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Restoring a Parks Planer

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Modified on 2011/08/21 15:58 by Dan McCallum Categorized as Planers, Restoration Topics

The Parks (and Craftsman-badged Parks) 12” planer is one of the most ubiquitous OWWM around. Some 45,000 were produced over a period of more than forty years, with no significant design changes. These are solid, simple machines, that with a bit (OK quite a bit sometimes) of TLC and the wisdom of the OWWM collective, can be made to run better than new.

In response to the volume of questions in the forums about Parks planers, I decided to wiki-ize my experiences in tearing down and rebuilding my machine. I have borrowed heavily from discussions and the ideas of others in the Shop forum, and I thank everyone who has offered assistance and a shoulder to cry on as I moved through the process.

My Parks Before the Restoration

My Parks Before the Restoration


My Parks Front View After the Restoration

My Parks Front View After the Restoration


My Parks Rear View After the Restoration

My Parks Rear View After the Restoration



My Parks On Stand After the Restoration

My Parks On Stand After the Restoration




A special thanks goes to Bill Nance, Doug Rewerts, and Bob Vaughan. Bill reviewed the wiki as a ‘work in progress’ and offered a number of very helpful suggestions. I was perhaps a third of the way through my rebuild and the documentation of it in the form of this wiki, when I came across Bill’s very excellent page where he photodocuments his own rebuild. Doug provided me with a ton of excellent pictures of his own rebuild that I was able to use in the wiki. And Bob was always at the ready with a helpful answer to any question or problem I desperately posted in the dark days of teardown and rebuild. Thank you gentlemen!

These planers are superior in almost every way to the cheap plastic lunchbox screamers that are sold new today. Fixing one up will be well worth the effort. For me, it was a great project to work on with my 13 year old son. Perhaps one day he will rebuild it with his son or grandson, but I doubt he will rebuild my DeWalt 733 that died after a couple years of service.

Although my machine is a Craftsman-badged Parks, these machines are mechanically identical to the Parks-badged machines. The Craftsman-badged units are a slightly different colour, as well as not coming standard with a stand and belt guard.

One OWWM’er bragged in The Shop of getting his Parks completely apart in 3 hours. Me, I took several days to get mine apart, then several months of part time effort to clean and reassemble! In retrospect it was quite a bit more work than I had expected. Which is not surprising since I underestimated my house renovation, my sports car rebuild, virtually every woodwork project I undertake, etc.

This wiki references the 1980 version of the “Operating Instructions and Parts List for Parks 12” Thickness Planer” manual that is stored on the OWWM.com website. A printout of the two exploded drawings in that document along with these instructions will be useful during the disassembly. Note that there is also a 1949 version and a Craftsman version of the document. The 1949 and 1980 versions are virtually identical. The Craftsman version uses a different numbering convention.

As always, this wiki is intended to be the first word on the subject, not the last word. If you see something in error, out of date, missing, or otherwise in need of changing, please feel free to make the changes yourself, or send me (Daninvan) a PM and I’d be happy to make them for you if you are not comfortable editing the wiki yourself.

DISASSEMBLING THE PARKS PLANER

The planer itself, no motor or stand has a “shipping weight” of 265 lbs. Figure an actual of somewhat less, perhaps 240 lbs? So get a helper or two to help you move it into a comfortable position to work on it!

Getting the #$%^!! gearbox separated from the main part of the planer is by far the most difficult part of the disassembly process. In theory it should be straightforward, as there are not really many parts involved, but due to awkward access and stuck parts it often is not.

Removing the Gearbox

Open the top on the gearbox and peer cautiously inside. First the gearbox oil/grease/gunk must be removed. Tilting/pouring, wiping, scooping, diluting are all valid methods. #1 diesel , SImple Green, etc Use whichever one suits you. Have plenty of rags/containers available, and please dispose of the waste safely.
Looking Down Into the Gearbox Before Disassembly, Grease Already Removed

Looking Down Into the Gearbox Before Disassembly, Grease Already Removed


Ideally, the infeed roller and outfeed rollers and the cutterhead stay in place while the gearbox is removed. The ends of each of these three stick into the gearbox, so the strategy is to loosen all the gears and stuff on each of these enough so that the gearbox will slide off of the three shafts. You can be sure that you will encounter various complications along the way. Plenty of salty language will help. We don’t have to tell you to take lots of pictures along the way, and make sure you label and bag/containerize all the removed parts in a logical manner so there is no confusion come assembly time.
Planer Disassembled with Small Parts in Bags and Jars

Planer Disassembled with Small Parts in Bags and Jars


First thing to do is to remove the throw out sleeve (A-8) off the end of the outfeed roller (A-23). Do this by taking out the two bolts (A-9) that hold the parts A-10, A-11, A-12 in place. The throw out sleeve will now slide out readily.
Remove These Two Bolts to Get the Throw Off Assembly Off

Remove These Two Bolts to Get the Throw Off Assembly Off


Next, you need to loosen off the Allen screws securing the chain sprocket (A-4) on the end of the infeed roller (A-30), the gear (A-17) on the end of the cutterhead, and the chain sprocket (A-4) and the shaft collar (A-2) on the end of the outfeed roller. Note that to access the Allen screw on the shaft collar, you will need to rotate everything around until the Allen screw lines up with the hole in the webbing of the case.
First Step of Gearbox Disassembly

First Step of Gearbox Disassembly


Now you should be able to get the big 88 tooth gear (A-6) on the outfeed roller loose, and then slide it over away from the main body of the planer just a smitch. This will give enough clearance that you can slide the infeed roller sprocket (A-4) off. With it off the chain will drop down, allowing the gear (A-17) on the end of the cutterhead to slide off as well. All that remains now is to get everything off the outfeed roller.

