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A Canadian review of the Harvey C14 Ambassador Bandsaw

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Review by jayoh posted 06-15-2022 09:55 PM 861 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A Canadian review of the Harvey C14 Ambassador Bandsaw No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This is my personal review of the Harvey Industries Ambassador C14 bandsaw. Normally the pros and cons would be after the dissertation; however, in order to be hopeful that prospective users and purchasers might be interested in the experience I’ve had, I have elected to put these at the very beginning. They’re not listed by any order of importance. *I am not an employee of Harvey Industries. The company has not supplied me with any financial remuneration for posting this detailed review. I paid in full for the machine long before it was shipped from the Vancouver warehouse.

PROS:
1. very powerful quiet motor with instantaneous start-up to full speed
2. superbly balanced
3. heavy weight to dampen vibration
4. cuts hardwood true without waver, in the full 14” capacity

CONS:
1. considerably more expensive than other similar 14” bandsaws
2. more than a niggling complaint with the thrust bearings
3. lower guide difficult to access for adjustment
4. heavy for one person to mount on a mobile base

That’s it in a nutshell. For those wanting a more in-depth view read on…

The first image is the heavy-walled superb cardboard carton the machine arrived in.
I first learned of Harvey Industries as a woodworking machinery maker from mainland China through James Hamilton’s Stumpy Nubs channel on YouTube where he discusses his shop’s 7 or 8 bandsaws. At the time, I owned a Rikon 14” bandsaw, the much-ballyhooed machine I purchased from Lee Valley Tools in Halifax, NS, the province I retired to from my original home province of ON. I have already posted a review of that machine above, since it was my initial post with Lumberjocks and was not placed in the proper section. I received no reply from the editors here to help move it. Oh well.

The only thing needing assembly was the fence and installing the supplied levelling feet. I put felt pads on those, assuming I would be able to push the bandsaw in and out of its wall location to machine large pieces. There was no way, as it’s simply far too heavy at 390 lbs. which is what we want for vibration dampening. I have read other earlier reviews where some assembly was required with the motor and table. Harvey even equipped the AC cord with the correct plug for my 220V wall outlet. Thanks, guys & gals!

Perhaps the factory uses grease on all the moving parts so as to lessen any chance of rust on the ocean going voyage or while it may be in storage at a stocking warehouse here in NA. For woodworking, we workers do not want grease, as it will accumulate fine sawdust and eventually gum up the rack and pinion movement of both the table trunion and the blade guard rise and fall mechanism. That was cleaned off. I used dry silicone spray to lubricate the affected parts, which, works just fine.

The Harvey bandsaw is too tall + too heavy for a slim-lined mobile base. When finally I righted the prone saw, [and yes, I strained my back] it wobbled precariously and I feared if I attempted to resaw a log or cut a bowl blank from an off-centred log, the machine could become dangerous. This base attempt was discarded…after installation, alas.

The casters that I had on hand, regardless of their approved individual rating, have soft solid rubber wheels with loose tolerances on the 1/8” axle shaft. The machine was virtually impossible to move about the lacquered engineered bamboo flooring, which, had been directly cemented to the concrete slab below.

I purchased a Busy Bee Tools [outlets ‘cross Canada] adjustable angle iron mobile bass platform kit online. I supplied my own sheet goods material for the tray, plus some white ash lumber for stiffness. I also saw a YT video for joining the two moveable casters in front with a steel bar. I had some pieces of curtain rod leftover and used a piece to join the two kickdown levers. Due to the heavy weight of the saw, plus my 165 lbs, I need to jump on the bar to lock the casters in place. However, I can raise the lock lever bar with the toe of one shoe.

Over the years I have rolled a 5,000 lb 24” Wadkin planer into place using the Dynastic Egyptian method of rollers sans animal grease; in that case, it was a pair of 1-1/2” hardwood dowels. With the C14, I used every block, shim and offcut I could find, to jack it up high enough with a steel bar to slide the much wider base underneath, then secure the machine to this final mobile base. It works like a charm, with no wobble and is now easily manoeuvrable.

