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McMaster - Any Old Iron?

Work on a worn McMaster Power Hacksaw

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IanT14/03/2014 18:38:41
1989 forum posts
212 photos

Last year I had to hacksaw through several blocks of 2" Square mild steel using just my "Armstrong" (which isn't quite what it used to be). As a result I decided that some form of metal cutting machine was really required. I looked at various metal bandsaws but I also recalled using a large power hacksaw at college (and how well it worked).

The upshot was that when I saw a McMaster power hacksaw advertised at an affordable price, I was tempted. Of course when the vendor switched it on, it sounded like someone was bouncing a tin bucket full of old bolts around! However, the price was right and it was clearly built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

This afternoon, the sun was shining so I decided to start cleaning up the disassembled bits (I had to take it to bits to lift it out of the car boot) and I spent a pleasant hour or so up to my elbows in soapy hot water, scrapping off the dried grease and hardened swarf. The hacksaw is clearly well worn in places but it occurred to me that I simply needed to 'adjust' my attitude towards the old brute. It's not a worn-out old machine tool after all. Once you start viewing it as "a part-machined set of power hacksaw castings" then I've probably got myself a real bargain!




mcmaster - first pass clean 140314.jpg

Michael Gilligan14/03/2014 18:55:34
20112 forum posts
1044 photos

Absolutely the right attitude, Ian


Oompa Lumpa14/03/2014 19:25:02
888 forum posts
36 photos

I am looking for exactly this sort of thing. Ideally something a little smaller though. I will keep on looking, unless someone has a "kit" lying around they want to sell?


Mike Teaman14/03/2014 21:48:15
58 forum posts

When I closed my business some years ago, I let a lot of tools and plant items go. The one that I miss the most is my power hack saw. I really miss that "clump, clump" as it works its way through the metal. Very satisfying to listen to!


Edward Spicer14/03/2014 22:00:15
3 forum posts
2 photos

Well done Ian, a man after my own heart. Note the faceplate replacing cracked drive wheel.

Mind you I have yet to finish it!



Rik Shaw15/03/2014 08:02:50
1480 forum posts
398 photos

Very nice refurb. Edward - get the motor and a comfy seat fitted and it'll take you down town for a bit of shopping! smile


Edited By Rik Shaw on 15/03/2014 08:03:13

Michael Gilligan15/03/2014 08:13:42
20112 forum posts
1044 photos


Your first post is a gem.

Welcome !!


IanT15/03/2014 10:40:28
1989 forum posts
212 photos

That is a very nice looking job Edward. I shall be happy if mine looks as good when I've finished with it - or at least got it working.

Jumping off at a slight tangent, I was thinking about this whole "restoration" thing last night. I do envy those people with the skills (and patience) to completely restore their machines to 'as new' (or even better) condition. I've never managed that myself on any of my machinery. I know some folk like to immediately strip their new acquisitions and completely rebuild them. I generally don't do that - I try to get them working first and then see what I need to do, at least enough to meet my immediate requirements.

The McMaster had to be dissembled to move it but it clearly also needs some immediate attention. But my Mk1 Super 7 has had quite a few small improvements over the years. To put this in perspective, I purchased this lathe from Mr Moore off the back of his lorry (at Guildford MES) some years ago and I could immediately see that it hadn't had a happy life. There was a large 'cheesy' cut out of the cross-slide front and the bull gear had some teeth missing. However the price reflected this (I doubt Myfords often sold many lathes for the price I paid!).

Getting home I discovered the motor appeared shot (but it was simply stuffed full of sawdust) and that the clutch made strange rattling noises and would not engage. The motor was cleaned and the clutch dissembled and a new actuating pin made - which solved the problem. The lathe was used for some time exactly like that. It was only a few years later that I replaced the bull gear as mostly I managed to work around it (I'm afraid to admit that I rarely use back-gear still to this day). Last year I replaced the cross-slide with a new (used) one off eBay. It doesn't work any better but it certainly has improved the look and (most importantly!) it pleases me.

I know my Myford doesn't face completely flat (in fact very slightly convex) and that the bed is worn. So one day I may well modify the saddle to use another part of the bed for guidance etc. but for now I can live with it and therefore do so. You may have also detected a level of idleness in this approach (which I usually tell myself is a sign of a maturing intelligence) and you may well be right. By the way, I had a good laugh not too long ago when someone here described 'Myford Owners' as "Elitist". I suspect he wouldn't make remarks like that it he'd ever seen the inside of my Shed!

So to bring these meanderings to an end, many of these old (worn out) machines still have plenty of use left in them, quite enough for many peoples 'amateur' needs. They can often be put back into usable condition (enough for their owners needs) incrementally e.g. as required. If like me, you also quite enjoy working on your 'antiques' then it's not really a chore either. If the budget is tight, this approach can save you a good deal of money and even if you do spend some more pennies over time, it does make everything seem more affordable when spread out over months or years. As I've said before, old machinery is not for everyone (especially if you are eager to get on with a specific "project" ) but if the 'Price is Right' then it certainly should be a consideration for some here.



