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Harbor Freight 4x6 Band Saw Set-up Feedback

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ACHiPo

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#1
I finally got around to getting a Starrett blade onto my new HF 4x6 band saw. I got the guides set up and the top wheel adjusted so the blade tracks fairly well.

I've downloaded the 4x6 set up guide from Yahoo Groups, but haven't gotten a chance to walk through it yet. I think my saw is usable as-is, but is no where near where I want it to be (using my Jet 14" steel woodworking band saw as a benchmark).

The first question I have is whether it's ok for the blade to only be halfway on the bottom (driven) wheel? The blade seems to run correctly on the top wheel, with the teeth just hanging over the edge, but the blade only has ~1/4" - 3/8" on the bottom wheel. I suspect that means I need to shim the bottom wheel over 1/4"? If so, that seems like an awful lot of misalignment?
IMG_1451.JPG

IMG_1453.JPG


Here's the top wheel for comparison:
IMG_1452.JPG


The second question is that the gear box seems to make an awful lot of noise. I've seen some people's reports that the gears need filing, so I opened up the gear box, but the gears actually seem to mesh pretty well, and I didn't see/feel any rough spots. What suggestions do you have?

Thanks,
Evan
 

francist

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#2
Before you start thinking about how to shim the lower wheel, check that the bearing that runs along the back edge of the blade is not adjusted too far forward. Looks to me like you have room to set this bearing back a bit which should position the blade more central on the two guide bearings as well as allow the blade to track a little further on to the wheel.

-frank
 

darkzero

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#3
Don't shim the bottom wheel. You need to adjust the tilt of the top wheel. You need to tilt the wheel back a bit more (looking at your first pic, tilt the wheel closer to the tension screw side). There's a set screw on the other side that adjusts the tilt by the 2 sliding bolts. I forget as I sold my 4x6 but I believe you need to loosen one of those bolts before adjusting tilt. The manual should show how.

If you actually make a cut on something, the weight will push the blade back onto the wheel. But if you run it freely and the blade starts coming off the bottom wheel again you will need to adjust the tilt. It maybe be borderline about to fall if the tilt is not adjusted enough, bad things happen when that blade pops off.
 

royesses

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#4
I adjusted mine by first moving the back/side bearings up and away from the blade. I found the lower wheel had clearance and would move back and forth on the shaft. I made a spacer to take up the clearance and made a tighter key for the shaft. Then I adjusted the top wheel to get the best tracking I could and tightened it down. Tracking is almost equal on the wheels and not half off as your photo shows. It's kind of a compromise . Then I adjusted the side and back bearings. Then squared to the vise and table. Cuts pretty square now. I replaced the oil in the gearbox when I first got the saw. I cleaned out the dirt and grit in the gear box and filled it with fresh oil. No excessive noise.
 

Surprman

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#5
Tough to tell from the photo, but the Chinese like to paint things they should not. I picked- up my HF 4x6 used on Craig's List. It seems the original owner could not get the blade to stay on and gave it to his friend. He sold it to me for $50 (nearly brand new). There was paint on both wheels (on the outside where the blade makes contact) and it created a clay-like mess when the heat, paint and metal dust combined, probably leading to the blade slipping off. Do yourself a favor and scrape those contact surfaces with a razor blade to remove any paint residue.

Rick
 

ACHiPo

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#6
Before you start thinking about how to shim the lower wheel, check that the bearing that runs along the back edge of the blade is not adjusted too far forward. Looks to me like you have room to set this bearing back a bit which should position the blade more central on the two guide bearings as well as allow the blade to track a little further on to the wheel.

-frank
Frank,
Are you talking about the lower or upper blade guides? The upper blade guide seems like it's in the correct position when the saw is running. Currently the blade does not contact the lower blade guide--I slide the guide as far as possible forward, and the blade still doesn't make contact with it, which is why I suspect that the wheel needs shimmed.

Evan
 

ACHiPo

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#7
Don't shim the bottom wheel. You need to adjust the tilt of the top wheel. You need to tilt the wheel back a bit more (looking at your first pic, tilt the wheel closer to the tension screw side). There's a set screw on the other side that adjusts the tilt by the 2 sliding bolts. I forget as I sold my 4x6 but I believe you need to loosen one of those bolts before adjusting tilt. The manual should show how.

If you actually make a cut on something, the weight will push the blade back onto the wheel. But if you run it freely and the blade starts coming off the bottom wheel again you will need to adjust the tilt. It maybe be borderline about to fall if the tilt is not adjusted enough, bad things happen when that blade pops off.
DZ,
I had to adjust the tilt to get the blade to stay on. If I tilt it any more, the teeth will run on the top wheel, which isn't good. I haven't cut anything on it yet, so will try that before making any modifications.
Evan
 

ACHiPo

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#8
I adjusted mine by first moving the back/side bearings up and away from the blade. I found the lower wheel had clearance and would move back and forth on the shaft. I made a spacer to take up the clearance and made a tighter key for the shaft. Then I adjusted the top wheel to get the best tracking I could and tightened it down. Tracking is almost equal on the wheels and not half off as your photo shows. It's kind of a compromise . Then I adjusted the side and back bearings. Then squared to the vise and table. Cuts pretty square now. I replaced the oil in the gearbox when I first got the saw. I cleaned out the dirt and grit in the gear box and filled it with fresh oil. No excessive noise.
Thanks. I'll go through it this weekend.
 

