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Buffalo No. 15 Drill Press Restoration

wildo

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#1
Last night I scored a Buffalo No. 15 drill press off craigslist for $50. I've been hunting for a vintage drill press like this (Delta, Rockwell, Atlas, SB, Walker Turner, Buffalo, etc) for about two months now within a 250 mile radius and have been coming up empty. When I saw this listing pop up- I was all over it.

Got the press home and overall it's in decent enough shape. I haven't been able to locate a serial number anywhere, so if anyone knows where it's located- please do let me know. I was told that it was originally sold to Indianapolis Welding way back and was removed from that building as part of an auction or something to that nature. It travelled to Southern Indiana where interest was lost, and then back to Indy with me. So that's kind of a cool story- still in Indy after all these years.

The paint appears to be in decent shape, so I haven't decided if I will strip it and repaint it or not. I kind of like the black Buffalo DPs with the "Buffalo" logo in bare metal. Pretty sharp! So time will tell. EDIT- like this:
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The quill was rusted stuck, but I was able to free it with WD40 and a strap wrench once I had the feed pinion out. I plan on replacing the bearings, of course, and then a major cleanup. The table is in pretty good shape with no "arc of shame" -just a couple little pecker holes. Since I'm not too heavily invested I am considering taking it to a welding shop and getting the holes filled and the table ground flat afterwards. I'll price it out. I can't imagine that would cost over $100, but it is a specialty welding so what do I know. Unfortunately, cast iron welding is not a skill I have. Again- if anyone has experience here- please let me know.

Lastly, as far as drives, I'm planning on upgrading to a Baldor 1hp 3ph motor with a VFD. I think that will be make for a very powerful, very useful drill press (with speed control) while still rocking that awesome vintage iron. I'm excited about this project!

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One gallon paint can for size reference. This is surprisingly larger than I expected- a nice surprise!
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Oh- I found in a maintenance manual that I can apparently spin the knurled ring (it's on a thread, I guess) against the chuck in order to press the chuck off of the spindle. If anyone knows if I need to do this in order to get the lower bearing off, please let me know. I was not able to determine from any manual I can find what direction the lower spindle bearing is pressed on/off. I assume it will come off the chuck side. Hmmm, thinking about it- I think it would HAVE to come off the chuck side. Otherwise you'd have to press it over the upper bearing seat...
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Bob Korves

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#2
Nice old drill press! I would leave the holes in the table alone. First, it is part of the history and age of the tool. Second, I have never seen welding on cast iron tables that I thought was totally satisfactory. Sometimes the welding ruined the part. You could always still see where the damage had been. If it can be seen, the press might as well wear it as a badge of survival. Clean up the table like new, but leave the rust in the pecker holes. That will say "not mine!" Third, they are not deep enough or large enough to interfere with using the press normally.
 

wildo

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#3
If it can be seen, the press might as well wear it as a badge of survival. Clean up the table like new, but leave the rust in the pecker holes. That will say "not mine!"
I think you make some good points! Especially the quoted part. Thanks for the comment; you've given me some good things to contemplate!
 

wildo

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#6
I was able to find answers to some of the questions I asked above.

Getting the chuck off was actually really easy. The "chuck remover" (which is what the manual calls that knurled ring) worked exceptionally well. I was able to just use a drift and spin it down which pushed the chuck right off. Easy peasy. This exposed the chuck remover and bearing which I removed just by driving the spindle out of them. Once the chuck was off, it was apparent that in fact the bearing did come off from the chuck end. Now removing the sleeve that the chuck remover threads are on from the bearing without messing it up was pretty hard. But with some careful finesse, I got it done. I'm pretty bummed to see how messed up the taper is on the end of the spindle. I'll have to research how to clean that up.

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After that I tackled getting the spindle step pulley off and the bearings pulled. The manual says to just drive the step pulley assembly out from inside the machine head with a wood dowel. That worked fine. Getting the bearings off the step pulley was a bit of a challenge, but I have a fancy gear/bearing puller that helped tremendously.

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I still have the rest of the drill press to disassembly, but probably the next step is the degrease the messy stuff so I can put it all in a box somewhere for storage. I got a new toy for that!

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chevydyl

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#8
About the spindle taper, Tom from ox tools did a video on that exact thing, customer wanted their drill press spindle fixed, he welded up the taper and recut it on the lathe, watch the video, you need to make a test piece that blues up perfectly with that taper so you know your compound is set at the right angle when you put the spindle in the lathe after removing the test piece.
 

wildo

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#9
About the spindle taper, Tom from ox tools did a video on that exact thing, customer wanted their drill press spindle fixed, he welded up the taper and recut it on the lathe
Thanks! That sort of welding is outside my skill level (I only have a buzzbox welder, and am self taught at that) but I'll definitely try to find the video and watch it. Sounds interesting at least!

