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General notes and Training materials
suitable for MiniMax machine users
Machines by MiniMax-USA, a subsidiary of SCM Group

Combination Machines

David Best Book

A user of Felder machines, David P. Best, has written a superb, well illustrated book on the alignment and use of Felder combination machines. The book is for a competing machine, but those who have used the book say that a large percent of the content applies to MiniMax machines as well. Go to his web site at www.davidpbest.com for a description, a link to download a sample of the manual, or to order your own copy for $95. You can also buy the same book from Felder for $150.

Felder "DVD"

Felder made a DVD, now on YouTube, with noted woodworker Frank Klausz demonstrating the use of their 500 series machines - the CF531 combination machine is very similar to the MiniMax CU300. In my opinion this Felder demo is a much better demonstration of combination machines than the MiniMax DVD with Mark Duginske, created several years ago.

These are some differences I noticed while watching the Felder video:

I urge others who see substantial differences to suggest adding them to this list.

CU300 Classic Videos

MiniMax user Peter Nyberg has recently created a series of tutorial videos on YouTube using his CU300 Classic in his shop. Most of what he demonstrates applies to any of the MiniMax combo machines, and to European style machines in general. I highly recommend watching them.

The infamous AEG switch

The power switch on bandsaws, and perhaps other machines, from AEG, is a challenge that has earned a special web page compete with pictures.

Changing Tersa Knives

There is a video on YouTube showing somebody removing and replacing a Tersa knife on a non-MiniMax machine.

I like the idea of an oak wedge or other wood to tap the gibs loose, as in the video. I use a large flat screwdriver. A fancy (expensive) brass tool is available that spreads the tapping pressure over a wider area, and was provided with some machines. It only takes a light tap for the gibs to lower. My machine has 3 gibs for each blade - each has to be tapped. Once the gibs have been loosened, the blade is free to move lengthwise (use the wood or screwdriver to push it), but will not come out of the slot in the direction of the cut.

On the MiniMax machines there is a hole that the knife slides out - rotate the head by hand until the knife lines up with the hole. I suggest putting a small magic marker line on the hole, aligned with the orientation of the knife as it comes out. You will appreciate that line when sliding the knife back in.

In the video the operator slid the knife back and forth a bit - probably to clean out the slot. Others have suggested a toothbrush and perhaps solvent to soften any pitch. Once the knife is back in place, just turn the unit back on and centrifugal force will put the gibs back in place. You may duck for cover the first time you do it - everyone does - but the knives are securely in place. (If you have used solvent, there is a real reason to duck when turning on the cutter, as the excess solvent sprays out.)

Since Tersa knives have two usable edges, I use a marker to identify the "second" cutting edge - I put a black mark on each end of the bevel of the second edge where it is less likely to be worn off.

The Tersa knives are dual edge and razor sharp, and in my case are 16 inches long. My personal rule is to not handle them without wearing leather work gloves.

The different types of Tersa knives are discussed on the Jointer/Planer web page.

CU410 Combination Machine

A salesman does a poor demo of a CU410 Elite (non S) - but you can see the components of the machine and hear the motors run, even if it doesn't cut any wood.

Euro guard for the Jointer

The standard North American jointer guard is a large "frisbee" or "porkchop" that covers the cutter, and swings away as the workpiece passes over the blades. The standard European guard raises so the work piece passes under the guard when face jointing, and slides away from the fence when when edge jointing. OSHA doesn't like Euro guards since you have an inch of uncovered cutters when you are edge jointing, but most users consider it the superior approach.

This YouTube video shows a very fancy (and very expensive) Euro guard that automatically lifts for face jointing, and automatically slides out of the way for edge jointing. The MiniMax Euro guards have to manually set the distance away from the fence for edge jointing, but the video gives the idea of how they are used.

Belts

When two belts are used, both should be replaced at the same time.

If your machine squeaks (or screams) when it starts, the belt is too loose. Tighten it, often by loosening and sliding the motor mount. But if you get it too tight, the belt will flip inside out (I haven't figured out how or why). But once the belt learns the flip, the only solution is to replace it - turning it back didn't work (on my shaper), and MiniMax service confirmed that belt replacement was the only option.

