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Thread: jointing with old iron

  1. #1

    jointing with old iron

    Hi guys,

    I'll need to cross post on OWWM; but I'm seeking some input on incorporating the ~1925 16" Porter C jointer I recently picked up in to my workflow. A few questions and problems to work through actually.

    It's a 5hp 3-phase, 2 blade cutterhead with Babbitt bearings. It's old, loud, crude, and could enjoy a second life as a boat anchor; but I love it anyways.

    Questions/issues:

    Tear out: Came with a set of new knives and I put those in. Still experiencing tear out on different species of wood, more pronounced when face jointing. Liberal application of paste wax and careful feed speed seems to help. Especially 8-12" boards as they hug the tables so much. Suggestions?

    Replacement knives: Source? Appear to be HSS or similar in there. Maybe carbide tipped would be better? Good cuts result in shallow 'scallops' along the board, think this is normal?

    Babbitt bearings: lubricant/oil recommendations seem to be all over the place. Adding oil to the oilers before working seems to result in strong hot oil smells, normal I guess? The bearings get quite hot...

    Jointing: getting the fence perfectly 90 degrees seems to be a challenge especially when moving from the 8-12-16" positions in the table surface. Would it be more efficient to leave edge jointing for the slider and using the Porter for face jointing? I know that using the 'inside/outside' technique for complimentary angles is an option as well.

    Anyone using their shapers for edge jointing operations?

  2. #2
    Are the bearings in good shape? The bearings should not be smelly or hot. If they are worn so much as to be loose that could cause the scallops you are seeing in the cut. Are there shims between the bearing shells that can be removed to eliminate any play? An old school millwright can scrape or repour worn babbit bearins but it may not be worthwhile depending on the overall condition of the machine.

    Tearout may be related to the cutting angle of the head. What is it? You can have a face bevel ground on the knives though that will increase noise and feed resistance. You could install a helical head - $$$. Straight carbide knives will wear better but will not improve the cut over hss. Are the knives set accurately?

    It may make sense to use this jointer strictly for facing if you don't want to invest time and money in it. A sliding table saw will work for edge jointing but will typically need more cleanup than a good jointer. An edge sander is useful here. Effective jointing on a shaper requires an accurate fence setup and ties up the shaper which may be needed for other tasks.

    A friend of mine has an L. Power 16" two knife babbit bearing machine like yours which he uses for facing with an 8" Powermatic for edge jointing, a good combination if you have the space.

  3. #3
    The knives are probably lowest grade. I would buy M2 or T1 steel, do not accept stuff described as having “same hardness as M2 “. Only
    high quality knives ….have any “quality”. A two knife machine must have good steel .

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Are the bearings in good shape? The bearings should not be smelly or hot. If they are worn so much as to be loose that could cause the scallops you are seeing in the cut. Are there shims between the bearing shells that can be removed to eliminate any play? An old school millwright can scrape or repour worn babbit bearins but it may not be worthwhile depending on the overall condition of the machine.

    Tearout may be related to the cutting angle of the head. What is it? You can have a face bevel ground on the knives though that will increase noise and feed resistance. You could install a helical head - $$$. Straight carbide knives will wear better but will not improve the cut over hss. Are the knives set accurately?

    It may make sense to use this jointer strictly for facing if you don't want to invest time and money in it. A sliding table saw will work for edge jointing but will typically need more cleanup than a good jointer. An edge sander is useful here. Effective jointing on a shaper requires an accurate fence setup and ties up the shaper which may be needed for other tasks.

    A friend of mine has an L. Power 16" two knife babbit bearing machine like yours which he uses for facing with an 8" Powermatic for edge jointing, a good combination if you have the space.
    I don't know my way around Babbitt machines so I have to claim ignorance on a lot of this. While running, the bearings and caps get hot to the touch. I haven't had the caps off yet. There are shims between the caps which are right at 0.20" in thickness. Would consider repouring the bearings; there are resources online that cover this.

    I set the knives up using a magnetic jointer knife jig from rockler. Will have to see if I can determine the knife and head angles.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
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    Redmond, OR
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    I would love to see a picture of your old jointer!

    I love old iron too. I also post on OWWM but it isn't nearly as friendly of a forum as it is here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    North Dana, Masachusetts
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    I use a jointer like that for rough milling. All I want out of it is a flat face and a straight edge. The planers put a decent finish surface on the wood. I use a rip saw to get square finished edges. The saw with a feeder makes a consistent square edge.

