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Problem with Drill Press Tensioner

10020 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  BriHAZ
Just acquired a Hitachi B16RM, which is a 15" floor drill press which I found on Craigslist. This drill press has a 3 pulley system.

The problem I'm running into is that the belt tensioner does not seem to be moving the motor back and forth to change the tension. This is my first drill press so I don't totally understand how it all works, but from what I can tell the motor moves back and forth to create the tension for the belts and that the belt tensioner somehow moves the motor back and forth to do this.

The tensioner lever will move maybe 1 centimeter in rotation and not budge anymore. in that 1 centimeter I don't see the motor move at all. I can actually manually move the motor back and forth with my hands.

Does this mean that somehow the belt tensioner has become decoupled from the motor? I guess the only way to tell would be to remove the pulleys and look inside, but I'm having a really hard time getting the retaining nut off the front pulley.

here's a website with schematics for the drill press.

and here's the hitachi website with the instruction manual.

Any help would be appreciated! I guess worst comes to worst I can just tension manually by moving the motor myself, but it'd be nice if the lever worked as intended.
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I have a floor standing Porter Cable drill press that looks like it has a similar pulley system. The fact that the tensioner wont move at all makes me think they are locked. On my model there are two thumbscrews on the side of the drill near the top at the back. Make sure those are loose and then try your tensioner again.

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Failing that I would look into getting a better sized belt, there are belts sold that are linked segments instead of one solid piece so you should be able to tweak the length to a degree. Also I dont believe the whole motor moves, there is an "L" shaped bracket that the rear pulley is mounted on that will rotate to tension the belt, shown in the idagram as the lower part of "OMVE".


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giser3546 is right on. That's not a tensioning pulley it's an idler pulley. Loosen the two knobs on both sides of the housing near the motor and then tighten the tension lever. If you still can't get enough tension,the belt may be to long.
Thanks. I definitely loosened those locking bolts before trying to move the lever (05WJ). I think what those bolts do is to press on parts 061y and 05WN which they list as "motor rod" so the motor won't move if you press the lever

The part you listed OMVE though is actually the middle pulley (not sure why they have it off to the back on the diagram). I can actually lift this out of the drill press, it's not actually attached to anything. It just rotates depending on the relative tension of the belts. The whole motor definitely seems to move, I can move it back and forth somewhat easily by pushing and pulling, which is why I thought the tensioner moves it back and forth. Per the diagram it looks like it somehow interfaces with the motor rods?

ugh, i just need to take this thing apart to figure this out Any advice on getting the retaining nut off? it's stuck on really tight. I think it's reverse threaded but even with vise grips and a wrench on the spindle assay it just won't budge. Do you think it will work better if I heated up the nut?
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tefinn…so I'm confused what does the tension lever actually do then? i can't get it to move much and it doesn't seem to move anything. Also in the instructions the tension lever should be pointed down towards the ground but in mine it's pointing straight back. There's no way to pull it so that it's pointing down.

here's a picture of the tensioner lever stuck int he back position. I can't get it to move down at all.

Right you are, as soon as I posed it I remembered it was in the middle. If those thumb screws are loose you should be able to move it. I would avoid trying to get that nut off personally, it probably wont help with your problem and the odds of bending or stripping the spindle or nut are pretty good.

If you have no other option you can try to heat the nut for a few seconds with a blow torch, granted I've never had the guts to try this on a tool but heating it should make it expand and loosen it enough to get it it off without having to use a cheater bar or something else that would just use brute force and risk bending or stripping.
Ugh..giser3546, do you think that just moving the motor back with my hand should work ok for now to create the proper tension on the belts?

It just would be nice for it to work the way it was intended…it's like an itch that can't be scratched…
I agree 100% with that, I'm skeptical you would be able to move the motor and have it stay where you move it to. If you move the motor by hand and tighten those thumbscrews will it say where you put it? is it sturdy?

Judging by your pictures it looks to be in really good shape to have this issue.

Would it be possible to add spacers between the motor and the motor mount to give you the tension you need?
Oh yeah, this thing is pretty heavy duty. i definitely wouldn't want to make things worse by screwing something else up, almost had a heart attack when I couldn't get the socket off the spindle…just would be nice if that lever actually did something.

thanks for the advice!
I was under the impression that the lever was supposed to move the pulley stack towards the front of the DP. I use that lever so infrequently on my Ridgid DP, it's hard to say. I'll have to look how mine operates.
pintodeluxe, yeah I think that's what it does…I think it pulls the pulley/motor assembly forwards or backwards to create or release the tension of the belts..but my lever just doesn't seem to do anything. So what do you do when you have to move belts, etc?
I had this with my drill press.
The bolt that holds the lever was loose.

At the time I just took the head off and was able to fix it from underneath where the pipe fits in.
Recently I took the drill press apart using a puller on the quill pulley and then was able to take the thing apart and stick loctite on it just in case.

So you probably have two options, I don't think they are much different by brand.
I loosen the two knobs and move the lever to change the belt speeds, but I don't do that very often. I just couldn't remember if it was the motor pulley that moves, or the front pulley stack.
woodchuckerNJ, if I were to take the plunge and remove the pulley, any advice on how best to remove the retaining nut? I was using a crescent then a socket wrench to hold the spindle while using vise grips on the nut…it wouldn't budge. I'm contemplating using a torch to heat up the nut to make it easier…though I'd had to melt the plastic pulley at the same time…
Don't use a torch. I had a socket that size. I just put the tool to remove the chucks in the quill to prevent it from turning.

The middle pulley just lifts out if you have a 3 pulleys (motor, middle, quill).
The quill pulley is what needed to come off so I could take my cover off. Once that was remove the bolt was reachable easy. If you don't have the right socket, then take the head off, get some help as it's heavy.
Put it on its head, and reach in..

You can also use an open wrench, just stick a shaft in the box side to turn it, so you have the wrench vertical, not horizontal.

I don't remember if you turn the same direction as the drill spins.. I think so, but not sure.
Jeff, thanks. If I were to do this I'd probably go through the bottom of the head. Were you able to see what was going on in there that way? I'm still having a hard time understanding how the whole tensioner mechanism actually works.
Did you try a shot of liquid wrench (or PB Blaster) on the rods on the motor side? My Delta gets a little "fussy" from time to time and that's all it takes for me. The lever works great when everything slides…not so great when there is any binding. Being horizontal pieces, they tend to collect dust.
teejk, i did not yet, probably will try that once I get home. There is a bit of rust on the motor rods and so that may have something to do with it.
I think I'd try that before you start a "tear down" (don't ask how I know that other than I used to start with the complicated stuff only to come back to the conclusion that the simple solution was needed).
Fixed it!

Thanks so much to everyone especially WoodchuckerNJ. I would never have though to actually look through the bottom of the drill press where the stand fits to see what was going on.

One of the motor mounts (essentially just a metal rod) has a small notch in it where the lever then has a piece attached that moves it back and forth. That had become decoupled at some point. The only way I could tell in what position to move the motor to was to look from underneath per WoodchuckerNJ's advice.

Once I could see the mechanism and where the motor rod had to be, it was an easy fix. A shot of lubricant per teejk and it moved easily and the motor pulley now moves back and forth to tension the belts.

Here's a picture of it in the correct position (sorry no pic of it when it wasn't coupled correctly, but you can probably picture it.)

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