Naval Maneuvers

I got a call from a trucking company that a package had arrived for me at the shipping terminal, a 40 minute drive from the shop. This particular item, much like the bubinga plank I recently obtained, was purchased from long distance based on a few photos and a decision to trust in what the seller had to say. The seller crated this item and was supposed to send me pictures of the crate so that I would know what to expect, however that step was, er, omitted, so I began my trip down to the freight yard not quite sure of what I would find.

You might say that this was a large item:

I was expecting a weight of about 2000 lbs, which my truck can carry. When the forklift driver picked it up however, he said to me that it weighed more like 2600 lbs. That was clearly more than my truck was rated for, plus the crate overhung my truck bed by about 2′, and the pallet under the crate was starting to detach, so…

…”we’ll give it a try” I said to the driver, not quite sure how much overload my truck could bear:

On it went, but clearly this item was more than a hair too long, and at least a few hundred pounds too heavy for my vehicle. So I had the forklift operator take it off and set it back on the ground. Time for Plan ‘B’: I called a local tow truck company to come and get it with a 10-ton flat-deck tow vehicle.

A couple of hours, and $175 later, I had the crate safe and secure in the back of my shop:

Unloading went much more easily than I had anticipated. And no, we didn’t drop it on the ground!

It was time to get the screw-gun out and take the crate apart, however I had forgotten mine at home so one of the other woodworkers kindly lent me his DeWalt. I was keen to see what lay inside the crate- was it a pile of concrete or scrap metal? Or was it this?:

Peek-a-boo! That was what I was hoping to find in the box. Whew!

The seller had done a decent job, all in all, with the crating. The machine arrived un-scathed and un-dropped:

I’ve heard enough horror stories about woodworking machines of all sorts getting dropped and badly damaged in shipment. Fortunately, that was not my fate in this case.

Another 40 minute’s work later, and with a little help from a friend, the aircraft carrier is now in dock:

I hope the title of this post now makes more sense. This is an Oliver 166 CB 16″ (@ 400mm) jointer. The in-feed and out-feed tables are each 48″ (1210mm) long, and it has a 3-knife ‘safety’ cutterhead. The black lump of metal hanging below the ‘bridge’ is the motor, which is 5hp, 3-phase.

A nice cast nameplate comes with the machine:

Here’s a glimpse of the cutterhead:

It’s a big chunk of metal, at least 5″ in diameter. A nice feature is that the table lips are replaceable should they become damaged. These are in perfect shape however. The knives are only in so-so condition, but the machine came with an extra set of knives.

The belt drive was an Oliver factory option, albeit quite a rare one. I have never come across another belt-drive machine in the few months I have been looking – these jointers are invariably direct drive with the motor attached to the side of the machine at the cutterhead.

Another look at the power-plant:

The advantage of the belt drive, besides narrowing the overall width of the machine, is that the separation of motor and cutterhead allows for a pulley to be used on the motor drive shaft, which increases the cutterhead rpm from around 3500 rpm to 4500 rpm.

Here’s a look at the drive side of the machine:

I have just learned that, based on the machine’s ID plate, this particular model was likely made in 1943! It’s an old beast! The design of this machine remained pretty much unchanged up until the close of production in the 1990’s.

I need to obtain an electrical plug in the next day or so and then I can fire it up and see if it runs okay. I then will go through the machine carefully to level out and adjust the tables as may be necessary. A nice feature of this machine is the four-points of support on each table, and each of those points is a small screw-adjusted wedge. So there should be no obstacle to getting the jointer tables perfectly co-planer.

Finally, there is a grinding attachment available for this machine, which I hope to acquire at some point, which enables the blades to be ground in place, and then the entire cutterhead can be brought up to speed and the blades honed in place with the same attachment. If I can’t get a hold of one of those grinding rails, I may consider changing to an insert-knife cutterhead of some sort in the future. We’ll see what unfolds.

I’m really exited to have a decent sized jointer at last. This is, in my opinion, one of the absolutely key machines to have in a shop specializing in solid wood and joinery work. While the Oliver is not my all time ‘dream-machine’ in terms of jointers, it will do very nicely for the time being, and if it proves it’s worth maybe I won’t need to be dreaming of those other models.

I’ll follow up this post in a few days after I’ve got the jointer working smoothly. Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way today. –> go to part II

3 thoughts on “Naval Maneuvers

  1. Ahhh, the hum of vintage machinery. Now you need to get landing lights for that aircraft carrier. What a great machine, congratulations! Years ago I had the chance to purchase a rebuilt 16″ Porter jointer, only $1,000.00. I had to pass because the floors at my old shop would not support the weight and my electric service was only single phase. What a great machine it was. I'm a huge fan of hand tools but there is always a soft spot for vintage equipment like your new jointer. Enjoy!

  2. Hi Jeff,

    thanks for that link, which I had looked at a while back but not in detail. The history of the Oliver company is quite an interesting read, and now I feel like I need to get one of those trimmers….

    A list of my dream machines? Now that might be a worthy topic of a blog post some day!


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