I got to thinking about the post regarding the Harbor Freight bandsaw, and thought I would post about the subject of using such tools that you KNOW are cheaply built, but the low price is attractive. Now I'm NOT going to go into the wisdom of buying from countries like China; who are still basically commie dictatorships; and by doing so wiping out our own entry-level manufactruing jobs that are THE TRADITIONAL PIPELINE THROUGH WHICH PEOPLE ACHIEVE MIDDLE CLASS STATUS. I'm NOT going to mention that we are being reduced....over time as jobs go overseas....to Chinese ****** level, thankful-to-have-ANY-job-Wal-Mart-employees......NO, I'm not going to mention that.
I'm going to discuss how you CAN get those cheapo machines to SURVIVE in your shop, and even do some hard work with them. First off, you have to tear the whole machine down and get it to "blueprint". Grind here for a better, closer, fit; add an extra bolt there or a SECOND bolt; in other words, do the stuff that the zippo factory production line couldn't take the time to do. I recently bought a drill press at auction. The thing was really BLAMO, with belt shreads and belt dressing all over the place. Those import drill presses have like sixteen speeds, but the pulley arrangement PRECLUDES doing any real work with bigger bits, because when you are in bottom ratio, there is unsufficient pulley area touching the belt to transmit the required HP. There were several places where bolts were a fairly loose fit in the casting, and the thing had no reverse. Since I bought the machine at auction I still had some leeway on money so I sent the pulley stack to a machine shop and had it reworked to drop the whole cluster down and eliminate the useless tiny pulley on the bottom. Then I had the motor pulley counterbore moved a bit to let IT slide down one complete pulley space. Then I added a Forward-Reverse switch. On assembly, I installed studs into the casting in place of cap screws, and paid particular attention to fit-up, grinding the casting as necessary to get flush fits. Yes, it still a Tiawanese tool, but in it's new configuration, at least it will drill holes. "BLUEPRINTING" the tool and making those little upgrades DOES help. Even with the slave-labor wages that they pay, the Chinese still have to push stuff out the door in a half-baked manner if they want to sell it to you cheap.
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