First remove the Woodruff key (A-71) in the outfeed roller shaft. Note that although the visible portion of it is flat, in fact it is semi circular shaped underneath. You should be able to remove this easily by carefully tapping one end of it down using something slightly narrower than the key. This will lever the other end of it up and out. Once enough of it is lifted up, you should be able to grab it with vice grips or pliers and simply pull it out. Then loosen up everything on the shaft: A-7, A-6, A-5, A-4, and the one A-2. At this point the gearbox should pull off, and all the gears and stuff in the gearbox will fall to the bottom of the gearbox!

Don’t Hit the Key From the End and Damage it Like This!

Don’t Hit the Key From the End and Damage it Like This!


Tap Down on One End of Key To Pop Up the Other End

Tap Down on One End of Key To Pop Up the Other End


Problems you May Encounter

The gearbox is a fairly simple mechanism so there are really just a handful of problems you can expect to encounter. They are pretty typical of old arn, nothing that you wouldn’t expect to encounter on a tear down of an old machine.

The first one is likely to be Allen screws that you can’t loosen. I didn’t use one of the traditional “L” shaped Allen keys. I bought a set (Imperial, not metric) of Allen keys from the BORG that came in a plastic case that acts as a great handle and provides tons of leverage. It was long enough that I could reach everything I needed to with it. All the Allen screws in the Parks use a 3/16” key.

Another is that the gears are stuck on the shaft. I found a flat pry bar worked well for ‘breaking’ the attachment of a gear to its shaft. Be careful to avoid leveraging directly off the aluminum gearbox housing though! If you have to pry against the housing, make sure you back it up so that the pressure is transferred to the body of the planer. Penetrating oil can help here too.

A great tip (special thanks to Bob Vaughan for this one) for moving a stuck gear or collar is to take the Allen screw completely out, verify that there is not another screw hiding underneath, then thread a 3/8” bolt or threaded rod in place of the screw. Don’t let it bottom out, and you can use it to apply leverage to free up the stuck item on the shaft.

Threaded Rod Replacing Allen Screw to Apply More Torque

Threaded Rod Replacing Allen Screw to Apply More Torque


Another problem that you are likely to encounter is that one or more of the shafts is somehow damaged so that the gear(s) on it will not slide off. This may be due to rust on the surface of the shaft, or scrapes and gouges typically caused by improperly tightened Allen screws. A damaged shaft can be a serious problem, given that access is tight inside the gearbox and there is no way to put a gear puller on. Force is the only way!

If you are unable to remove everything from one of the shafts, you can always remove the gearbox with the shaft still in it, then complete the disassembly afterwards. It’s a lot easier to press/bash the outfeed roller shaft out of the gearbox when the combo is out of the main body of the planer. You can see in the previous picture that the gearbox was removed with the outfeed roller still attached.

This problem happens most frequently with the outfeed roller, as it seems to have the most stuff on it. To get the outfeed roller shaft out of the planer while still attached to the gearbox, you will need to remove the hex nut assembly (A-49, A50), spring (A-51), and threaded rod (A-52) from each end of the outfeed roller. This will allow the stud collars (A-54) to drop down enough that they will clear the body of the planer as the outfeed roller shaft is pulled out.

Gear Problems

The gears or sprockets in the gearbox can suffer from a wide variety of ailments, missing or damaged teeth, ‘chew’ marks, worn bores, etc.. These should be replaced with new pieces when the damage makes them unserviceable. Buying them locally is probably cheaper as many of them are common sizes, but DC Morrison has them in any case.

Worn Slotted Hub

Worn Slotted Hub


Chewed Up Sprocket

Chewed Up Sprocket


Poorly Repaired Eccentric

Poorly Repaired Eccentric


The following videos illustrate common gear problems on the Parks.

Bad Gear

Slop in a gearbox

Bad gearbox sleeve

Disassembly of the Planer

With the gearbox off, getting the cutterhead off is not difficult. First remove the two bolts on each of the left and right bearing caps (A-58). Now gently lift each bearing cap off, taking care not to tear the two fibre shims under each bearing cap. Now gently peel up each ‘H’shaped fibre shim. Mark them so each one can be returned to the exact same location and the orientation come re-assembly time. At this point the cutterhead should just lift out.

Fibre Shims

Fibre Shims


Should something bad happen to your shims during the disassembly, you can measure the thickness of the existing shim remains and make new shims of the same thickness out of, for example heavy card stock. It’s not rocket science. Alternatively, try placing the cap back over the bearing. Press down by hand firmly to make good contact against the bearing and measure gap between the bearing cap and the frame with a feeler gauge. Use shim stock of that measured thickness to make new shims. Remember the bearings don't turn in the babbit, it only holds them in place.

The rest of the disassembly is straightforward and will likely go quickly.

Cleanup of Parts

The degree of cleanup will depend on the condition of the planer, and how far you want to go to restore it. In many cases, cleaning with a strong cleaner and scrubbing with a stiff brush will get the accumulated crap off and that may be enough. The original paint is often well adhered to the cast iron parts and repainting may not be something you want to do. Alternatively, you could repaint over the existing paint once it is cleaned up.

To completely remove all gunk, rust, and paint, electrolysis (“spooge tank”) is highly recommended on the cast iron and steel parts. Do not put the aluminum base or the gearbox housing in the electrolysis tank. You will need to clean them a different way. Babbitt is OK in the spooge tank.

I decided to take all the parts down to the ‘bare metal’. I relied heavily on the spooge tank, supplemented by Simple Green, engine degreaser, Varsol, and a wire wheel on a hand drill. I found that the gearbox and the parts inside it had a foul smell that I did not ever want to have in my house, it must have been the ancient dried up grease. Fortunately, there was virtually no rust on these parts. After several days of soaking, scrubbing, rinsing, and repeating, it all came clean.

Babbitt

The Parks uses an interesting design, where the main cutterhead bearings are secured in babbitt poured into voids in the main casting, and in the bearing caps. This avoided precision machining in the main casting. Problems can occur if the babbitt has worn or otherwise deteriorated so that the bearings are no longer held securely.