The worst adjustment pain with this excellent machine is loosening, then tightening, the thrust bearing on the lower guide block. At first, I was able to manhandle that Allen screw by a spare I have with a shorter handle. Then I came up with a simpler solution. I drilled a hole in the soft cast iron table, beneath the table insert for the original key. Works like a charm. One wonders if this has voided the warrantee. hahaha

Our Canuck Looney or one dollar coin, has 11 sides. Each facet is less than 1/4” wide. Shown is the bandsaw running with a 3/8” blade; the coin balancing perfectly—-no vibration. That’s how good this machine is!

My 12 year old Steel City dust collector @ 1.5 HP is a 220V machine that came with twin 4” port adaptors. ‘Sides, as a hobbyist now, there’s no hurry keeping two machines running simultaneously to speed production. I’ve converted all machines that allowed 220V to that higher voltage as they run cooler, are more efficient, i.e., coming up to full RPMs faster, yet not more powerful. An amp is still an amp. I swapped the twin 4” ports out for a single 6” adaptor, since I want volume and not velocity. The poly hose, also 12 years old, has been delaminating for some time from the interior copper coils. It was dear then; a new one is outta range dollar wise. There must be limits, eh? hahaha I added a cheap 6” rubber hose to extend the distance to machines with adaptor and ring clamps. This shop is only 425 sq. ft and needs no room dust collection.

The C14 provides for two dust location pickups. Few bandsaws in this throat capacity allow for that. Neither my old British 27” Wadkin nor the also older Québec 24” Poitras had two dust outlet pickups. Both locations on the C14 are excellent. Initially, I had the Y reversed, which, meant the dust collector would draw first from the floor of the lower driven wheel cabinet.

Once reversed so that the pickup is as close as possible under the table, one can see that the cabinet is virtually dust free, with only a 1.5 hp collector. I left the slinky pipe extra coils for wear plus a smooth inside surface, so the pickup air would not be slowed down. Once an F1 fan, always an F1 fan…not exactly bellypan downforce.

This next point is an old trick I learned decades ago from a mentor. Take any old grinding stone. While the saw is running, kiss each back corner of the blade to slightly round it over. This presents less wear to the bearing due to less surface area in contact. It also allows the blade to turn corners with less grab. A final addition is to use a blade lubricant to assist in keeping the blade cool; which, is more helpful in dense hardwoods.

This is my biggest niggle with this machine. What the manufacturer has done, is press a decent hardened steel bearing into a soft steel bushing or case. Within a few minutes of use, the thrust wheel bearing encasement has been deeply scored. I was told in an email by a customer service rep., that this was done to draw heat away from the blade. This presents problems with turning in cuts; as well, my logic tells me that this would increase the heat of the blade, due to more constant friction through contact, not less. The original bearings are the most ubiquitous skateboard wheel bearings found anywhere. Cheap! Our economic system’s mania for cutting costs.

In this image, the reader can see what I have done. I went to an industrial supply house and bought some bearings that were close enough to the original encased designs in OD. I then went to a local machine shop and had them make bushings that would reduce the ID and allow the assembly to slide onto the factory “peg”. I used a larger washer and enlarged screw heads to hold the bearings in place. Eh voilà, as my Francophone compatriots would say. It works like a charm. The C14 allows re-positioning of the bearing width to be exactly in the centre, to support the blade push.

This is my depiction of the lower thrust bearing replacement with “peg” bushing installed.

Again, this is an image of the superior replacement bearings in place with setting the side bearings behind the tooth gullet and leaving a gap behind the blade at rest of only a paper’s thickness.

This shows what was done to allow no painful adjustment of lower thrust wheel block assembly.

I had hoped this lever lock and larger rotating hand wheel with ‘peg’ would improve the rise and fall of the blade guard. Alas, they did not. The problem is the ratio of the gearing. One revolution = 3.5”, which, in my estimation, is excessive. Perhaps they were saving cast steel? If it was half that, then the hand wheel would be easier to use for anyone, let alone we seniors with atrophyin’ arm and hand muscles. hahaha The table rise and fall works very well as is with the assistance of the shock absorber for lowering.