[EDIT]- I'm sure having a hard time finding that video. If you happen to know of it, please link to it. Thanks!
 
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wildo

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#12
What's the diameter of the spindle?
You could always send me the spindle, I could tig it up
Sorry for the late response; I had a super busy weekend out of town. That's a really generous offer that I may have to take you up on! I haven't measured the spindle yet, but I believe it's likely a Jacobs 33 taper. Long end: 0.6240 Short end: 0.5605 This seems about right because I think the spindle is probably around .625 overall. I plan on getting all the parts cleaned up in my new parts washer tonight. Then I'll get a better look at it to see if it can be cleaned up with a file or not. Thanks! I'll keep in touch...
 

wildo

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#13
A bit more progress. I now have the machine completely disassembled. The post was a real chore to get out of the base. The bottom of the post tube had been mushroomed over from someone hammering on it, and this mushrooming wouldn't pass the machined collar in the base. I had to turn it upside down and dremel off the hammered metal. This allowed the post to pass through the base for removal. I then cleaned up the bottom (and top- for the same reason) on the bandsaw. I only sacrificed about 1/2" of the overall length of the post.

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I still have the base and the table to scrub down, but otherwise everything has been degreased and wire brushed. There's still plenty of cleanup to do on the moving parts (like the spindle & quill) but essentially it's all downhill from here!

New bearings arrive today. The new motor (a 1HP 3Ph Baldor) was purchased today. I'm hoping to make it to Tractor Supply tonight to pick up the paint. The only thing left to buy is the VFD.

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wildo

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#15
By the way- I still can't find a serial number. If anyone knows where it's located- I'd sure appreciate the info. I did notice that there are two screw nails on the right side of the head that would have assumedly held a nameplate of some sort. I have no idea what was here originally. Beyond that, I don't see anywhere where a serial number would be.
 

wildo

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#16
Lookin good, did you finger out what your gonna do with that mucked up spindle taper?
No I didn't. Here's my dilemma- if you haven't noticed, I'm totally new to this. I've been making things my entire life. Lots of wood working, plenty of hobby arc welding and metal working projects. Plenty of wood turning. Carpentry, electrical, etc, etc. BUT- machining is new to me. I don't know if turning down that taper would be a good first turning project or not. I'm sure I have *plenty* of learning to do in order to get good surface finishes and all. And in the meantime- it sure would be nice to have a working drill press.

So what I suspect I'll do at this point is clean it up the best as possible by knocking down the high spots with a file and as carefully as possible clean it up with a light touch of emery cloth (realizing this does take off material). I mean- the chuck female taper is as jacked up as the shaft, so... still not sure what to do about that. I'll get it serviceable until I have more skill/experience and then take someone (you, perhaps) up on the offer to fix it up correctly. I think that seems like a good approach given my experience level. I'm not exactly shying away from turning down the weld buildup, I'm just accepting that my initial skill level probably doesn't lend to this being a good first turning project.
 

chevydyl

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#17
Get a new chuck, and I'm not sure you should cut that taper, it needs to be perfect, u kinda need to have the proper tooling to set up for that job, seems to me it's going to have alot of runout if you don't fix it, which means you can't use small drill bits, it will make them break. But also with all drill bits, it means that your holes won't be on size, and to know how much run out you have you kinda need to put it all back together and see, and if it's a large amount, take it all apart again lol
 

Glenn Brooks

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#18
I wouldn't touch the spindle until you have some significant experience on the lathe. Mostly because spare parts for these old machines are mostly non existent- if you mess it up you will need to machine an entirely new replacement. A big job to get exactly right. You could take the spindle out to a shop and have it repaired, or put it back together as is and see how it runs.

Regarding welding up the taper and recutting it, likely any welding that occurs will distort the overall piece, possibly twisting the axis out of alignment- resulting in worse run out at the end causing outmod round holes when drilling, and broken drill bits. So again, interview a shop or two and see what they say.

Regarding your table. It looks to be in remarkable good shape. You could leave it alone, just lightly clean off any rust and oxidation and be good to go. Or there are several methods for repairing dings, such as drilling out the hole and driving an interference fit steel rod into the newly drilled hole. Cut and mill or file flush. Reportedly this method gives good results with almost no noticeable repair being visible on the surface of the table.

regarding welding your table, I would only do so if you find a welder with actual experience welding cast iron. you need to fill up the holes with similar cast iron material or, use a nickel based rod designed specifically for cast iron. Both are very spendy. The usual modern welding rods found in most welding shops today will NOT be appropriate for the repair you want to make. You might see if you can find a cast iron repair shop nearby, if you talk to a knowledable welding supply company. Welding cast iron is mostly a lost art these days, but a few old timers still are in business. It takes a tremendous supply of evenly distributed heat to controll metal flow into a cast iron part, and a very experienced hand to get it right. To much heat will melt the surrounding cast iron and crater the hole into an increasingly bigger mess. Then when done, you also need to post heat and hold temperature on the repair, and surrounding casting, to keep it from cracking as it cools and the chemical composition of the casting changes. Hate to see you take an excellent original Buffalo table and have some guy ruin it trying to weld up a couple of minor dings.

