Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head?
#11
  
As the subject states, I'm looking to see if anyone has converted their Hammer A3-31 from straight knives to a helical head.  Felder has stated that they don't retrofit their machines with the silent cutter head and I know Byrd sells a helical head for the A3-31 for around $950.  For those who did the conversion, are you glad you made the upgrade?  

I have the opportunity to purchase a 10 year old A3-31 for a great price but it has the straight knives.  I was all set on purchasing a new one with the silent cutter head and now this deal on a used one presented itself.  Felder obviously wants me to buy a new one but they are pushing the narrative that 99% of the jointer/planers they sell now are the silent cutter heaad (supposedly about 10 db quieter than the straight knife version).  I'm assuming the Byrd cutter head would also be a sound reduction?  

Any thoughts from those that have made the conversion?
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#12
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
Can't help on the Hammer, but I converted a Jet 12 inch jointer planer from straight knives to helical knives.   I had read that the sound reduction would be very significant, but frankly ,  I don't notice much of a difference in sound.  In fairness, I always run my dust collection, and wear ear protection when running the jointer planner, and don't know if that is why I don't notice much of a reduction in sound.
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#13
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
I bought qa little used A3-31 from a friend several years ago. I had the same thought you have: I'll convert it to a helical head. I called Hammer service and talked to a technician there. I told him what I had in mind and that I was a reasonably decent mechanic. He was very definite that I should NOT try this task myself. He said that the tables on the machine were very difficult to align and level and that I would likely end up calling them for help. He assured me they could send a service technician to my shop to fix whatever mess I'd made of the job at a rate of $800/day + expenses. I didn't jump right on his offer, but I did rethink my plan. In short, I chickened out. I still have my straight-knife cutterhead. This was at exactly the time Hammer introduced it's new (at that time) proprietary spiral cutterhead. The technician gave me a hard sales talk about the new spiral head and encouraged me to buy a completely new machine equipped with one. Having just bought a nearly new machine for a great price, I told him I wasn't interested. I have wondered ever since if his dire warning about the difficulties of changing my own cutterhead weren't exaggerated in order to get me to buy a new machine. I'll probably never know, but I'm interested in what you find out. I'll follow this thread to see. Good luck.
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#14
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
Thanks for the replies.  I went and viewed the machine and it's in such good condition.  The cobalt blades cut beautifully.  While I have always wanted to get the silent cutter head, I can live with the 3 knife cutter head.
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#15
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (Thanks for the repli...)
(09-21-2019, 07:26 AM)greatscott Wrote: Thanks for the replies.  I went and viewed the machine and it's in such good condition.  The cobalt blades cut beautifully.  While I have always wanted to get the silent cutter head, I can live with the 3 knife cutter head.

I bet you will be very happy with it.  I bought an older MM 14" J/P 4 years ago with a straight knife head.  After running hundreds of BF over it I'm more than satisfied with the surface quality.   

John
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#16
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
As far as I am aware, there is no service from Felder/Hammer in regard to replacing straight knife heads. You have to purchase the machine with the spiral head at the outset.

Regards from Perth

Derek (with A3-31 and spiral head)
Articles on furniture building, shop made tools and tool reviews at www.inthewoodshop.com
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#17
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by Hank Knight (I bought qa little u...)
(09-20-2019, 12:46 PM)Hank Knight Wrote: I bought qa little used A3-31 from a friend several years ago. I had the same thought you have: I'll convert it to a helical head. I called Hammer service and talked to a technician there. I told him what I had in mind and that I was a reasonably decent mechanic. He was very definite that I should NOT try this task myself. He said that the tables on the machine were very difficult to align and level and that I would likely end up calling them for help. He assured me they could send a service technician to my shop to fix whatever mess I'd made of the job at a rate of $800/day + expenses. I didn't jump right on his offer, but I did rethink my plan. In short, I chickened out. I still have my straight-knife cutterhead. This was at exactly the time Hammer introduced it's new (at that time) proprietary spiral cutterhead. The technician gave me a hard sales talk about the new spiral head and encouraged me to buy a completely new machine equipped with one. Having just bought a nearly new machine for a great price, I told him I wasn't interested. I have wondered ever since if his dire warning about the difficulties of changing my own cutterhead weren't exaggerated in order to get me to buy a new machine. I'll probably never know, but I'm interested in what you find out. I'll follow this thread to see. Good luck.

Don't have one of these machines but do have both an 8" jointer and 15" planer with spiral carbide cutterheads. I installed the Byrd head on the Shop Fox jointer myself - pretty straight forward and not real complicated (there was an instruction sheet as I recall). My guess is that if you are mechanically handy you could probably figure out a way from an engineering perspective, to install a carbide cutterhead on one of these machines. With a little ingenuity, most things can be accomplished on mechanical devices.

Hank, the rep's offer of a technician to bail you out at $800/day + expenses seems both cynical and insulting. When I talk to people like that, I run, not walk in the opposite direction. Seems obvious he ONLY wanted you to buy another machine, i.e. customer  "no-service."

Doug
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#18
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
So the new (to me) machine is safely in my shop and I think I will live with the 3 knife cutter head for the time being.  I found a Felder/Hammer forum through Yahoo and a few people were helpful in providing the helical head instructions should I decide to go that route.  I appreciate everyone's replies and input.
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#19
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (So the new (to me) m...)
(09-23-2019, 05:00 PM)greatscott Wrote: So the new (to me) machine is safely in my shop and I think I will live with the 3 knife cutter head for the time being.  I found a Felder/Hammer forum through Yahoo and a few people were helpful in providing the helical head instructions should I decide to go that route.  I appreciate everyone's replies and input.

GreatScott, would you please post the info you received for the A3-31 upgrade? I've ordered the BYRD head and expect it by mid-month July-21. While I'm waiting I'm trying to do more research. I did find "Hammer C3-31 planer head removal notes" and started to compare to the A3-31. From the outside of the two machines, they look very similar but very quickly you realize this is not the case. The C3-31 document can serve as a guide but not much more, this is my current thoughts.


I also found a two-part video "Installing a Byrd Shelix in Felder AD741 Jointer Planer" which also can serve as a guide.
jgt1942NC
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#20
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by Tapper ([quote='Hank Knight'...)
(09-22-2019, 01:57 PM)Tapper Wrote: Hank, the rep's offer of a technician to bail you out at $800/day + expenses seems both cynical and insulting. When I talk to people like that, I run, not walk in the opposite direction. Seems obvious he ONLY wanted you to buy another machine, i.e. customer  "no-service."

Doug

I disagree. I think it was nice of the rep to warn the customer what it would cost to fix the machine if he needed help.
I am sure people have attempted to modify machines like this, gotten in over their head, and then got mad when they found out how much it cost for a tech to come out to fix it.

That said, I would not risk modifying it myself. It's too risky. The insert heads are nice, but regular blades are fine too. (I have used both)
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