Cutterhead Bearing Captured in Babbitt

Cutterhead Bearing Captured in Babbitt


Cutterhead Bearing Captured in Babbitt

Cutterhead Bearing Captured in Babbitt


There are three common options for dealing with bad Babbitt on a Parks.

  1. Buy new bearings from DC Morrison. These come with Babbitt in them, although they will have to be trimmed/filed or likely repoured in order to match up with the babbitt on the bottom. Since iron sand castings by their very nature are not exactly alike, it is only reasonable to assume that the babbitting done at the factory varied slightly for each machine. Therefore, it is puzzling that Morrison is selling pre-babbitted bearing caps, and expecting them to be a satisfactory fit. OWWM’ers have reported the fit of these to be off by as much as 1/16”, while other have reported a perfect fit.

  1. Use fortified epoxy like Acraglas or JB Weld to fill in any gaps. This will work somewhat for smaller voids in the babbitt.

  1. Repour your own. There is some good general info available in the wiki about pouring babbitt. If you do, make sure you use your old bearings as the mold so that you don’t wreck your new ones! Here is one thread that deals specifically with pouring babbitt for Parks, and the result is that it was easy to do.

Cracked Bearing Caps

The bearing caps have thin paper/fibre shims under them. If the bearing caps are over tightened they can easily be cracked. In that case, your only good option is to order new ones, and hope they fit. Later planers have bearing caps that were heavier than the earlier ones, and less likely to crack.
Bearing Cap With Fibre Shim Spacers

Bearing Cap With Fibre Shim Spacers


Sleeve

The sleeve (A-25), also known as the bushing, on the cutterhead is never supposed to touch the shaft. The sleeve’s rim is held fast by the babbitt in the bearing caps. The flanged portion of the sleeve should abut the inner race of the bearing. The sleeve’s other end goes into the gearbox. The gearbox rides on the end of that sleeve and rocks back and forth as wood is fed into the machine. The critical dimension should be the end of the sleeve and the hole in the gearbox. Also, the condition of the babbitt that contains the sleeve.

A common wear problem with the sleeve is that the gearbox hole wallows oval. The solution is to bore out the hole until round. Make a new bushing to fit the new hole. Instead of a "T" shaped bushing (T laid on its side) there will be an "H" shaped bushing. As soon as the bushing emerges from the bearing cap enclosure, the new bushing's diameter will increase to be a rotating fit in the gearbox's new hole. I hope that makes sense.

If the outside of the bushing is worn down or (worse) the hole in the casting is wallowed, then the casting has to be removed and rebored then a new bushing has to be made to fit the new hole in the casting. OWWMer’s have done it before, but it’s risky as the gear teeth have to line up right to mesh.

Sleeve

Sleeve


Up and down movement at the feed rollers is as things need to be, but up and down slop at the drive gear coming off the cutterhead isn't good.

Other common problems are the ‘ears’ of the sleeve get damaged, or the sleeve itself cracks.

 Cracked Sleeve

Cracked Sleeve


Damaged Sleeve Ears

Damaged Sleeve Ears


Cutterhead

There is a great thread on how to clean a cutterhead here. I followed it pretty closely, although I wasn’t able to find the exact cleaning materials he used. I also chucked the end of the cutterhead shaft directly into the drill, it worked fine.

Make sure you get several of the little brushes for cleaning the screw holes. I needed four, they fall apart quickly. Buy the smallest ones you can find, apparently they do come in several sizes.

You can have the cutterhead machined in a lathe with a “kissing” cleanup pass if it’s really nasty, and turn it down about .005 to get under the rust.

Cutterheads are never painted at the factories. Besides, the paint wouldn't last long with all the abrasion from wood, it gets down in screw holes and can interfere with knife setting gauges.

Make sure when you reassemble your Parks that you install the gibs properly. The edge of the gib with the round groove faces up, with the screws bearing on the angled face of the gib, while the blade goes behind the gib.

Gib and Knife in Correctly

Gib and Knife in Correctly


Cutterhead Balancing

I took my cutterhead to my neighbourhood machine shop. They sent it out to be balanced, and reported it was ‘way out of balance’. Although it would be nice to have a more quantifiable result than this, these folks have not sent me astray yet, and I considered the price to be reasonable.

It was balanced with the gibs and screws in place, but not the knives.

Cutterhead After Balancing

Cutterhead After Balancing


Then, the next day after balancing, it rolled off my bench and landed on the concrete floor.

Roller Wear

I found that my infeed roller was wallowed in the middle about .002”, and that the outfeed roller was actually tapered .005” at one end. The infeed roller damage was easily seen by examining the serrations on the roller and noticing that they were wider in the middle. Although not a huge amount of wear, I took both of these to a machine shop and had them polished to the same diameter. In retrospect, I probably could have done this at home with a little ingenuity since the amount was small.

I did discover subsequent to this machine work that the infeed roller was not able to “grip” the boards well enough to send them through all the way, instead they would get hung up and stop part way through even though the infeed roller was still turning. Eventually I concluded that the infeed roller was just too worn down, so I ordered a new one from DC Morrison. Its serrations were visibly and tactile-y much sharper than on the original roller, and completely solved the problem.

Feed rollers can also be damaged as shown in the following photo.

Damaged Infeed Roller

Damaged Infeed Roller


Parks bed rollers often exhibit heavy wear as well and may need to be repaired similarly. Me, I am planning on leaving my bed rollers below the table as is recommended by some when planing material that has already been jointed flat on one side. So I did not repair the wear on my bed rollers.

Bed Problems

Owners have reported bed wallowing up to as much as 1/64” Later Parks planers sometimes came from the factory this way. Well adjusted bed rollers do compensate a good bit for bed wear or poor machining. Mine was wallowed about .005” in the centre. Since I intend to install an MDF platen over the bed, so the bed will not be visible, I considered feathering on some bondo or JB Weld to fill in the dip. In the end I decided to use it with the wallow and platen for a while and see if it works OK.

