Restoring a 1975 Rockwell 34-461 Unisaw

I bought this 10" Rockwell Delta Unisaw the other day from a guy in the Mat-Su Valley. Price was $300, which included a universal rolling base. Its not one of the prized 1950's models, but its in pretty good shape, isn't missing too many parts, and will be fun to restore.

I looked up the serial number on the VIntage Woodworking website (OWWM.com). This saw was built in 1975 at the Tupelo, Mississippi factory (Model #34-461, Serial #HE4705). Right-tilt blade with the original 1-1/2 hp motor. Below the nameplate is hand engraved "MWR SUPPLY, GFAFB", which indicates the saw was surplussed from Grand Forks, ND Air Force Base - Morale, Welfare & Recreation Office at some time in the past. Probably followed a veteran to Alaska or was transferred to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, which is here in Anchorage.

Rockwell Manufacturing 1-1/2hp single phase 115/230v motor (Marathon #83-621).

According to Rockwell's 1975 Price Schedule, this saw originally sold for $653.00. That would be $2923.00 in today's dollars. A new 3hp Unisaw with 52" rails and Biesemeyer fence sells on Amazon today for $2700. Table saws have always been profitable.

The trunnion castings are in decent shape despite the filth. I gave the gears a quick coat of white grease and everything worked smoothly. The grease will be removed shortly. I'll use the Blaster dry spray lube over the long term.

Bottom of the cast iron table.

Delta Rockwell Unisaws are elegant, well-designed machines with heavy castings. They can weight more than 350 lbs. The weight is roughly partitioned into thirds: the motor, the cast iron table top, and the cabinet base-trunnion assembly. This same basic design was made for half a century. I'll replace the orange extension cord with a proper black one with 12/4 SJOOW wire.

Motor can be wired as 110v, 220v, or 221v. "Whatever it takes" (click for video). This well-built, American-made switch will be upgraded to a larger, more colorful, plastic switch from China. I ordered the new magnetic paddle-style model from Amazon (Woodstock 110v/220v Paddle Switch #D4151).

New paddle switch and electrical box - get a really deep, metal box with removable sides if your wires are #12 or #10 AWG. You'll need the room. I added crimp connector to make wiring cleaner. If the box has long screws sticking out the back (part of clamp mechanism), you might need to trim them down a little. They can interfere with the raise/tilt movement of the motor. Hacksaw blade and 30 seconds.

First step is to replace the arbor bearings from the arbor assembly (Rockwell #LTA-408). The motor bearings are fine.

Here is the assembly order of the arbor. The great Unisaw restoration videos by Delta/Popular Woodworking/Steve Shanesy forget to mention the threaded lock collar (far left end) when putting the arbor assembly back together. Its an important part to remove and reinstall. Also, the "keyway washer" is also called a "belvedere washer".

Wrong bearings. When I pulled the first bearing off the arbor (the easy one), I noticed someone had repacked it with grease. That's a lot of work for a $6.00 part. Anyway, I'm not sure if the replacement bearings I just bought are the correct size (Nachi #6023-10-ZZE). The "10" in the part number indicates the bore diameter is ten 16ths, or 5/8". The standard diameter of a table saw arbor is 5/8", but the bore on these bearings looks too small. I'll go back to the ABCO counter and check with the guy.

Right bearings. Back from the bearing store. Turns out the arbor is metric (probably has been replaced). I've got the correct parts now (ORS #03-14-6203-ZZ-G93-C3). I used the wet paper towel + microwave trick to heat 'em up so that they slip most of the way on with ease. See AvE's YouTube video showing how to do it HERE.

I sanded off the paint on the outer surface of the handwheels (Part #LTA-420). I think it looks better this way. A coat of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel (lacquer) to fend off the rust on the bare metal.

Replaced the belts. These are likely the originals (Part #49-124, $18 for all three on Amazon).

Matched set of new v-belts installed.

Deconstruct the workings, clean up the interior parts, and lubricate the gearing. I'll degrease, wet sand, and paint the cabinet , too. Some of that work has begun here. For paint color, I'm using Rustoleum "Charcoal Gray" enamel. Its slightly darker than the original Delta gray ("Smoke Gray"), which I have always thought looked too pale. Either white or dark gray on machinery looks better than a half-hearted pale gray.

Cleaned up table top and wings. I removed and gave away the Jet-Lock fence (Part #422-04-012-2001) and replaced it with a decent Biesemeyer-style fence off my old Grizzly saw (Aluma-Classic fence). I sprayed on a coat of Blaster Corrosion Stop (an annoying, but effective goo) to keep the rust at bay over the next couple weeks. When everything is back together, I'll clean the top with mineral spirits and apply some Blaster Dry Lube.

Old switch.

New switch. I needed 1-1/4" #6 machine screws to get this switch attached. Installation can be fussy with shorter screws.

Things are starting to come together. Here, I'm test fitting a plywood motor cover, which I recently built. Click here to read more about that --> Build a Motor Cover for a Vintage Unisaw

After a few months of steady use, I can't complain. By going through the process of refurbishing a vintage Unisaw I now understand why there are so many fans of these saws. They work the way they should.

One thing I did was put a 30 amp breaker on the 110v outlet circuit the saw is plugged into. Hey Sally, don't write me with warnings of impending electrical catastrophe. It eliminated breaker trips on those really cold days (below zero days). Also, I run thin kerf 7-1/4" Freud blade in the saw most of the time for both cost and performance reasons.

I'll be selling this saw soon and upgrading to a 3hp Powermatic. Not because this one isn't fine. I just want a brand new Powermatic to use for the rest of my career.

Feel free to write me with questions or comments: skyecooley@gmail.com.

Unisaw Restoration Online Resources

Instructions for rebuilding Unisaws, http://www.sawcenter.com/unisaw.htm

Videos on Unisaw restoration by Fine Woodworking, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pshGOUg0hG0

Machine registry and research on Unisaw serial numbers, http://wiki.vintagemachinery.org

Nathan Hein's restored Unisaw, http://nathanhein.com/2014/01/rockwell-unisaw-restoration

Unisaw Arbor Bearing Replacement (36-830), www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/unisawbearings.shtml

Unisaw Rebuild by ModernWoodworking, http://modernwoodworking.blogspot.com/search/label/Unisaw

Unisaw Part 1 by Dan Cirtwill, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWWLmVO6wMs

Unisaw Part 2 by Dan Cirtwill, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ssn13pv5_Q

Mobile Base for Unisaw by Chris Pine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBHSHVVoSXQ

Unisaw Install (leveling feet) by divyajnana, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2wX3TBoIKs

Delta 12"-14" Tablesaw Restoration Project by T. Shue, www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p4PqJfDR9I

Unisaw Fence Upgrade by ZH Fabrications, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQobf9TKiI

Unison Arbor Bearings by Michael Bergeron, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYhYK5cMKqM Unifence Bearing Glide by Michael Olson, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U5bcdvC1Jg Replace Bearings in Unisaw? by clayton711, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6RvqsstdDA 3 Phase Motor Test on a 1963 Delta Unisaw by 21mph12, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkLrQ-t-xUY Unisaw, Three Phase Bullet Motor 1.5HP by R. John Klimut, www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8PTHkjwdeA Sliding Table on a Older Delta Unisaw by BiggeDink, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTtAhRfIHKg

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