Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head?
#19
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by paulWoodworker ([quote='Tapper' pid=...)
(06-06-2021, 11:37 PM)paulWoodworker Wrote: 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)

Paul, your comment resonates with me. It was the counterbalance to my very strong impression that the Hammer tech guy was trying to sell me a new jointer. I was too insecure to take him to task, so I backed away from the idea of upgrading my machine with a segmented cutterhead. But I still wonder if I could have done the transition myself. FWIW, I have been happy with my straight knife cutterhead. It has given me good service, even on highly figured wood.
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#20
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by paulWoodworker ([quote='Tapper' pid=...)
(06-06-2021, 11:37 PM)paulWoodworker Wrote: 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)

I have absolutely no experience with these Austrian made machines, however as I said earlier they are mechanical devices. I would be very surprised that if Byrd makes a head for it that it would be terribly difficult to make the change (BTW, I bought my 15" Shop Fox planer with the Griz head already installed and replaced the head in my SF 8" jointer with a Byrd myself - it was straight forward and not very difficult). "$800 per day plus expenses" sounds like scare tactics to me. And if they are now making a "proprietary" segmented carbide cutterhead model, they are feeling the heat from competition. My guess is that eventually they will offer a retrofit head for their machines to keep up with the competition.

My understanding is that the appeal of these machines is that they are "combos" i.e. jointer and planer in one and therefore space savers. I am fortunate to have space for both in my shop. I will say this: There is ABSOLUTELY no comparison between the performance of a machine with straight knives as compared to the segmented carbide cutterhead. I have had both. When straight knives are sharp they sing nicely. When they get dull they are royal PITA IMO. Maybe Hammer has a slick registration mechanism making their straight knives easy to set (???) but they still have to be removed and sharpened, and then re-installed, which is where the "pain" comes in. Carbide cutters have 4 cutting sides. With many, many hours of usage and "tons" of BF run through both my planer and jointer I've yet to rotate either. It's one of those situations where you slap your forehead and say "wonder why I didn't do this earlier." YMMV.

Doug
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#21
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by Tapper ([quote='paulWoodwork...)
(06-10-2021, 11:16 PM)Tapper Wrote: ... Maybe Hammer has a slick registration mechanism making their straight knives easy to set (???) but they still have to be removed and sharpened, and then re-installed, which is where the "pain" comes in.
...
Doug

My straight-knife Hammer uses disposable 2 sided blades.There is no sharpening involved; just throw them away when both sides are dull and install new ones. It has a registration system that, once properly set, registers the blades at the proper height, requiring only tightening the gib screws to secure them. Changing blades is a LOT easier than changing and aligning blades on an old style cutterhead, but still something of a chore.
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#22
  Re: RE: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by Hank Knight ([quote='Tapper' pid=...)
(06-11-2021, 11:39 AM)Hank Knight Wrote: My straight-knife Hammer uses disposable 2 sided blades.There is no sharpening involved; just throw them away when both sides are dull and install new ones. It has a registration system that, once properly set, registers the blades at the proper height, requiring only tightening the gib screws to secure them. Changing blades is a LOT easier than changing and aligning blades on an old style cutterhead, but still something of a chore.

Thanks for the clarification, Hank. That certainly makes the procedure a lot easier. I still have my old 13" Ridgid planer that has the same system for the knives. Bought it new 15+ years ago at Home Depot in Atlanta. Use it when I have a lot of rough sawn material I need to get down to near final thickness. Finish it off with the 15" Shop Fox.

Doug
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#23
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
I just completed the upgrade on my Hammer A3-31 from the straight knives to a Byrd Shelix Head and created some extensive notes. I don't know how to attach my notes to this forum but there is a copy at https://ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.ph...-31.72088/
I recommend the upgrade and guess that you could complete the entire process in 4-8 hours using my notes.
Because I spent soooooo much time creating the notes I don't know how much time it took for the upgrade. Plus I went down some unnecessary paths which sucked up a lot of time.
jgt1942NC
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#24
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
Read "through" the notes and sketches - well done and you are indeed a meticulous gentleman! I hope this helps others if they are considering this modification. Interesting that the folks at Hammer once offered the Byrd modification but now discourage it since they have a competing product, and do not even offer their own spiral cutterhead as an option for their older machines.

Could this policy be nefarious? Please tell us about the performance.


Doug
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#25
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
Doug, the performance is nothing short of fantastic! I'm VERY pleased with the results and would recommend the upgrade. Much quieter (I forgot to measure the sound level before and after, of course, I can now measure the after but not the before. Much better cut but I could not compare it to sharp knives.

I just use the app "Sound Meter" on my Samsung Note 8 phone.
Noise level of my shop just over 40 dB, a few fans and AC running.
Noise level of A3-31 running (no cutting) just over 60 dB (about 20 dB increase)
Noise level of A3-31 joining the skinny side of a 2x4 78.3 dB max.
jgt1942NC
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#26
  Re: Anyone convert Hammer A3-31 to helical head? by greatscott (As the subject state...)
Glad to hear it has met your expectations, as it was surely an involved task, according to your notes above. There is no doubt it is quieter, a nice by-product of the process. My jointer and planer are now a joy to use - can only imagine how much this has improved your shop experience.

Doug
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