Mark, I tend to agree on the shaper thing. They were solid but not very user friendly in comparison to the newer Euro ones. Usually had a poor fence and odd sized spindles. On the other hand $1000 buys a machine that with a feeder could run stuff all day. It is the set up that is the killer there. As to the jointer, I'd only trade my Porter for a Martin- of course there are no takers. Dave
Last edited by Stephen Cherry; 02-06-2013 at 12:44 PM. Reason: spellin
One of the reasons new-ish machines end up in landfills is the use of unique parts, castings etc (including plastics), electronics and no factory support. The old stuff often used commonly-available parts or parts that can be rebuilt. It sucks to call the mfr. for a replacement toothed rack, spindle, or what-not & be told there are no parts available.
Defining old iron is pretty subjective, "I'll know it when I see it." Generally some huge piece of very heavy iron and steel industrial equipment from about the 1930s to the 1960s comes to mind. There must be a lack of anything "modern" such as much in the way of safety features and plastics or electronics. Flourishes in the castings, American manufacture, obsolete technology like babbitt bearings, and the white/cream, dove gray, or turquoise green paint colors are added pluses.
I consider the line to be the 1960s since that seems to be when Mechanite starts to disappear in the manufacture of woodworking machines and be reserved for metalworking . I started working about 1966 ,all of the old heavy duty saws had riving knives. Babbitt is not obsolete. When it is obsolete you might not have current for your shop since it is still used in power generation .
It's in the same class as unicorns, UFOs, bigfoot, the Dodo and passenger pidgeons...What is "Ol' Arn"?How would you define old iron?
People say they find it - but - close scrutiny of all offerings on CL reveal nothing but "vintage"....
"Vintage" can best be described as something broken, filthy and of an unknown age that's priced at least twice what a new item costs.
There have been some sightings of a sub species of Arn - Walker Turner Drill Presses - however so far these sightings have been unconfirmed.
try to remember that the very first step in finishing a project is choosing the material. You want to select wood that has the color and grain pattern than best suits your requirements as "covering up" those things after the fact makes your work much, much harder - Jim Becker
I am new to SMC but have been browsing treads for about a year now.
I personally define "old arn" as Tannewitz, Northfield, Oliver, Yates, Wadkin, etc. These companies made (Northfield still makes) machines that were basically bomb-proof, and once you made some tune-up, it held for years. I am planing to someday aquire a used Northfield 18" or 25" planer, because all the parts are still available from them.
My 2 cents,
There can be a an overly sentimental view of old machines,but there is also overly enthusiastic embrace of the new. We have TWO members here ,both engineers ,struggling to adjust and fix new jointers. Old iron left the factory adjusted and ready to use . Not with manuals with adjustment tips.
I still think it's just a matter of old and made of iron. For every machine made in the early part of the 20th century that turned into a classic, there must be several that didn't. I think there are at least three categories:
a) Machines that are the equal or better in every respect to current machines. Eg Some old, big, jointers, high quality Radial Arm Saws
b) Machines that simply weren't that good in the first place, but are old. Eg Delta Homecraft shapers, 3-speed drill presses with two-spoke handles and square head jointers.
c) Machines that were good in their day, but aren't as good as the modern crop. Eg most straight blade planers, and pretty much every table saw will fall into this category.
Not all that is old is equal, and certainly not all that is new. So as I say, the term means it's old and made of iron to me. No other inference.