Introduction: How to Restore a Drill Press
Hey gang, I'm Dave Weinman from the Parts & Restoration Youtube and Instagram Channels. Thanks for checking out this guide to restoring a vintage drill press. Ill be rebuilding a Walker Turner 900 series 15" floor model drill press for this guide. To best utilize this guide, first watch the voice over guided video where I break down the restoration process and provide commentary. You can find that video here -
Assorted Hand Tools
Odorless Mineral Spirits
Self Etching Bare Metal Primer
Machine Grey spray paint
Step 1: Disassembly
Right now, you're staring at a vintage drill press. Youre lucky, this machine was built better than anything on the shelf today. Soon, it will look like its long faded mail order catologue picture, perhaps even better than new. Our first job is to disassemble the machine, a feat that can be quite intimidating. Drilling machines are made from dozens of large parts,many sub assemblies, and often hundreds of fasteners.
Keep your operation organized! Here is where a lot of folks say "be sure to take lots of pictures."
Here's my advise: Dont just take detailed pictures, shoot a video of the disassembly.
Set up a go pro, a point and shoot, or even your cell phone and record the process. Later, there will be a time when you forget how something went together and you'll be able to "roll the tape" and watch how it came apart. This will reduce your stress and keep things moving smoothly.
Get yourself some cheap plastic tupperware to keep the parts from different sub assemblies separated from one another. By doing this, your fasteners will be kept with the component that they hold in place and youll save time and stress trying to figure out which bolts go with which component.
On old machinery, you are likely to encounter stuck fasteners. There are many ways to defeat these and the first your should try is applying penetrating oil to a fastener. Apply a liberal amount to the fastener head and allow the oil to work its way into the threads. If this fails, one of the surest ways to free stuck bolts is by heating them. Apply a steady heat using the flame from a propaine or MAPP torch for 30-60 seconds, then try and turn the fastener.
Once your machine is fully disassembled, Its time to clean it!
Step 2: Cleaning and De-Rusting
You are now staring at an orderly gathering of sub assemblies, fasteners, castings, and other bits and pieces of your drill press spread out across a work bench or some place that you dont mind getting dirty. Now is the fun part - turning back the hands of time. Most machines will be found rusty, crusty, and with spotty paint.
Step 1. Clean and De-Grease.
Lets get all of the years of grease, oil, chips, and cigarette stains off of our machine. I recommend Krud Kutter, an excellent de greaser made by rustoleum. Purchase a spray bottle and a refill jug. You may wind up using A LOT of degreaser. This product does tend to remove paint as well, which i find to be a bonus. Apply your Krud Kutter liberally on each casting and give it about a minute to soak in. Next, use paper towels to wipe away the grime. Repeat this across the whole machine.
Step 2. Rust Removal.
Your machine may be covered in rust, both deep pitting rust and or mild surface rust. Lets get after it. Removing rust is another topic in its self. Check out my video covering mechanical rust removal methods right here.
For small parts, I recommend brushing the heavy flaking rust away first with a wire brush if present and then soaking in a bath of Evapo-Rust.
Step 3. Paint Removal
Now that our parts are clean and rust free, we may be ready to re assemble! If, however, the condition of the paint is unacceptable, now is the time to strip it away! I have always use Jasco Paint Stripper as my go-to product for this job. You know it works because it smells SO bad. Be sure to use it in a well ventillated area and wear rubber gloves and goggles (not glasses, like chemist goggles). Brush the stripper onto the painted surface and allow it to work, 20-30 minutes or see the directions. After working its magic, the old paint should be rippled and shriveled up. Use a metal scraper to scrape away the gooey melted paint and discard into a trash bag. Once the bulk of the paint is gone, use Odorless Mineral Spirits to clean up the remaining stripper goo until the casting is nice and clean.
Next Step, PAINT
Step 3: Prime and Paint
With a pile of beautiful bare castings and parts, its time to prep for paint. From here on out, you should only handle your parts with rubber gloves on.
Step 1. Prep. With gloved hands, wipe each part down with an Acetone soaked paper towel to removed any oils or remnants from the stripping process from the part.
Step 2. Prime for paint. Use a self-etching bare metal primer to prime clean metal parts. I like Rustoleums Bare Metal Primer with the Olive Green cap.
Step 3. Paint. Use spray paint to create a nice uniform finish on your parts. This is your opportunity to restore the machine to its original look OR get creative and show off your personality or even match the paint scheme of your shop. Apply several coats.
Step 4: Reassembly
What you should be seeing now is something that hasn't been seen since this tool was built - rows and rows of freshly painted components ready for assembly. If you've done your part, everything should be nice and neat, organized by sub assembly ready for easy reassembly.
This is where having a disassembly video comes in handy! Its time to roll the tape! We will start at the end of our video and work our way back, watching how each part came apart so that we can reverse the process and put everything back together.
Reassembly is the time to replace worn or damaged components. Drill presses go hard on their bearings and if the cleaned original bearings dont spin well, consider replacing them. Bring your old bearings to a bearing distributor or a place like Granger and they can help your find replacements.
Reassembly is the time to properly lubricate your machine. Sealed components like rack and pinion gears found in the downfeed assembly call for grease. Other parts call for machine oil. A rule of thumb is any component that slides past another component needs to be greased or oiled.
Step 5: Final Thoughts
Thank you so much for reading this Parts & Restoration instructable! Be sure to check out my Youtube channel www.youtube.com/partsrestorationphilly and follow along on instagram at www.instagram.com/partsandrestoration . Rebuilding an old drill press is intensely satisfying. If you have a work shop or are establishing one, the drill press is one of the most used tool in the shop. Owning a golden era American made machine is a real pleasure and restoring one yourself is a very satisfying experience. With some time and effort, you can purchase a vintage drill press at half the cost of a new machine that will outlast you and your childrens children. Good luck with your restoration and let me know if I can help. Leave a comment, like, and follow along! Email me at RustyToolDude@gmail.com if I can be of further assistance!