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Stuck vari-drive (Wilton DP)


Hot Rolled
Sep 30, 2010
Guinea-Bissau, West Africa
Hey all, I just received a Wilton VSG 20 variable speed DP which has been unpowered for ~4 years and the vari-drive is stuck. It's similar to the arrangement in a mill head - in this case the back (motor) variable sheave has the spring pushing the moving (bottom) half up and the front sheave has the handwheel adjust the top half up and down with no spring.

The front half is moving some, but not as it should, because (I presume) the back half is not moving at all so it's not adding pressure to the front half to open it up.

I added some oil to the back half to let it sit and hopefully loosen up. There's no rust, just old oil/grease. I assume once it stars to move everything will be fine. Any suggestions for getting the back sheave to close?
Only safe thing to do is to strip the whole thing down, clean, inspect, lubricate and carefully re-assemble after attending to anything worn or broken.

Varispeeds depend on smooth movement to apply the correct belt tension. Any impediment will leave the belt slack leading to rapid wear of both belt and sheeves. Both of which tend to be expensive.

Do it once, do it right and you will probably never have to touch it again.

My machine label states that the entire speed range be run through daily. But I do not. So it got stuck one day.
Removed the drive and soaked it in WD-40. Mainly because I had a spare gallon. Then waited a few days.
Clive's suggestion is good, but sometimes in a busy workshop there isn't time to dismantle a machine.

We had occasional trouble with a Holke (Hogan) mill where one of the variable pulleys would stiffen. I squirted WD40 (with pipe) onto the shaft between the sheaves while it was running and while adjusting the speed handle. It fixed it. However, it wasn't jammed solid like the OP's machine. The belt didn't seem to mind.

BTW, the Holke variable head was better than a Bridgeport. Over 20-30 years of fairly constant use, the sheaves never became loose and noisy. My guess is they used bronze or something similar and also larger diameter than the inadequate Bridgeport plastic bushes.
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I bought a similar drill press from a guy who had it sitting in his basement for years. It also was stuck. I finally got it moving without disassembly by using penetrating oil and judicious and careful use of a pry bar. However it had limited speed range compared to what it should have had. I finally took it apart and cleaned and relubricated everything, then got full speed range back. Now I run it up and down through the full range every week or so and it is staying free.
I think that's necessary. Unfortunately, after soaking in penetrating oil for a week, I can't get the thing off of the motor shaft! Don't want to use a gear puller on the upper half (tried very lightly and it didn't move). Any tips for removing the varidrive from the motor shaft?