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Viel Variable Speed Motor Conversion - Alternative Method
After well over a year of wanting and waiting, I finally ordered and received a Viel 1x42" belt sander, from Steve Bottorff.  I also order and received the variable speed motor from Penn State Industries.  With all the work Ken S and others put into designing and building this combination, with the adapter plate to mount the motor to the sander frame, I thought I'd be up and running in no time.  Didn't really work out that way.

I did not receive the pre-made adapter plate from Steve, so I embarked on making my own.  That was not particularly difficult, but I sure didn't like it.  I didn't like how the motor is mounted by its face to the vertical part of the frame.  And since the motor is so long and heavy, I was concerned about vibrations.  I also didn't like the lack of adjustments for locating the motor and tracking, and how long the shaft was that stuck out beyond the drive pulley.  So, I started thinking of other ways of mounting the motor.  

You can buy mounting brackets for a lot of motors where the motor rests on two partial arc pedestals where the bracket mounts to the floor of a frame or table top.  I liked this method as it fully supports the motor and it can be moved around a bit for alignment.  It would also allow locating the motor a little back from the vertical face of the sander frame to allow less of the shaft to protrude.  

With a little reverse engineering, layout and CAD work, I came up with a design that I liked and proceeded to fabricate it.  It all went fairly well, except on the base plate, I put the flat head screw countersinks on the wrong side, so had to flip it over and put in another four mounting hole for securing the base plate to the sander frame.  

For the arced pedestals, I took a piece of 3/8" aluminum plate and trepanned out the center and then bored it to size, giving me a square plate with a 3+" dia. hole in the middle.  I drilled and tapped the mounting hole locations and then spit it into two piece and trimmed them to size.  

Putting it all together went better than I expected. It all just bolted up clean.  It should, if the design work was done right, but often it doesn't, most often because I missed something about the design.  This time it worked.  The motor is mounted very rigidly and as desired can be located so there is almost no shaft protruding.  Tracking was a little odd at first, but after figuring it out, the belt rides clean and smooth without wandering or fluttering.  I have not yet cleaned up the parting lines on the belt pulleys, so if that is done, it may smooth out the belt more.  

Setting up the stock platen and tool rest was delightfully easy as they went together and adjusted easily.  It will take some getting used to keeping the work piece down on the tool rest if I'm going to use the tool rest as it is set up now (perpendicular to the belt).  It will be interesting to see how the tool rest works when angled upwards for sharpening blades, etc.  

I went into this planning on setting it up with a Tormek Bench Grinder Mount (BGM) and with the "Frontal Vertical Base" (FVB) to provide a wide range of adjustments and hopefully be able to use some of the Tormek jigs.  I'm particularly interested in doing the initial angle grinding on the belt sander, as a faster alternative to the Norton 3X grinding wheel I'm currently using on the Tormek, in the water trough at the slow Tormek speed.  

Video of the Viel belt sander variable speed motor mount modifications in action.  

I made my motor mount out of aluminum, but I think it would work fine to use a high quality plywood, like Baltic birch plywood.  Cutting/sanding the arced pedestals would be lots easier in wood. 

I can now turn my attention to using this sweet little belt sander. 


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Nicely done! I like your bracket. The dual support cradles are a definite step up, especially if (as occasionally can happen) a shim is necessary.

I will be interested in reading your future usage posts. I predict you will find your new modified Viel 
"just the ticket"  for many sharpening and around the shop tasks.

I think you and your Viel have earned the title "Gen IV". Congratulations.

Nicely done Rick Kr and thanks for sharing! If our resident Viel expert, Ken, says it good then it must really be good. 

I did get a personal chuckle out of your countersinking bolt holes on the wrong side. I've always said that given a 50/50 chance to get it right I'll get it wrong every time.
Guess I didn't just move on to using it.  I do not plan on getting or using any of the Viel attachments, so I am setting up the Tormek BGM and FVB on this so I can use the Tormek jigs, primarily for knives, but I figure there will be some other tools that get put to it.  The sander frame interferes with positioning of some of the jigs, so it is proving challenging to find a good setup.  

Also, I just couldn't stand those two little spring loaded screws that are supposed to serve as tracking adjustment.  I had to change them out for nylon set screws with a jam nut for locking their positions.  I also added two down towards the bottom of the plunger for greater control.  The new setup is actually making a difference.  Tracking is substantially improved AND the plunger rises and falls more easily, whereas at least before the plunger did not rise & fall smoothly or easily.

I had the 1/4-20 nylon set screws from another project and just had to get the thinner jam nuts.  It also meant drilling out and tapping for 1/4-20.  I was a little concerned about how thin the wall of the square tubing is, but there is enough to get about 1-3/4 turns in.  I figure that is enough since there isn't a lot of tension on them, just vibration that could work them loose.  


