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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic

    Default Robinson VZ/T Thicknesser

    I bought this a few years ago from Sydney off ebay . Had it brought down on a truck with Gilders transport and its been waiting for some work to be started on it . Ive got my dust extraction happening soon , ordered the pipes today so Ive been working on this the last few weeks hoping to have it ready to connect to the extremely long awaited dust extraction. Five years since the move with no dust extraction since the last workshop has not been good .

    This Machine arrived and I was amazed at the hard life and treatment it had been given . Two coats of green over the original Grey . Paint over the unpainted originally rusted nuts and threads . Packed with hardwood sawdust everywhere and rusty bent up big nails packed in throughout . It had been fed second hand hardwood full of nails ? It ran well though, except for the bed rollers and rise and fall being all choked up. Its been built very strong so none of that really harmed it . The table has some decent scratches in places.

    This below is in its old home .

    It left the Robinson Factory a VZT 24" x 6 " three head machine in 1963. Easy dating with these Robinson badges.
    They came either 24' x 6' three head or 24 x 9" single head. And 30 " wide as well. The 24" x 6" had two big vertical heads left and right on the out feed side . Having the vertical heads meant it could only thickness 6 inches deep but it could also square up or mould two edges in the same thicknessing pass. This machine had its vertical heads removed at some stage . I just wanted a basic 24" machine that could thickness as deep as possible . If it had its vertical heads I don't think I would have bought it . It wouldn't have been as well priced probably . And I have no need for what the three head machine does . They are very impressive though . A real wonder to consider what could be done with them in the right workshop .

    IMG_7825a.jpg IMG_7828a.jpg a.jpg

    The 24" x 9" on the left below. They have one start button rather than the three on the button panel the 24 x 6 has. The badge states the differences too .
    The 24 x 6 has stops fitted under the table to make sure it cant run into the out feed heads. And the electric panel on the front has three electric badge info rather than the one the 24 x 9 has . They have a great gearbox with easy 3 speed changes and another three speeds if you change the belt position inside . later ones came with sectional infeed rollers and anti kick back levers as well as different head options . My machine had the two blade round head with the option of fitting two 6" moulding knives without removing the normal blades .
    IMG_7844a.jpg IMG_7846.JPG

    Another option that came with these was electric rise and fall of the table including the vertical heads if fitted.

    My machine as well as these two below don't have that installed.
    The electric rise and fall machines can be spotted by a drum switch or later replacements that are located below the button panel on the lower left . They operate a smaller three phase motor with chain drive to a shaft located in the base .

    Ive been searching and saving UK ebay sales for good pictures of the VZT .

    This first one is a 24" x 6" three head . Its a slightly darker grey over its original lighter grey colour .
    What a beast of a machine ! Its a 1964 model.

    s-l1600a.jpg s-l1600d.jpgs-l1600c.jpg s-l1600i.jpg

    And this below is a 24" x 9". Original Robinson grey . Its a slightly earlier 1955 machine.
    s-l16001a.jpg s-l16005.jpg s-l16004.jpg s-l16008.jpg

    That's a bit of an intro to The Robinson VZ/T
    More images coming of My one being restored and some pictures from the inside .


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    Nice machine there Rob.
    I bought the Robinson 24” square cutterblock thicknesser from Patternmaking at Ultimo TAFE in the late 80s.
    It was a good machine but loud.
    We were in a big co-op workshop with a seperate machine room.
    I also had an old Macson jointer and then a 24” wide Oliver jointer.
    I replaced them with the Bursgreen 18” UOS under and over when I bought the Concord ‘shop.
    Jimcracks for the rich and/or wealthy. (aka GKB '88)

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic


    A 24 " Jointer Henry . Huge Jointer! I suppose 24 inches means a long time in between sharpenings ? Or does the far side of the blades not get used as much ?

