canít be that hard. I know itís a J/P and youíve got a big flip up table to work around, but itís just some gears and chains right? Take copious amounts of pictures as you tear it down, take not of chain positioning and tension and you should be fine.
    I guess you could afford the felder to begin with, but $1500 is a lot of money to me and Iíd rather not sheíll it out if I could do it myself.

  9. #9
    Just my opinion, accept or reject as you like: I would have a lot of hesitancy about welding it. For the reasons Jim and Frank mentioned but also because "if" you ever need to service that component group again and it's all welded together... Good luck, whatever you end up deciding to do.

    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    I agree with Matt, give it a go yourself then call tech if it doesn't work out but I would check to see if they are willing to work on it if you have it dissembled. seems like the welding could go right if a competent person does it but would hack job...

    One other thing, doesn't the Hammer have a steel toothed plate that is set to the max depth of cut? Usually they are in front of the kickback fingers, it would have stopped the wood from going too far in the first place in theory anyways. Also the Hammer is no Felder....


    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Day View Post
    I’d do the swap myself, no question. Worst case (assuming nothing else goes wrong), you spend time trying and fail and call the tech.
    But it really can’t be that hard. I know it’s a J/P and you’ve got a big flip up table to work around, but it’s just some gears and chains right? Take copious amounts of pictures as you tear it down, take not of chain positioning and tension and you should be fine.
    I guess you could afford the felder to begin with, but $1500 is a lot of money to me and I’d rather not she’ll it out if I could do it myself.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Moscow, Idaho
    Does the machine still work fine as a jointer? If so, I wonder how much you could sell it for to someone who just wants a jointer, and what it would cost buy a new or demo machine. Would Hammer give you any kind of a discount on a replacement machine? Are there any other parts on the machine that you might not have noticed are damaged, that would be expensive to repair? I'd want to know the answer to these questions before spending $1500 or more on a repair. If your machine still works as a jointer, another option would be to buy a Grizzly 15" planer, which would cost about the same as repairing the Hammer.
    Last edited by Geoff Crimmins; 03-10-2020 at 11:25 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Grand Forks, ND
    Why not give the welding of the gear to the roller a shot?? Unless I'm missing something....what do you have to loose? If it has to be serviced?? Well if and when that time comes you may have to buy a new roller and gear and deal with the PITA to cut your old roller and gear apart.
    A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    New Brunswick, Canada
    This scares me too. My 14" General will do one of two things: feed rollers slip or motor will start to bog and trip.

    The welding idea might work if there is absolutely no wobble. Suspect a vibration otherwise. Best to bite the bullet and do the proper repair. I get a feeling you won't like the machine any other way.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    LI, NY
    What about Hammer/peen/add weld to the opening in the gear, back to it's proper size and shape. Place it on the shaft, then place a washer on the shaft..Then well through the washer's hole to the shaft. If the gear needs to be removed just grind off the washer/weld. I doubt that the gear needs to be so exact you could not get it within tolerances by eye.If you can get the roller/shaft out you could get a machine shop to weld a threaded rod/bolt end to the roller.
    A lot of choices before spending $$$$ for a tech. Just do what you can not to change or loose the settings/relationship of the beds to the frame.....

  15. #15
    Ya...I'd DIY too. Just takes tons of pics along the way. It'll take time and patience, but I'll bet you can do it, after all, it's not a skill or a talent, like playing the piano or something. If you hit the wall with it, you can always call in the tech. Felder techs may even be able to walk you thru the tuff parts. Good luck!

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