    I like Mobil Velocite #6 spindle oil for the bearings.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Hodge View Post
    I like Mobil Velocite #6 spindle oil for the bearings.
    That's what I'm using in my Northfield 12" of about the same age as the OP's Porter.

    It's normal for the bearings to get warm in operation. Not exceedingly hot, but warm. Your caps may be too tight/need more shim material in between, or you may need to confirm that oil is getting everywhere it needs to go. Mine appeared to be in good condition when I got the jointer, and as much as I use the machine, probably will not require re-pouring any time soon.

    For replacement knives: Woodworkers' Tool Works (woodworkerstoolworks.com).

    Like some others, I have a smaller jointer of a more modern design that I use for a lot of tasks, especially edge jointing, and go to the Northfield mainly for facing boards that I don't want to rip down to fit the smaller machine. Scalloping is more evident on the big machine, thanks to there being only two knives in the cutterhead, thus fewer cuts for a given feed rate.
    Chuck Taylor

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,155
    My 16" newman is a slightly newer design having ball bearings and a 3 knife head. I have no need for a second machine. Skew the fence and slow the feed rate to reduce tearout. I use my machine for rough processing through final passes on finished parts.

    That porter should do everything you want.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    The knives are probably lowest grade. I would buy M2 or T1 steel, do not accept stuff described as having “same hardness as M2 “. Only
    high quality knives ….have any “quality”. A two knife machine must have good steel .
    Holbren has V2 HSS knives advertised
    American National Knife has M2 HSS; Carbide tipped offerings seem to be about 4x the cost.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,946
    To limit tear out, and bevel on the front of the blades greatly improves the cut. https://woodweb.com/knowledge_base/K..._Manual_5.html
    If you are getting scallops, slow your feed rate. Changing blades will not make a difference. Sharp HSS cut better than carbide.
    It may be time to scrape the babbitt bearings. Take the belt off and see if the head rattles or has excess clearance. When babbitts are turned up they actually self feed the oil. See if the oil grooves are still there, and the oil control grooves may be worn out.
    Nothing will give you a better, truer edge than a well tuned long bed jointer. Something is up with that table if the 90 degree check changes as you move the fence across the table. Check the table with a straightedge and feeler gauge.

  11. #11
    I have similar Faye&Eagan 16". A machinist friend converted it to 4 modern knives with jib screws.

    I would consider removing a shim from the bearings.

    Pix of the head conversion:
    IMG_20211110_160653.jpg
    IMG_20211110_160109.jpg

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bradley Gray View Post
    I have similar Faye&Eagan 16". A machinist friend converted it to 4 modern knives with jib screws.

    I would consider removing a shim from the bearings.

    Pix of the head conversion:
    IMG_20211110_160653.jpg
    IMG_20211110_160109.jpg
    If he just randomly removes a shim, it's likely to run hotter. Buy some Plastigage at an auto parts store and you can measure the bearing to shaft clearance. Sometimes a half thickness shim is all that needs to be changed.
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 05-04-2022 at 3:55 PM.

  13. #13
    porter bearing 2.jpgporter bearing 1.jpg

    I have thoughts, but what do you guys think?

    Edit: There is only one shim at each corner for a total of 4 shims. Pair from on cap is .184" thick, while the other two are .196" thick. In order to tighten things up, I'd have to find shim stock that is thinner than that. Have to put the caps back on to double check, but I only feel slight movement up/down not side to side.

    Checked the tables for flatness with 24" and 50" precision straightedges; no matter what orientation the edge was in, I could not get a .002" feeler gauge under it...
    Last edited by Nick Crivello; 05-04-2022 at 5:33 PM.

  14. #14
    If you can move the shaft by hand there is play. Thinner shim sounds good. My jointer has a stack of thinner shims cut from card stock so it is easy to make a slight change. There is an article in an early FWW mag that covers re-pouring bearings that mentions cutting a groove in the babbitt to spread oil. That might help with cooling. My poured bearings only get warm.

    Flat is most of the appeal of these historic machines.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bradley Gray View Post
    If you can move the shaft by hand there is play. Thinner shim sounds good. My jointer has a stack of thinner shims cut from card stock so it is easy to make a slight change. There is an article in an early FWW mag that covers re-pouring bearings that mentions cutting a groove in the babbitt to spread oil. That might help with cooling. My poured bearings only get warm.

    Flat is most of the appeal of these historic machines.
    There is definitively play vertically. Based on the condition of the bearings I'm going to stop using it until I can learn more about scraping and fixing those oil grooves that were burned up. Anybody know of a convenient source for the right kind of shim stock needed to get the play out? I have limited metal fabrication ability, but is there an actual product that fills this application?

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