ACHiPo

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#9
Tough to tell from the photo, but the Chinese like to paint things they should not. I picked- up my HF 4x6 used on Craig's List. It seems the original owner could not get the blade to stay on and gave it to his friend. He sold it to me for $50 (nearly brand new). There was paint on both wheels (on the outside where the blade makes contact) and it created a clay-like mess when the heat, paint and metal dust combined, probably leading to the blade slipping off. Do yourself a favor and scrape those contact surfaces with a razor blade to remove any paint residue.

Rick
Will do. Thanks.
 

royesses

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#11
Also as you use the saw the blade guide bearings will wear and cause noise and allow the blade to wander. I ordered new bearings from VXB made in Japan. The original bearings feel like they are made out of lumpy chunks of semi hard re-bar. I also removed the paint from both drive and idler wheels when I first got the saw. I use Lenox bi-metal blades. I get them when MSC has a sale going on. I added a hydraulic downfeed too. The legs are very sturdy if you make a base and bolt them to the base.

Roy
 

francist

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#12
Frank,
Are you talking about the lower or upper blade guides? The upper blade guide seems like it's in the correct position when the saw is running. Currently the blade does not contact the lower blade guide--I slide the guide as far as possible forward, and the blade still doesn't make contact with it, which is why I suspect that the wheel needs shimmed.

Evan
I was talking about the lower guide -- from where I was sitting it looked like there was contact already and may have been holding the blade away from fulling arriving on the wheel. You're in a better vantage to see exactly how they are meeting up though, if at all.

It's been a long time since I had mine apart to rebuild (when I got it used) but I do remember having to shim one wheel at the end of the day to get things to line up right. Trouble is, I can't remember if it was the top wheel or the bottom wheel on mine that needed the shim! It was about 1/4" though -- I made a very thick washer out of some UHMW and it's worked well ever since. It's tough to say if these saws ever have the same problem across the board or whether each one has its own unique quirks.

-frank
 

Surprman

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#13
Also as you use the saw the blade guide bearings will wear and cause noise and allow the blade to wander. I ordered new bearings from VXB made in Japan. The original bearings feel like they are made out of lumpy chunks of semi hard re-bar. I also removed the paint from both drive and idler wheels when I first got the saw. I use Lenox bi-metal blades. I get them when MSC has a sale going on. I added a hydraulic downfeed too. The legs are very sturdy if you make a base and bolt them to the base.

Roy
The previous owner of my saw had screwed the legs down to a large size HF furniture dolly. It is sturdy and rolls around nicely so I left it that way.

Rick
 

ACHiPo

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#14
I was talking about the lower guide -- from where I was sitting it looked like there was contact already and may have been holding the blade away from fulling arriving on the wheel. You're in a better vantage to see exactly how they are meeting up though, if at all.

It's been a long time since I had mine apart to rebuild (when I got it used) but I do remember having to shim one wheel at the end of the day to get things to line up right. Trouble is, I can't remember if it was the top wheel or the bottom wheel on mine that needed the shim! It was about 1/4" though -- I made a very thick washer out of some UHMW and it's worked well ever since. It's tough to say if these saws ever have the same problem across the board or whether each one has its own unique quirks.

-frank
Frank,
Thanks for the clarification. I'm sure the lower support wheel is not where it should be, but I'm also sure that's not why the blade is tracking where it is on the lower wheel. I think I'll try cutting a few things and see if things settle in better. I also like the idea of scraping off the paint.

I knew it would be a project when I bought it, so I'm not disappointed. I just need to get out to the shop with the set-up guides from Yahoo Groups and walk through it.

Evan
 

ACHiPo

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#15
Also as you use the saw the blade guide bearings will wear and cause noise and allow the blade to wander. I ordered new bearings from VXB made in Japan. The original bearings feel like they are made out of lumpy chunks of semi hard re-bar. I also removed the paint from both drive and idler wheels when I first got the saw. I use Lenox bi-metal blades. I get them when MSC has a sale going on. I added a hydraulic downfeed too. The legs are very sturdy if you make a base and bolt them to the base.

Roy
Roy,
Good advice. Thanks!
Evan
 

ACHiPo

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#16
Well, it's still not a precision machine, but it is quite serviceable after tweaking. The blade tracks well, and cuts square and true. The black gunk (paint?) has been removed from the wheels. Somehow I kinked the first Starrett blade I installed, but it doesn't seem to affect cutting. The gears seem to be quieting down a bit--I'll change the oil after running it for an hour or so to break in the gears.

The blade tension knob was broken in shipping. I can still hold it together to tension the blade, but at some point I want to pop it off and replace it with a machined piece.
 
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