Wadkin’s Glen (4)

I purchased the Wadkin PP 450 Dimension saw from an outfit near London called Scott and Sargeant. After we had agreed on the price, they prepared the machine for export. I mentioned to them that I was looking for a saw which would be ready to put to work after I had it in my shop.  To this end, or so it seemed, they fitted a new brake cable, new bearings to the main spindle, and a new saw blade. I wasn’t expecting such an apparently thorough job, so I had started to feel rather positively about the company, thinking they were going above and beyond.

Well, in the previous post I got the machine set up and running at my shop. I found the wooden table lips that Scott and Sargeant had fitted were rather poorly done, so I took them off and fabricated new ones. Then I found that the support legs for the extension table were significantly bent at their upper threads, which makes them orbit around in a circle at their lower ends, making fitting them flat to the floor at the correct height a bit of a problem. Then I found the table rule was broken and non-original. Then I found that the secondary lock arm for the fence was missing. Then I found that the alignment of the sliding table and main table was out of whack with the saw spindle and had to go to the length of removing one of the main table locating pins to effect correct alignment. Oh, and the sliding table is bowed about 1/32″ up along its length, which is an issue both for precision of cutting and the table’s linear bearing life. That bowing is a fault with the casting, and not a wear issue. I understand that castings can sometimes bow upward from hammer peens, but this does not describe this situation. I guess Wadkin sometimes had castings move later on.

I had asked early on, prior to negotiating price, if there were any broken, damaged or missing parts. The response from the seller was that they were not aware of any issues. It turned out that there were a few things that they could have mentioned, however due to the other fine work they appeared to be doing, I figured it was one of those things where the salesman I was dealing with was simply unaware of these items which were missing or damaged. I was giving them a pass as the issues were comparatively minor, and after all, this is an old saw.

After getting the machine set up, I used it for all of about 4 minutes on a bit of teak, part of the J. Koons project work. My shop neighbor Joe asked me how the saw was cutting and I gave him a quick demo by doing a cross cut in a piece of Jatoba. When I looked at the end grain, it was quite rough, which was a surprise given that the saw blade was new when installed and had seen but a few linear inches of teak. I had to conclude that the Atkinson walker saw blade wasn’t the finest I had come across. I decided to replace it with a couple of 14″ blades with Cermet II teeth from Carbide Processors. Those blades are custom made to order, so I will be getting my hands on them in another 3 weeks or so.

Then the Japanese carpentry classes started so I didn’t get a chance to do much more with the machine. One thing though: I had noticed a low rumbling sound from the machine was getting progressively louder. At first I thought it was my imagination, however it was starting to intrude rather more into reality. With my attention shifting to the course work preparation, I kind of put my head in the sand, preferring to ignore that noise for the moment.

Then, several days into the course, in a conversation with a fellow from England who had flown over to take the classes, I learned that his father had rebuilt many woodworking machines and could apparently tell very quickly from a noise what sort of problem might be occurring. I joked with this fellow that maybe some of this could have rubbed off, or be a genetically-endowed talent, as I had some concerns about noise I was hearing out of the saw. I may have been joking, but shortly thereafter I brought him over to the saw to have a listen. I fired it up for a moment and then shut it off. He immediately thought it sounded bad too. Nothing like a second opinion to confirm one’s suspicions.

I realized that the saw would have to be moved out of the way to make way for another machine coming into the shop within a few days, and realized that some further investigation was required in regards to the noise. I decided to pull the extension table off and then the main table could also be removed. Having three other people around to help with the lifting was most advantageous in this regard. While it wasn’t strictly part of the class course work, it certainly was a typical sort of situation one might run into with woodworking machinery and everyone seemed quite interested to see what unfolded. So, I kept going, and it didn’t take too long at all to get to the bottom of it.

With the table out of the way and the trunnion exposed to view, I turned the machine on again. It was quite obvious to all of us that the front spindle bearing was making a loud rumbling noise.

I had understood that the bearings had been changed by the seller, so it was not an issue I had been expecting to rear its ugly head. Twenty minutes later I had the spindle out. The rear bearing, marked Codex (a Slovenian bearing manufacturer) looked to have older grease in it and seemed to be missing two ball bearings:

It hadn’t been noisy though. I was sure I hadn’t knocked any of the bearings out during removal of the spindle, and others also said they hadn’t seen or heard any bearings pop out. Weird. I’ve subsequently looked all over the area to see if I came across a bearing on the floor, but nothing.

The noisy one was the front, which came out looking like this:

This bearing is unmarked – the company who produced it not having the pride to put their name on it, which doesn’t bode especially well. The biggest issue though is the grease – there’s almost none. Just a cursory skim on the bearing was all that could be seen, and there were large empty voids of space within the unit. Normally one would pack a bearing thoroughly with bearing grease before installing it. This one had not been properly packed at all, and no wonder it started complaining after about 5 minute’s of spindle rotation.

