Just acquired a Marvel 81 bandsaw. Pics, discussion, questions...
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  1. #1
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    Default Just acquired a Marvel 81 bandsaw. Pics, discussion, questions...

    I found a Marvel 81 Bandsaw on FB Marketplace a few weeks ago... steadily watched the price fall from $2200 to $1500 while thinking about it for a while, then managed to talk 'em down to a "get-it-out-of-our-hair" price of $1000. Since it was in not fully running/unknown issues status for them, I figured it was worth a gamble at that price.

    I've really been wanting a ripping bandsaw for splitting mosaic damascus billets during pattern development and these Marvel saws have been a wishlist/probably can never afford item for me.

    Drove over to Idaho with my pop for company and grabbed it, 5,000 lb saw and a 10 hour round trip and we were back home.

    I went through a fair amount of troubleshooting, hydraulics shenanigans and a little despair before I made some calls and talked to the company that had rewound the motor last year... turns out it was rewound and sent out tapped for 460V and the guys I bought it from had been trying to run it based on an assumption of 220V (three unlabeled motor leads brought from the case into the peckerhead.)

    So I went and swapped the plug from my shaper, which gets 440V from a transformer in my shop, and fired it up... BOOM it saws and feeds with all of the power. Beautiful.

    Here's some pics of it as it sits on my trailer still... gotta bug the neighbor to come with his forklift. Too heavy for my gantry by 1,000 lbs. It's been rode hard by several owners but still functions essentially as it should, with plenty of details to fix up. I got a big folder of manuals and records with it, stating that the first owner in 1958 had been New York Naval Shipyard (has the tag to show it) and later, Tacoma Steel.

    There's a little bit on the web about these, but not a lot of detailed model history or anything, and no outright manuals. I plan to send manuals or scans to Keith at Vintage Machinery for the archives.

    Do you guys have any feeling about these saws, experience with them, own them, have any info about serial numbers etc? I'd love some pics of the missing stop dog setup... oh and yes, that is a HORRIBLE job of painting it by someone.




























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    That's a hulk of a saw ya got there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salem Straub View Post
    Do you guys have any feeling about these saws, experience with them, own them, have any info about serial numbers etc? I'd love some pics of the missing stop dog setup...
    The neighbor had one that looked almost exactly like that, except with a two-vise power feed thing. I'm sure they still have it, will give you his info by pm. Nice nice saw, they ran it day in and day out.

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    Improved version of the flapping belt variety. Ancient ones (simply the 8) had zero hydraulics and pinion and bevel gear bottom band wheel for the flat belt / cone pulley to drive

    You may have noticed the thing TILTS to cut angles

    Update - I'll guess yours - obviously a band saw - is likely just a #8 since the serial book says all 81 and 81A machines are HACK saws

    The 8 in my serial book goes from 1940 to 1972

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    Thanks for the response guys! John, definitely an 81... I have lots of documentation, plus check out that last pic I posted with the ID tag...
    The #8 was the venerable belt drive model, I believe they were making it concurrently with the early 81's for a while. The electric/mechanical drive saw moved through a series of upgrades as the Model 8 Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III saws. They're pretty sweet- a local steel yard has a Mark II which is what clued me in to this type of saw in the first place.

    As for the tilt frame? Oh yes, I'm aware! Very happy to have that. I do a lot of straight and 30 degree cuts in annealed high carbon steels.

    A few shots of my process, in the making of mosaic damascus for chef knives and the like...

    30 degree cuts on a patterned billet...



    Billet slices tiled out with twisted edge bars, ready for final forge welds...



    Some tiled mosaic chefs in my "Zamani" pattern damascus...



    An intermediate step, prepping for a four way forge weld while making "Tiki Spiders" mosaic



    A chef knife in my "flowing chains" tile mosaic with black edge bar, and dovetailed tu tone micarta handle



    Lastly, a couple of chefs in my "Gorgon Flowers" tiled mosaic damascus.


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    Older than I would have supposed - D208 is 1957 - and in the serial book it is a "hack saw"

    Gee - it will be "retirement" age next year

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnoder View Post
    Older than I would have supposed - D208 is 1957 - and in the serial book it is a "hack saw"
    I've seen them called 81's elsewhere, too, JO. Maybe when Marvel quit making the hacksaws, they just used the same numbers for the newer bandsaws, and no one updated the books ?

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    Now THAT'S a band saw!