Whether you choose to live with it or repair it depends on what type of work you plan on doing. A common suggestion is to try it out with the wallow and see if it is a problem for your work. If it is, well then I guess you are going to have to deal with it! Of course, it would be nice to know before you got it all reassembled whether it will be a problem or not. Sorry, no magic solution on this one.

Beds can also be badly scored. Scoring damage can be quite visible and jarring, although it is not as serious as wallowing. Scoring is normally confined to a narrow strip and is less likely to allow a wider board to sag as it passes under the cutterhead. Narrower boards may be problematic.

Scored Table

Scored Table


Another solution: Bob Vaughan reports that the Parks shown in the video of planer knife setting was resurfaced with a 1/2" carbide end mill. He flipped the table upside down, kissed off some corners so the bottom would straddle the casting and index flat, flipped the table, dogged it down, and went at it for several hours after figuring where the lowest spot was. The finish came out striped as you would expect, but it was plenty flat for its intended purpose. A little Scotchbrite got rid of most of the swirl lines.

Parts to Replace

The following are parts you should expect to replace as part of a complete teardown and rebuild of your Parks. I recommend examining each of these parts as you tear the planer down, deciding which ones you will replace, then getting them taken care of early so that when the time comes to re-assemble, you will have the new parts at hand.

Of course, other parts can be damaged, worn, missing, etc, but the ones listed here are most common.

Keep in mind too that a repair does not have to be beautiful, tucking a part away inside the gearbox means that esthetics are not an issue. Similarly, a coat of paint can hide a lot of sins on a visible part!

An Ugly but Serviceable Repair of Eccentric Bracket

An Ugly but Serviceable Repair of Eccentric Bracket


Cutterhead Bearings (A-26)

The open 3204 bearings that the cutterhead spins on should be replaced with sealed versions of the 6204. For example the Nachi 6204 2NSE are a decent quality made in Japan bearing. Using sealed bearings means you won’t need to grease the bearings anymore, which means you won’t need the grease zerks (A-77) on the bearing caps any more either. You can keep them for authenticity if you like, just warn the next guy not to use them!

Lynn at Accurate Bearings is a longtime friend of the OWWM community and will be able to supply bearings for your Parks at a very competitive price. You can also buy them from your local bearing supplier, they are a common type.

Note that the original 3204 bearings will commonly cross to a modern 5204 family bearing. These are dual race bearings that are 20.6 mm thick. My bearings, although numbered 3204 were single race bearings only 14 mm thick and were properly crossed with the 6204 family, not the 5204 family.

Original Open Bearing

Original Open Bearing


New Sealed Bearing and Original Open Bearing

New Sealed Bearing and Original Open Bearing


Oil Seal

If your planer did not have the oil seal (A-80, A-81, A-82) on the infeed shaft, you should consider buying one ($8.73) or making one and installing it. This will prevent lubricant from splashing out of the gearbox. There is a great article on the OWWM.com site about how to install this part.

Note that even though it is called an “oil” seal, the gearbox contains grease not oil.

Gearbox Bronze Bushings

The gearbox has five bronze bushings/sleeves pressed into it, these should all be pressed out and replaced (A-7, A-13, A-16, A-18 (2 pcs). You should be able to buy new ones cheaply at a local bearing shop, they are common sizes and readily available.

Note that when the new bushings are pressed in, they should be flush to the inside of the gearbox, not the outside. The only exception is bushing A-16, which should be centered.

You should expect that the shafts will be a tight fit in the new bushings, if your shafts could slip right in, the shafts are worn. Once the bushings are pressed in, their ID contracts slightly and has to be reamed. There are two reamer type choices. The expansion reamer is adjustable slightly to accommodate shafts that are a few thou oversized by tightening a setscrew in the nose, and the straight reamer that's exactly the size you want. Reamers are ordered according to size.

I just took mine to a machine shop and had them ream the insides for cash.

Bags of Bushings

Bags of Bushings


Table Roller Bearings (A-42)

If yours don’t have the bronze sleeve pressed into them, consider upgrading to that version. You will require four, they are $7.17 each.

Worn Table Roller Bearings

Worn Table Roller Bearings


New Table Roller Bearings

New Table Roller Bearings


Felt Washer (A-24)

This keeps oil/grease from escaping from the gearbox and getting into the cutterhead. Make up a new one out of some sturdy felt or buy one for $1.77. The one I purchased was readily compressed, but in its ‘natural’ state was approximately .350” thick and the same outer diameter as the sleeve (A-25) that it bears against.

Gearbox Cover Gasket

Go to your local auto parts supplier and buy a sheet of cheap gasket material. Cork is fine. Use the gearbox cover as a template to trace the shape. Use scissors to cut it out. Drill/punch for the two bolt holes, and cut out the inside. Although these planers did not come originally with a gasket, it is easy and cheap to do.

Sample Gasket Material

Sample Gasket Material


Knives

If your knives are worn down, or your planer did not come with knives, you will need to buy new knives. HSS is generally recommended by the OWWM community over carbide. If you intend to use your planer somewhat regularly it is a good idea to have two sets, so that you are never ‘down’ while one set is begin sharpened.

A rule of thumb (thanks again to Bob Vaughan) is that if bottom of the knife is higher than the bottom of the screws holding the gibs and knife in place, then the knife should be replaced. This thread discusses knife sources for Parks planers.

Minimum Safe Knife Height

Minimum Safe Knife Height

Gibs and Knife in Correctly

Gibs and Knife in Correctly


The knife back exposure needs to be even with or above the cutterhead (A). The front of the knife has to have enough height above the lock bar to cut (B). This isn't really a problem on the Parks, but on some machines it is.

Buying Parts

Unlike most OWWM arn, there is one supplier who does stock Parks Planer parts, DC Morrison in Kentucky. You can call or email them and buy most any Parks part new from them. They are quite knowledgeable, although I found their pace to be a bit slow.

