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South Bend Reversing Switch Rebuild-Can You Help?

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  • South Bend Reversing Switch Rebuild-Can You Help?

    I am rebuilding this old Reversing Switch. Does anyone have a Reversing Switch in their junk drawer, maybe left over from a south bend restoration? I need some parts to resurrect this broken one.

    It is a model # RSB4, 1HP, 550v max, Made for South Bend Lathe Works by Furnas Electric Co.

    I need four of the spring contact fingers, and the associated screws and nuts that go with them. They were missing from this switch when I obtained it.

    I also need both sides of the bakelite or micarta phenolic insulator strip that the spring contact fingers are connected to... the one remaining insulator strip is broken in half, and the other was completely missing.

    Minor stuff missing is one cover screw, and the knob... but I can substitute the screws with all new ones if I can't find an original, and make a knob if necessary.

    Any help in sourcing these parts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for looking... -John

  • #2
    I see you already posted this in PM so you beat me to it

    It's a bit older than what I have on mine so not much help there... You'll probably get an answer shortly from the folks over on PM.

    Good luck!
    "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" Thomas Edison

    Better to have tools you don't need than to need tools you don't have

    73's KB3BFR


    • #3
      The last I knew -- which was a few years ago -- Furnas Electric was still in business. They would probably be the only source of parts.

      Since you can buy a drum reversing switch for about $35 though, I doubt you'll save any money even if you can find a parts source. I assume that saving money isn't really the motivation, however.
      Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
      Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
      Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
      There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
      Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
      Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


      • #4
        Yeah, my motivation is restoration... but saving money is always secondary issue for a hobbyist...

        I was just looking for another broken switch to see if I can rehab this one...

        The contact spring fingers would be simple enough to make - if I have to, using pieces of copper tubing for the fingertips, but I need a source for the phenolic insulator parts that hold everything together. I have been thinking of using micarta knife handle material, but I am not sure if it would insulate or conduct...

        The insulators are approximate 3-9/16 long, 3/16" thick and 5/8" wide...

        Know where I can find this material cheap?


        • #5
          Micarta insulator

          Micarta is an insulator unless it is reinforced with graphite fiber. The graphite fiber is conductive.

          Normally micarta is reinforced with linen fabric, though some also come reinforced with fiberglass. Either linen or fiberglass are OK as insulators. The bulk of the material is bakelite plastic which has good electrical insulation and heat resistance.

          If you have some micarta material, just machine the shape you want and put it in.


          • #6

            McMaster Car has phenolic Part Number: 8667K214.

            - Scott


            • #7
              There is (1) on E-Bay under Atlas lathes to-day (I just saw it and I have NO connection to the seller.

              It's item #190242356268



              • #8
                How easy would it be to replace the entire innards (are pieces spot welded to the case)? The reason I ask is I bought a modern (Square D?) switch similar to the one I have on my Bridgeport mill from a local surplus place. He had several with no covers. I think I paid under $10 and mine is just a spare. I was there the other day and am pretty sure my eye spied another on in some junk.

                If you think you are interested, I would 1. Take a picture of the one I have 2. Take some measurements 3. go get you one if you want to go that route.

                Paul Carpenter
                Mapleton, IL


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SGW
                  The last I knew -- which was a few years ago -- Furnas Electric was still in business. They would probably be the only source of parts.
                  Furnas was owned by Siemens for a while. Last time I looked it was owned by Hubbell.


                  • #10

                    Please do post a photo of the one you have with the cover off so I can see what the parts look like. If your surplus shop has another reversing switch for close to the $10 yours cost, please let me know asap. I get an immediate email on my blackberry if you respond here.

                    If your local junk .. I mean SURPLUS dealer has a Furnas switch in this size, it probably doesn't even need to be for reversing, a multi-speed switch would certainly do for the parts I need...

                    All others, thanks for all your tech advice, and the ebay lead... I will check it out.


                    • #11
                      I don't believe that the switch was a Furnas-- its much more modern than the one you have pictured, as well. I just figured that you might be able to fit the complete switch internals in your switch enclosure, allowing you to maintain the look of the one you have while benefitting from a new switch. These switches would otherwise require a guy to make a cover for them since the original cover is missing, so perhaps this is a good use for them.

                      Let me see what I can find. I am at work and cannot shoot pictures until tonight. I will send you PM with the pictures and measurements. If it works, I should be able to drop by and look for one of the switches tomorrow. I don't recall seeing any other drum switches around...the stuff they have is a real hodgepodge, so the likelihood of finding one that old for parts is really slim.

                      Paul Carpenter
                      Mapleton, IL


                      • #12

                        The interior of the box is formed to hold the switch parts and I don't think that a complete swap of internals will be possible or easy...what I am hoping for is that the contact "fingers" from any switch you may find will be long enough for me to modify into replacements for this switch. The existing contacts are either bronze or bronze plated steel and about 3 inches long, .25 inches wide and have a piece of copper riveted to the tip for the contact.

                        I can probably come up with the insulator material and machine it to spec... but the contacts would best be made from material designed for that purpose. I will wait to see what you come up with. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. -John


                        • #13
                          John (biometrics) check your PM's


                          • #14
                            These have been made by just about everybody that makes electrical components Square D, Cutler-Hammer, Allen Bradley, the list goes on and on. Unless the Southbend is somehow unique , I'd just spend the 30 bucks and get a new one. They are by no means rare. The problem might be that the one you want is still being used to power a piece of machinery. They last a long time.