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  1. #1
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    Default Wadkin RB Buzzer

    Last year I decided I needed two more machines for my workshop a bigger buzzer, and a better thicknesser. For the thicknesser, I thought Id keep an eye out for a Tanner. But for the buzzer I want a Wadkin (I just gotta have another Wadkin !)

    Space in limited in my garage come workshop. A Wadkin RD or RZ, with their 6 tables, although very nice machines, are just too big. So I decided the next size down an RB or RV (9 wide & 5 long tables) would be about as big as I can manage, and an RB became my quest machine.

    RB51.jpg Pikkie stolen from a post on CWW by our very own Melbourne Matty.

    So I was delighted when one showed up on Trademe last week (theyre not that common). Unfortunately the auction finish clashed with work. I put on a token bid that was soon passed. A second token bid just before work yesterday (just to test the waters) showed an auto-bid in place. Then yesterday afternoon, during my meal break, I put on a serious bid a round figure, plus 5 cents. Huh, for two hours I was the lead bidder by that 5 cents.

    I was on a train home when the auction finished. Im not much good with a smart phone (the damned thing is smarter than me ), but I managed to figure out how to follow the auction on my phone. I was soon outbid, but I figured out how to place a bid. Outbid again and another bid from me, Outbid again but I thought I might be wearing down the other bidder when we went into a tunnel and I lost the connection .

    By the time we emerged and I re-established a connection, the auction had ended Id lost ! Curses.

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

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  3. #2
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    Default An Oddity?

    This RB was unusual, or at least it seems to be to me. It is missing its base stand; the main casting is different, and; it has a early fence that slides in a dovetail groove (a bit like the rip fence on my Wadkin PK saw) in the infeed table. There's a distinct arch at the bottom of the main casting; and the table adjustment handles are machined and knurled (like the knobs on the earliest PK saws).

    RB52.jpg RB53.jpg RB59.jpg

    Okay, so some PO had damaged the original stand (or something) and had to make a replacement. Or not?

    The buzzer is RB 117 (test 4375) a pre-1937 machine. If you subscribe to the "they numbered them starting at No.100 (or No.101)" school of thought, then this is the 17th or 18th RB made.

    b RB117 NZ.jpg

    Going through the records of the machines in the pattern shop that my Preston bandsaw came from, there was an RB in the shop - RB 109 (test 4359) - making it the 9th or 10th RB ever built. It's interesting that it is described as "Planer, Bench Type". Does this mean that some early Wadkin RBs were supplied without bases?

    RB 117 had been converted to single phase, but the seller had retained the original motor and a few other pieces.

    RB54.jpg

    The bracket in the picture is different to those fitted to later RBs. But of interest is the gear case and gear wheel. Assuming these are original (and the gear case looks to be professionally made and to have Wadkin-type pattern numbers visible) then the motor would have had to be mounted much closer to the cutterhead than a stand-mounted bracket would allow. I wonder if the bracket was attached to the rear of the main casting, allowing the motor to be fitted above "bench" level?

    The record for RB 109 states it was scrapped in 1987 upon the closure of the pattern shop.

    Cheers, Vann
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  4. #3
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    Default An Other

    Searching the web I found another RB with many of the same features. It belongs to Andy RV and has threads on both Ukworkshop and CWW.

    RB55.jpg RB58.jpg RB56.jpg

    It shares the same fence arrangement with dovetail groove in the infeed table; the same arch in the main casting. However this does have a base stand, and the table ajustment handles are now castings.

    It is RBA 183 (test 9335) of 1937 (the last test number for 1937 was 9341).

    a RBA183 UK.jpg

    The only photo of the back of the main casting I could find is this one - and it doesn't show anywhere on the back where a rear-mounted shelf might be fitted. However detail beyond the cutter-block shaft is not clear.

    RB57.jpg

    This cut from what purports to be a 1936 Wadkin catalogue, shows only the rear of the RB. It shows the distinctive half round cutout in the base casting. But it shows a fence mounted like later RB machines - without the dovetail groove in the infeed table; and also a later central casting - without the high arch.