    Add some 80/20 to it & a carriage and you've got a proper sawmill.

    Reminds me of this:


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    Quote Originally Posted by johnoder View Post
    Older than I would have supposed - D208 is 1957 - and in the serial book it is a "hack saw"

    Gee - it will be "retirement" age next year
    Compared to its previous lives, I think it will enjoy a lower volume working retirement and refurb in my shop!
    Interesting that they listed it as a hacksaw. But yes, 1957 vintage would align pretty well with the record I have of it's sale new in 1958 to Brooklyn Navy/New York Naval Shipyard.

    I looked into the history of that shipyard. Boy is that a fascinating subject! Ships for a bunch of wars were built there, including of course WWII liberty ships and battle ships. The USS Missouri, site of Japanese surrender proceedings, was built there.

    This saw would have been at the New York Naval Shipyard when the partly finished "Constellation" caught fire, killing 49 people and injuring 300 plus more... it would have witnessed the decline and eventual sale of the yard to the City. I wonder if it was liquidated then, and how it found its way to Tacoma? Sure would be cool to know. At any rate it's another piece of functional history that I'm pretty damn tickled to have in my shop.

    I used to have a Marvel #2 Drawcut hacksaw... I actually gave it away but that friend of mine sadly passed away. I'm tempted to go see if I can get it back, then I'd have representatives of each technological end of the Marvel sawing spectrum

    The model 81 apparently changed in small ways over the years... I think it was still being made in the 80's, which gives it a 30 year plus production run at Marvel. The newer saws had a larger prime mover electric motor, and some little refinements here and there. Older ones like mine list a 14'-6" by 1" wide blade as the standard size, while the newer manuals call for a 1-1/4" wide blade.

    The previous owners apparently adhered to the newer literature, as I got two 1-1/4" wide blades with the saw. As nice as they are to have, I'll order a 1" wide as I think the guides will have an easier time of tracking an appropriate width blade straight.

    This thing normally came with a doodad called a "Sure-Line Blade Controller" that sensed tracking fault conditions and corrected them by steering the blade in real time. Mounted on the top guide and had its own little motor and stuff. Either mine never had it or it's LONG gone, as my top guide is just plain Jane. I'd love to find a replacement for the "Sure Line" some day but that's quite unlikely

    At any rate, thanks for checking out my new saw guys, I'll have to post an update with some video about my Niles Bement Pond steam hammer install, soon...

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    We have a bunch of these where I work. The use the to saw split the cast iron taper bushings after machining the castings. I used them off and on splitting sprockets and such. They are nice and the one I ran cut straight. It’s good you have the manuals. There are a lot of these around so parts are probably out there used on eBay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just a Sparky View Post
    Now THAT'S a band saw!

    Add some 80/20 to it & a carriage and you've got a proper sawmill.

    Reminds me of this:

    What's that ? Maybe a 9' wide single sided bandsaw ?
    Even here in the east (not known for bandsaws as much) they run 14" wide, double ended
    blades, cut on both forward as well as backwards travel of the carriage.
    Double cut bandsaw mill at Independence Lumber Co - YouTube

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    Those big lumber mill bandsaws are something else. I make most of my damascus from a blend of reclaimed lumber mill bands, and 1080 carbon steel. The bands I use are typically from 8"-12" wide, mostly single sided but the wider, thicker blades at 0.090" thickness are often toothed along both edges. It's all Uddeholm strip alloy 15n20, very nice nickel bearing carbon steel. The teeth are not added carbide but are upset/swaged from the parent blade material itself.
    A friend of mine works at the big Boise Cascade mill a couple hours away to the east of me, and gets stacks of chopped up scrap blades... they'll weld repair em if possible, but they do end up scrapping tons of blade. Great for me...

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    Those knives are amazing, fascinating craftsmanship behind that. Very nice!

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    Thanks RCP, I appreciate that.

    I have a neighbor coming later this week with a forklift to pick this thing off the trailer and set it right outside the shop for now. I'll be shooting some Youtube content about it once it's set up to run and I have a new blade etc on it.

    Cheers guys.

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    I was in a lab that has one of these, it runs all day long, with a starrett carbide grit
    blade, making metallurgical sections.

    As it's cutting very hard materials, sometimes you don't even see it move.

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    That’s that nicely adjustable feed rate and pressure! This will be such a step up from my kinda funky old Rockwell horizontal saw. The feed cylinder/spring setup in that thing is not ideal.

