Metal Planers

Along the way, I developed an interest in metal shapers, and bought a small Atlas 7. I enjoyed watching the Atlas run so much that nine days later, I bought a 20 inch G&E.

Gray Planer

I have wanted a metal planer for ten years, but I never found one at a time that I had space for one until February 7, 2014, when the right machine appeared on eBay. I bought it immediately, and a few weeks later, in the middle of a March snowstorm, it arrived at my shop. I had it running that day, but have not put it to use yet.

This planer is a 22" x 22" model with a 19" x 72" table. I cannot find a nameplate on this planer, but I found the serial number #4552. Reviewing American Planer, Shaper and Slotter Builders (Kenneth L. Cope, 2002, p. 75 & p. 77, fig. 10), I am fairly confident that this machine was made in 1900, plus or minus a year. It was built for overhead line shaft drive, and later converted to use an electric motor. The motor sits on top of a fabricated support and a Lewellyn variable speed drive. These were later, and probably around 1915 (the latest patent date listed on the motor nameplate is in 1913). The drive from the motor to the Lewellyn and from there to the jack shaft (also sitting on the fabricated support) are V-belts, but from there to the planer the drive uses classic flat belts. The different size pulleys on the jack shaft provide for rapid table reverse.

Like most planers, the machine is equipped with power cross feed and power down feed. The table is in very good condition for such an old machine, having only one small groove that appears to have resulted from letting the down feed go too far. Overall, the machine is in very good condition for its age, with only a few minor problems.


I placed these two instructional videos on YouTube showing my initial experience with this planer:

Belt-shifting Mechanism in Action
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What I like

  • This uses old-school technology that built industry in this country and others.

What I dislike

  • The exposed belts are not safe, and so I rigged a guard.


  • I had to replace one missing square head screw on the tool head gib.
  • There was a broken bolt on the cross rail that I drilled out, and then fabricated a new bolt to match the original.
  • There are some broken teeth on the cross rail raising screws' bevel gears, but the mechanism still functions well. I plan to make replacement gears as time permits.
  • I broke one of the reversing dogs, so I machined a new set out of modern ductile cast iron.
  • If I set the Lewellyn drive too fast, the flat belts would jump the pulleys during the shift from forward to reverse. I noticed that the pulleys on the jack shaft were not aligned well, and the reversing belt was running on the edge of the large pulley. I moved the pulleys in line and the problem seems to have gone away.

Other comments

  • I acquired this machine recently (on March 5, 2014), and am still making minor repairs and learning its capabilities.
  • The machine desperately needs some fresh paint.
  • One of the belt shifting levers was broken and repaired by brazing, obviously many years ago.

MechaGodzilla was a machine made in the image of Godzilla. Like the belt shifting mechanism here, MechaGodzilla could perform complex mechanical movements but the mechanism was fundamentally simple.