I also discovered, in removing the spindle, that the main pulley on the spindle end was chewed up and damaged at the portion upon which the brake shoe engages. Clearly, at some point, the brake shoe had been reduced to metal-on-metal contact and had severely worn the surface of the pulley. If they had changed out the bearings they surely would have noticed this.


Whenever you deal with a company and enter into a transaction, there are two aspects: what the seller does before the sale, and what the seller does after the sale. Scott and Sargeant had seemed pretty good up to the point of sale. Here was an opportunity to see what sort of after sales service they might provide.

I now have the answer to that question: NONE

We’re talking a couple of bearings, and I happen to now know that the correct SKF bearings for the saw (the ones specified by Wadkin) cost all of $32 (rear) or $39.00 (front). I’m a customer who happened to find that the front bearing was some cheapie and hadn’t been properly packed with grease and was failing prematurely. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to expect that a seller would opt to send me a couple of bearings. We’re talking chump change here for a company like Scott and Sargeant to throw a replacement bearing my way.

No, that’s not what happened. Rather than acknowledge in any way they might have had any role to play in a bearing which began to fail within 5 minutes of use, let alone send me a new bearing, they chose to ascribe all the problems to my end. I’m just a bad customer I guess. Here are some direct quotes from the conversations I had with Peter Charnaud at Scott and Sargeant:

…you are incorrect in your assertion that we have misled you in any way. You will get a low rumbling from these machines as they have large “deep groove” ball bearings which were designed and fitted for durability though somewhat noisier than modern smaller bearings will be.

As I said we had fitted a new set of bearings so if you are saying that we did not and that I have misled you then you will need to retract that assertion.

We did put grease in the bearings- as is evident in the photos you have sent.

The missing ball out of the double race bearing was probably ejected during your removal of it or your turning of it out of its outer shell.

I don’t intend to enter into any further correspondence as I believe I have covered your complaints and offered you a replacement of the possibly faulty bearings and you retract your incorrect assertion that the bearings were not replaced.

I guess the idea that the ‘customer is always right’ never made it to these guys. There was an offer on their part to possibly replace the bearings if I sent them back to them so they could be inspected by a specialist, which was jolly nice and all but I wanted to put the machine back into service and not wait weeks. Besides, given that they had put in cheap no-name bearings the first time, I was hardly finding my appetite whetted by the prospect of more of the same on possible offer.

I thought my description of what had gone on and the photos I supplied should have been sufficient to argue my case. It’s hardly the case that I would pull the tables off and the spindle apart simply due to curiosity or paranoia.

So that was that. They won’t even respond to my emails now so there’s no point in further attempts at dialog. I was incredulous with how I had been treated, but at the end of the day there’s not much I can do about it. I certainly won’t be buying products from that company any more, and would encourage anyone thinking of buying a used machine in the UK to look elsewhere for a supplier.

Funny enough, at the time I had been getting the machine, I read with some interest some comments by various folks on a Canadian woodworking forum thread in regards to Scott and Sargeant:

Commenter M: I would not trust anything said by “scot and sargent” AKA Scot and scumbags!!

Commenter H: I have the same feelings as M. about S & S. They are right on my doorstep but I would rather deal with firms further up country.
They generally:
Don’t know their own equipment
Don’t have the stock
Charge like a rhino for mediocre quality
Have a shocking attitude to service and people who walk through the door

Commenter F: I think W. has summed up S & S perfectly , many woodworkers I know hate them, very poor service. For a example, A good friend of mine brought a brand new scm minimax saw bench from them ( yes I know mad, says he don’t like old british machines because to much trouble) , anyway s & s delivered it , my friend unpacked it and had a electrician wirer it up, did not work so rang s & s but they did not want to know !!!, mean while the electrician traced the problem to a faulty switch on the machine, all s & s would do was send a new switch !!!, could not even be bothered to send out a engineer to fix a brand new machine !!. I say no more!!!

When I first came across these comments, I thought to myself, “well, that certainly hasn’t been my experience so far”.  I guess I needed to wait a little longer. I can now add myself to the chorus saying “no more!!!” I drilled out the rivets holding their company tag to the front of the saw and threw the plate into the trash. That felt satisfying.

Enough of that muck. The pulley is at a machine shop, along with the support legs, for some repair work. I’m still mulling over what to do about the bowed sliding table. In the meantime, I can at least deal with the bearings.

I picked up a couple of new SKF bearings from a supplier in Boston, then shortly thereafter came across a higher precision ‘P5’ (ABEC 5) version for 55% off on Ebay, so I snapped it up.

Here’s that sweet new bearing:

Here’s that same bearing, fully packed with grease:

FAG is a German bearing company, so it ought to be decent quality. I’m using a Lucas grease product intended for high speed bearings.

