I’ve been looking for a larger jointer for some time now. Craigslist always seems to have a pandora’s box of old and new craftsman 4″ and 6″ models, but what I was really looking for was some high quality, American made, cast iron. 2 weeks ago I finally found what I was looking for… a Powermatic Model 60 8″ jointer with a 64″ bed. The guy selling it was from Chicago, but willing to drive it up to Madison to deliver it. Overall the machine is in good condition; the tables are flat and co-planar, no major rust, and it came with 2 sets of tungsten carbide blades, freshly sharpened.
The tables are in very good shape. Most importantly they are flat and mostly co-planar. There were a few small rust spots which were easily removed by a light scraping with a straight razor and sanding with some 80 grit paper. A coat of paste wax finished them off. Matthias Wandel of Woodgears.ca suggests using water based floor varnish instead of wax on the tables, but I have yet to try this myself. (If you haven’t checked out his website yet you’re missing out).
Cutter Head Bearings
The cutter head was difficult to turn by hand, and even stalled the motor when I tried to run it, blowing the circuit breaker. I removed the cutter head and found that the non-drive side cutter head bearing was so full of dust and dried out grease that it barely moved. The drive side bearing spun more freely, but was pretty well dried out as well. Fortunately after a good cleaning and new grease they were good to go. If you would rather just replace the bearings with new ones (probably a better idea), I put the bearing sizes at the bottom of this page along with links to find them on Amazon.
Removing The Bearings
The first step to repacking the bearings was to remove the cutter head from the jointer. Before you do anything however, unplug the jointer and remove the drive belts.
There are two bolts holding the cutter head in place, loosen both of them until they drop down onto the cabinet. There’s no need to remove them completely unless they’re stripped or damaged. One of them was stripped on my machine and needed to be replaced, they are 5/16-18 x 5″ hex head bolts. Fortunately the bearing block threads were fine.
When removing the cutter head, be aware that the blocks surrounding the bearings may be loose. I found that the leftmost block (opposite the pulley side) came off very easily, if you’re not careful you could drop the cutter head accidentally and damage the blades or tables (or yourself). I found it easier to remove the cutter head with the in-feed table lowered about 1/2″.
Removing the bearings and bearing blocks was straight forward using a gear puller and an open ended wrench. Again, be careful not to hit the blades. I wrapped an old tshirt around them to provide some protection, but you still need to take care.
Repacking The Bearings
Repacking the bearings was actually much easier than I expected. First, I used an old utility blade (the duller the better) to pry the seals out, working my way around and removing them carefully. Do your best not to apply pressure with the sharp side of the blade, and work your way around using the blade as a lever to pry out the seal. Spraying with WD-40 helps.
Once the seals are out you can get a good look at the inside of the bearings. The grease in mine had turned black and was mostly dried out. I soaked the bearings and seals in mineral spirits for an hour, periodically swirling them around. The old grease just dissolved off of the bearings. If it wont come off or you’re impatient, a toothbrush will work well to remove the dirt and old grease. Just be sure to clean it well before using it to brush your teeth again. You want to get every last bit of old grease and dirt out, take your time here.
Once all the old grease is removed, dry out the bearing with some paper towel and give it a good hour to let all the mineral spirits evaporate. Once you repack it you don’t want the grease dissolving again and running out. I used a non-moly high temperature wheel bearing grease, the same stuff I use to grease the various joints and bearings on my truck. Just put some of it on your hand and force it into the bearing. No need to be super careful here, just get it worked into the bearing. I packed it into both sides of the bearings which turned out to be a bit too much. When I fired it up the first time grease started coming out and getting on the tables. I would suggest only packing it in from one side. Once the bearing is full (or half full) of new grease, simply press the seals back into place and clean up any excess grease. Just don’t use any solvents now, you don’t want your grease dissolving and coming back out.
After your bearings are repacked, press them back onto the cutter head and reinstall it onto the jointer. Make sure everything is snug and the cutter head rotates freely and re-install the belts.
I was going to take a video of the jointer running before repacking the bearings, but it was squealing so badly (and eventually tripped the circuit breaker) that I decided against running it any longer. Here is a video immediately after re-assembling the cutter head into the jointer. It is much smoother and quieter now. (Notice that little bit of grease that was flung out of the bearings? I probably over-packed them a bit )
The belts were in poor condition although still serviceable. Since the machine sat unused for the last decade or two, they were not only dried out and starting to fray, but they were permanently deformed from being under tension in the same position all that time. Fortunately replacement belts are only $7 each on Amazon. I tried a couple of auto parts stores as well, but they wanted $15-20 each. No thanks.
For reference, these are the part numbers for the bearings and belts if you are replacing them. For the bearings pay close attention to the sizes and make sure you’re buying sealed bearings, not shielded or open bearings.
Drive side cutter head bearing: 6204-2RS sealed bearing 20 mm ID x 47 mm OD x 14 mm Wide
Non-drive side cutter head bearing: R12-2RS sealed ball bearing 3/4″ ID x 1-5/8″ OD x 7/16 Wide
Belts: 4L540 V belt(2x)
VintageMachinery.org has manuals for my jointer, which I found to be very helpful in tracking down part numbers and figuring out how to get everything apart. Dis-assembly turned out to be very simple, but it was still nice to have an exploded drawing to reference.
I’ll be updating this page with more info on taking apart the cutter head and repacking the bearings, as well as my other repairs and improvements. Stay tuned.