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  1. #1
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    Default F.W. Reynolds & Co, "The Empress" bandsaw

    Good afternoon all,

    A week ago "The Empress" by F.W. Reynolds & Co of Southwark, London came under my custodianship for the foreseeable future. There is scant little information about these online, save for a catalogue I found listing them in 1893. At 128 years old, it's doing pretty well.

    TheEmpress.jpg 7058-A.jpg

    Such a beautiful piece of machinery.

    It has some damage, most notably the blade tensioning wheel threaded rod is broken and the tensioning handle support is bent out of shape. Both sustained when the bandsaw fell over when the previous owner was moving it several years ago. All the castings had been stripped back and painted by the previous owner, who was never able to complete the restoration.

    It will also need some enhancements to bring it closer to modern safety standards. The challenge is going to be achieving safety whilst not destroying it's aesthetic. Any ideas or links to other restorations that reader may have will be well received.

    The hope is that this will prove an enjoyable winter project, and ultimately replace my generic 14" bandsaw. Whilst at just over 20" wheel diameter, there isn't much of an improvement in the re-saw capacity, the throat is enormous!

    I'll keep this thread updated with progress.
    Lance

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  3. #2
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    What a great find!

    It sounds like it would be heresy but a few years ago I saw an old Bandsaw similar to yours that had curved minimalist guards made out of TIGed stainless steel sheet and it looked awesome. The curves were similar to the curved cast Al guards used on the 14" small Woodfasts from the 1960s.

    If SS sounds too fancy or out of your league then Al sheet would also not be too bad, if you had a friendly TIG welder available could fab up some beaut joints that can be rounded over with a router and polished so it would look seamless.

    Out of left field would be guards made out of Polycarbonate which would allow you to see those beautiful wheels. One disadvantage is the dust would cling to to the PC electrostatically but you should be able to rig up a system of compressed air cleaning jets that you could trigger at appropriate times to keep it clean.

    Finally I have seen curved ply guards used on a BS and they did not look ridiculous.

  4. #3
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    Lance

    That looks like a good pick up and a very worth while project. Another form of guard could comprise something like birdmesh (1/2" squares?). This would have the advantage of visibility, but would not assist dust collection. I am visualising something similar to those used on air compressors.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  5. #4
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    Lance

    I thought I was going to be able to help having located four catalogues from 1875, 1876 and 1879, but while they did have bandsaws, quite a lot in fact, they did not have your model. I note that their address was then listed at 73 Southwark St and The Grove, both in SE London. The address in you drawing is different although still in the same vicinity.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  6. #5
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    Still drooling over the machine. Is it just me or the photo or do the wheels look like different sizes?

  7. #6
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    Saw this on Gumtree, so glad someone picked it up! defiantly deserves being saved

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    Still drooling over the machine. Is it just me or the photo or do the wheels look like different sizes?
    Bob

    I agree the wheels do look different in the small pic but when enlarged they seem the same other than a little bit of optical distortion. Reynolds made a three wheel bandsaw where two wheels were small and one was large, as in twice the size.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  9. #8
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    Nice Bandsaw Lance!

    Do you have the upper guides and the arm that adjusts that holds them ?

    If you search through the Vintage Machinery Band saw page there are some nice examples with mesh grill doors that look nice .

    Photo Index - by Machine Type | VintageMachinery.org

    This sort of thing

    Photo Index - American Saw Mill Machinery Co. - 27” Bandsaw | VintageMachinery.org

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LanceC View Post



    It will also need some enhancements to bring it closer to modern safety standards. The challenge is going to be achieving safety whilst not destroying it's aesthetic. Any ideas or links to other restorations that reader may have will be well received.

    .
    That is a very nice looking bit of old cast iron, just a bit jealous here.

    For a bit of inspiration maybe check out the resto that Jason from Fireball Tools did on his huge old 1900's bandsaw Giant Bandsaw Restoration Project Part 1 of 4. - YouTube
    Obviously what he did is hard to replicate without a million dollars worth of specialized gear, but it might give you some inspiration, at the very least its worth the watch just for the entertainment value.

    Cheers Andrew

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJ. View Post
    That is a very nice looking bit of old cast iron, just a bit jealous here.

    For a bit of inspiration maybe check out the resto that Jason from Fireball Tools did on his huge old 1900's bandsaw Giant Bandsaw Restoration Project Part 1 of 4. - YouTube
    Obviously what he did is hard to replicate without a million dollars worth of specialized gear, but it might give you some inspiration, at the very least its worth the watch just for the entertainment value.

    Cheers Andrew
    Andrew

    Thank you for the link. Very impressive workshop full of machinery, but just as impressive was Jason's ability as is the bandsaw itself coupled to a 10hp motor. I want one! The water jet is amazing: I want one of those too.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  12. #11
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    Thanks for all the suggestions with respect to adding guards. There are plenty of good suggestions to consider when I get to that stage.