    I used a 12 inch square head thicknesser years ago . Wolfenden . Very loud . I got kick back and hit twice on that thing mucking around with trying to feed things that were to short for it . Tought me never to stand directly behind or ever go bending and looking for whats stuck in a running thicky . And don't try stuff too close to feed roller spacing in length. Don't know why it took two hits to figure that out . One should have been enough. I was in My 20s .

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic


    I took the cover off . There's a pair of pressure bars that rest on the timber as it passes in and out before and after the top rollers that are not shown .

    The aluminum pates either side of the head are where moulding knives go if you want to do that.

    IMG_8172.jpg IMG_7557.jpg IMG_7559 (2).JPG

    Started polishing the table and rollers. Wire brush on angle grinder, orbital sander then honed high spots flat with a coarse sharpening stone . Had a better idea later for the bed rollers by making a sanding form which worked well . Got some pictures of that . The straight parallel lines in the table are lines from the metal shaper I assume ? Or some sort of grinder when it was made. The deeper waward lines are where nails or stones have been dragged through . Same with the rollers
    IMG_7556.jpg IMG_7558.jpg IMG_7561.jpg


    First broken thing I have to fix is this stud which was the same as the next picture . Its the two stops that prevent the table being raised into the spinning head . As far as I know that's the only serious broken thing on it .
    IMG_7565.jpg IMG_7566.jpg

    Brushed up on info about removing broken studs by asking some friends and watching some YouTube . I never knew you were supposed to Belt those easyouts in hard with a hammer . Not hard enough to break them because their brittle of course .
    I heated the area and quenched it with WD40 as recommended.
    Drilled a hole in the middle of the 5/8 stud by first drilling a small pilot hole with my pen sized air powered mini grinder that holds small long carbide mill bits I suppose you'd call them .
    Then a trick I saw on YouTube was to drill the 4 or 5mm hole for the easy out with a left twist drill . The broken stud sometimes comes out while doing that . I didn't have a left hand drill bit but remembered a grinding trick I saw where a right hand drill bit is re ground to cut left. I did that but used a diamond wheel on an old masonary bit .
    It got a hole in and down the middle but didn't shift it and it went blunt . Then I found the hole wasn't that good anyway for the easy out so grabbed a normal HSS bit and drilled deeper and rotated it to give me a cone I thought would match the easy out . The stud started shifting in deeper while I drilled. A 50 / 50 good bad thing .

    These machines are threaded with very close fitting screws and holes . Not much slop at all . So with my new found method of belting the easy out for grip the stud finally started shifting out little by little . The easy out came loose 5 times so more hammer work and after it got about half way out I knew I had it . Phew. This is something I have failed at too many times in the past.

    The good stud on top in right picture has had its thread ground short by someone for some reason ? I'm keeping it . I think it has a fair bite and as long as the thing is done up tight and that shoulder is firm its doing its job I hope. Ill keep and eye on it I think.

    IMG_7570a.jpg IMG_7571a.jpg


  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic


    Pictures of the table flip

    IMG_7576.jpg IMG_7580.jpg IMG_7585.jpg

    I had only access to clean what was on top so far and had looked under with a torch to try and see past the mess as to why nothing worked freely . She was all choked up . Rise and fall of table was hard and stiff and worse approaching the ends of travel . Table bed roller adjustment was stuffed.
    IMG_7584.jpg IMG_7586.jpg

    Later Green paint re sprays had covered everything including surface rust on threads and to keep her working previous owners had oiled what should really be a dry lube situation I think.
    With an under performing dust sucker on it as well , fine dust coated everything and dried out . Being what I think was hardwood dust its a bit like liquid Masonite was sprayed on to dry out everywhere.

    The duct outlet for dust is 100mm diameter which is way under the square mm area of the next choke point in , the rectangular top of the hood. 150mm diameter pipe will be a lot better suited.
    200 mm could be used but would mean cutting away at the nice solid Cast Aluminium Top of the machine . Not something I really want to do.

