Vintage PC A3 "locomotive" belt sander eating belts - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Vintage PC A3 "locomotive" belt sander eating belts

I have a (60's era?) A3 "Take About" Porter Cable belt sander like the one depicted, a powerful tool that formerly belonged to my Dad. Belts that are a bit old, some that I've stored for years are consistently failing at the seam after fairly brief use when I install them on the A3. Though belts fail occasionally, this issue was not so problematic in the past. I suspect the failures are due to the age of the belts and the adhesive, but I'm not sure. The belts are from two or three different manufacturers. If you're wondering, I've been very careful to track the belts so that they are centered and don't contact the body of the machine in use.

Does anyone know if it's possible to adjust the tension on the spring-loaded tensioner on the A3? There is nothing in the original manual on adjusting the belt tension. When I release the front pulley retraction lever after installing a belt, the front pulley snaps forward with considerable force and I'm wondering if it's putting too much tension on the belts.

Anyone have recommendations on belt brand preferences? I may just need to find some newer, better belts that have a longer storage life.
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 04:50 PM
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The problem with storing belts is that the adhesive deteriorates or dries up on the seam tape. The tension on the sander mechanism is probably fine. The last belts I bought for mine came from Lowe's, off the rack whatever they had. They've held up well for me.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 05:33 PM
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that sander belongs in an art gallery !!

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's. From the 50's if you count the scrap woodpile on the farm!
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 06:46 PM
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There are ways .....

No doubt the adhesive has failed over the years. But, there are some DIY repair methods that work to "reseam" them. You can try this first before investing in new belts:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 08:11 PM
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Belts aren't that expensive. Amazon may have some you can use...
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 08:14 PM
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I have a sander just like that one, actually this one is my third one. There is no adjustment on the tension that I am aware of. You are right, it does have a lot of pressure. The problem I have had with belts coming apart was because of being stored for a good while with pretty good humidity.

That sander is the only belt sander you will ever need, it is a hoss.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

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post #7 of 15 Old 08-06-2020, 10:07 PM
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museum

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi_outdoors View Post
that sander belongs in an art gallery !!
actually, it would be a good piece for one of the shows held here...

https://sfmcd.org/mcdathome/

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's. From the 50's if you count the scrap woodpile on the farm!
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the prompt replies. As many of you have surmised, I'm pretty sure the age of the belts is the issue. It's very humid here on the windward side of the Big Island. I went through the entire stack of old belts, some of these were in unused condition right out of the box. Probably went through 10 of them getting the project I'm working on done. Many didn't last more than a few seconds. Frustrating. The last one I tried lasted quite awhile, long enough to finish the sanding, that supports the idea that the belts are the problem, not the machine. Thanks for the linked video woodnthings, I've attempted to repair some belts unsuccessfully in the past, but I'll check it out.

Yeah, I've been using this beast since I was a kid (I'm 66). I think it destroyed my Dad's hearing, he loved it and never wore ear plugs or muffs. I believe it has more power than my table saw. In my twenties I came very close to an unintentional sex change when I absently let it dangle too near my shorts as it was spinning down. Fortunately, it was just low enough that when it wound the front of my shorts into the drive wheel, only the skin of my thigh followed. Still hurt like heck, and left a spectacular bruise. Close call.

Rebuilt it a few years ago, new brass worm gear and sprocket, new drive wheel... Quite an undertaking, I was lucky to find most of the required parts. But it's still hanging on. Heavy machine for an old man. The depicted sander is an internet photo Kiwi, mine is the same model, but decidedly more shopworn. I dropped it some time ago and broke the plastic front Handle. Couldn't find a replacement as I recall, so I turned a new one (out of Brazilian cherry I think) on my drill press. Works fine and looks kinda' cool.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Helms View Post
Thanks for the prompt replies. As many of you have surmised, I'm pretty sure the age of the belts is the issue. It's very humid here on the windward side of the Big Island. I went through the entire stack of old belts, some of these were in unused condition right out of the box. Probably went through 10 of them getting the project I'm working on done. Many didn't last more than a few seconds. Frustrating. The last one I tried lasted quite awhile, long enough to finish the sanding, that supports the idea that the belts are the problem, not the machine. Thanks for the linked video woodnthings, I've attempted to repair some belts unsuccessfully in the past, but I'll check it out.

