This article appeared in our 2018 September issue of Chips & Chatter.
I was making some relatively easy cuts with my 14” bandsaw, cutting 4” circles out of dry 8/4 stock, when everything came to a screeching stop. It threw the tire and blade from the top wheel. That was kind of weird I thought, maybe just a fluke. I remounted the tire and blade and proceeded. Replacing the tire was easy, and should have been a clue. If everything went fine after that, I wouldn’t be writing this, so obviously it threw the tire & blade again. OK that tire was easy to get back on the wheel, so maybe they do stretch out over time. I had replaced the rubber tires with the urethane tires 5 years ago, I’d guess. I expected urethane to last much longer.
I’m pretty sure I had bought the nice, expensive, blue Carter tires before. They are a good solid name brand for bandsaw stuff.As I did more shopping research this time, I noticed that there were several tire widths for various bandsaw models. When I searched for my Rikon model the tire width was listed at 15/16”. I measured my wheel, and sure enough 15/16” was correct. My old tires measured at 7/8” wide, and I could only find this width for 14” wheels in the Carter brand. Hmm, maybe size does matter. I ordered a generic urethane set from Polytech Designs, NJ on Amazon for $36, vs. the $50 Carter tires. If the generic set lasts 3 ½ years or more, I win.
Urethane tires need to be stretched over the wheels, and to make them more pliable and slip on easier they recommend heating in 120F soapy water for 5 minutes before mounting them. This was an excuse to use a sous vide cooker in the shop. It provided controlled, low temperature water recirculation for heating and holding them till I was ready. I used 128F just because that is what the temperature was from the water heater when I started. After clamping the wheel down, and clamping a tire in a couple places on the wheel, much grunting, straining and cursing the tires easily slid onto the wheels. Polytech even provided a tool to run around the wheel between the tire and the wheel to even out the tension on the tire. The next step is to readjust all the bandsaw guide settings.
I guess I’ve learned a few things from all of this:
Urethane tires do have a lifetime.
Size does matter, for bandsaw tires anyway.
Pay attention after the first oops. Maybe there was a reason.
Shopping brand names is no guarantee.
Kitchen appliances can be helpful in the shop.