    RB61.jpg

    So how does a 1936 catalogue show a later version than was being tested at the very end of 1937 (AndyRV's machine)? Having possesion of the original packing slips (from the Wadkin factory) of both PKA 800 (my machine) and RMA 839, I have found that Mark's (wallace) dating information is correct in both cases, and this gives me confidence that other test dates are likely to be accurate. I can only doubt the catalogue date - I suspect it may be 1938 or later.

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  5. #4
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    Default

    I had the little RA which is what started me on the wadkin slippery path. I wonder if at some point the bottom casting got damaged. That tag is in a strange place. I quite like the RB, it can take moulding knives.

  6. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wallace1973 View Post
    ...I wonder if at some point the bottom casting got damaged...
    I wondered that too, but it doesn't explain the gears that require the motor to be much closer to the cutterbock spindle.

    On the other hand, I'm surprised it had a motor at all. As another cut of Matty's shows, those early RBs were classified RBA if they had an AC motor (like AndyRV's RBA 183), and RB if they were linebelt driven. But that motor installation wasn't done with parts from the local ironmonger...

    RB60.jpg

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  7. #6
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    Default

    The next version of the RB is as shown in Matty's cattledog cuts.

    RB51.jpg RD62.jpg

    Note that the distinctive half round opening has gone from the rear of the base casting (but is still in the front of the casting), replaced by a door which looks identical to the "Brookhirst Switchgear" doors fitted to many Wadkin machines. It also shows the later fence mounted on a thick round bar (not a dovetail groove in the infeed table); and a central casting with a flat base (without the arch).

    RB 512 conforms to this catalogue cut.

    RB 512 - UK.jpg Sorry, I don't have a rear view of RB 512.

    RB 563 (test 29408) of 1947, is similar but the handles for adjusting the table height are now spoked, and the "Brookhirst Switchgear" door is a narrower model.

    RB 563.jpg RB 563r.jpg RB 563t.jpg

    RB 745 (test 35560) of 1950, again is similar, with the narrower "Brookhirst" door, but the adjustment handles are now aluminium, and the fence is a new design - being longer than the previous version (and without the distinctive vertical casting imediately behind the fence).

    RB 765 UK.jpg RB 745b.jpg

    RB 830 (test 39773) of 1951, appears to have reverted to the shorter fence, but has a normal size "Brookhirst" door.

    RB 830 UK.jpg RB 830r.jpg RB 830f.jpg RB 830t.jpg

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  8. #7
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    Default

    The final versions of the RB buzzer are as follows:

    RB 876 (test 42337) of 1952

    RB 876.jpg RB 876r.jpg RB 876f.jpg RB 876t.jpg

    This shows a larger fence again (probably the RD buzzer fence) with two drop sections above the outfeed table - still mounted on a thick round bar. The infeed table has been altered by increasing the size of the platform that supports the fence mounting bracket.

    RB 886 (test 42636) of 1952 appears to be the same.

    RB 886.jpg RB 886t.jpg

    And finally RB 1010 (test 50380) of 1954 appears to be the same, except that the larger fence now has the full RD type rack & pinion adjustment (with handwheel).

    RB 1010.jpg RB 1010r.jpg RB 1010f.jpg RB 1010t.jpg

    So it appears the RB was in production from before 1937* through to 1954 - with over 900 machines having been manufactured over that period.

    * RB 109 may date to 1928, as that is the year the pattern shop it came from was built. I would need to view the plant's machinery register again to see if its listing is in the same handwriting as other machines that do date from 1928, or whether its listing is a later addition (reusing an old machine number).

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  9. #8
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    Default

    Hi Vann,

    I have had a big day and so am a bit on the tired side, but saw your post and thought I might add some information (if only to confuse the matter further).

    I have two early Wadkin and Co catalogues (well perhaps ephemera is the better word, as they are very small and even have a tear out postcard at the back for return postage to receive a more information). Based on the introduction in the front, these date to about 1921/22. One is from NZ and the other Melbourne Australia. Interestingly the one I believe to be earlier lists the "RC" as being in two sizes 12" and 16" with a 5" cutterblock, the other one lists the "RC" as coming in 3 sizes, the 9", 12" and 16".