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    Beautiful damascus work Salem, a company I worked for had a similar model, very good saw, but you will definitely get sticker shock if you have to resort to Marvel for parts. If your saw has the variable speed Reeves drive pay attention to the fit of the adjustable and the spring loaded pulley, once they get worn from lack of lube they get wobbly and are expensive if you can't build them up and machine them yourself. I eventually replaced it with a timing belt and a VFD. Ours must have been older as it had a mechanical drive instead of a hydraulic. Jim
    you may already be familiar with this place: Aftermarket Marvel Band Saw Parts

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    Quote Originally Posted by Salem Straub View Post
    That’s that nicely adjustable feed rate and pressure! This will be such a step up from my kinda funky old Rockwell horizontal saw. The feed cylinder/spring setup in that thing is not ideal.
    The feed on those is so simple but very effective. Mine has a friction clutch with a sliding weight for feed pressure. Not like some forced feeds.
    As DDoug said sometimes you don't see the blade moving. It allows the pressure on the blade to do the cutting without the blade deflecting. The friction plate is a plate that you insert 5 bottle corks in pockets the plate applying pressure against a solid plate. Crazy but it works.

    I have a friend that cuts 8" blocks to build trim dies and has for years without the friction clutch wearing out those corks.
    They cut straight. I have seen Rod cut blocks that were cutting on the table for hours but were square. I remember him saying within a few thousand too mill off.

    I rebuilt the clutch on mine because the drive rod for the clutch was bent and the wobble effected the feed.

    Your feed may be different but the design stayed the same for years.

    Great saws.

    Your knives are pure functional art

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    Quote Originally Posted by mllud22 View Post
    The feed on those is so simple but very effective. Mine has a friction clutch with a sliding weight for feed pressure. Not like some forced feeds.
    As DDoug said sometimes you don't see the blade moving. It allows the pressure on the blade to do the cutting without the blade deflecting. The friction plate is a plate that you insert 5 bottle corks in pockets the plate applying pressure against a solid plate. Crazy but it works.

    I have a friend that cuts 8" blocks to build trim dies and has for years without the friction clutch wearing out those corks.
    They cut straight. I have seen Rod cut blocks that were cutting on the table for hours but were square. I remember him saying within a few thousand too mill off.

    I rebuilt the clutch on mine because the drive rod for the clutch was bent and the wobble effected the feed.

    Your feed may be different but the design stayed the same for years.

    Great saws.

    Your knives are pure functional art
    Pertaining to my previous post your saw could have a completely different drive for the feed. It still should work in an adjustable friction clutch applying pressure that allows slip. Unless its hydraulic.
    I was curious about the Sure Line guide attachment you mentioned. Google didn't show much.
    From your saw pictures there is a chart that shows feed settings. What's under the covers on your newer model [than mine] could still be a similar feed drive. dunno

    Here is a photo of the friction side of the feed clutch that Marvel used on these saws for for years.
    Cork plugs.
    asm-p-ab-8237t_320.jpg

    Your saw is hydraulic driven. That may include hydraulic feed. I don't know but from what I know about these saws you should be able to cut your billets with precision. Without the Sure Line guide.

    I enjoyed your post on the history of the Brooklyn Navy Shipyard where your saw was purchased.
    I always try too research the history of my machines. If they could only talk.
    I have a South Bend lathe that went to the Ford Rouge river plant in 1942. They weren't building automobiles then.

    I'm sure you know the reputation of these saws. Weather your cutting 8" thick 4140 blocks or the super hard metallurgical material D Dave spoke of you bought a nice saw. You may not see the blade moving on super hard or thick material but it works through.
    I have seen critics of these saws. Maybe don't fit their needs but I like mine.

    I watched aa documentary about sword making using that process. Its more freeform in pattern. Your controlling your pattern. Amazing work.

    Keep us posted
    Last edited by mllud22; 08-08-2021 at 03:21 AM.

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    That's cool about the corks in the clutch on the mechanical models. I'd like to try one out someday! Mine is all hydraulic... blade drive, vise clamp, blade feed pressure and rapids, blade tension. It's all from a 15 gpm pressure compensated variable displacement axial piston pump, with various googaws and circuits not to mention a supplementary pump just for the feeds. The parts for this saw are astronomically priced. If the pump ever failed I'd be rebuilding it myself, most likely.

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