In a forum discussion, someone suggested tightening a new belt (or pair of belts) slightly more than normal, since new belts will stretch slightly. Makes sense to me.

What belt "model"?

The "3L series" belts from the MiniMax factory are rated fractional horsepower (what fraction depends on the pulley, for a 2 inch pulley, 0.29 hp, but always less than one hp). There is no way that two fractional hp belts are sufficient for the common 4.8 hp MiniMax motor. Therefore, when replacing belts you may wish to upgrade.

On my CU410 jointer planer the standard belt is 3L500 - the 3L part describes the cross section, of a belt 50.0 inches long. The length required may be different on different machines - look for the number stamped on the back of the belt you are replacing, and see the note below on installaltion. The same size belt with a heavier rating (and notched for better power transfer to/from the pulley-sheave) is 3VX500, and costs 2½ times as much as the fractional hp belt. Rather than searching auto shops for the right belt, I just ordered from Grainger (available the next morning if not in stock), but I have now found them on Amazon. Grainger uses the standard number if it is 5 characters or less (3L500) but makes up their own 5 character part number if the standard number has more than 5 characters (3VX500 is sold as Grainger 2L389). Grainger stores say "wholesale only" on the door, but if you know what you want, bring a credit card, and act professional, they will sell to you.

I recently heard someone had 3V series belts on their MiniMax. The 3V belts have the same width as the 3L belts, but are much thicker (taller?) and have slightly curved sides. The reference I finally found that told me what the 3V belts were did not give power ratings, but they are designed to transfer more power than the 3L belts. If you have to replace one, it is your guess whether the best replacement is another 3V or you should go to the 3VX series that has worked well for me.

The shaper on my CU410 takes a 25 inch belt. I installed the heavy 3VX250, sold as Grainger part number 2L377, for $11.96 when I bought it several years ago. The link is to that belt on Amazon.com.

Jointer Planer belt installation

Replacing the jointer planer belts is extremely hard unless you have a helper. One person basically crawls inside the machine, and the helper holds the belt in place on the upper pulley (remove the belt guard above the machine). Why can't you do it alone? Because one belt is on the outside of the pulley below, but the inside of the pulley above, and vice versa. So while you are working below you will knock the first belt off the upper pulley (if you don't have a helper), and will use new words that will offend the neighbors. Have your helper hold the first belt on the upper pulley. Put on the second belt on the outer pulley position above and the inner position on the motor. Then put the first belt that your helper held loose on the inner position above on the outer position of the motor pulley.

My original 3L500 belts lasted about a year. My replacement 3VX500 belts lasted over 8 years. But when I tried to replace them recently, I had trouble getting them on (maybe I am growing old, or maybe the reason it had to be replaced was the abuse I probably used to pry it on the pulley 8 years ago). Loosen the four nuts holding the motor in place, and slide the motor up the sloping mount. The trick I found to slide the motor up is to leave the nuts and washers on the top two bolts, and put a sturdy clothesline size rope over the bolts, and pull. With the motor slid all the way up the sloping path, my belts were still too tight to slide over the pulleys. I finally got a ¾ inch thick piece of plywood under the motor for the installation. The belts were still tight, but we got them on, and were able to remove the plywood and bolt the motor down for machine use. I made note to buy the next size belts next time - 3VX530, or Grainger number 2L390. If you plan to use the 3V series belts you can go to a 51 or 52 inch belt without jumping all the way to 53 inches.

There is a long threaded rod with a knob that comes with many machines - you probably put it in a box of mystery parts that you didn't know what to do with, when you got your machine. It is used to push the jointer-planer motor down the sloping mount, to increase the tension on the belts if the weight of the motor isn't sufficient. If you don't have it, no problem, it may just be harder to tighten the belts.

Scoring blade belt

If your scoring blade runs off the main blade (rather than a separate scoring motor) a special belt is used. To reverse the direction of rotation of the scoring blade, a flat belt (F) follows a funny path, taking power on one side of the belt, and giving power from the other side of the belt. Replacing the belt is awkward (thus time consuming), but not that difficult. You do not have to disassemble the machine - follow the instructions in the owner's manual, which basically says lower the blade all the way and tilt to the most comfortable position to access the belt. (Hint: There is no comfortable position, but you CAN reach it). One of the pulleys (E) is on a spring (G) that provides belt tension; you will have to hold that pulley to get the new belt on, then release the pulley to provide the required tension. No other adjustment is required.

