What to look for and what to pay
From time to time I get e-mails asking questions about the Parks 12" planer and I thought it would be useful to capture some of the typical questions and the answers, at least as I know them. Anything that is set forth here applies to both the Craftsman and the Parks 12" planer. The machines are identical.
"What to look for" is a lot easier to answer than "what to pay", but let's try "what to pay" first.
How much should I pay for an old Parks 12" planer?
Over the last few years I've seen these machines sell for as little as $150 and as much as $800+. Both these extremes I’d deem unusual and more typically they sell in the $300 to $600 range. Obviously condition is a major consideration so I encourage you to look at the "what to look for" section and then determine if the machine you are considering should be at the high or low end of the range. I purchased a machine that was 100% complete, but was covered with rusts from sitting unused for over seven years. At the other end of the spectrum are reconditioned machines selling for $800+. Be careful of the term "reconditioned". It can mean anything from a paint job to a complete rehabilitation with new bearings and every part dis-assembled, cleaned and polished. Other price considerations include:
What should I look for?
- What is the horsepower of the motor? Parks literature shows a power requirement of 1/2 to 3 horsepower. I would discount any machine with less than a 1-1/2 horsepower motor.
- Does the machine have the original factory stand? This is a price plus. The older machines had cast iron stands. Later Parks made a heavy sheet metal stand. A suitable stand may be readily built, but the original factory stand adds considerably the classic look of the machine.
- Does the machine have the original factory belt guard? This is another price plus. These are more difficult to fabricate.
- Does the motor and cutter head have single or double pulleys? I would only give this a small price plus. This was a factory option. The double pulley gives you a little more cutting power.
- Are there any obvious cracks in any of the castings? I'd stay away from a machine with cracks in the large main castings or at least know if a replacement casting is available and at what price. A fairly common cracked casting problem involves the bearing caps. These hold down the cutting head. Typically the bolts are over tightened and the “ears”, in which the bolt holes are drilled, are broken off. This is not a serious or expensive problem. Replacements are available from Morrison for $40 each (based on a Fall 2000 purchase). There are two such castings. When replacing these casting be sure the use shims so that you don’t repeat the problem.
- Does the transmission operate? Turn the machine on, engage the transmission and see if both the in feed and out feed rollers operate. If there is no motor then turn the cutting head pulley by hand and see it the rollers turn. If the rollers do not turn then remove the transmission cover (two machine screws hold it on) and inspect the gears. Look for broken gears or a broken or missing chain. The chain replacement or repair is relatively simple and inexpensive, but broken gears are another story. By the way do not run the machine with the transmission cover removed unless you want to be covered with gear oil.
- Does the table raise and lower without great effort? Check the table gib screws (there are six in the front of the machine as you face the in feed side) and see if the table will move more readily if they are loosened. If the sill table fails to move most likely the bevel gears (there are four in the base of the machine) are loose or stripped. These gears are available in most of the standard industrial catalogs.
- Is the transmission leaking gear oil through the brass bearings on the side of the transmission case? This is not an uncommon problem and might be resolved by changing to a heavier lubricant.
- Does the machine vibrate excessively when operated? This could be from several sources. The cutting head could be out of balance, the bearings could have excessive wear or the bearing caps could be loose or broken. The first item is the only potentially expensive problem.
- Is the machine very rusty? Don't worry about it! This is a very heavy machine and no amount of rust removal will do any harm. The only thing you want to be careful of if significant rust damage to the cutting head, rollers or table.
- Are the table rollers frozen? This is not a big problem either. It is probably just rust or saw dust build up. A good cleaning will solve this problem.
Take a look at the pictures in the OWWM Photo Index. There are a series of Parks 12" planer photos. You might also want to look at and print off the exploded view part sheets (available for download on the Parks Catalog/Manual Reprint Page on this site) as a guide to understanding the operation of the machine before you look at it. It will help guide you through the examination of the machine.