Restoring a 1981 ShopSmith Belt Sander – Part 1

I broke a piece on my first ShopSmith, and bought a beat up second ShopSmith to cannibalize for parts. The second ShopSmith came with a few extras I didn’t have, like a beat up jig saw and belt sander. The belt sander would be super handy to have running, so I started restoring it tonight. It’s going to be a big project.

The serial number makes this belt sander a July 1981 belt sander. It attaches to the ShopSmith and uses the ShopSmith motor to run it.

Before I really got a good look at things I thought I’d probably just have to sand the fence and replace the belt.

Outside view of the belt sander
Outside view of the belt sander

As I tried to unscrew the second screw I found out that this was going to be a big project. The hex screw was stripped, so I doused it in WD-40 and used a torch to heat it up. I then gently used a hammer to tap the next larger allen wrench into the hole (as I have done successfully many times before!). I added some elbow grease and after a moment of pulling I heard a sharp “crack”.

I thought my allen wrench had broken, and I really wish it had. It was the head of the screw. Looks like it cracked in 4 places.

Cracked hex screw
Cracked hex screw

An hour and 5 drill bits later I had this. I drilled through the screw, chipping the cast aluminum crown around the screw in the process. I then used a very small triangular hand file to score the rest of the screw
so I could put a standard screwdriver in there. Although that didn’t let me turn the rest of the screw like I had hoped, it did crack the rest of the screw so I could get a few more pieces out. A little bit more drilling and filing and ended up with a clean smooth aluminum hole.

It might finally be time to buy a tap and die set.

Almost done removing the screw
Almost done removing the screw

So that was screw number 2. Screws 3 and beyond were much more friendly, although I did leave one very tight screw soaking in WD-40. Hopefully it’ll loosen up so I don’t have to deal with this again.

Eventually I got to taking the belt off. More rust! At least the screws weren’t stuck.

Rusty plate
Rusty plate

Believe it or not, this screw actually came out pretty easily. The barrel it’s going through isn’t threaded, so I was able to use a wirebrush on the aluminum wheel, some WD-40 and put a lever in the holes in the wheel to force it off the lower end, then the screw slid right out.

A rustly tension adjusting screw
A rustly tension adjusting screw

After about 2 1/2 hours, here’s my progress for the night:

Disassembled ShopSmith Belt Sander
Disassembled ShopSmith Belt Sander

There’s enough rust on that thing that I think it’s time to learn how to do electrolysis safely. That’s the thing where you put your metal object and both ends of a battery charger into a tub of water. So that’s something to look forward to.

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One Response to Restoring a 1981 ShopSmith Belt Sander – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Restoring a 1981 Shopsmith Belt Sander Part 2 » Stuporglue.org

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