Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Project Update: My Kingdom for a Tilt Gear!

One of the concerns that prompted me to embark on the Tortuga Ancient Instruments Holiday Maintenance Program was the difficulty I had tilting the table saw blade when cutting the sharps a couple of months ago. I needed a 10-degree tilt to make the cuts, which was fine, but once I was finished, I couldn't get the blade to return to 90 degrees without a lot of effort. Too much effort, really, and it was very difficult to get the height adjustment gears to reengage.

Before taking the saw apart, I went ahead and read an online manual about how the tilt mechanism should operate. Yes, I read a manual, a document perilously close to a map - please alert my wife to this fact. Anyway, the manual says the crank handle should tilt the blade by moving a gear that meshes with the teeth of a "gear rack." This was not the case when I turned the crank handle - it just spun with halting movement of the blade, so I would have to manually jam it into position.

After reviewing a schematic of the saw, I was able to identify the potential part - a Tilt Gear - that might be the culprit. On closer inspection, I could see that a couple of the teeth were indeed missing on the tilt gear. On even closer inspection, it became clear that I would need to take one of the sides completely off to get at the gear, which resulted in the photo below.

What a mess.

The good news is I removed the tilt gear with the side benefit of cleaning parts and areas that clearly have not been cleaned in a long while. I removed the entire crank assembly and was able to pry everything apart in order to get at the tilt gear. As you can see, not just two, but four, of the teeth had been sheared off.

The tilt mechanism was problematic from the day I purchased the saw, so it's nice to be able to fix it and move on. The really nice thing is that the part is available from for $3.99. I'm going to buy a couple of them to keep one in stock, though I intend to treat the saw with more care than its previous owner. So far, I've replaced several key parts and found stand mounting screws missing or quite loose. I've replaced so many parts, I feel like I've done what my dad recommended I do with one of my first cars: "Jack up the radiator cap and drive a new car underneath it."

For now, the Tortuga Ancient Instruments Holiday Maintenance Program continues. Next on the agenda while waiting for the new tilt gear to arrive is cleaning the 12" chop saw and tuning up the 12" Delta band saw. When those are completed, I'll build a folding assembly table on braking casters in anticipation of starting the instrument case in the next few weeks.

Until next time...

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