One of these must’ve fallen out enroute from the factory to me. They hold the round bar into the guide block and must be tightened after side bearing adjustment. These screws are not mentioned in the owner’s manual in the parts breakdown; a small oversight. I learned of the problem, because the piece I was cutting became stuck as the screw dropped lower. These setscrews are an easy find at any industrial supply. Harvey America sent new ones, but, with the US Parcel Postal Service being privatised by slowing delivery and raising prices, the tiny package took nearly a month to arrive from California to NS where I reside.

This is a handy table insert, so make a few with your setups. What happened is that this machine is so powerful, the blade pulled a small piece down through the factory table insert, bending a brand new blade, making it useless. $35 wasted. Know better, John. You can see the slight removal of red anodizing on the edges of the original table insert. I use Timber Wolf blades from NY which are the cream of the crop from my over 55 years of experience. I found out ‘bout this brand from watching Ashley Harwood, a turner par excellence in Charlotte NC, eye candy for us codgers. hahaha

The incredible accuracy of this cut makes woodworking a true pleasure. That’s what we designer/makers long for. The straightness and consistency of the cut is without parallel, if you will allow me that metaphor.

We want accuracy and consistency. The C14 delivers in spades.

Good science uses repeat mechanisms for ascertaining the validity of the original findings.

This is a rip cut with the grain, in NS yellow birch, using the full 14” capacity of the C14. It does the job! I was fearful of putting excessive tension on this 3/4” blade, since it was the only one I had purchased from Timber Wolf. That is why there are some shallow ripples from the cut. The wood is highly flame figured to boot. What more can one ask for?

Again, this is a 12” curved cut showing the versatility on curve cuttings in the same NS yellow birch, this time across the grain. The radius is 11.5” the smallest radii for a 3/4” blade.

One final niggle, the C14 has no post mounted 110/220V accessory plug outlet as does the 14” Rikon. It was very handy for direct powering the LED sewing light with magnetic base, I purchased from Jeff at Ammy; the lamp is dual voltage dream. I rigged an extension cord and soldered the leads together. I pulled the join apart three times moving this beast, forgetting that the C14 was not the Rikon 14. hahaha Perhaps if I had more electrical skills, a surface mounted plug wired into the magnetic starter could have been added. Oh well…
“https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07PZS5PZF/ref=ppxyodtbsearchasintitle?ie=UTF8&psc=1”

In sum, I am thrilled with this machine, of course, with the few minor caveats listed, that are easily user rectified on site, with minimal outlay of expense and time. Thanks for your time in reading.

-- JohnOtvos,Woodville, NS, Canada, http://johnotvos.wordpress.com




View jayoh's profile

jayoh

12 posts in 1221 days



9 comments so far

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

5608 posts in 3840 days


#1 posted 06-16-2022 11:11 AM

Very thorough review.

I’ve had my C-14 for a year (or more?) and really like it. I have the same complaints. Under table access is painful. I might look into drilling a hole or 2 to get to the necessary adjustment screws. I also like the idea of pre-connecting the upper and lower dust ports.

One other thing I did was get some magnet backed paper and write a note to remind me the tighten the tensioning arm before turning it on. It is just above the on/off switch. I’ve broken 2 blades forgetting to do so.

The lighting issue also comes up in most reviews. I bought a battery powered version with a magnet on the base.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View jayoh's profile

jayoh

12 posts in 1221 days


#2 posted 06-16-2022 11:27 AM

Thanks, Earl for your fine comments. I tied a strip of red tree flagging tape to the long handle. If I see it, that means the blade is tensioned. It’s the exact opposite of the Rikon and Steel City bandsaws I have owned. With those saws, I had a few blade runoffs that destroyed the teeth. hahaha I also much prefer the fence on this Harvey over the Rikon. I would’ve appreciated a slightly different design to locate the fence parallel to the table with levers rather than Allen headed bolts. The last ditty I forgot to mention in my review was that I liked how the Rikon had the blade table opening in the front, which allowed an auxiliary wooden extension table to be added to the right of the blade.

