Inca Band Saw Part 4: The Tires and the Cut

Based on my first experiment, having replaced nothing but the guides and thrust bearings, I was concerned about the performance of the saw, but was reserving judgement until I replaced the blade and the tires, since both of these can make a big difference in the cut quality.

After hunting around online for a while, I found several recommendations for the Olson MVP blade (72 1/2″ x 1/2″) and the urethane tires from Peachtree woodworking (11″ x 3/4″)

Before installing the new tires, I had to replace the old ones, which were glued in place. I took off the upper wheel since it was only held on by a snap ring.

I had to cut off the tires, which I did by scoring the same line over and over with an X-acto knife, being careful not to score the aluminum wheel.

It was then just a matter of peeling off the old tire.

I thought about really trying to clean up the surface of the wheel, but decided that it would ultimately be more work than it was worth, since any small irregularities would be smoothed over by the new tire.

The urethane tires do not require glue as they are held on by the friction due to a tight fit.

I’m not sure how tight the fit is normally, but wow! I had quite a wrestling match to get the tires on. I used a clever strategy composed of pinched fingers, teeth, and a neck cramp, and was successful at installing both tired.

Now I re-installed the wheels and aligned them before mounting the blade.

Because the Inca band saw has flat wheels (no crown) the blade is not centered on the wheels, but is rather run along the front edge of the tire, with the teeth extending beyond the front of the tire to prevent them from damaging the tire.

I got everything beck together and made a test cut on some 3/4″ white oak.

Wow. That made a difference. I have mostly used cheap 9″ saws in the past, so I cannot say how this compares to a finely-tuned top-of-the-line saw, but it was by far the straightest, most effortless cutting I have ever done with a band saw.

I also free-handed a little bit of resawing on a piece of red oak about 4-5 inches thick and was able to easily shave off a 1/16″ slice. The wood didn’t slow the saw down at all, but the surface of the resawn piece was a little wavier than I’d like, but I have little enough experience with band saws that I’m not sure what a purpose-built resaw machine would produce, so I’ll be happy with the fact that I could easily control the direction of the blade and make a thin slice off a relatively thick piece of wood.

My next improvement will be to make some sort of fence for the band saw, but for now, I have the most usable band saw I have ever worked with.


13 thoughts on “Inca Band Saw Part 4: The Tires and the Cut

    • It’s possible that would have helped, I’ll try that next time (although these tires are supposed to last a long time, so I’m not sure when that will be), it will be interesting to see whether the water makes them too slippery to maneuver into position. I’ll let you know.

  1. I was lucky to buy my Inca from Garret Wade’s distributor in Southern California just a year or so before they stopped importing them, around 1999-2000. I was able to try it before I bought it, as I didn’t think it was powerful enough. My test was to resaw a 1/16″ slice from 1x4x12 piece of ebony (I wanted it for making guitars and lutes). WOW!! So I dusted it off and took it home. Since then I got busy at work and have only been able to use it once or twice and it has since sat in my garage. Now I have decided to clean it up and start using it again. I don’t think I’ll need to do much to get it going–its for all purposes new. I was also fortunate to get several accessories like a table extension and precision fence. Any recommendations for getting it back in service after 12 yrs of being idle in a San Diego garage?

    • Since the majority of the construction is aluminum, you don’t have to worry about the rust that would normally be part of cleaning up an old bandsaw. So you’re really probably just looking at replacing the consumable portions of the tool (tires, blade, guides, and possibly the bearings). If yours is not a direct-drive model, you will also probably need to replace the drive belt; take the old one to an auto-parts store and ask them to match it.

      Assuming your saw is the same model as mine (342), then the same replacement parts will apply. I picked up the blade and tires from Peachtree woodworking (72 1/2″ blade and 11″ x 3/4″ tires). Thrust bearings can be replaced with inexpensive 608zz bearings.

      My saw had been sitting for a while before I bought it, but it required very little work in terms of alignment.

      As noted in this article, I am absolutely thrilled with how well my Inca is cutting.

      The guides on my saw are still the wooden ones I threw on when first getting the saw up and running, but now that I have a milling machine, I think I’ll try to make some steel ones to replace the stock set.

      Good luck with your saw! Let me know if you run into any issues, I’ll happily help brainstorm a solution.


    • I am still very happy with the tires. the are not showing any significant signs of wear and I can even leave the blade under tension between uses without any noticeable low spots in the tires or vibration in the saw.

  2. Great info on the 342 Inca bandsaw! I’ve got one which I bought new back around 1980, Swiss made. I purchased a set of blue urethane tires and a pair of 608RS bearings (8mmx22mmx7mm) IDxODxWidth. These bearings have rubber seals.

    You inspired me to take the whole saw apart, clean, derust the hardware, lubricate, etc. Instead of grease (which turned to some sort of hard plaque, I’m using dry lube… the same that I use on my table saw trunions. It doesn’t get hard nor does it attract and hold sawdust. We’ll see how it goes. I am using Tri-Flow synthetic grease in the needle bearings on the upper wheel though.

    Just a note on removing the old tire glue. I removed the wheels and used Goof Off. It melted the glue right off and took about 5 minutes per wheel.


  3. New to the group I purchased my 342 from Highland tools some 30 years ago. My shop flood and the saw went under not having the time to repair it I set it aside. Well it set for years. I am know retired and it time to repair the saw . I plugged the saw in and tried to start it but all it would do I hum . Thinking capacitor I check it with a meter
    it read 30 microfarads not sure what it should read. If you know please replay.
    The wires on the relay are in bad shape I will repair later. checked out the relay and switch looked like there are ok. I am not sure how to connect the field winding to the relay The only thing I have is what is in the owners manual Any and all help is FULLY appreciated.

    • It’s not jammed, is it?
      Does the motor spin freely, on its own?
      I’m not an expert on AC motors (or DC, or two-stroke, or rotary, for that matter), but it does sound like it could be the capacitor, since that is what gives the initial kick to get spinning.

      You should also look into forums on electric motor repair, since the issue you are having doesn’t really sound specific to Inca or bandsaws, there may be experts floating around there that could really walk you through the diagnosis and repair.

  4. I’m having a problem with my Inca 710 3 wheel bandsaw. When using my circle cutting jig the blade wanderers and comes out of the guide bearings. Jesse at eagle tool in LA thinks the wheels need to be aligned. I’m using anew 1/4″ blade and the guide bearings are aligned. Any thoughts. You

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