Two other standard arn sources are eBay and the OWWM’s BOYD forum, where they come up frequently.

One other company that sometimes has used Parks parts in stock is Plaza Machinery in Vermont.

What Size Motor?

The motors used on the Parks planers are typically between 1 and 3 HP. The larger motors sometimes utilize the dual pulleys. According to Parks back in the day, anything more than 3 HP runs the risk of damaging the planer. Exactly how is anyone’s guess. Based purely on anecdotal observation, most people use 1.5 or 2 HP.

“The bigger the better” is what we might like, but the reality is that for most of us home hobbyists, one of the smaller sizes is likely fine.

There is also general agreement that a between modern motor and an older motor (such as an RI mtor) with the same HP rating, the older motor is the stronger motor.

ASSEMBLING THE PARKS PLANER

After weeks/months of cleaning, painting, organizing, fabricating, and buying, you are ready to start the reassembly.

Clear your mind of distractions and impure thoughts. Get a cup/glass/can of your beverage of choice, arrange for soothing music to be wafting gently through your shop. Let the day stretch out gloriously in front of you. Turn off your cellphone. Admire your bags of shiny parts and recall what a horrid mess the damn thing was when you got it. Allow yourself to dream of the happiness you will feel when your pride and joy takes its first sweet shavings. Ahhh.

Inspect all parts to make sure they will assemble smoothly by hand. Any burrs, rough edges or misplaced metal will complicate the assembly process, particularly on the shafts. Also ensure that any sliding or threaded surfaces are free of paint.

(Several OWWMers have had good success in reassembling their planers starting with the table upside down. A thread that explains this method is here. The rest of this wiki deals with reassembly in the conventional or upside up method.)

Words of wisdom from OWWM’ers who have been here before: Keep everything loose for a while, especially the bolts (A-75) that attach the side castings to the base so they can open up at the top a bit.

Start with assembling the two side castings (A-59 & A-60) to the base (A-61) with the four bolts (A-75) and four nuts (A-76). Make sure you keep the nuts as loose as possible. You can keep the tops of the castings spread apart for now by inserting a small wedge between the bottom of each casting and the base.

Wedge Holding Side Casting Open

Wedge Holding Side Casting Open


Next, double check the threaded holes in the table (A-43) that the elevating screws fit into, to make sure they are free of paint and other crap. A touch of your favourite lubricant will help here. Also make sure that there is no paint on the machined surfaces of the castings or the table, where they will be in contact. I waxed these surfaces after cleaning them.

Then put the shaft collars (A-63) on the elevating screws (A-64) at the same distance from the bottom of the screws, and install the elevating screws into the threaded holes in the table. I threaded the screws into the holes until the tops of the screws barely protruded from the top of the threaded holes, in an attempt to keep things as level as possible. You will also notice that the elevating screws have differing threads. As the entire weight of the table will be resting on these shaft collars, make certain they are on tight so they don’t slip later on.

Note that others prefer to drop the elevating screws into their position on the base/sidecastings assembly, place the table on top of the screws, then rotate the screws to get them into the table. I was unsuccessful in many attempts with this method, but was able to get it ‘first time’ with the method I describe here.

Table With Elevating Screws and Collars in Place

Table With Elevating Screws and Collars in Place


Then take this table/screws assembly and place it on the base/castings assembly through the holes in the side castings’ bottom. Make sure you install it the right way round, as the ‘front’ of the table is where the gibs (A-44) will later be attached in the three holes. You can remove the wedges under the castings at this point, there is no further need to keep the top of the castings spread apart. (Don’t forget to reinstall them if you need to take the table out later, otherwise you will likely scratch the paint.)

Table on Wrong Way, Paint not Yet Removed From Sliding Surfaces

Table on Wrong Way, Paint not Yet Removed From Sliding Surfaces


Then put the bevel gears (A-64) on the elevating screws, ensure they are snug underneath the ‘ears’ of the side castings. The ends of the elevating screws should not protrude out past the bottom of the bevel gears.

Then slide the elevating shaft (A-62) through the hole in the right side of the base. Note that there are two shaft collars (A-63) and two bevel gears (A-64) that must be slipped onto the elevating shaft in the correct orientation and locations as the elevating shaft is slid into place. Make sure that the shaft collars hold the ‘ears’ tight so the side castings cannot move in towards the middle, and that the bevel gears on the elevating screws mesh tightly with the bevel gears on the elevating shaft. Put the handwheel (A-67) on the end of the elevating shaft. Also put the column tie rods (A-66) in place, but do not tighten them up yet.

I also recommend dropping the cutterhead shaft (A-28) with the new bearings (A-26) installed into the babbit at this point, just to ensure that its spacing is correct as you get the elevation mechanism working. I did this at a later step and had to go back and re-adjust everything again to get the cutterhead to fit. Don’t worry about the cutterhead being parallel to the table at this point, you can adjust for that readily once the table will raise and lower smoothly through its whole range.

Elevating Shaft

Elevating Shaft


Now comes the difficult part. You will have to fiddle with the position of the two bevel gears (and their corresponding collars) on the elevating shaft, in order to prevent the table from binding on the elevating screws as it is raised and lowered. This will likely be the most frustrating aspect of the re-assembly. The key is that the two elevating screws need to be very close to parallel, otherwise they will cause the table to bind, even though it may move part way up or down.

I used the vertical front machined edges of the side castings to “sight” the edge of the elevating screws, much like winding sticks. Of course, this assumes that the machined edges are vertical!

Tilted Elevating Screw

Tilted Elevating Screw


I discovered that in my case the tops of the screws were leaning in towards the middle of the planer, so I loosened the left shaft collar on the elevating shaft and moved it over to the right about 1/8”. Then I loosened off the left bevel gear, pushed the left side casting over about 1/8” so it was again snug against the shaft collar, and tightened up the left bevel gear. I had to repeat this same adjustment a couple times and then I was able to run the table up and down the full length of its height travel without any binding.