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I've been thrashing about trying to get the Tormek knife jigs set up on the Viel belt sander.  I have been trying to get the Tormek Universal Support Bar (USB) set so the knife jigs, with knives inserted, can slide back and forth for the sharpening - actually, roughing is more apt.  The problem has been that the frame interferes with the adjusting and locking knob of the jigs at them more acute angles (12-14º per side).  I tried it with the frame in its nominal upright/vertical orientation, with the USB/jigs out in front. 

I could get it configured so the adjusting collar clears (drawing above), but cannot get it so the screws clear (drawings below). 

I had looked at turning the sander around an tilting it over so the top/passive pulley was closest to me at the front of the table and the frame base at the back of the table.  I didn't want to go that way as I think I may want to use it for non-sharpening tasks in the upright position.  I just cannot have it both ways, however. 

I am now working on setting the USB/jigs up with the sander laying on its back, with the frame base raised so the platen is up and angled at 12º.  This allows moving the USB support system out in front of the top/passive pulley so the jig screw/knob clear the sander.  

I sure hope this works.  I've spent too much time on it as it is.  

Rick, thanks for sharing, it looks very promising now. Please let us know how it works.

It seems to me, that for the bevel angle of 12⁰ the blade is almost horizontal what is practical if it is your preferred angle

To protect your lungs you may install a vacuum cleaner tube and suck up the chips and dust.

(07-31-2019, 02:59 AM)Jan Wrote: Rick, thanks for sharing, it looks very promising now. Please let us know how it works.

It seems to me, that for the bevel angle of 12⁰ the blade is almost horizontal what is practical if it is your preferred angle

To protect your lungs you may install a vacuum cleaner tube and suck up the chips and dust.


Yes, the blade/jig are horizontal at 12º.  Higher angles, which I have used more commonly, they would be angled slightly down and away from the USB to the belt.  That means the belt/platen are also angled at 12º.  It is a balance between the sander angle/tilt and a vertical USB.  A higher angle sander angle/tilt would be desirable, I think.  But at higher sander angles, the jig adjustable collar interferes with the vertical USB.  I looked at angling the USB also to compensate, but did not like it because it does two things: 1) the USB changes both height and distance as you move from blade angle to blade angle, and 2) it draws the contact point of the bevel apex with the belt downward on the platen, closer to the end of the platen. 

On the jig/blade angle being slightly down and away, I reasoned that on the Tormek, I work with a similar approximately horizontal orientation of the jig/blade, so it should work with the sander.  With a standard front horizontal USB on the Tormek, the USB is well below the top of the grinding wheel, putting the jig/blade angled upward, with easy view of the contact point between the apex and wheel.  However, I use a Frontal Vertical Base (FVB), which elevates the USB such that the jig/blade are still angled slightly upward, it is close to horizontal.  Couple that with the Tormek being almost 7" higher than the working height of the Viel, both on the same work surface, I further reasoned that my eye-view of the Viel is better.  Keep in mind that I work at the Tormek from a sitting position, whether I am working edge-trailing or -leading, which changes angles from the nominal standing position.  I hope this is clear enough to be understandable.  

Historically, I sharpened most kitchen knives to 14º or 16º, or replicated whatever angle was there if it was a well established bevel or to re-establish a factory bevel.  Based on Knife Grinders excellent work demonstrating the benefits of 12º, I tried that angle on a collection of knives from the local high-end steak house.  It has been months and they are still raving about how sharp those knives are and how they have stayed sharp.  So, I expect to be doing a lot more at 12º.  

I agree with you about devising some sort of vacuum system to pull away the sanding dust/debris.  First, it gets all over everything, which is very annoying and destructive to other machine tools.  Second, but probably more important, are the health risks caused by airborne particulates.  I've been thinking of just how to go about it, as I work on the basic assembly.  I want to make it like a shroud, covering at least three sides, top and both sides.  But, in order to make belt changes feasible and fast, it would have to get fancy to make a shroud on the open side easily removable or "flip-up".  I can ponder it a bit while working on the Viel assembly, but can't really get serious about it until that is done. 

Some time ago, I bought some 3/4" dia. loc line with flared intakes and Y-joints, etc., intending to install vacuum action on my bandsaw.  That has not happened yet, but I envision using something like that on the Viel.  I am more likely to do a hard piping setup using PVC pipe on the bandsaw and that is partly based on my sense that the 3/4" loc line will not be up to the volume of sawdust coming off the bandsaw.  I will find out if it is adequate for the Viel. 

Rick, thanks for your explanations and for sharing your good experience with 12⁰ bevel angle.

I made a dust collector for the Kally.  I posted about it some time ago:

It works well.  At one time I had some baffles around the base of the grinder but there is so much air flow it does not need it so I removed them.
Mr. Grepper, thanks for your reminder. You have built nice dust and sparks collecting set up. I consider it a very important issue!


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