IanT11/10/2014 17:53:41
1989 forum posts
212 photos

mcmaster - 101014 002.jpg

My Shed hasn't seen too much of me this Summer (my Manager had other plans for me!) but I'm trying to get down there before it gets too cold again. Picking up projects after you've been away for a while is quite a challenge (particularly if you start off a bit scatter brained to begin with).

The last few days I've been trying to move my McMaster Power Hacksaw "project" on a bit. I managed to completely strip it down earlier this year and found various problems. The motor is in a bad way, with a lot of wear on the shaft. If I could MIG weld, I might be tempted to try a John S type of repair but I don't have a MIG welder and doubt my welding skills are up to that anyway. There are other problems (wear in sliding surfaces & bearings) that I can do something about though.

Having everything in bits, it was all cleaned and stripped right back to bare metal. I also built a wheeled trolley for it (as I couldn't move the base once the legs were bolted on - it's very heavy). That was about where it all stopped for summer.

I've now rebuilt the gearbox, repainted everything and started putting it all back together. I've decided I can probably get away with turning the worn 'gibs' (they are more like retaining strips) over and using the (less worn) reverse side (possible because the parts are symmetrical). Plus I've found what appear to be some small 'adjusters' that might help take up some slack..

Anyway - for lovers of Old Iron - here is the McMaster, hopefully looking a bit more respectable now. Still be a while before we can cut metal in anger with her but a very useful machine is starting to emerge from the rust!

PS Sorry but I cannot get the photos in the correct chronological order - but hopefully it will be fairly obvious.




mcmaster rebuild - May 2014 mcmaster restore - painting oct 2014 001.jpg

mcmaster - 101014 001.jpgmcmaster restore - painting oct 2014 002.jpg

Edited By IanT on 11/10/2014 17:58:14

John Baguley11/10/2014 18:25:21
504 forum posts
54 photos


You might find it will move all over the place if it's on wheels, even if you can lock them. They tend to be very out of balance. I've got a smaller machine that sits on the floor and it has a mind of it's own once you switch it on! It really needs bolting down to a very heavy base (another roundtuit job!)

Nice machine though and you'll find it very useful smiley MIne's been a godsend.


ronan walsh11/10/2014 18:34:53
546 forum posts
32 photos

Sadly the problem with power hacksaws in industry is they get zero respect. someone has a job to do, they want to get the stock cut as quickly as possible to start machining or fabrication. They , in my experience, end up stuck in an untidy dirty corner and just used and abused , and apart from an occasional new blade, very little maintenance.

Jack Foreman 111/10/2014 20:04:39
99 forum posts
17 photos

When i went to collect my Bantam, I spotted a Startrite bandsaw tucked away amongst a whole lot of engineering machinery [remember that I am a woodturner/bench joiner] which aroused my interest. I enquired about the price of it - which was very good - and was informed that it was a 10 speed machine, which would also cut metal.
So when the Bantam was loaded onto the trailer, so was the Startrite. I have subsequently dismantled, cleaned and restored it. And whilst not being of the capacity of Ian or Edwards, it does a very reasonable job, if slowly, of cutting its way quite happily through up to 2" steel. Aluminium is a breeze.
I had no idea that cutting steel could be so effortless emotion
As Mike suggests "Very satisfying to listen to!"

Ian S C12/10/2014 09:41:20
7468 forum posts
230 photos

One of the local garages is closing its workshop, and having a clearing sale on Wedensday, I think there is a power hacksaw, I know there is a Myford lathe, don't know which model, but it is a bit beat up. I'll be there.

Ian S C

Circlip12/10/2014 10:02:31
1502 forum posts

Never ceases to amaze/amuse why many (with the excuse "I need to be able to move the -----" )put wheels or casters or both under a machine. "Safe" wheeled frames, the ones in which the wheelbase and track width is wider than that of the machine footprint and elevating the machine by about 1/2" (12mm) is rarely seen.


Best ones are the "New" range of combi Horizontal/vertical band saws. Even in horizontal mode the frame footprint is dodgy.


Regards Ian.

Edited By Circlip on 12/10/2014 10:03:01

IanT12/10/2014 11:50:34
1989 forum posts
212 photos

Well the problem is that I do need to move it around Ian - if only to fit everything inside my Shed! smiley

My larger machines are placed pretty much where I can easily use them - that includes the two larger lathes (on their own benches), my two mills and the shaper. No wheels there - they do get moved - but generally on rollers with a wrecking bar, so it's not done very often if I can possibly avoid it. The workbenches are also fixed, as are the taller (Dexion) storage shelves.