Making Adjustments to Collars and Gears

Making Adjustments to Collars and Gears


Lastly, tighten up the four bolts (A-75) under the side castings, making sure not to change the position of the side castings as you do so. Reverify that the table will still raise and lower correctly through its full range.

Next you can install the gibs (A-44) and tighten up the column tie rods (A-66), again verifying that the table will still raise and lower correctly through its full range. Don’t forget the pointer (A-68) on the middle screw of the right gib!

I then assembled the spacers (A-27), the new sealed bearings (A-26), the sleeve (A-25) and the felt washer (A-24) onto the cutterhead (A-28). I had observed when disassembling that there was only a single spacer on the cutterhead, rather than the two as are shown in the manual. Even with just the single spacer, I found that the two bearings would not drop cleanly into the Babbitt slots on the side castings, in fact the cutterhead assembly was a touch too wide. If I had measured it more carefully prior to assembly I would have realized that no spacers were required at all. But rather than pulling off the bearing and removing the spacer, I instead loosened off the column tie rods, and the A-75 bolts that held one side casting to the base, and then spread the top of the planer apart far enough that the cutterhead assembly dropped into place. The table would no longer run up and down its full length though, so it was necessary to readjust the bevel gear and collar on the elevating shaft again to compensate.

Unfortunately my simple readjustment technique no longer seemed to work. More force was required, so I used a couple of pipe clamps to squeeze the bottoms of the side castings closer together. Due to the action of the Law of Unintended Consequences this caused a squeeze on the cutterhead bearings, which meant they no longer turned properly. Ultimately I had to remove the cutterhead bearing and take off the spacer in order to get it all to work.

Other Table Assembly ‘Tricks’

As well as the ‘sighting’ idea to help verify the position of the elevating screws, I used some other little ideas to make the task a bit more bearable.

The table needs to be reasonably parallel to the cutterhead. Some adjustment is possible later, so perfection is not required at this point. By threading the elevating screws equally into the table before placing the elevating screws on the base unit, chances are you will be good enough.

If you find that the table is binding on the elevating screws rather than raising and lowering nicely, it may be possible to figure out exactly where the problem is. Adjust the table until it is lightly stuck. Then rock the handwheel back and forth within the range of its ‘slop’. You will notice that one of the elevating screws will be moving slightly, while the other is stuck. The stuck one is likely your problem.

In addition to the ‘sighting method’, you may use a couple of ½” square sticks roughly 8 or 10 inches long as measuring sticks to verify the spacing between the elevating screws is the same at the top as the bottom.

There has been some discussion that some owners find the height adjustment handle to be pretty tough on their hands. Others report that it turns readily. So there is no consensus. Make sure it is clean and smooth, and ensure that you have done everything you can to make the height adjustment process smooth.

Adjusting the Cutterhead Parallel to the Table

Now that the table raises and lowers smoothly it’s time to ensure the cutterhead is parallel to the table. You should be able to get it within 0.001”.

It’s actually pretty easy to do, but you will need a dial indicator with a custom base to do so. Since you will need one of these to set up the rest of the planer later anyhow, now is a good time to build one..

Since the space on the table between the cutouts for the bed rollers is about 4 ¾”, I recommend that you make your custom base shorter than that, say 4”, so that it fits in between these cutouts without falling through! Mine is about 5” long and I have to turn it sideways to use it on the cutterhead. Also make sure you get a mushroom type tip for the dial caliper as the pointy type will tend to get stuck in the serrations of the infeed roller as well as slide off the knives too readily.

Dial Indicator on Base

Dial Indicator on Base


Note also that the Craftsman-badged Parks has a smaller vertical travel than the Parks badged units. This required that I use a smaller indicator with a 0.25” movement rather than the typical 1” movement, as the larger indicator would not fit between the bed and the cutterhead.

The key to success here is to loosen off one of the bevel gears (A-64) on the elevating shaft (A-62), rather than one of the bevel gears on one of the elevating screws (A-65). This way one side of the table will move while the other remains (mostly) stationary, so you can bring the table into parallel with the cutterhead.

Once you have loosened off the bevel gear, slide it back so it no longer meshes with its partner on the elevating screw, then turn the handle on the elevating shaft until both ends of the cutterhead are at the same distance from the table as measured with your dial indicator on the custom base. Then slide the bevel gear back so it meshes with its partner and retighten it.

The reason you want to work with one of the bevel gears on the elevating shaft is that you can tighten it properly against the flat on the elevating shaft afterwards far more easily than you can one of the bevel gears on the elevating screws. This is because the side castings interfere with access to the Allen bolt on the elevating screws’ bevel gears, whereas the Allen bolt on the elevating shaft’s bevel gears is readily accessible from any position.

If this is a bit dizzying don’t worry, it’ll be clear once you start in on it. Just keep in mind “bevel gear on the elevating shaft”.

Finishing the Assembly

Next install the six compression spring assemblies (A-51) and the pressure bar (A-36), the infeed and outfeed rollers. Note that the pressure bar needs to go on before the outfeed roller. Leave off the shaving hood (A-38) until the very end, after the knives have been installed.

At this point you are finished with the body of the planer, it’s time to get the gearbox done.

ASSEMBLING THE PARKS PLANER GEARBOX



Gearbox assembly is started without the gearbox being attached to the planer.

If you have not done so already, now is a good time to mark the location of the infeed roller oil seal, and drill and tap the gearbox for it.

Start by slipping the short gear shaft (A-15) into the gear box. As it goes in, you will need to slide onto it first the 88 tooth gear, plain hub (A-14) and the 20 tooth gear (A-17). Secure the shaft with the collar (A-2).

Next, slide the long gear shaft (A-19) into the gear box. As it goes in, you will need to slide onto it first the 128 tooth gear (A-20), and the 20 tooth gear (A-17). Note that the position of A-17 is reversed compared to what is shown in the manual.

