New Buffing Station Day!

Just a quick post to show off my new buffing station 😀

Up til now, I’ve been mounting buffing wheels in my drill press. This has worked out fairly well, as I can adjust the drive belt on the press to manage the RPMs of the spindle. It’s a fairly quick adjustment process, but a dirty one, as the belt and pulleys seem to manufacture their own grease and grime. It has also meant that I can only have one buffing wheel in use at any given time, which can become tedious. I have been considering upgrade options for  a while, and then  – serendipity! A convergence of motivations and a good sale.

The motivational convergence occurred between me and my wife. I wanted a new work area for pipe restorations and she wanted a warm indoor parking spot. Thus the current (and ongoing, but I can just barely see the light at the end of the tunnel) renovation of our garage to add insulation, sort out some wiring and tackle perennial storage issues. Just about as sweet a deal as I can get – making the Mrs happy while I do what I want anyway! 😉

The renovations are still in progress, but the sale flyers came in and I jumped at the chance. Here’s a pic of my new buffer setup.

20151016_162916

The new rig consists of a variable speed 6″ bench grinder (run at its lowest speed of 2000 RPM), two motor arbour extensions and 4 buffing wheels. The two inside wheels closest to the motor are mounted on the stock drive shaft/spindles. The two outside wheels are mounted on 1/2″ motor arbours installed on the ends of the stock drive shafts.  There’s just shy of 4″ between the wheels on each shaft – I’d ideally like a bit more elbow room, but this setup worked pretty well on my tester pipe. I’m sure it will get tweaked as I go.

The first three wheels from left to right are dedicated to Red Tripoli, White Diamond, Carnauba Wax; the fourth wheel at the far right is a clean buff for final polishing.

For you fellow Canadian pipers out there, the grinder is on sale til next Thursday at Canadian Tire for $76CAD – nearly half price. The motor arbours came from CT as well for $10CAD each. Not a bad deal, and I don’t have to fuss with changing wheels until one wears out!

Happy piping!

EDIT: For those of you looking for shaft extensions, I’ve found 6″ long extensions available online from Caswell Plating serving Canada and US/Worldwide  customers.

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22 comments

  1. That’s a great buffing station setup you’ve got there. I think the adjustable speed motor is the way to go, especially since the 1625rpm motors are sky high in price. I had gotten the arbor with three wheels that mount onto my wood lathe. Seems to work alright, but I do have the problem, as you indicated, of wanting more space between the wheels. Sometimes, there are interesting contortions I need to perform so as to get a good position of the piece so it doesn’t fly out of my hands. Haha!

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    • Thanks al. I had looked at buying a motor & spindle separately but the price on the motor alone was more than twice what I paid for the grinder setup. I’m going to keep my eyes open for 6″ or 8″ arbor extensions for that extra space you mentioned.

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    • I found the arbor adapters at Canadian Tire. They hold the second wheel on each atm. The stock arm holds the first wheel and the arbor adapter grips the end of the stock arm, thus holding the first wheel in place. Hope that makes sense.

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      • That does make sense – but why in the world is a tire place selling buffing arbors??? Is there a product link, or manufactures name? I can’t find anything on the web for such a piece. I assume it is threaded on one end to accept the shaft from the motor? Can you post a few close-up pictures of just this piece?

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  2. I’ve added links to 6″ long arbor extensions to the end of the blog post. They’re longer than the ones I found at Canadian Tire, so should give that extra bit of space between wheels. Be sure to buy both Left-Hand and Right-Hand extensions, one per side.

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  3. Hi found your blog through Reborn Pipes… I’m just getting into cleaning and refurbishing estate pipes and trying to gather tools and advice… What buffing wheels do you use? If you have a link to them online or something like that I would greatly appreciate it!

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    • Hi Clinthulu and welcome to the world of pipe restoration! I use bog-standard 6″ stitched cotton wheels available in just about every hardware store in North America. Nothing fancy at all. I use them right out of the package for Tripoli and White Diamond compounds; for Carnauba and final polishing I rake the wheels out first to make them fluffy and soft.

      Regarding tools, there’s no need to rush out and buy a lot of stuff. If you own a drill already, spend $8 on a drill adapter buffing arbor and mount your wheel in your drill. I used my drill press like this for almost a year, with each wheel on a cheap arbor adapter. Minimal cash layout, maximum learning 😉

      Best of luck in your pipe refurbishing journey. There’s lots to learn, and a new challenge with every pipe.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sweet! I have read many of your restoration blogs and enjoy then a lot. I found you through Reborn Pipes. You both do amazing work. I am a former certified mechanic and hobby machinist. I have a mini-lathe which I chuck 4-inch wheels on to buff pipes. The wheels already have an arbor mounted, which a person could chuck into an electric dril for a very low-budget solution. I have separate ones for each compound and such. They are less than five dollars each at Harbor Freight (no connection). Of course, the lathe gives me the luxury of variable speed, which you would have with a variable-speed drill, but the lathe can run much faster. With metal cutting or buffing the important thing isn’t RPM, it’s surface feet per minute as the work (buffer surface) passes the tool (pipe). Machining is backwards from buffing. Too fast and you can burn your pipe. The surface feet per minute is a function of the RPM and the circumference of the wheel. Larger diameter wheels need to run slower than smaller wheels to achieve similar surface speeds. Sorry about the long post, and maybe saying something you already know, but I hope the info is useful to people new to the process. –Harold

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    • Thanks Harold. That’s great info for everyone. RPM vs Surface speed is one of those technical aspects of pipe restoration that many find counter-intuitive. You explain it well.

      I’m barely in big-boy pants compared to Steve Laug & the rest of the RebornPipes restorers. I have learned a lot and continue to learn from them with every post.

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