Overall it looks like you have a very nice example of a fine old drill press! Good luck with it and have fun with the restoration.
 

wildo

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#19
Thanks for the comments Glenn! I have had similar thoughts about the spindle. I don't think I have the skill yet to turn it, and therefore I won't tackle it for the time being. I've also contemplated if doing a weld build up could warp the spindle and cause more problems. I think I'll just leave it be for now. I don't know if it's possible, but at some point I think it would be fun to redesign the entire spindle to be a 3JT type. This would allow for a bigger chuck and bigger bits. It would be nice to put a 5/8" chuck on this drill press. That sounds like a fun future project!

I don't recall who the first person was to respond to this thread, but they also mentioned not having the table welded up. I did take that to heart and trashed the idea of having it welded up. In fact, I took at scotch brite wheel to it tonight and it cleaned up beautifully! There's only a couple of holes in it; you're right that it's in remarkably good shape!

I am definitely having a blast (and learning a LOT) doing this restore.
 
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chevydyl

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#20
I think your wrong about warping, especially since oxtoolco proves this repair in a video series, and when a good welder such as myself plans for distortion, and knows how to make it minimal, it makes for an easy and great repair. And if you muck up the taper cutting it, just re weld it and cut it again. If you make a test taper that hits good in the chuck and leave the compound set as it is just load the spindle and cut it, well then howdy doody, your done lol. Sorry if I'm sounding like a smart ass but I'm trying to be, I don't want to see you discourage this guy, it's an easy fix, and ive already offered to do the tig welding for free if he wants to take me up on the offer.
And for that matter, I can cut the taper as well if you want

Do it right man, don't make the rest of it look nice then leave a very important piece of the puzzle poor fitting, and with substantial run out, "yeah it looks nice but it can't drill straight holes for chit"
 
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Bob Korves

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#21
The spindle taper repair is a prime candidate for spray metal welding. Shops that repair a lot of shafts can do the work. After the buildup the taper can be turned or ground back to original size. A good job will be visually and structurally the same as new, and it is possible to use harder metals for the repair as well, which is a plus for a machine taper. Price will be a factor with any professional repair of the taper.

The other way to do it is with Prussian blue, fine files, a dial indicator, a GOOD female taper, and infinite patience. It must be round, to size, aligned with the spindle center line, and to the correct taper, all at the same time. It is quite doable if YOU are up to it and do not get frustrated easily and reach for the angle grinder. It will take considerable time. 8^) The spindle will be very slightly shortened by the work.

If the spindle looks like that, the inside of the chuck probably does, too. Putting a buggered chuck on a repaired spindle will not result in a good fit and will damage the repaired spindle. That appears to be a Jacobs chuck. Jacobs usually stamps the arbor taper size on the chuck.

Here is Abom79 doing a spray weld job in a recent video:
 
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wildo

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#22
Again- I'm really glad for the comments! You guys give me lots to think about. In the meantime, enjoy some more progress pics...

All parts (except for the post) have now been degreased and wire brushed.
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I was able to use a scotchbrite wheel to remove the rust from the base and the table. There is some definite pitting in the table, but overall- it's absolutely useable.
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I prepped my bench for paint. I made a little a-frame to hang some parts off of:
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I did decide on the black finish with aluminum accents:
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The aluminum paint covers much better than I expected:
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chevydyl

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#23
He mentioned the chuck being crap, I said he needed a new one in earlier post, spray welding would probably be just as bad or worse for warpage, and I'm not sure using a harder metal would be ideal, being that the chuck may be of harder metal than the spindle itself already which is the perfect setup. Watch the oxtoolco video series on short machine tapers and how he fixes exactly this type of part. It's a relatively easy fix, and could potentially be free for the guy.
I think that build up using tig would have less tendency for warpage because you can get in and get out with the heat, allowing it to cool between buildup welds, and seeing exactly what it's doing, as far as warpage, and knowing exactly where to weld next to pull it over if needed.

His spindle is 5/8 diameter, seems like it would get pretty dang hot with spray welding, I'm not up on that other than watching the interesting videos but with a mig process of spray transfer, that's super hot.....
 

Glenn Brooks

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#24
Interesting discussion... I rebuilt a Buffalo 15 floor mount DP years ago and loved it. Great machine. I've got another one now - beat up, abused, and tired - sitting in the shop waiting it's turn to come back to life. So this is a very good discussion, particularly your photos showing components.