Yeah, I've been using this beast since I was a kid (I'm 66). I think it destroyed my Dad's hearing, he loved it and never wore ear plugs or muffs. I believe it has more power than my table saw. In my twenties I came very close to an unintentional sex change when I absently let it dangle too near my shorts as it was spinning down. Fortunately, it was just low enough that when it wound the front of my shorts into the drive wheel, only the skin of my thigh followed. Still hurt like heck, and left a spectacular bruise. Close call.

Rebuilt it a few years ago, new brass worm gear and sprocket, new drive wheel... Quite an undertaking, I was lucky to find most of the required parts. But it's still hanging on. Heavy machine for an old man. The depicted sander is an internet photo Kiwi, mine is the same model, but decidedly more shopworn. I dropped it some time ago and broke the plastic front Handle. Couldn't find a replacement as I recall, so I turned a new one (out of Brazilian cherry I think) on my drill press. Works fine and looks kinda' cool.
If you have a bad back, that sander will hurt you just sanding, it is so strong and heavy.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

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post #10 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 09:23 AM
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Michael, Back in woodshop class in Jr high... some classmates would have belt sander races using that same sander....Classic!

On another note, some belts are directional only and are marked with an arrow to keep the seam from catching. Most belts sold now are bi directional and usually have an arrow in both directions.

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post #11 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 09:27 AM
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Here';s a thought I just had .....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Helms View Post
Thanks for the prompt replies. As many of you have surmised, I'm pretty sure the age of the belts is the issue. It's very humid here on the windward side of the Big Island. I went through the entire stack of old belts, some of these were in unused condition right out of the box. Probably went through 10 of them getting the project I'm working on done. Many didn't last more than a few seconds. Frustrating. The last one I tried lasted quite awhile, long enough to finish the sanding, that supports the idea that the belts are the problem, not the machine. Thanks for the linked video woodnthings, I've attempted to repair some belts unsuccessfully in the past, but I'll check it out.

Yeah, I've been using this beast since I was a kid (I'm 66). I think it destroyed my Dad's hearing, he loved it and never wore ear plugs or muffs. I believe it has more power than my table saw. In my twenties I came very close to an unintentional sex change when I absently let it dangle too near my shorts as it was spinning down. Fortunately, it was just low enough that when it wound the front of my shorts into the drive wheel, only the skin of my thigh followed. Still hurt like heck, and left a spectacular bruise. Close call.

Rebuilt it a few years ago, new brass worm gear and sprocket, new drive wheel... Quite an undertaking, I was lucky to find most of the required parts. But it's still hanging on. Heavy machine for an old man. The depicted sander is an internet photo Kiwi, mine is the same model, but decidedly more shopworn. I dropped it some time ago and broke the plastic front Handle. Couldn't find a replacement as I recall, so I turned a new one (out of Brazilian cherry I think) on my drill press. Works fine and looks kinda' cool.

If you have some "new" old belts that might be of questionable durability, try running a hot iron over the seam on a couple of them before using them. It may reactivate the adhesive that was originally used to secure them together. I'm only suggesting this because of what I saw in the video. OR you can be pre-active and use the demin iron on patches before they separate from use as a preventative. It will be a cheap alternative and will save otherwise good, unworn belts from the dumpster. I have some older belts that will benefit from this myself!


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #12 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 03:04 PM
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I showed the photo of the sander to my spouse. Both of us really like the look of its design. She says that it reminds her of an Airstream trailer.
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post #13 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 06:56 PM
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I donno who designed the sander but ......

The famous Industrial Designer Raymond Lowey designed locomotives that had a similar look:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Loewy


Must see images here:
https://www.google.com/search?q=Raym...w=1536&bih=722


This guy designed the sander:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porter-Cable
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-07-2020 at 06:59 PM.
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post #14 of 15 Old 08-07-2020, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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gmercer, none of these belts have the directional arrow. I got the impression that most modern belts don't use the overlap seam that requires mounting them in one direction only. That may explain why they don't have much shelf life. As I recall, all of the belts from my younger days had a lap seam and directional arrow.
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post #15 of 15 Old 08-08-2020, 12:27 PM
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I know when I bought my Sanders they were and are high dollar, but well worth every penny. Seems like I gave close to $500 for each one back in the 80s.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

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