    IMG_7587.jpg IMG_7589.jpg IMG_7582.jpg IMG_7583.jpg IMG_7590.jpg

    IMG_7594.jpg IMG_7608.jpg IMG_7609.jpg

    This picture below says it all for me . Its saying "Dont oil me FFSake"


    This Big Knob when turned acts on those gunked up bars and turns them , The bars have the offset turning on the ends which makes the next cast block down in the picture ( or up if the table was up the right way ) act on the bed roller shaft raising or lowering them . All four ends shift at once in unison . Ive found now that its clean and back together that it doesn't work so well upside down as it needs gravity to sit every part in its correct position .


    My new best friend for the last week . Even though it wants to blind me!
    That and smaller brushes in the angle grinder and battery drill .

    Here's the Motor and badge .

    IMG_7596.jpg IMG_7597.jpg

    I got the equivalent grease delivered that Shell make now for the bearings in electric motors .
    Ill use it in my Wadkin motors as well .

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic


    First thing I did once the table was upside down was photograph it all then take all the bits off .
    I worked on the bed rollers first .

    I made a sanding form up as just the go over I gave them with the random orbital sander while
    in the table was not good enough at flattening the raised rim around each crater made by all the
    nail or stone hits they had received . I tested that out by passing a fine file over a few and that showed
    they were all high still around each mark. I wasn't sure how bad this may effect my wood that passed through .
    I think Id have never noticed it probably. It could have left a pattern of fine marks down a board but anything
    that's show wood going over the rollers would be hand planed scraped and fine sanded any way .
    I did them while they were out and I could though .

    An Oak block roughly shaped to match the roller with a plane from my set of rounds and hollows , then a layer of sand paper , a sheet of plastic and some Plasti Bond , Good Quality Bog . I clamped it down and when dry and set hard I placed a piece of 80 grit paper over the roller, grit up, and sanded the bog to match the roller radius perfectly . The 80 grit was then flipped to sand in line with the rollers . This worked well . The paper rode the high spots down until level with the rest of its surface.

    IMG_7616.jpg IMG_7617.jpg IMG_7618.jpg IMG_7627.jpg IMG_7630.jpg

    I got a nice surprise when I opened up those rollers .

    1 .There was only evidence of graphite ever being in there. No Grease or oil .

    And 2 . the roller shafts were painted in Robinson Grey that had not been
    spattered with anything else and hadn't seen the light of day since 1963 .
    The perfect opportunity to match a colour . I had been picking at different parts
    looking at paint and that would have been good enough but they were all contaminated a little .

    By mixing my two Wadkin greys , a light , too light for any Wadkin grey, and a good
    darker grey , then finding I needed some yellow, I surprised myself with what I think was a perfect match .
    I also tried versions with some of my Black and White tins of paint. The other one was best though.


    You can see the tests in these two pictures.
    IMG_7623.jpg IMG_7624.jpg
    Below is Two close ups of picture 2.
    With the best match in there.
    To see it on the right I circled one in yellow to show a very close test
    with slightly too much yellow in the mix.
    And in the black circle with yellow reduced was the final best one.
    IMG_7625.jpg IMG_7625a.jpg

    These tests however were made by mixing drops of paint in a dish .

    Getting the ratio spot on for the roughly 2 to 3 liters I mixed was a little harder .

    A scraped off a section of Green on the body of the machine back to original Grey, and
    the second picture shows with a spray of my larger paint mix on its left .
    Its wet and close but not as close as my small drops test. I may add a touch of white and just nudge it closer .

    This Paint is a fast dry enamel BTW.

