1956 DeWalt MBF 9" Radial Arm Saw #5: Just getting my bearings

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Blog entry by NBeener posted 02-15-2011 12:13 AM 33499 reads 2 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: R-A-S-p-e-c-t: Mister Sawdust ? Your table is ready Part 5 of 1956 DeWalt MBF 9" Radial Arm Saw series Part 6: Light 'er up, Folks ! »

It was time.

I replaced all four RollerHead (carriage) bearings. Not particularly easy, because the king bolt (the slotted thing in the center of this photo) had frozen, rendering the clamping mechanism inoperative, and nearly impossible to budge.

I love PB Blaster :-)

The clamping mechanism is the knob at the 4:00 position, in this pic. It works beautifully, now, giving nice linear feedback, as it clamps the yoke down:

Then, I cracked the motor, cut all the electrical wiring (to be replaced, in the next step), and pulled the front bearing. The bearing puller made short work of that job.

The old one did NOT turn easily. Good choice to replace it.

Then, I pulled the guts out of the motor, to access the back bearing.


Over time, the back bearing had galled to the armature. Long story short, I broke my bearing puller, and spent well over an hour beating the snot out of this thing, ruining a cheap chisel, and working up quite a sweat in the process.

It finally came off.

A little emery cloth on the armature, and a light coating of grease should prevent its recurrence. The back bearing didn’t turn freely, either. ALSO a good choice to replace it.

The pics:

My co-workers:

What it takes:

Every fastener that was removed was cleaned up and properly lubricated. The mating surfaces that allow the yoke to pivot needed a fair amount of elbow grease, but … after that … and once a thin film of synthetic grease was applied … the motor pirouettes elegantly :-)

The wires that exit the winding, and connect to both the power cord and the circuit breaker … are trash.

I’m tempted to take the motor to a local small appliance repair shop, and see what they think.

If I’m smart, I’ll get new windings, and a new circuit breaker with proper terminals. The wires from the power cord are soldered onto this breaker, making it difficult to re-use, once I put the new power cords on.

Time to be smart, and NOT be penny wise and pound foolish.

Maybe tomorrow.

For today, I have to belt sand my hands (next time, I will wear disposable gloves), and have myself declared a Superfund site :-)

I’m trying hard NOT to consider a cosmetic restoration. I just want everything to WORK … perfectly.

But then I found THIS …. and suddenly … can’t even LOOK at my RAS, anymore:

Can you STAND it ??? It’s all powdercoated, nickel plated, balanced, blueprinted, stroked, relieved, ported, has twice pipes, and wide ovals on it. AAAAHHH !

So … aside from THAT (:rolleyes:) ... yeah … I’m having fun :-D

-- -- Neil

33 comments so far

View JasonWagner's profile


566 posts in 4674 days

#1 posted 02-15-2011 01:20 AM

Looks good. I’m enjoying reading your progress. I have my grandfather’s Craftsman from ‘61 and took it all apart down to the motor but found I didn’t really need to replace the bearings or anything…just a good cleaning. Honestly the only reason I have it because it was his and it works as a good disk sander. Your saw looks like it’ll run like new…if not better. Thanks for the step by step blog.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4798 days

#2 posted 02-15-2011 01:30 AM

wow…you put a day in on that machine….i can sure see why you would want to go further into the windings….i would..if your going this far and doing this much…and i know how you think…your going to do it…lol… just get on with it…...great work…will be a beauty when your done…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4980 days

#3 posted 02-15-2011 02:27 AM

The white beauty either belongs to Shane Whitlock or Kenteroo. Kenteroo sold his. I have drooled over it many times. But beauty is only skin dep. Just think of the fun you will have making the sawdust fly.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5168 days

#4 posted 02-15-2011 03:10 AM

Neil thats good news.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4669 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 04:00 AM

Jason: So … how does it work ? You must have a fair bit of pride of ownership. Tools from grand-dad … very cool.

Grizz: totally agree. Was thinking the same thing about the circuit breaker, and ordered a new one. Hate to have that be a worry, since IT clearly is 54 years old.

David: Shane Whitlock, it is ! Not only a great machine, but … since he’s a professional photographer … great pictures !

Charles: you’re looking into your future :-)

-- -- Neil

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 4263 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 05:25 AM

Neil, I’ve enjoyed tagging along on your project. It sounds like you’re having fun, and we appreciate your sharing it with us. It’s the elbow grease that turns somebody else’s old clunker into your own treasured vintage machine. There is no doubt about it, it’s your saw now!

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5168 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 05:45 AM

Neil I got my DeWalt RAS today, check out my new blog.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4659 days

#8 posted 02-15-2011 05:26 PM

Well, you gotta think about it right, Neil. That saw you drooled over….......has no patina! I guarantee that my RAS has LOTS of patina, I put it there…...........(-:

I bought that saw new, kinda ugly, no personality. But it has improved over time.

Little rust here, little paint there, scratches, replaced switch:

.........there it is….......

...........PATINA in technicolor..........note the fine, ingenious, replacement switch….........(-:

Yup, just a surface mount switch, like for a barn, you know. I am sure it is rated for motors and inductive loads….........wouldn’t it be?

You know I might be tempted to do an upgrade, but gee whiz…......even that switch has become part of the patina. Besides, I can find that switch easily, and it has a great clicking action….......(-:

........and for you electrical engineers out there….....I put that switch there over 30 years ago. I know, I should put a motor rated switch on it, and I promise I’ll do it. I get to it one of these days. In the meantime it may not be rated….....but is seems to work OK.

I love the patina my tools have acquired over time….............just like an antique…....I am sure removing the patina would compromise the value…............(-:

There… don’t you feel a little better about your saw?

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4669 days

#9 posted 02-15-2011 06:04 PM

In fact, I will be keeping EVEN MORE of the patina.

Local electric motor shop just told me that … new motor windings, plus installation … would probably run about …


Due to the high costs of copper—particularly “magnet copper.”

So … I’m perfectly happy with my windings. For about $70, they’ll install new wire leads, to which I can connect the new “breaker,” and power cords.


Seven HUNDRED bucks.

I’m NOT going to “bastardize” (not a bad word, if used correctly !), by putting a different motor on it, but … I had already checked, and … a replacement Baldor or Leeson is “only” about $400.

Which I’m not doing, either.


Wow !

-- -- Neil

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12647 posts in 4923 days

#10 posted 02-15-2011 06:17 PM

Seven bills????OMG!!!

PATINA it is!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4829 days

#11 posted 02-15-2011 07:15 PM

Neil, this whole RAS project is absolute madness and I understand it perfectly! No you don’t need pearls for swines. However, you might come across a real good deal on another RAS some day with a serviceable armature. I do admire your initiative to do all the reconditioning work you’ve done so far.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4659 days

#12 posted 02-15-2011 10:10 PM

Have you ever thought of making your own windings? Oh well, sounds as though you really can get by without the new windings. Off to work again….........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4610 days

#13 posted 02-15-2011 11:41 PM

work work work but in the other end is the reward ceep on going Neil :-)

take care

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4669 days

#14 posted 02-15-2011 11:44 PM


And that IS what keeps me going :-)

Jim: In the sagacious words of my dear departed grandmother ….



-- -- Neil

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4610 days

#15 posted 02-16-2011 12:57 AM

I know the white one with all its chrome and brasbells and what ever it has been updated with
look incrediple …..droooool …....and all that and your Rastusarius proppbly want it
but I´m sure if you tell it that the white lady will never see,feel and smell wood again and is only an eyecatcher
yours will bee more than thankfull for the new bearings instead nowing that nothing is like a well oiled engine

take care

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