The gearbox should now look like this:

Short and Long Shafts Installed

Short and Long Shafts Installed


Install the oil seal, then the slide shaft collar (A-2) onto the outfeed roller shaft. Then slide the gearbox onto the ends of the infeed and outfeed roller shafts. Next slide the shaft collar (A-2) 12 tooth sprocket (A-4) and shaft spacer (A-5) over the end of the outfeed roller. Then install the chain (A-34) over the sprocket, and the 88 tooth gear, slotted hub (A-6) on the shaft.

The gearbox should now look like this:

Outfeed Roller Gears Installed

Outfeed Roller Gears Installed


Then install A-17 on the cutterhead shaft, then slide A-4 on the infeed roller shaft.

Note that the chain in the above photo is simply draped over the long gear shaft (A-19).

Now put in the rest of the gears and sprockets in the gearbox, gradually sliding the gearbox into its final position on the three main shafts. Note that you’ll need to install the woodruff key (A-71) on the outfeed roller before the gearbox is in its final position. The last thing to go on will be the throwout sleeve, which will slide over the woodruff key.

Pack the gearbox with one pound (about 3/4 of a quart, give or take) of an NLGI #1 grease such as Amsoil Synthetic Multi-Purpose Grease, NLGI #1 (GLB). Don’t use the much more common NLGI #2 greases, they are too thick.

Some people suggest using an NLGI #2 and diluting it slightly with a lighter oil to make it more like an NLGI #1. It’s up to you.

Don't use automotive type EP greases in anything with "red metal" (copper, brass, bronze, etc.) parts such as the Parks has. The Extreme Pressure or EP additives that are used in these will tend to pit the red metal parts. Examples of these, which have been used by OWWM’ers, include s EXXON Lidok EP-1 or ChevronTexaco Delo NLGI 1 EP.

As grease tubes are commonly 14 oz, approximately 2 ½ tubes seems to be about the right amount for most people.

Screw down the gearbox cover and you're finished. Don’t forget to make a new gasket for the cover first.

SETTING UP THE PARKS PLANER

Two great articles to get your newly rebuilt planer properly set up are here and here. You need to read them and use them to set your planer up.

A couple things I leaned in setting mine up.

I found that even after I replaced the infeed roller, the outfeed roller was not grabbing the stock enough to complete the cut, i.e. it would get hung up after it left the infeed roller, with the outfeed roller just spinning on it. To solve the problem I wound up setting the outfeed roller a lot lower, .065” rather than the .032” recommended in the articles.

The pressure bar is part of the shaving hood, and its two ends cannot be adjusted independently like the rollers can. This assembly pivots at the rear and is adjusted at the front by a single bolt that rests on the front tie rod. You may encounter several problems.

One problem is that the assembly is loose in the pivots, which allows the back of the assembly to rise up when stock is fed underneath it. This results in the pressure bar applying less pressure than designed. You can lift it up manually so it is tight in the rear pivots when you are setting it, however then the pressure bar may sit too low when the stock goes under it, actually stopping the stock . Another problem is that since the two ends cannot be adjusted independently, if it is out of parallel with the bed, you will need to file it to make it parallel. A third problem is that the pressure bar may actually prevent stock from feeding through even if it is adjusted properly. To prevent/resolve this you may need to file a smooth taper on the leading edge of the bar so that it can slide up over the stock easily as the stock passes underneath it.

I found that even though my cutterhead (and blades) were parallel to the table, my stock was coming out of the planer about .015” out of parallel. I was able to eliminate this completely and get my stock perfectly parallel by bringing the roller bars up .015” on one end. I also use an MDF platen on the table, but it is parallel to within .001”.

Adjusting the Throwout Sleeve (A-8)

The throwout sleeve can sometimes disengage itself when the planer is running, but there is a fix by adjusting the stop collars on the outfeed roller. The adjustment instructions are in the Craftsman manual, but are a bit unclear. What you are aiming for when you move the throw out lever, the throw out eccentric should engage and disengage the throw out sleeve from the slots in the slotted hub gear. The gearbox itself should be stationary, the slotted hub gear itself will not move, the only part which moves is the throw out sleeve.

I found that by trapping the gearbox between the collar (A-2) on the outfeed roller and the 20 tooth gear (A-17) on the cutterhead I was able to get the throw out mechanism to function correctly.

Throwout Sleeve Engaged (Upper) and Disengaged (Lower)

Throwout Sleeve Engaged (Upper) and Disengaged (Lower)


New Paint

Parks planers’ were originally painted machine grey. Rustoleum "Dark Machinery Grey" is a popular choice, as is Rustoleum “Light Machinery Grey”.

Craftsman-badged Parks came painted a slightly bluer grey than their Parks-badged brethren. Krylon Regal Blue is reported to be a close but not exact match. I used a Tremclad blue, which I found to be very very blue, but similar in colour to the earliest Craftsman-badged Parks.

Here is a Parks that is a bit paler than most, with a belt cover and what appears to be an original stand.

A more typical Parks colour example here.

A Craftsman-badged Parks here, slightly bluer. No belt cover, non original stand.

Many other examples can be seen on the OWWM.com site in the Manufacturer’s Index under Parks Woodworking Machinery and under Craftsman. A few appear to have been originally green, and even tan.

I found after spooging and cleaning that the casting was shockingly rough. In addition to the expected wear and tear, there were numerous pits and voids in the casting, as well as grinding and scrape marks. You may wish to fill some of the more serious voids with body filler. I did not, I just gobbed on the paint a bit thicker in some areas. Sorry.

I used six rattlecans each of primer and paint to paint the planer. Quite a few more than I originally expected to use. I used a couple more of each on the stand, then eventually just bought a pint and brushed it on the flat areas. I see now why some folks advocate buying an inexpensive spray gun instead of all these rattlecans.

