Buffalo #15 Drill Press - Any good directions for info on a Restoration (of sorts)?
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  1. #1
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    Default Buffalo #15 Drill Press - Any good directions for info on a Restoration (of sorts)?

    Hello all,
    I have just been given an old Buffalo #15 bench style drill press. I would like to clean it up and restore it a bit and was wondering if you all could help by pointing me in some good directions for information.

    The Good:
    - It runs great!
    - The table slides up and down and side to side pretty easily.
    - The drill assembly itself can slide up and down pretty easily on the vertical shaft.
    - No cracks in any of the housings that I have found.
    - All three handles have the original wooden knobs.

    The Bad:
    - It's been repainted at least once
    - There is a push button power switch that has been "installed" but is just dangling off the motor.

    As you can tell from the good vs. bad list, I feel I got a pretty good deal for a free drill (Granted, it was my Dad who gave it to me, but still).
    The specifics that I am trying to find are this:
    - Are there any ways to tell if this is an original motor?
    I know that this is a long shot, but the motor is pretty old and has a capacitor on the back about the size of a small Redbull can. It does have regreasable bearings top and bottom, though, which is nice in a way
    - Is there a manual or parts list anywhere online that I could download?
    Obviously I'm looking for a scan of an original, but anything close would be nice.
    And lastly:
    - Would it be a bad plan to use a milling table on this machine?
    My research has lead me to believe that this drill was made somewhere between 1937 and 1956. I don't want to do it any harm, but I do plan to use it and it would be nice if I could install a miller table for some projects.

    What do you all think?

  2. #2
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    Oh! Here are a couple of pictures of the old beast (ignore the mess that is my work bench):


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  4. #3
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    You have gotten a fine old Buffalo bench drill press. First off: a drill press is a drill press and NOT a milling machine. The spindle bearings are not up to handling the radial (side) loads from an end mill cutter. The quill and its fit in the head casting of the drill are also not beefy enough to handle the loads from milling. A drill press is designed and built to handle primarily thrust loads (vertical forces acting along the centerline of the spindle) and only very light radial (side) loading. A drill chuck is about the worst thing going as far as a means of holding a milling cutter. The overall construction of a round-column drill such as yours is simply nowhere near rigid enough to function as any kind of milling machine. Mounting a milling table (sometimes called an "X-Y table") on the drill press table is not going to convert the drill press to a milling machine and a good way to knock the life out of the spindle bearings and wallow out the fit of the quill in the head of the drill. The X-Y tables sold for use on drill presses are lightly built and OK for use in locating hole centers after a fashion.

    As for the motor, it may well be the original motor. As for a manual, I'd suggest checking on the Old Woodworking Machinery site, and also contacting the successors to Buffalo Forge, still making some of the drill presses. I believe they are called "Buffalo Machine Tools" or something like it, and they have continued building some of the Buffalo Forge drill presses. Possibly they might have a manual.

    Getting back to your query about using the drill press as a miller, the loads an end mill cutter will produce are more than one might imagine. An end mill cutter, as any milling cutter, will sooner or later find any looseness or slop in a machine tool and all hell can break loose when that happens. Even a 1/2" end mill cutter, if finds looseness or slop in a machine tool, particularly if feeding the work into the "hungry side" of the cutter. When things start to happen it happens in the blink of an eye, and that end mill will grab the work, probably bust the end mill and tear things up or turn the drill press table on the column even if you tightened the table binder clamp to lock it to the column. The firms selling those milling table for drill presses are peddling stuff made in China and while they advertise the tables as some means to turn a drill press into a milling machine, the sellers "don't know from nothing" and could care less about the users and the end results.

    Use the drill press as it was designed to be used and stay safe.

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    I had a similar Buffalo DP from WWII. Bought it in Hawaii from a retired machinist estate, and had good reason to believe it went through the Pearl Harbor attack. Sold it a few years ago and have regretted it ever since.

    You won’t gain anything by putting a Milling table on this one. As mentioned, if you try any milling operations you will quickly ruin the quill because of extreme side loading, and loose any capability it ever had.

    One thing to do, is put a dial indicator on the table and measure run out of the quill and chuck. You can Replace the chuck,if need be, but need to know quill runout first to determine how accurate the DP currently is. If your machine can show runout of .001 to .005” or so, you would be good to go. Just clean it up a bit and put it back into Service.

    It looks like the existing table is a replacement- not original. Most drill press tables have a 1” diameter hole in the center to accept drill bits punching through the work, without damaging the plate. If I remember correctly, the Buffalo drill presses had a thinner table, with rounded corners. Never seen one that didn’t have this hole feature in the center. So check out the table and see what’s what. Used, NOS DP-214 Delta DP tables can be had on eBay quite frequently, if needed.

    The motor easily could be original. If it works, just leave it and move forward. When the internals finally wear out, you can replace it with a new 1/2 or 3/4 hp motor with little or no effort. Grizzly sells replacement motors of a similar size for around 100 bucks.

    Good luck with the machine, looks like a fine old time machine- with many years of service left.

    Glenn

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    Okay. I'll forget the X-Y Table then. Your responses were kind of what I was wondering, but thought that maybe the good ole' fashion construction on this bugger might lend itself to being sturdier then the cheaper stuff out there today. No worries.

    As for run out, the outside of the chuck is nice and true within +/-.003. The bits that I have put in visibly show a bit more play at the end of the bit, though. I think that a thorough clean out of the inside of the chuck might be a good place to start as the jaws look a touch uneven as they descend on small bits.

    An as for the table, it does have a hole in the middle (and a few dimples along the radius of the swivel ). It's just so caked up with crap that it's hard to see. Cleaning up the table is one of the first tasks I'll tackle.

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    As noted by Joe above, Buffalo drills are excellent rugged machines. I bought the identical machine (used) over 40 years ago as the first machine for my home shop and have now passed it on to my son for his shop. Here is a manual: http://vintagemachinery.org/pubs/129/5893.pdf. You've got a fine machine that should serve you for many years. As for runout, you may find that the chuck jaws are worn as was mine and I replaced the chuck. A model number stamped into the chuck body will provide the correct Jacobs taper info to fit your machine.

    Also as noted above, a drill press is not intended for milling regardless of what the sellers of small "milling tables" infer. They are designed to provide the downward pressure for a drill bit rather than the lateral force necessary for milling with an end mill.

    Tom B.

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    Put together pretty much like every other light duty drill. Buffalo has full parts breakdowns available.

    Schematics - Buffalo Machines, Inc.

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    I restored a Buffalo 18 and posted some videos on YouTube. You might find these helpful. YouTube

    Do note the warning above about not using a DP as a milling machine. I have an XY on the table but it is solely for positioning, not milling.

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    Thanks all! I've gotten the table cleaned up a bit and the jaws on the chuck moving a bit free-er. I'm sure that temperatures above freezing would help, but so far it's working pretty good. It's pinewood Derby season, so my kid and I have been building PWD cars (yes... I want to play, too ), and the DP has been drilling nice and true for us.

  14. #10
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    Looks a lot like mine. I took it all apart put in new bearings and repainted it about 18 years ago. It was missing one wood knob. Still is!pb070901.jpg

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