    IMG_7659.jpg IMG_7660.jpg

    The wire brush in the drill was used at scrubbing the cast iron body of table.
    Then a wash down with metho and steel wool.
    The loose working parts were done with wire wheel then fine tuned with a fine file and fine
    sand paper and light oil solution. Everything was then buffed .
    Everything was taped up for spraying .
    IMG_7631.jpg IMG_7633.jpg IMG_7654.jpg IMG_7663.jpg

    Charging the buffing wheel with rock hard straight Carnauba wax friction
    applied a fine hard wax finish which left a nice shine and a protective layer on unpainted parts.
    The working sliding parts that run against each other were done with a hard Carnauba wax / Graphite mix .
    They are SLICK ! And slide beautifully . I think fine dust will easily blow or wipe off that like it does on a
    finished waxed piece of furniture .
    IMG_7716.jpg IMG_7717.jpg

    The table is all done except for one little knob I have to turn which is a lock for the bed roller knob.
    I haven't seen one original in any picture Ive collected . They've all lost them! Just the one in the VZ/T brochure.
    Not sure if I'll copy what I see here or do a smaller similar knob to the large one above it?
    IMG_7848 (2).JPG

    And this is the table all back together. It feels great to adjust. It'll be better the right way up though.
    Looking forward to that.

    IMG_7765.jpg IMG_7766.jpg IMG_7767.jpg IMG_7775.jpg IMG_7776.jpg

    IMG_7777.jpg IMG_7608.jpg< Before and after > IMG_7750.jpg IMG_7764.jpg

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Sth Gippsland Vic


    Wire brushing the unpainted steel parts has always had me wondering how I could coat them with something to preserve the look . I started playing with the idea of waxing like I do my cast iron surfaces and how I've read others use paste wax on their metal .

    That lead to me playing with solid Carnauba Wax . I use the stuff in making furniture waxes . Blending it with Beeswax for wooden polished surfaces.
    I also made mixes for machine tops blending Carnauba and Paraffin wax 50 /50 with pure turpentine . That leaves an impressive coating which protects and leaves timber gliding across the tops .

    Carnauba by itself is so hard you can barely scratch it with your finger nail. Its normally mixed and diluted down with solvents like Pure turpentine to get it to a paste and mixed with other waxes. To get around that I tried using some of the Carnauba cast into a solid block . Using it to charge the spinning stitched cloth buffing wheel and then the friction heat build up on the metal part spreads a coating . It sort of layers it on in waves of varying thickness but I found giving the part a go over with steel wool evened that out and the parts buff up and shine like never before . Here's a picture of the solid wax and two steel parts . One is just wire brushed the other friction buffed with the solid Carnauba .

    IMG_7681.jpg IMG_7682 (2).jpg

    I played with the moving parts and found they also slide nicely with the Carauba. After cleaning the mess under this machine which was caused by oils and sawdust build up I was just thinking of only using Graphite on the moving dry parts . But then I thought of using the Carnauba and mixing Graphite with that . Friction applied with the buffing wheel .

    IMG_7703.jpg IMG_7704.jpg IMG_7708.jpg IMG_7727.jpg

    The look of it melting in the second picture is on a hot plate in an Aluminium pot . Looks evil like doesn't it!

    Next picture is it sitting in a cool bath of water.

    Last Picture . It cracked into 4 parts on cooling . Its as solid as a hard plastic . I'm not sure if the Graphite made it even harder?
    The only way you'd get it on the parts is with the buff or a heat gun possibly .

    The parts are sliding well and Ill see how they stand up to the fine surface rust that untreated parts seem to get from being handled or just moisture in the air. Its all the moving and raw unpainted parts under the table in the picture below that have been treated this way so far, except for the rollers. They were just wiped over with the parrafin /Carnauba paste wax. I wanted to leave them with the 80 grit straight sanding lines that the sanding left them with and not buff them up .

    Carnauba is the ingredient in quality car polishes. Its for shine and protection from the elements . Id like to apply to some steel test parts and leave outside to see what happens but haven't got around to that yet.



  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2020


    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for sharing your restoration process with us all. I'd really like to try your Parafin/Carnauba mix on my machines. I am still yet to find a good protective coasting for my cast iron tops.

    Really enjoying this restoration mate!

    Cheers S&S

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