Dust ports

Don't look at my shop! Like many, I struggled with a solution to hooking flexible hoses to the 120 mm dust ports, eventually clamping PVC couplings to the 120 mm ports, and putting a suitable adapter on the 4 inch flex hoses. It works, but there is a better solution that many people have used.

Fernco makes flexible rubber fittings for connecting dissimilar drain systems, such as cast iron pipes to PVC, but best of all, they are available at your local Home Depot and other plumbing suppliers. One user recommends Fernco P1051-44 which fits firmly over the 120 mm dust port, with the other end INSIDE a 5 inch dust hose. If you have 4 inch hoses, it may be the Fernco P1056-43 where the 4 inch hose fits over the outside of the 3 inch connector - measure this one, since I regrettably didn't go the Fernco way, and don't have notes on which Fernco connector other people have used.

Installation

The oil/grease that coats most Mini Max machines coming from the factory is cosmolene, invented during World War II to keep aircraft parts from rusting while they were at sea in the salt air. It was designed for removal by diesel or jet fuel. I bought a gallon of Kerosene, and only used a cup or two, applied with a dead paint brush (and removed with LOTS of paper towels), to clean a large combo. Today I would recommend buying a quart or less of diesel fuel at a gas station - it is chemically the same as jet fuel and kerosene.

Most units come without any power cord - you provide the wiring to the junction box on the machine (For single phase, 2 wires for 230 volts plus a green or green/yellow ground wire). The two "hot" leads are sometimes labeled T1 and T2, (the Load side is L1 and L2) and the ground will be colored or simply a place to bolt the green wire to the frame of the machine. You must have a disconnect near the machine - a plug fills that requirement cheaper than a switch. The proper twist lock plug for a 230 volt 30 amp circuit has a NEMA designation NEMA L6-30P - the L designates locking; the 6 is the type of plug used for 200-250 volts, single phase, two wire plus ground (3 prongs); 30 is amperage; and P that it is the Plug. Substitute R for the L6-30R Receptacle. The running current on the normal MiniMax 4.8 hp motor is about 22 amps, so some people run on a 20 amp circuit (not proper), with more or less success. NEMA is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, so a particular brand may have a different part number, but will normally show the NEMA code as well. The links above are to Amazon, but I have found these at Home Depot for around $25 each.

If you buy the power cord by the foot, it is usually the extremely heavy, stiff type that will support bulldozer traffic, at several dollars per foot. Instead I buy the super heavy duty 120 volt 10/3 Vinyl Outdoor Extension Cord" with 10 gauge wire (proper) or 12/3 Heavy-Duty Extension Cord (rated at 15-20 amps). With proper plugs, the 12 gauge wire will handle 20 amps, and works fine in a home environment where you are running 22 amps intermittently, not max power all day). These cords are far more flexible (less of a tripping hazard) and are usually brightly colored (another reason they are less of a tripping hazard). Cut the 120 volt plugs off (with enough cord to make into a short high load extension cord, if you wish), and use the "middle" as the power cord for your machine. The links are to Amazon, but I have also found these cords at Home Depot or Lowes as well, but they usually only have one or two in stock, in an obscure location among the extension cords, so you have to look very hard to find them.

My own tutorials

General techniques on using a sliding saw are here. It covers ripping hardwood as well as breaking down sheet goods. A separate page describes a jig popular in Europe for cutting small pieces on the slider.

A long time ago I wrote a tutorial on the slot mortiser

The most challenging use of a bandsaw is resawing, so I have a whole web page on my advice on setting up your machine for resawing, not just for MiniMax saws.

Other tutorials, and links to tutorials, beyond those directed to MiniMax machine users, start here.

HELP!

If you find a good tutorial or video please send me the link to include here.


I need your help. I am a happy MiniMax user, but not a MiniMax employee, and have not used all the different equipment. I do not have special access to official information. If you have additions or corrections to this information on MiniMax products, please share it. Please email your MiniMax info to me.

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