    In answer to some of the comments/questions...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bushmiller
    I thought I was going to be able to help having located four catalogues from 1875, 1876 and 1879, but while they did have bandsaws, quite a lot in fact, they did not have your model. I note that their address was then listed at 73 Southwark St and The Grove, both in SE London. The address in you drawing is different although still in the same vicinity.
    Thanks. You know, I was sure I had seen a photo online with someone else having restored one, as "The Empress" stuck in my mind, but plenty of searching has returned naught. I guess that give its age, it's not surprising that there's not more information online.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobL
    Is it just me or the photo or do the wheels look like different sizes?
    The wheels are the same size. Just the perspective and camera lens makes it look as though they're different sizes.

    Quote Originally Posted by auscab
    Do you have the upper guides and the arm that adjusts that holds them?
    Yes, I do! I've not spent too much time looking at it yet, but there are a couple of issues to resolve.
    • Firstly the arm has been shimmed to provide a better fit. If this is needed or not I don't know, but there must surely be a neater way to achieve this. In its current form, the travel is limited as the shim doesn't extend the full length of the arm.
    • Second is that I've yet to figure out how to adjust the read roller to accommodate different width blades. That said, I've not even tried yet, so it may be simple.


    20210508_140116.jpg 20210508_140131.jpg 20210508_140211.jpg 20210508_140233.jpg

    The most pressing need however is the broken tensioning rod, and the bent bracket, apparently sustained in the same event of misadventure. I am at a bit of a loss as the simplest way to bend the bracket back as it's a pretty thick band of steel. I wonder if simply bending a new one up will be better.

    20210508_140319.jpg 20210508_140105.jpg

    With respect to the broken threaded rod, it is a 3/4" 6 tpi square thread. Short of threading a new rod on the lathe, I may be out of luck, as an online search didn't reveal any commercial suppliers. The other option is to simply replace it with an acme threaded rod. I don't know how that will wear against the square threaded traveller. If it is an issue I could always weld/braise a mating acme nut to the traveller. Hopefully these can be sourced for a reasonable amount.

    20210508_135752.jpg 20210508_135811.jpg

    So that's where I'm up to. Pondering the tensioning setup and how best to fix it.
    Lance

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by LanceC View Post

    The most pressing need however is the broken tensioning rod, and the bent bracket, apparently sustained in the same event of misadventure. I am at a bit of a loss as the simplest way to bend the bracket back as it's a pretty thick band of steel. I wonder if simply bending a new one up will be better.
    My opinion on the bent bracket is to make something solid enough to bolt it to. Don't try using its original mounting place . Your really lucky that isn't already broken . Same hole as the original distance and bolt it to that. Something you can hold in a vice and heat the bracket so you can push it back to its right shape. You need a decent Gas torch for the heat though. It looks like an easy fix. It could possibly be bent back without heating it .

    Quote Originally Posted by LanceC View Post
    With respect to the broken threaded rod, it is a 3/4" 6 tpi square thread. Short of threading a new rod on the lathe, I may be out of luck, as an online search didn't reveal any commercial suppliers.
    Strange that the threaded rod snapped. It must be hard? I would have guessed it would bend before snapping .

    I think that's definitely a remake by someone with a lathe If off the shelf square rod cant be had.
    There is some square threaded rod on ebay but chances of it being 3/4 and the right TPI and fitting are slim. And you'd still need it turned down to go through the small wheel up top.

    Id say the guy with the lathe is going to have to have the female section with him to test fit the newly turned rod while its still on his lathe. That looks just about possible if the top wheel is taken off. Have you got someone close with a metal lathe ?

    Looks like the little top hand wheel has a crack too .

  14. #13
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    Acme thread is available. I would look for an old G clamp as that would probably be much cheaper.

  15. #14
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    Thanks Rob,

    Point taken about bending it back with heat. Will give it a go tomorrow cold. If no dice, Iíll find someone with an oxy setup for more heat.

    With respect to the thread, there is a metal lathe at the menís shed, so will chat to some of the chaps there and see if anyone is willing to help me cut a new one, as Iíve never cut threads before.

    And yes, there is a hairline crack on one of the little hand wheel spokes. If need be, I would need to grind a fillet and fill with braze.

    Thanks for your considered response.
    Lance

  16. #15
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    Here's a US supplier that sells it by the ft (US11/ft)
    3/4 - 6 Right Hand Acme Lead Screws & Nuts for Power Transmission - Roton Products, Inc.

    Dont know about shipping though
    Last edited by BobL; 3rd Jun 2021 at 11:21 AM.

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