Three colors down on a four color job. My latest Vandercook, a Universal I with all the whistles and bells, including power cylinder, is chuggin’ right along. During the washup the oscillator locks up. Well @#$%^! a broken crescent in the worm gear. It’s been a long time since I removed one from a Universal series. After conferring with Paul, I realized that the oscillator was stuck at the far end of the shaft and could not be removed like normal. Using his suggestion, I removed the screw that holds the crescent (and hence the oscillator tube on the worm gear) and proceeded to very carefully push and pry the tube further away from the operator side of the press in order to access the crescent. To my surprise, it was not broken. Now with the crescent removed I could rotate and pull the oscillator tube back toward the operator side of the press but with great difficulty. I could not understand why it was so hard to move the tube on the shaft. When I finally was able to get it off the press, I understood why.

The press had been stored unused in a barn for several years before I acquired it. In this part of the world [Arkansas] we have wasps commonly called “dirt daubers” or “mud daubers” that build incredible little tunnels of mud where they lay their eggs and an anesthetized insect, usually a spider, for the newly-hatched lava to feed on. These dirt daubers love to build inside things, particularly metal things. There are several holes in the end of an oscillator tube and inside this particular one were several dirt daubers nests. The loose dirt caused the  tube to seize on to the shaft. Using a long metal probe, I was able to break up these nests and pour them out of the inside of the tube. After a thorough cleaning of all the oscillator parts, liberal lubrication and reassembly, I was back in business.

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