    I suspect this 9" was later changed to the "RB" as in the 1929 catalogue the "RC" is listed as 12" and the 16" becomes the "RK" (still both with a 5" cutter block).

    So if you see an early RC that the seller has not listed any details on it, don't instantly dismiss it as being larger than the "RB".

    Regarding the motor mount, Wadkin did offer a "Direct Coupled Motor Drive", either in AC or DC for their Planers at the beginning phase of offering electric motors, which was mounted on it's own cast stand behind the machine, and that stand was attached to the base casting. Unfortunately I can not confirm if that motor and gear case are original though.

    Best of luck in your search,

    Camo

  10. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by camoz View Post
    ...I suspect this 9" was later changed to the "RB" as in the 1929 catalogue the "RC" is listed as 12" and the 16" becomes the "RK" (still both with a 5" cutter block).

    So if you see an early RC that the seller has not listed any details on it, don't instantly dismiss it as being larger than the "RB"...
    Thanks Camo. That's interesting. The only photos I've retained of an RC (possibly the only one I've see on the net) is an early model - RC 376 (test 2000 - which makes it earlier than RB 117). However, looking at the photos I'd say the table is at least a 12" wide...

    RC1.jpg RC2.jpg RC4.jpg

    ...and this one sure isn't intended to have a "bench type" option .

    It looks like the motor is an owner mod.

    I'll keep a better lookout - thanks.

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  11. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Vann View Post
    The final versions of the RB buzzer are as follows:

    RB 876 (test 42337) of 1952

    RB 886 (test 42636) of 1952...

    RB 1010 (test 50380) of 1954...
    And a late contender: RB 921 (test 45225) of 1953.

    RB71.jpg RB72.jpg b RB921 NZ.jpg photographs courtesy of J Shaw of Nelson, NZ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vann
    ...This shows a larger fence again (probably the RD buzzer fence) with two drop sections above the outfeed table - still mounted on a thick round bar. The infeed table has been altered by increasing the size of the platform that supports the fence mounting bracket...
    Definitely the RD fence, the RD pattern number is clear in this close-up.

    RB73.jpg

    Also obvious in this photo is the altered infeed table extension (where the fence clamp is bolted).

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  12. #11
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    Default

    Thanks for all the history guys!

  13. #12
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    Default Early Wadkin RA

    Quote Originally Posted by Vann View Post
    ...RB 117 had been converted to single phase, but the seller had retained the original motor and a few other pieces.

    RB54.jpg

    The bracket in the picture is different to those fitted to later RBs. But of interest is the gear case and gear wheel. Assuming these are original (and the gear case looks to be professionally made and to have Wadkin-type pattern numbers visible) then the motor would have had to be mounted much closer to the cutterhead than a stand-mounted bracket would allow. I wonder if the bracket was attached to the rear of the main casting, allowing the motor to be fitted above "bench" level?...
    On the UK forum I found pictures of an early Wadkin RA, initially owned by "Karl", but latterly by "Andy RV". It shows a different approach to mounting the motor.

    RAA 76.jpg RAA 75.jpg

    Here the motor is mounted directly on the spindle. The disadvantage of this approach is that the maximum speed of a two pole motor is ~2850-3000rpm, which is considered too slow for a buzzer with a 5" cutterblock. Note that the fence bracket is not bolted to either table, but to the motor itself.

    However this mounting arrangement does not seem to be that used for RB 117, as it doesn't utilize a motor mounting bracket, nor gears. The motor is end mounted on the central casting.

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  14. #13
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    Default Summary 1: Central Casting.

    To give an initial summary of the evolution of the Wadkin RB buzzer, I'll start with the Central Casting (for want of a better name) - the casting that mounts the cutterblock.

    I've found no pictures of the earliest RB, from the time it was classified RC. From the pictures I do have, it appears there are just two variations of the central casting:

    First the "high arch" model...