Luv your tagline, buddy! :-)

-- JohnOtvos,Woodville, NS, Canada, http://johnotvos.wordpress.com

View JD77's profile

JD77

181 posts in 1181 days


#3 posted 06-16-2022 07:50 PM

Good write-up John, like Earl I’ve also had mine for about a year and I’ve been continually amazed at what it can do. You are right about the handwheels being a weak point, I added a golf ball “peg” and that really made them easier to use. I also neglected to get my dust collection set up right away and found I was getting a lot of sawdust jammed into the rack for the height adjustment. I ended up just sliding a cutoff of 1 1/4 inch pvc over the rack through the top hole and that seems to have fixed it. Have fun with it!
JD

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jayoh

12 posts in 1221 days


#4 posted 06-17-2022 12:25 PM

JD, one thing we woodworkers are and that’s innovative. We are mostly of the mindset, with some from the generation of if it’s broke, fix it, don’t toss it. The “Y” dust junction I purchased for $11 CDN is a God-send for this machine.

-- JohnOtvos,Woodville, NS, Canada, http://johnotvos.wordpress.com

View Peteybadboy's profile

Peteybadboy

4942 posts in 3441 days


#5 posted 06-20-2022 08:18 AM

Jayoh,

I also have a Harvey 14” band saw.

Thanks for the review. Very well done.

I was wondering if your saw came on a pallet. In getting the saw onto a mobile base I just walked it of the pallet onto the mobile base. It was pretty easy.

I have to do something to flag the tension arm as well.

Instructions did not say to remove the grease. I was wondering the same thing about sawdust build up. I will have to go back to clean the rest up.

I look forward to more comments as we all use our saws.

-- Petey

View jayoh's profile

jayoh

12 posts in 1221 days


#6 posted 06-20-2022 12:44 PM

G’mornin’ Petey. Yes, the machine came on a pallet, as you can see from the initial image. I described my convoluted story of the three tries at making this machine mobile. If I had known what would work, your solution would’ve been great.

One thing does bother me though. There is no UL or CSA [Canadian Standards Association] motor approval sticker on this piece of equipment. During the 1980s in ON, motors needed to have an orange OH [Ontario Hyrdo] approval sticker to certify they were copacetic. Has that escaped regulatory capture as well?

Further, on the motor and machine, a local competitor, who tried to sell me a Laguna 14” saw, told me that the Chinese inflate the amperage of their motors using peak power, whereas his Taiwan unit used constant operating amperage. Hmmm, seems lame as one wonders what some folks will do to close a sale. Even if both saws had identical electrical output, the Harvey would get the nod with its heavier weight alone, not even mentioning things like superior side guide adjustment, which I did not touch on. I did start the Laguna. It did not have the “kick” that the Harvey has; so yes, that’s anecdotal and hardly good science. hahaha

-- JohnOtvos,Woodville, NS, Canada, http://johnotvos.wordpress.com

View WoodAbuser's profile

WoodAbuser

15 posts in 1294 days


#7 posted 06-20-2022 05:02 PM

This saw reminds me a bit of my Grizzly G0513… but I suppose all bandsaws are similar.
To prevent starting my saw before tensioning the blade, I leave the top door widely open.
To date, that has been 100% successful.
I’m planning to design some kind of (magnetic?) safety switch to detect the position of the tensioning arm, but haven’t had time to work on it much.

View Peteybadboy's profile

Peteybadboy

4942 posts in 3441 days


#8 posted 06-20-2022 05:19 PM

WoodAbuser

I like the door open thought.

I bought my saw for the US market, so i’m sure UL approved is on it, but I will check.

BTW I bought the Alpha model.

-- Petey

View jayoh's profile

jayoh

12 posts in 1221 days


#9 posted 06-21-2022 05:11 PM

Leavin’ the upper door open is a brilliant idea! I’m on. Sometimes the most simple suggestion is the best solution. Thanks, heaps!

-- JohnOtvos,Woodville, NS, Canada, http://johnotvos.wordpress.com

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