New member and a Wadkin planer

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New member
25 May 2024
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Hi there,
Looking forward to getting involved and making use of all the knowledge available on the forum.

I’ve recently acquired a Wadkin RBA 379 planer which needs a bit of attention. I’ve seen it running on 3 phase power and the bearings seem solid. It’s mainly a rub down and re-paint. I read Andy’s thread and believe I have a similar model.

Thread 'Wadkin RB Surface Planer Restoration'

My trouble is I have next to know knowledge of electrics. Ideally I’d like to convert the machine to single phase 240v with a brake. Is this extremely convoluted and expensive? Or alternatively keep it three phase and add a brake unit.

Also it currently reads ‘phase 1’ on the side of the planer which is a little confusing.

I’d be glad of some advice and I hope to document the restoration as I go along.

Many thanks!
Sorry not much help, except to say see how many wires there are, single phase 3, 3 phase will be more (probably).
But just wanted to say hello and welcome and that you’ve got a serious bit of kit there!
In the early half on the twentieth century voltages differed from power station to power station, it wasn’t until there was a national grid that power was standardised so you do see these unusual voltages occasionally on old machines. I would disregard what it says on the machine plate and inspect the motor plate itself as most likely it has either been changed for a more modern motor or has been altered to suit more modern electricity.
Welcome to the forums & the Wadkin family.

I know this won't be of help, but I'm in the process of changing my garage to 3 phase.

When I first bought my kit I looking into changing into single phase and it boils down to the motor and replacing it or alternatively getting something like this,


I do not recommend it, nor do I know if it will do the job with your kit, I just mention it as an option that I saw when I was looking for options on my 3 phases.
Hi. Nice machine. The smallest of Wadkin's 'big boys'.

I have two, in various states of disrepair.


The nearer one is RB 116, manufactured in October, 1926. It's an early one (from the very first batch) and was made without a stand and with shorter tables (3' 9" - vrs 5' on later machines such as yours).
The second came without a tag (that's a tag off a different machine temporarily on the front). It came to me stripped of all electrics and missing the motor, blade and belt guards, and the fence (that's a fence off a Sagar currently fitted). As it has no tag I can't date it accurately, but it looks to be about 1946 or 47.

Yours dates to 1938.

The motor fitted to yours does not look original. They tended to fit English Electric motors to these RBs. I would guess yours is a standard 380-420v 3 phase motor that's be retrofitted to replace the original 460v single phase motor. It should be 2hp, 2800rpm.

If you are going to replace it with a single phase motor 2hp, 2800rpm is what you should be looking for. I think the motor shaft is 1" diameter.

If you have the choice, stick with 3-phase - it's simpler and easier.

Let me know if I can help with any information.

Cheers, Vann.