    RB80.jpg RB 183

    ...found on RB 117 (pre-1937 - possibly made in 1928-29); and RBA 183 (of 1937).

    Followed by the later "slotted" main casting...

    RB 81a.jpg RB 81.jpg RB 921

    ...found on the other RBs in the sample, from RB 512 (date unknown) and (RB 563 of 1947), to RB 1010 (of 1954).

    Going by serial numbers, there were 568 RBs manufactured between late 1947 and late 1954, which equates to ~65 per year. If we can extrapolate, that suggests RB 512 was probably made in early 1947 - leaving a nine year gap between RBA 183 in late 1937 and RB 512 in early 1947, for this change to have occurred.

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  15. #14
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    Default Summary 2: Base Casting

    The Base or Stand, or in Wadkin speak Main Frame - as far as I can see - comes in three variations (excluding any "bench type", baseless models that may or may not have existed).

    I consider the arched or half-round opening in the front of the base to be a feature of the RB buzzer...

    RB87.jpg RB 886

    ...and the first version has the same opening in the back.

    RB86.jpg RB85.jpg RB 183 of 1937

    The next variation has a narrow "Brookhirst switchgear" door on the back, replacing the opening...

    RB84.jpg RB 563 of 1947, RB88.jpg RB 745 of 1950.

    ...as found on RB 563 (of 1947), and possibly RB 745 (of 1950).

    But by 1951, what appears to be a standard size switchgear door has been fitted...

    RB83.jpg RB 830 of 1951.

    ...from RB 830 (of 1951) to RB 1010 (of 1954).

    Cheers, Vann.
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

  16. #15
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    Default Summary 3: Tables

    The RB, like it's big brother the RD, and cousin the RM buzzer/thicknesser (which I believe shares the same base and other features), has "draw out" motion to give better access to the knives and cutterblock.

    On the RD and RM this is achieved by unclamping the table and wedge arrangement, and then sliding the whole assembly outwards

    RB90.jpg The table arrangement on the RD buzzer.

    RB91.jpg The toggle handle clamps the assembly to the base.

    On the RB this "draw out" motion is achieved differently. The wedge sections (I wish I knew the correct name for them) are separate from the tables

    RB91a.jpg The table arrangement on the RB buzzer.

    RB89.jpg The tables "draw out" on the wedge sections and are clamped by this tee handle under the table.

    RB96.jpg The tables can be removed leaving the wedge sections in place.

    As far as I can see, the wedge sections have remained unchanged during the entire RB production period. The same appears to apply to the outfeed table.

    The infeed table however, has gone through at least three variations - each change be due to a change on the fence.

    The first RBs have the fence attached to the infeed table by a dovetail in a groove (in the same way as the ripping fence is attached to the table on the PK saw). This required a dovetail groove to be machined across the width of the infeed table (including the rear extension required to support the fence when set at maximum width).

    RB98.jpg RB97.jpg Note the rear extension - approximately 5" square.

    I guess machining the dovetail groove was expensive, because sometime between 1937 and 1947 Wadkin replaced the dovetail groove by a clamping bracket, mounted on the rear extension, to support a revised fence. There does not appear to be any change to the table casting - just a change to the machining processes.

    RB99.jpg RB94.jpg Two bolt holes and two locating pins replace the dovetail groove.

    In the last few years of production the fence was upgraded to the RD/RM fence requiring a larger infeed table extension.

    RB93.jpg Note the rear extension is bigger and now has angled sides.

    While there may be some user mods in the form of bolt holes in the leading face of the infeed table, there's one pair of holes that appear on all machines from RB 876 to RB 1010 - consistently enough to be an OEM feature.

    RB36.jpg RB37.jpg RB35.jpg

    Not quite sure what they're for - maybe for an optional pork-chop guard for the export market?

    Cheers, Vann.
    Last edited by Vann; 3rd Apr 2017 at 05:31 AM. Reason: Change of meat from lamb to pork
    Gatherer of rusty planes tools...

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