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To Drill Two Holes

The Way Things Go ... by Dave Norton


Ellie needed two holes drilled in a piece of wood she needed for her loom. No big deal. The wood is handrail, oval cross-section with a flat on the bottom. The holes are needed for a dowel into the bottom side (not through to the top). Problem one: can’t accurately hold the wood flat side up so the hole is perpendicular to the flat surface. OK, compromise by drilling through, and round off the dowel that extends through. Fine.

Put the piece on the drill press, line up the hole, drill down ¼” and the drill press vertical motion jams. Won’t stroke more than ¼” up/down. Hmmm. Something jammed in the spindle stroking mechanism. It wasn’t that way yesterday! OK, let’s pull the cover off the top, look down inside, see what’s happening. Open the top cover, find that the cover can’t be removed or shifted until the four screws holding it down are removed. Two of these are covered by the V-belt pulley. Pulley is held in place by a nut. Must remove the hex nut to pull the pulley to remove the screws to lift the cover to look inside to see what’s jamming the vertical stroking mechanism so I can drill the holes:

Find a socket that just barely fits inside the pulley counterbore and over the nut. Ah, can’t loosen the nut because there’s no way to prevent the pulley from turning while I apply torque to the nut. OK, use inertia. Whang on a wrench with a hammer to shock the nut loose. The socket is ½” drive. Get the ½” breaker bar, which is way too big and cumbersome to impart much impact into the nut. OK, use the much smaller 3/8” breaker bar. Must find the ½ to3/8 drive adapter. I find the 3/8 to ½ adapter, won’t work. Dig through old go-kart stuff to find the ½ to 3/8 adapter. Assemble it all, whang on the breaker bar, and whang, and whang. No good. Impact. Not enough impact. Ah, use the impact wrench. Air driven.

Plug in the compressor. No runny. Fiddle the tweaky plug, get it running. Socket on impact wrench, flip it to Reverse. Socket on nut, hold pulley, Wheeed-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-t. Wheeed-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-t. Wheeed-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-t. Wheeed-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-t. Nothing. Ah, perhaps it may be LEFT HAND threads? Check the threads: yup. Left hand threads. Now very tight left hand threads. Aaak. Flip it to Tighten. Socket on nut, hold pulley, hit trigger: Wheeed-d-d-brrrriiiiing! Nut is off! Great!

Try to lift pulley. Try HARD to lift pulley. Try levers on both sides under pulley. Pulley is ON there. Look for keyway: none. Spray Kroil to loosen the fit, try again. No way. Need pulley puller. Used to have one, haven’t seen it lately. Spend 10 minutes looking, no puller. Must have pulley puller to pull the pulley to remove the screws to lift the cover to look inside to see what’s jamming the vertical stroking mechanism so I can drill the holes. Call neighbor, ask to borrow pulley puller. Sure, come get it. Spend 45 minutes visiting with neighbor, returning with two pulley pullers and the admonition that pulley is likely to be pot metal, very fragile, use care, must pull straight and square. Can you guess what happens next?

Wrong. I didn’t break the pulley (or even the puller!), but also didn’t get the pulley off. At this point I get smart(er). Go to the PC, Google the manufacturer (Delta) and model number of the drill press, find complete parts breakdown and exploded assembly. I don’t need to pull the pulley to remove the screws that hold the cover that…etc. All I need to do is pull the cross-shaft with the three handles out of the main case and the spindle will drop out in my hands! Wonderful!

The cross-shaft is held in place by two hex nuts. They also hold on the return spring assembly, containing a hell-for stout clock-spring that supplies the torque needed to pull the spindle up again after you pull it down while drilling. Soooo, if I pull this nice shiny chrome cover off its locating tab on the housing it’s going to go SPROING and fly across the room taking my thumbnail with it. Can you guess what happens next?

Wrong! I pulled the nice shiny chrome cover off its locating tab on the housing and it went SPROING and flew across the room without taking my thumbnail with it. It did, however, take a piece of my glove with it! Wonderful. However, once the return spring was out of the way I was able to pull the cross shaft out, letting the spindle drop into my hands, and making it very clear why the vertical stroking mechanism was jammed:

The entire upper case casting was filled with Chicken Scratch from the bucket Ellie uses to feed the chickens every morning, stashed there by the field mice who have not yet been invited to dinner by our resident gopher snake.

I find it fascinating that the mice discriminate in their food storage: I find one bin in my All-The-Fasteners-You’ll-Ever-Need-In-48-Little-Plastic-Drawers rack filled with corn only, separated from the Chicken Scratch mix. Note that there is no corn being stored in the drill press! The other stash I found is inside the left lower leg of the hollow cast-aluminum frame of my BMW motorcycle! Again, corn only. Go figure.

As for the return spring reassembly, it was just a case of windy-windy-snick! and it was back in place.

Bottom Line:

There Ain’t Nothin’ Ever Easy.

(Except, sometimes, the stuff you expect to be a bitch!)

© Dave Norton, May30, 2007


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