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Foot and Belt Powered Band Saw

Although lacking its foot pedal, this is the first treadle band saw we have found in 20 years of searching. The evidence that it was foot powered consists of the one way clutch pulley, which would have been driven by a treadle and the heavy flywheel on the lower shaft, used only on foot powered saws. A number of companies advertised foot powered band saws in the second half of the 19th century, some of which were also provided with pulleys for flat belt power as well. This example has the treadle clutch on the front of the shaft and a tight and loose pulley set on the back. The clutch has two pulley faces to which a length of flat belt would be riveted. One belt would connect to the treadle and the other, wound in reverse on its pulley, would go to a return spring. As the treadle was operated, the two belts would oscillate back and forth and the shaft would rotate in one direction. This design is detailed in Lester Dana's patent of June 25, 1878. Cast in the iron clutch flange is "Waupaca Novelty Works, Waupaca Wis., Dana's Patent, June 25, 1878, Feb 28, 1882". Actually, the clutch mechanism more closely resembles Dana's last patent, of July 1, 1890. Lester Dana established the Waupaca Novelty Works, in Waupaca Wisconsin. At some point, it apparently relocated to Alexandria Ind, the location cast in the flywheel of this machine. Dana died in 1901, in Waupaca, so, likely, this machine dates to the early 20th century. I can find no record of this company in Alexandria, so it may not have lasted too long. The fact that the clutch is marked "Waupaca Wis" suggests that the machine was made shortly after the move, unless both locations were active simultaneously. Dana's three patents for treadle clutches are No.'s 205362, 254283, and the last, not marked on this clutch, 431446.

The machine is 65 inches high. Table height is 40", the band pulleys are 15 3/4" in diameter, and the blade to arm distance is 16". All adjustments are free and all parts have been removed and replaced. The lower shaft bearings are fine, but there is some play in the upper bearing. With blade tension and at treadle speeds, this may not be a problem. The upper wheel has a break and old repair, which, I would think, would interfere with a wide blade or with fitting a tire (see photos below). Removing the bolts and welding the rim would be in order. There is no indication of how the original treadle would have attached to the machine - no bolt holes or projections on the leg casting. It may have been mounted on the floor, rather than the machine. Fitting a pedal and return spring to the Dana friction clutch would be a simple matter, but it would be nice to first know what the original looked like. Dana's 1878 patent has an illustration of a treadle and return spring to show how it would attach to his clutch, but doesn't likely resemble the treadle he used on this machine.

the upper blade guides

the brass oiler on the upper shaft

the upper wheel rear view

the upper wheel adjustment pivots on two axes

the table

the upper wheel break with early repair. This needs to be replaced with a weld before a tire is installed.

the outside of the rim break.

the tight and loose pulleys for belt power

side view of the tight and loose pulleys

The treadle clutch and the flywheel, both marked "Waupaca Novelty Works". The clutch is also marked "Dana's Patent, June 25, 1878, Feb 28, 1882, Waupaca Wis. The flywheel is marked "Alexandria Ind", rather than Waupaca.

The two pairs of wedges in the Dana friction clutch. Note the screw adjustment on the inner pair to take up wear.

The stripped down frame is an intricate one piece casting

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