Gearbox, Base, and Sides Drying

Gearbox, Base, and Sides Drying


Belt Guard

It is possible, even likely, that your planer came to you without a belt guard. Needless to say it is unsafe to operate your planer without a guard, especially with the height adjustment being right in the middle of the belt! New ones may be purchased from DC Morrison for $86. Alternatively, plans are available to fabricate one out of sheet metal. If you are going to build a guard I suggest you do it after the stand is finished and the planer is mounted on it, this will allow you to get a better fit.

Note that the NOS guards and these plans are predicated on the use of a stand with the same dimensions as the original Parks stand, so that the motor shaft and the cutterhead’s shaft are a standard distance apart.

Alternatively, another way to make up a quick belt guard is as described by an OWWM member:

To make a good serviceable belt guard for the Parks planer, just get a long (about 73 inches) piece of 28 gauge sheet metal cut to 2 1/4" wide. Also a piece 33 inches long by 5 inches wide. Radius the ends of this piece. Wrap the first piece around the second, and secure with angle clips made from the same material using small rivets. The shafts on my machine were 28 inches apart on centers, so the outer piece has 1 inch of overlap which I also riveted. You have to drill a hole for the crank shaft to go through. I secured my guard to the machine with two corner menders and a few bolts and nuts. Looks like it came with the machine after you paint it.

A thread describing a belt guard for a jointer uses a technique that could be applied readily to a Parks planer.

Here are a couple pictures of the belt guard I bought from DC Morrison.

Belt Cover

Belt Cover


Belt Cover

Belt Cover


I measured the dimensions of it as follows:

Length 34 ¾” Height 2 7/8” Wide End Radius 4 ¾” Small End Radius 2 ½” Hole Diameter 1”, centered 19 ¼” from wide end Taper Starts 20 ½” from wide end Height of Tapered End 7/8” Tabs 3” x ¾”, centered 8 ¾” from wide end

My machine (a Craftsman badged Parks) came with a 66” Craftsman belt. Others report using 68” belts.



Stand



It is possible and likely that your planer also came to you without a stand. The original Parks stand is a sleek and sturdy unit made of sheet steel. It is well worth replicating out of ¾” MDF or other suitable material. While no plans are available, the following dimensions have been measured from an original stand and used successfully by several Parks owners to build new stands:

Top: OD 14 1/2" X 19 3/4" ID 10" X 16 1/2"

This yields a top with a flange width of 2 1/4" on the sides and a width of 1 5/8" on the front/back to mount the machine. Note that you may wish to keep the top “solid” to prevent chips etc from falling down inside the stand onto the motor.

Bottom: OD 19 3/4" X 25 3/4"

Height: 22” is the height of the original stand. (Cut all four side pieces to 20 5/8” to allow for thickness of top and bottom and angling of sides)

Don’t forget that if you are going to add wheels on the bottom of the stand you should make it correspondingly shorter.

The side cutouts follow the angles of the sides, leaving 3-3/4" on the sides, 4" on the bottom, and 3-1/4" on the top.

The next two photos show the two sides of a factory stand.

Factory Stand

Factory Stand


Other Side of Factory Stand

Other Side of Factory Stand


The following stands are extremely well done MDF examples. The first has extra openings on the front and back of the stand.

MDF Stand

MDF Stand


Another MDF Stand

Another MDF Stand


A point to be aware of on the stand is that the original stands were built out of sheet metal (1/8”?) and if you are replicating out of ¾” MDF or plywood you may have a problem with the bolts used to secure the planer to stand interfering with the sides of the stand. You may want to make the stand a hair longer to prevent this, or before attaching the top piece to the rest of the stand, simply relieve the inside of the sides where the four bolts will be.

Relieving Sides for Bolts

Relieving Sides for Bolts


You will also need to devise some method of mounting the motor to your stand. I believe that the original stand had a steel rod going through it that the motor was hinged from.

Other Side of Factory Stand

Other Side of Factory Stand


Another popular method is to use a fixed motor mount that uses spacers to give the belt the correct tension.

Fixed Motor Mount

Fixed Motor Mount


Dust Hood

The Parks planer did not come originally with a dust hood, although one was apparently offered as an option for a while. DC Morrison sells one for a 6” dust system, but it is not difficult to fabricate one up, or to adapt one from a lunchbox planer. Several homemade dust guards are discussed in this thread. Alternatively, plans are available to fabricate one out of sheet metal.

Home Made Dust Hood

Home Made Dust Hood


Allegedly a Parks-Supplied Dust Hood

Allegedly a Parks-Supplied Dust Hood


DC Morrison-Supplied Parks Dust Hood

DC Morrison-Supplied Parks Dust Hood


The Morrison supplied dust hood is a roughly made, albeit sturdy, unit. It fits poorly to the top of the chip breaker and requires quite a bit of tweaking and grinding to get a satisfactory fit. I would seriously consider adapting a cheaper unit from a dead lunchbox.

Noise

I have a Radio Shack sound pressure meter that I used to measure the sound pressure of a number of different tools. I take the measurements standing where I normally stand to operate the machine, with the meter held right beside my ear. The thinking is that this represents the sound level at the ear. Here are some results:

• Dewalt 735 lunchbox planer: 114 dB • Jonsereds 24" Planer with 10 HP motor Cutting 12” Wide Cherry With 5 HP Dust Collection: 110 dB • Powermatic 66 Tablesaw running, not cutting: 92 dB • Parks Planer with 1 HP motor cutting 5” wide board: 96 dB • Parks Planer with 1 HP motor running, not cutting: 86 dB

If I understand the math of acoustics, decibels, and sound pressure correctly (which is not a given!) a 10 dB change in audio power is perceived by the human ear as being about twice as loud. So with the difference between the Dewalt and Parks planers being 18 dB, that means the Dewalt is perceived as being almost four times as loud as the Parks.

GOOD LUCK AND GREAT SHAVINGS!

At Long Last!

At Long Last!

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