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Thread: Dewalt MBC Radial Arm Saw Help

  1. #1

    Dewalt MBC Radial Arm Saw Help

    Hello Everyone!

    I've come across a Dewalt MBC REL 21 radial arm saw, serial number 139329 at what seems like a decent price. I used my Dewalt Black and Decker RAS tons until it went tango uniform the other day, and from what I've read, the OLD Dewalts are the way to go. I've done some cursury reading on the Mr. Sawdust and OWWM sites, but was hoping to get some help with some specific questions:

    What do the REL #s signify? Is one more desirable than another? Is there one to avoid?

    About all I know to check is to see whether the blade spins smoothly and for a long time (bearings good), and that it turns on. What other kinds of things should I check?

    Are there any other things I should consider? For those of you that own or have owned one, what would you have liked to know before purchasing yours?

    Thanks in advance for your help. I hope it still stays available long enough to get some answer to these questions!
    Last edited by jason mowery; 01-15-2009 at 11:33 AM. Reason: title clarification

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Phoenix AZ Area
    Posts
    1,779
    I'm not sure I know which tool you are talking about. I have a 14" RAS branded both Dewalt and Black and Decker. It was sold new soon after Black and Decker bought Dewalt the first time. It's the same machine as the old Dewalt, and the same as the one "The Original Saw Company" sells today based on the original Dewalt tooling. Mine is black crinkle paint. Is this the machine you are looking for?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wapakoneta, Ohio
    Posts
    207
    This will be of limited use, but I just bought an MBF and am still going through some of the same questions. The forum that may be of more help is the Dewalt radial arm saw forum (http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher), you will also find a set of FAQ's there that are very useful. The MBC was built between 1940 and 1955, and they are 9", 1/2 HP saws. Another URL for a PDF with some history and good general info: www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/dewaltrebuild.pdf (copy and paste this to get to the article, I can't get the link to work...it doesn't pick up the info after the last slash mark).
    As for what to look for, I would check the carriage for smoothness and rigidity, the bearings it rides on can run up to $100 (for 4 bearings), depending on where you buy them. You do not want the bearing ways (the track or slot that guides the carriage bearings) to be worn out, then you would probably have to replace the arm. You want the carriage to lock tightly. the A motor that runs is good, but having the bearings replaced can be fairly inexpensive. I just got a call to pick up my rotor and the bearing replacement was $15 for the labor, the bearings were $40. As for prices for these saws, you will find them to range between $40 and $150+. I paid $50 for mine, and have so far spent another $80-$90 (including the motor bearings) getting what I needed to restore it, and I haven't bought the Mr. Sawdust book yet. At this point I'm really enthused about the saw, but I have a ways to go before I'm ready to use it. If you choose to buy it, 2 useful companies will be Original Saw Company (they have parts for several of the smaller Dewalts) and Wolfe Machinery (they rebuild larger Dewalts) Hope this helps....
    Last edited by Fred Hargis; 01-15-2009 at 2:57 PM. Reason: trying to fix the $#@(*&^ link!

  4. #4
    Thanks so much for the information, and taking time to post!

  5. #5
    Joe-

    No, that's not the machine I'm looking at, but I have to tell you, yours is really nice!
    To clarify, I currently have a Black and Decker/Dewalt Powershop 1350A that's recently burned up. I'm considering buying an OLD Dewalt MBC REL 21.

  6. #6
    The Old MB* are good saws. I own 2 MBC's and 1 GWI (GW in restoration currently).

    The advice you've received so far is good, the forums mentioned go into greater depth on the models in question and OWWM has manuals on the Rel21 saw. As to the releases, I don't believe there are many differences in the MBC line (vs. MB vs MBC vs MBF etc).

    Motor bearings are almost certain to be shot unless it was owned by someone who knew they had to replace it. The lubricant dries out (these are 50+ years old after all) and will likely require replacement. As mentioned, it's not too much money and all will be well. If the blade spins forever, that's actually indicative of the bearings in need of replacement. You want it to spin down in a reasonable amount of time, you'll know the difference I suspect .

    The parts that are most important would be whether the table cleats are present (if the table is original, you're in good shape). They can be replaced, but will run you 30-40 to locate them used. lock the arm swivel and check for play. Check to see whether the motor slides in the arm with equal resistance from front to back... this will give you a feel for whether the ways are worn in the middle or at the ends. Remachining the ways is very costly.

    Where are you located? I know of a few older dewalts for sale currently that may be worth investigating for you also depending on location.

    They are fabulous saws. The HP rating is conservative as it was rated differently back then. (or should I saw, it was rated very accurately for amp draw vs. modern day marketing).

    g'luck.

    mike

  7. #7
    Mike-

    Thanks a ton for the reply and all the good info. I really appreciate the specific stuff to check. I didn't want to show up at this guys' house and just do the "walk around and kick the tires" routine, and not have any idea what I'm actually looking for. Knowledge is power! BTW, I'm in South Central PA, about 45 miles south of Harrisburg.

  8. #8
    Ah, nothing in that area that I'm aware of. G'luck on the inspection. Few things are really deal breakers on these saws as long as it's complete.

    Plan on rebuilding the table though, chances are VERY good it won't be dead flat and since the table IS the reference surface which you tune the blade to, it absolutely MUST be perfect.

    Cheers,

    mike

  9. #9
    Mike-

    Sent you a PM...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Greenville, SC
    Posts
    747
    I actually purchased a 1953 MBC offer another OWWMr for $65. I haven't gotten it yet, but I am excited for it to come, looks like it will be a fun project. It is ugly as sin and needs to be stripped down and re-painted, but that is half of the fun...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Benbrook, TX
    Posts
    1,243
    Shoulda known I'd find it here on the creek. Came across an MBC at the flea market today that for $50 said "take me home". It runs, slides, and looks to be in good shape.

    What I'll use it for, I dunno yet, I've never even used a RAS. Maybe for dadoes, once I get it cleaned up & check out the motor bearings per Fred's advice. It looks very similar to the pic Joe posted, but the graduation gauges appear to all be brass.

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