Refurbishing an old belt sander may be an alternative to purchasing a new one. Some belt sanders, when maintained properly, sand on indefinitely. Many older models of belt sanders were made with sturdy metal parts--including housings and gear train boxes. If you have heard the old adage, “They don’t make them like the used to.” you will know that in many cases this is quite true. If you can purchase an old reliable belt sander at bargain prices--or if you inherit one--try these refurbishing tips to restore it to new glory and a longer life.
Two areas that can give an old belt sander new life are the motor brushes and the gear train box. If the belt sander has been maintained well all its life, it may have had several brush changes throughout the years. These changes are easy to do and inexpensive. The brushes are located on the motor housing, usually behind a metal screw-in cover no larger than the size of a dime. Sometimes, they are spring loaded--so be careful when removing the cover. Look to see if the brush or spring is worn. Replace if necessary.
The other area to check is the gear train box. Normally, manufacturers will claim that the gear train box is factory lubricated so there is no need for any maintenance. However, older models that have been running for some time may experience the heavy-duty grease breaking down, separating the heavier liquid from the oil. This can produce both an oily smell as well as make the motor run hot. The best thing to do is to open the gear train box, clean out the old packed grease, replacing it with normal bearing grease found at your local auto parts supply store.
Drive Belt Tension
Older sanders that are driven by a drive belt need to have the belts examined. Just as your sanding belt will wear with use, so will the motor drive belt. Similar to a vacuum cleaner drive belt or even an automobile fan belt, the item will wear with use. A belt sander that has a motor humming, but no belt turning, may have a defective or broken drive belt. Additionally, although the drive belt may be in good condition, tension is crucial for proper operation. A drive belt that is too loose may cause the sanding belt to jump and skip. An overly tightened drive belt may cause the sander to make noises and make the motor run harder--and hotter. You can open the driver belt housing with a Phillips head screwdriver to adjust the tension either by tightening or loosening the pulley set screws and making a hand adjustment to the tension.
Regular maintenance and cleaning are proper prevention methods to keep your refurbished sander working like a charm for many years to come. Always clean your sander after each use to make sure dirt, dust and other debris do not remain in or on the tool.