The bearing is a tight slip fit onto the spindle, and after it is seated the lock ring spins into place:

Then the lone slotted screw is tightened to secure the lock ring onto the thread:

The rear bearing, SKF 1306, seems to be only available in a basic configuration, with phenolic retainer:

It’ll be fine. Older versions are available with a bronze retainer, however I read somewhere that the phenolic retainers are better.

The rear bearing was checked for fit onto the spindle. Again, a slip fit, however the last 1/16″ was a little tight and required a drift to seat it:

I was just confirming it would go all the way on before trying to put the spindle into place and then finding myself having a struggle to fit it. Been there done that, more than once.

I popped the rear bearing off so I could then slide the spindle with front bearing attached into the trunnion:

Another view:

Before I went any further I retracted the spindle slightly and fitted the rear bearing’s dust shield/spacer piece over the end of the spindle. Then the spindle could be reinserted and the rear bearing started:

Once the rear bearing was all the way in, the woodruff key could be put back:

From the other side of the casting, a look at the rear bearing spacer/shield seating in position:

Next step is to reattach the rear bearing’s end cap:

And then the same procedure with the front bearing’s end cap, held with socket cap screws:

It spins really nicely now, and I have confirmed that the grease injection system feeding each bearing is working properly. Should be good for the rest of my working life.

I am waiting on the return of the spindle pulley from the machine shop to complete the job. I’ve also decided to swap in some link belts for the drive belts, which, although new, are likely to be a slight contributor to vibration on the machine.

I have kind of a ‘mad inventor’ idea for fixing the bowed sliding table, however I’ll save that for a later post. Need to get my head examined first. I hope, at least, you enjoyed the tour through the trunnion.

Thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way.

10 thoughts on “Wadkin’s Glen (4)

  1. Did you check the electrical boxes on the interior of the machine when you had it open? From the other problems you found, I don't think they inspected any of them for fraying or wear and tear. on the contacts etc

  2. Machines can be a roller coaster ride of emotions… and the bigger the machine, the more wild the ride. The thrill of the hunt, the joy of purchase, the shock of realizing what was bought, the long heartache of a slog to get everything tuned up… but then finally the machine is almost an entity, a friend. It's hard to explain to people who haven't lived it. Good luck with your new friend!

  3. Hi Chris
    Sorry to hear about all your troubles with the machine.
    One thing is to buy an old machine that you expect to be “junk”, another thing is to buy it from a company and to expect a nice piece of machinery and get something like you did.

    Could you perhaps make a review of them on trustpilot? That might help someone to stay away from them in the future.

    I am looking forward to the mad inventors idea. Since cast iron is known for not being bendable, I would suggest something like leveling out the entire surface using some sort of liquid epoxy .


  4. Ralph,

    thanks for the comment and question. Yes, i took the opportunity to examine the electrical junction box on the motor with the table top removed. Aside from one of the mounting screws being an overly-long replacement, all looked good inside. I trimmed the screw with a hacksaw and it was good to go.

    The other main electrical box looked good inside, with no hacked-into wiring, which was good to see. All in all, the only damage is one of the armored cables inside the machine, which has gotten partially crushed at some point, however it doesn't affect function as far as I can tell.

    Also, with the spindle out and the drive belts off, I took the opportunity to power up the motor by itself to see if I could hear any odd bearing noises coming out of either end. Thankfully, it spins smoothly and quietly.


  5. Jamie,

    You forgot to mention buyer's remorse as well. In my case, I always have that a little bit with any large purchase.

    I guess some friendships do get off to a rocky start. Overall I'm impressed with the engineering on this machine, which is pretty advanced in many respects for a 1950's design. I have a goal of making this saw a precision cross cutting tool, and if I can't accomplish that, then I'll be looking for another saw.

    There is no better way to get to know a machine than to strip it down and get into the guts, that's for sure. Hoping that all comes right in the end, without emptying my bank account.


  6. Jonas,

    very much appreciate your comment.

    After settling on the Wadkin dimension saw as a suitable choice, I came across only one on the market which was in better condition than the one I bought. Unfortunately the other one had already been sold by the time I saw the advert. The other Wadkin PP saws I looked at were in significantly worse condition, with numerous modified parts, missing parts, and 'worn out' looks. The one I found as S&S was the last best one remaining and the price was reasonable. Still, I have found more problems and issues than I would have expected, and feel that my good-faith questions to the seller about machine condition were not accurately answered. I think i'll be able to put things right in the end, one way or another.


  7. Will,

    yeah, no kidding. I can certainly see how getting a few machines needing work could eventually mushroom into a machine rebuilding and selling career. Not what I want to be doing full time, by any means.


  8. Sorry to hear this is such a stressful path to usefulness.
    On a side note, I'm in Boston this week and made a trip to the MFA today to view your handiwork. Very impressive work indeed!

Anything to add?