tragedies #7: still hoping to fix that Craftsman planer...

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-18-2010 06:09 PM 2608 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Anybody figure out what I did wrong the other day? Part 7 of tragedies series Part 8: several near misses »

When we last left off 116 days ago, my planer had a blown bearing. It was an effort of monumental proportions to disassemble the thing to get to it, taking several days spread over weeks or months – whenever I had time and motivation to figure out how to get deeper into it. Removing the bearing showed the shaft had been peened to fit the bearing, and several people suggested that that was what caused the failure. Peened shafts are likely not concentrically aligned with the bearing, and at the high speeds and vibrations at which planers operate, it probably just shook the bearing apart.

I’ve been unemployed for over 5 months now, money steadily draining away, so I’ve not been able to get a new planer, nor order about $90 in parts for this thing. I did order the $4 replacement bearing, however. Then I tried to rig up something with holes drilled in large blocks of wood and several Bessey K-Body clamps. That didn’t work at all. You really need a hydraulic press for this, especially with the rough, peened shaft. I tried tapping it on with a hammer, but soon it was wedged tightly enough that I had to break out the gear puller again to get it free, and it looked like I bent the side up a bit, so that was over. I shelved it all in frustration again for months.

Recently I got it in me again to give it a go. I walked to the hardware store, which didn’t have any bearings of that shape, as figured. I took a look at the replacement bearing – the side was a little bent, but that was only the cap. The bearing still rolled smoothly and in-plane. Maybe I could try it once more. I did, and it failed again. I repeat, it’s not possible to put a very tight bearing on a shaft without proper press equipment.

I decided to call Craftsman and relate my troubles. Their improper build likely caused the trouble. The planer is years old now, but has only been used less than 10 hours in all that time. I haven’t planed much at all, mostly because it’s the loudest tool I own by far, and I live in a tiny neighborhood and seem to only find free time late at night. I told the customer support lady that any help she could offer would be appreciated, as I’ve been out of work almost half a year, and can’t afford a new planer, and even getting the parts replaced is rough. I asked if there was a way to get the cutterhead with the bearings already in place. There wasn’t. She basically had no alternatives for me, and there was a lot of silence on her end of the phone, as she had no idea what to do for me. She kept trying to push me to buy the 3 parts – bearings and cutterhead – ‘just so I’d have them’ if I figured out a way to get the bearings pressed on.

In the end I told her I’d have to think about it, as this was a big purchase now with how little money I have remaining, and she said “I understand, and I wanted to let you know that we have a really good offer today on new siding for your home. Would you be interested in that?” There was a really long pause as I tried to comprehend what had just happened. I just told her I’m flat broke and needed some help getting this jalopy of a tool back in order, and she offered nothing but “Oh well, nothing I can do,” and then rubbed it in by trying to sell me something very expensive and completely unrelated. I finally broke the silence and said “I’m completely broke, remember?” She still didn’t give up. “So… does that mean your not interested in the siding?”


Customer support ain’t what it used to be. I might get the parts and find a local machine shop to press them together for me, because $95 is a lot less than $400-$500, which is what this and the newer models cost new, but I’m done with Craftsman. I’ve had other problems with them in the past. It’s funny how badly one customer support rep can tarnish a company, but she sure did it. I’m even too angered to consider shopping at Sears again, and I won’t be recommending either to anyone.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

8 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4669 days

#1 posted 03-18-2010 09:25 PM

You sound a little like Alice in Wonderland Gary. I always say that the larger an enterprise is the dumber they are.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View GadgetXX's profile


15 posts in 4391 days

#2 posted 03-18-2010 10:14 PM

Heat the bearing and freeze the shaft for a while. it is amazing how much of a difference it makes. It may also help to smooth up that shaft with some emery cloth, just be cautious not to take off enough to change the size of the shaft, just clean up the marks. I have also used some creative ideas for a press in a pinch.

Or send it to me and I will press the bearings in on my 60,000# press for you and send it back.

If the new bearing is bad, take it to a bearing supply company, it is probably a standard size and they should be able to match it up. I have a Precision Bearings in town, and they have saved me on all sorts of bearings and seals over the years.


-- Imagination is more important than knowledge! - Einstein

View JamesVavra's profile


308 posts in 4651 days

#3 posted 03-18-2010 11:38 PM

Gary – if you try the hot/cold method, I’ve had luck freezing things by spraying them with a can of air-duster turned upside down (the can of air you’d use to blow the dust out of a PC).


View PCorl's profile


65 posts in 4715 days

#4 posted 03-19-2010 01:44 AM

Gary – many times bearings aren’t pressed onto the shaft at all, they are in fact put on by the hot/cold method. It does work. Might as well give it at try. You are right, Sears sure isn’t what it used to be.

View sphere's profile


109 posts in 4366 days

#5 posted 03-19-2010 02:02 AM

I have a Ryobi AH-115 planer/jointer combo that is killer good, even after 20 some yrs of use. I DID have to replace a bearing (motor shaft, not cutter head) and had a similar problem as you.

I found a local auto repair shop that let me use their hyd. press and pesto change-o I’m back in biz. Maybe that is all ya need to do?

-- Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Wood Works

View bigfish_95008's profile


250 posts in 4439 days

#6 posted 03-19-2010 05:18 AM

Why don’t you come over and use the 15”. I just reworked the electrical w/switch and a real handy extension cord. I will be running boards Saturday.

-- bigfish "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." Vincent Van Gogh

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 4573 days

#7 posted 03-24-2010 02:27 AM

About the CSR (customer service representative) trying to sell you siding. I was in that hell hole type of a job for almost 8 years. You will often be required to say certain things, even sell things. And the CSR is graded on if they hit all the required points. The grading is done by a 3rd party grader that knows even less of what is going on and they have a check list that they have to check off when a certain point is hit. No place on that list is a check off “Is offer inappropriate for customer”. And often if the CSR misses even one point they fail the audit. Fail the audit and you get a nasty-o-gram. To many nasty-o-grams and you are out on the street thanking your lucky stars you are finally out of that hell hole. But wondering how you are going to feed your tribe.

No bitterness here, damn glad i got down sized. and unemployed.

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View lgarrone's profile


5 posts in 3875 days

#8 posted 07-06-2011 03:02 AM

Hello Sphere

I am new to site and need 5 entries before I can ask a question. I am looking at a used Ryobi AH 115 and the machines test drove great. I saw from you previous entry that you have this machine. I am worried about finding replacement parts for wear items and it appears the motor and gear parts are no longer available.

Can you advise

Larry G

-- larry G Norton MA

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics