Five head planer

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heimlaga

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A friend has died and his family wants to get rid of his old Waco five head planer. It is a flat belt driven machine from the early 50-ies. Apparently little used. He bought it secondhand in the late 70-ies intending to set up a planing business but it ended up becoming a house painting business instead and the planer has sat unused in an old barn ever since. Both the upper heads are removable and can easily be shifted out with modern heads. The lower head is a fixed square head. There is a huge amount of tooling but all is square head. I will go and take a closer look at it as soon as I recover from this flue.

Anyway....... the question is whether or not to drag it home...... the distance is less than a kilometre so that is no problem. I have rebuilt heavy industrial machines in far worse condition in the past. I don't have access to enough electricity to run a 25kW motor which should be roughly what it needs. On the other hand I can run it off the power take off on my Massey-Ferguson 165 thanks to the oldfashioned drive system with jackshaft and flat belts. I get requests for custom planed mouldings and flooring and all sorts of stuff which I turn down and tell them to call the planing mill in the next village. However the owner of that business is already past 65 and will sooner or later retire. I cannot ever run a more modern five head planer with separate motors for lack of electricity.
The question is whether or not I should expand my part time joinery and wooden boat repair enterprise into planing.
Any thouhts?

Whatever I decide I do not have time to rebuild it at the moment nor room to set it up to run. The question is essentially whether I should save it from the smelters and try to get it under roof somewhere hoping for a less stressful future or whether I should let it go.
 

Vann

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It would be great to save it, if you have the room to store it until you have time to rebuild it (and repower it).

But you can't save everything. If it's going to take so much room you restrict what work you can do, or if it's just too big for the type of work you do, then sadly let it go. Maybe in a few years some machines will become available in the next village - but I guess you're saying you can never power his machines. What's the problem with upping your electricity supply: is it from your street to your workshop, or is it the supply to your village?

Maybe you need to think about your future. It's no good taking on too much (and getting swamped) - better to run a small business and have less stress. On the other hand, your current work you describe as "part time" - will you need to expand in the future to remain viable?

Square heads: these are considered dangerous. On the other hand I know a guy in Australia who has a number of square head machines and says if you are aware of the dangers, and can discipline yourself to not take risks, then you can still use them safely. I would not ever consider a square head in a surface planer - but fully enclosed in a thicknesser I would consider. Are the heads in this machine exposed, or is it modern enough that they're enclosed?

I don't know what the rules are in Finland, but I guess if you expand your business to the point where you have to have employees, then the square heads would have to go.

My tuppence worth.

Cheers, Vann.
 

heimlaga

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The electric grid in our village has recently been improved so I can get almost any amount of electricity from there if I was willing to pay. At the moment we have 3x25 ampere at 400 volt and it could be extended to 3x32 ampere.
Beyond that the network fees go completely through the roof and would eat into my profit marigin way too severely unless I was planing 8 hours a day 6 days a week.

I have no intent to run square heads. However I have some modern tooling that I found cheap so I wouldn't have to start completely from zero.

The main question I cann see is about taking on enough and not too much. Work kapacity versus gain versus the risk of burnout. I have to think about that for sure! Thanks for pointing it out.
 
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