My larger woodworking machines (Inca bandsaw, 10" saw & Coronet) are on wheels because I much prefer to make sawdust outside the workshop (same as grinding) weather permitting. They have some heavy bits/accessories stored on the lower shelves to help keep the centre of gravity down. They are 'parked' by the main door (with the 30" Hayter verge cutter) so can be moved outside easily in good weather.

Other 'wheeled' units include two large storage/worktop units, my Warco 12 speed drill (and now the McMaster) because otherwise it would be hard to fit everything in and still be able to move around. Most times - it is simply a matter of moving one or two units 4-5 foot sideways - as I'm usually only working in one area at a time. It's simply done when you've placed your larger items in such a way that other bulky stuff can be moved in and out of position down access lanes.

I take your point about spreading the width and keeping the height down but it does cause problems with 'bit's sticking out that snag when being moved. The wheels on the McMaster are right underneath its legs and it doesn't feel unstable when being moved. However, if it does prove unstable in use then it will have to be found a more permanent home without the wheels. But in the meantime - it's really useful to be able to move it around easily (just the base and two leg units are too heavy for me to lift).

As always, it's a matter of looking at any particular machine (it's size, weight, footprint, access required etc) and deciding what the best solution for it is in terms of ease of use/access versus stability/safety. All my larger/heavier machines are just sat on the floor (or benches) for this reason.



Boiler Bri12/10/2014 12:34:53
842 forum posts
199 photos

Ronan your quite correct, broken teeth on the saw blades is laziness and ignorance. Maybe I should charge my engineers for them!


Clive Foster12/10/2014 14:51:16
3105 forum posts
107 photos

Power hacksaws do tend to suffer froim wanderlust. My 14" Rapidor used to move around 1/8" per inch of cut or thereabouts until I got fed up with pushing him back mid job and screwed an endstop in front of the base. I'd guess that was one case where my nice green "underfloor chipboard" flooring was less than optimum as its relatively smooth and flat surface didn't provide much grip on the saw base mounting pads. Plain concret might have been better but one would imagine that some effort should be taken to get it flat and well surfaced where the base pads go. If only three were in proper contact the resulting rocking might well promote movement.

My Far Eastern horizontal / vertical bandsaw sits on a purpose made rectangular box covering the full base area of the saw proper. Only the length stop and bar extend past the side. With small castors beneath it is sufficiently stable and provides a respectable amount of storage beneath the built in chip tray drawer. Second iteration as the standard pressed tin legs got seriously strengthened after the first attempt to move it by tipping back onto the wheels provided.

Watching the GP racing today I wondered if something along the lines of the quick lift lever jacks could be arranged to easily switch a machine from mobile mode to solid feet. In principle some sort of parallelogram link along each side of the machine with suitable linking stays would suffice to carry castors or other forms of wheel. Slipping the quick lift or other suitable lever under one end would jack the thing up into mobile mode. Naturally suitable stops would be needed so that the parallelogram link moves further in static mode than it does in lifted mode. I imagine such a device would be of considerable interest to MEW readers if someone were to take it on and demonstrate how to do it.

I have a hefty collapsing X frame made to use with a car jacking system which uses a simpler version of the idea whereby the quick-lift jack device simply raises the front far enough to let a pair of wheels touch the floor. Theoretically the device can be towed around via the lifing lever moving on the two rear wheels and the two closely spaced wheels on the jack device. In practice things are only marginally stable and its all rather hard work. Certainly not suitable for anything more than a few inches high. For a machine tool or anything else of reasonable height you'd need to do the job properly.


Gordon W12/10/2014 15:05:30
2011 forum posts

I know I keep banging on about them ,but- A cheap sack barrow will easily move all the above. Just need an inch clearance underneath for the foot. Have a look on ebay, loads of them. Mine was about £ 25 ,rubber tires, ballrace wheels, does so much more as well. Safe load about 40Kg.

John Baguley12/10/2014 15:29:56
504 forum posts
54 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 12/10/2014 14:51:16:

Watching the GP racing today I wondered if something along the lines of the quick lift lever jacks could be arranged to easily switch a machine from mobile mode to solid feet. In principle some sort of parallelogram link along each side of the machine with suitable linking stays would suffice to carry castors or other forms of wheel. Slipping the quick lift or other suitable lever under one end would jack the thing up into mobile mode. Naturally suitable stops would be needed so that the parallelogram link moves further in static mode than it does in lifted mode. I imagine such a device would be of considerable interest to MEW readers if someone were to take it on and demonstrate how to do it.


I acquired a drilling machine that sat on a metal table that had just that feature. A lever on each side lowered 4 wheels and lifted the table off it's solid feet so you could move it. The chap I got it from said the table was originally used for computer equipment. Unfortunately I didn't have room for it in the workshop so I put it out for the scrap man. Otherwise I could have taken some photos sad


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