Inca Band Saw Part 2: The Thrust Bearings

This is was the upper thrust bearing on my Inca 342 band saw:

I don’t know how someone lets a part get to this level of failure without replacing it, but this is what was there. The lower thrust bearing was not as bad, but it had worn down enough that the blade was riding on the full face of the bearing, and not just on the outer edge as intended.

Now I had to deal with the reality of the saw I had purchased: where was I going to find replacement parts for a Swiss saw from a company that had gone out of business some time ago?

I looked around the internet and found a few references to Eagle Tools  as a possible source of advice and replacement parts, but I decided I’d see if I could find something local first.

…it turns out that my solution was really local.

I have been using the wishlist to drop serious hints to anyone wishing to buy me a present, and one of the things I had wished for and received was a lot of 100 608zz ball bearings. I picked these ones because they are the most commonly used size of bearing and I wanted to use them for various hobby and jig-making projects… nothing specific in mind.

Coincidentally, This is the same size bearing Inca chose to use on their saw. So, not only did I have a replacement thrust bearing on hand, I had 100 of them!

The process of removing the old thrust bearings and replacing them with new ones was easier than I thought it would be.

The bearings are press-fit, but the fit is far more loose than other bearings I’ve dealt with. Although they were too tight to remove and install by hand, they were loose enough for me to feel comfortable using a punch and a dead-blow hammer to remove and install the bearings.

To install the new bearing, I simply laid the baring flat on a piece of rubber and tapped the thrust bearing shaft into the bearing.

I re-installed the bearings on the saw and was ready to work on the next repair (seen in the picture below) the wooden replacement blade guides.

…to be continued in Inca Band Saw Part 3: The Guides

Bicycle Storage Solution

My garage is too small.

To be fair, most garages are too small, but I have a lot of tools and toys that take up a lot of space that I use regularly, and so I am particularly keen to figure out ways to keep big things out of the way, and yet within reach.

Things like my bicycle, wheelbarrow, and lawn mower.

My first priority is the bicycle. The wheelbarrow and lawn mower can be pushed against the wall and blocked by a parked car without too much inconvenience, since I only use them every couple weeks or so (although I should use the mower more frequently). But I frequently ride my bike to work, and it is a real hassle if my wife’s car has it pinned into a corner when I’m trying to leave for work.

I’ve seen hooks for hanging bikes from the wall, and these are good if you have a lot of unused wall space, but I want to put shelving and other storage options on my walls, so I decided this wouldn’t work

In my hunt for a solution, I also came across bicycle lifts, that would pull a bike up to the ceiling.

These are neat, but my ceilings are only 8 feet, and my bike is nearly 4 feet tall, so I wouldn’t even be able to walk under a bike hung from one of these.

After a little more thinking, I came up with an idea: I could use hooks to hold the bike near the ceiling, and then use the bike lift, or something like it, to pull the bike parallel to the ceiling, effectively laying the bike on the ceiling instead of letting it hang down.

I sketched out my idea.

I came up with this idea on a Wedesday, and I wouldn’t have time to do anything about it until Saturday, but I had to do something with all the plans running around in my head, so I made a mockup in Sketchup…

Saturday morning finally came and I went to buy my supplies and came home ready to build my new hybrid bike lift (catchy name, no?).

I basically followed my shopping list, but instead of buy long hooks and eye bolts, I just decided to lag-screw some 2x4s onto the ceiling and use normal hooks and eye bolts to screw into that. My total cost was about $30, because I bought a nicer rope than I had on hand (would have been about $20 if I had practiced restraint).

I started by picking a spot on my ceiling where it would be accessible even with a car in the garage.

Next I measured the distance between the center of my front and back wheels, this was the distance I would space the hooks from eachother. It was about 42 inches which was nice because I had a scrap 2×4 that was about 48 inches long.

I measured out the location of a couple ceiling joists, and then transferred those measurements onto my 2×4 to drill holes for the lag screws to go through.

I attached this to the ceiling with 5″ lag screws (to get through the layers of fire-rated sheet rock and into the joist), and test-fitted the bike.

You can see in the top right, that I also lag-screwed a board that will serve as the anchor for the pulley, which I attached to an eye bolt by prying the bolt loop open and pinching it shut around the pulley.

I screwed this into the board on the wall and strung my rope through it and down to a cleat that I screwed into a wall stud at a convenient height for hooking and unhooking the rope.

On the bicycle end of the rope I tied a loop and then attached the carabiner to make a quick way to hook onto the bike frame to hoist it onto the ceiling.

The final product:


I’m more than satisfied with this system. It only took a couple hours to complete and keeps my bike completely out of the way. I can freely walk under it (assuming I keep the floor clear) and can quickly take it down when I want to use it.

Inca Band Saw

A few weeks ago I went onto Craigslist to see if there were any interesting tools for sale. I was thrilled to see the exact Band Saw I was hoping to someday buy (the Grizzly G0555 ), for sale at an amazing price.

The ad had only been posted for about an hour, but when I called (after getting the OK from my wife), I found that the saw had already been sold.

At first I thought, “that’s okay, I have a good table saw and scroll saw, and I was okay without a band saw yesterday, I didn’t really need one today…”; but the more I thought about it, the more depressed I got. I kept dreaming of bi-metal blades, resaw capacity, ceramic blade guides, and riser blocks. Oh! The fun I could have had with such a saw!
“If only I’d signed on to Craigslist sooner!”, I thought, and thus began compulsively refreshing the “Tools” section of craigslist every 10 minutes for the next 2 weeks. I even installed the Craigslist app on my Android phone for when I was away from my computer.

My searching  ended (… at least my searching for a band saw ended) a little over a week ago, when I saw a post selling an Inca 342 for $300. At first I ignored the post, because it was only a 10.5″ bandsaw and seemed overpriced. But since I had never heard of the brand before, and there was very little detail in the post, I decided to Google it and see what I could find out.

I was surprised to find that this was a Swiss band saw, made by a company that went out of business some time ago, but whose band saws have a rabid cult of fans (like Festool). I found that these saws are pretty rare finds, since woodworkers buy them and then keep them until they die (the woodworker, that is). Consequently, the most common places to find them are estate sales.

I found a couple more for sale in the USA, and both were listed at well over $500, and I found stories of people paying this much for Inca saws that didn’t have a motor, so I replied to the Craigslist posting offering to buy the saw at $300 if it had the motor and was in good working order.

After agonizing most of the evening, trying to tell myself that the owner had probably sold the saw to someone else and I should pick myself up and move on with my life, I got a call from the seller saying I could come by and pick up the saw in the morning if I was still interested. I was.

And so I had a band saw. But I could tell, when I started cleaning it up, that it would need a little work.

I made a list and went to work. I would need:

  1. New thrust bearings
  2. New blade guides
  3. New Tires
  4. New Blade

All of these things are standard to replace on band saws, since they were over time, so I remained confident on my overall assessment that the saw was in good shape.

Note: Since I’m finding it rather easy to write 1000+ word posts on this blog, I’m going to break these each into separate posts, which will keep the suspense at its peak as you wonder:

“Will he be able to find parts for a saw that made by a company that went out of business 20 years ago ?”

“Will the Swiss band saw live up to its reputation ?”

“Will our fearless hero survive ??”

Stay tuned.