So, thinking, another option to repair your taper is simply take the spindle to a shop and just have them grind a new, good taper on the existing end. The process would involve removing a little material along the existing damaged taper until you reach good material all around - removing maybe not more than .030 or so. then face off the end to comply with the minimum diameter measurement needed to mount a new chuck. Grinding produces a smoother finish, resulting in less run out than turning with a lathe. This would shorten the quill by a few thousands, but that is negligable and you would never notice the difference once reassembled.

In any event, one other thing you can do is put the existing spindle, as is, on a pair of centers and run a dial indicator along the length. This will tell you if the spindle is tweaked off the axis or not, and by how much...
 

wildo

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#25
I definitely appreciate the alternative options, Glenn! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. It's funny- although I've been making things my entire life, although I feel like I can build the things I build without much thought, although I have boxes and boxes of tools, I'm absolutely completely new to machining! I thought my many years of experience in other areas of making stuff would apply (and it probably does) but I am very quickly learning that there is so much that I take for granted in the areas I know about and so much that I simply don't know about in machining! Even down the most basic of the basics: where to get stuff is not something I know. I'm familiar with Enco and McMaster Carr, but I have a feeling these are not the end-all, be-all places that you all shop at. I guess I'm just saying that I'm learning a lot and have a long way to go. So I definitely appreciate you mentioning the alternative option.

...And it seems like a really good option in this case.

So here's another newbie question. How do I ensure a NOS chuck has a clean female taper? I see plenty on ebay, but they almost all have an arbor in them. Is it safe to assume that there's a clean female taper there once the arbor is pulled out? How could you know? Or maybe the only "real" way to know here is to actually buy a brand new chuck.

I'm glad you're enjoying the pictures!! Certainly over sharing is a major character flaw of mine. :)
 

chevydyl

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#26
Buy a brand new chuck or have a taper gage, which you can make with proper tooling, importantly a sine bar and the right gage blocks for the taper, when I made my chuck adapter I had to do this, my lathe being a threaded spindle and the chuck I had being a d1-6, I had to match the taper to my adapter to the chuck back, also having the chuck when fitted be in tolerance for runout, which it was....
You could buy an arbor and use it as a gage to spot with
 

wildo

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#27
chevydyl- I finally got through that whole spindle taper series from oxtoolco tonight. That was super informative... He did mention near the very end of part four that one option for the female taper is to bore a new taper (since you already have the lathe setup) and then cut a sleeve. You'd bore out the chuck and press fit the new sleeve into it. That's a neat idea for sure!
 

Glenn Brooks

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#28
Wildo,
Your prior experience and background will surely help your understanding of machining principles and making parts. For me, one of the biggest achievements and remaining challenge is to consistently make parts to desired tolerances - particularly when working with old tired out equipment. It's a real art to turn down a piece of raw stock to one thousandth of an inch, particularly when your lathe is 60 or 70 years old and well worn. So there is an art inside of the art, so to speak. Which is the reason I recommended a bit of caution earlier in approaching the taper on your spindle. Not that it is greatly difficult to do,only that as an initial project, maybe it's better to practise on a few things that you can afford to discard, before taking on an irreplaceable spindle if your process goes awry. Everybody has a parts bin full of undersized parts! The senior machinists just have more parts thrown away than we 'new' guys in the hobby. Just part of the learning process.
 

110octane

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#30
I have a comparable drill press. There is one nearly identical to mine on the vintagemachinery.com website. That one is a 1936-1939 15" model that was in a GM of Canada workshop. Mine must be a 1940 or so model and yours may be a wartime product or shortly thereafter. This is a total guess, but I worked with the successors to Buffalo to try and determine the year (+ or -) of manufacture. Including an extensive web search the only O&M manuals I can find are post WWII. My search was a while ago so perhaps some other literature is now available. The main thing with this style of 15" Buffalo drill press, is the way the head clamps to the column. A bolt through the head casting and located in front of the column squeezes the casting around the column.
Over tighten this bolt and crack goes the casting. Post war 15" models used clamps on the head behind the column, just like Delta and Atlas. My drill press came from a municipal shop and had been racked and broken. I brazed the head casting with bronze rod and machined a new bolt with a shoulder and a sleeve so that the tightening nut can only be turned within limits to prevent breaking the casting. So far, the head has not slipped on the column. I had to replace the spindle pulley because the spline was wiped out (!). I found a Harbor Freight drill press on display at the local HF store that had a pulley that looked about right, so I took down the model number and ordered one. HF was good about spares then, not so much now.

I had to machine a new spindle and a top bearing housing incorporating a double row angular contact ball bearing. I also machined out the quill at the bottom and fitted a double row angular contact ball bearing. Cutting the spline was my first attempt at that. I was lucky. The new chuck is a Rohm.

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