The problem of the roller not rotating and/or not lowering onto the heating shoe is either really easy to fix or almost
impossible! I've had this same problem with a couple Model 85s and was able to clear up the problem by the steps I will
list below. But I will also warn you that I have a nice Model 85 in my garage that seems in great shape but, for the
life of me, I cannot get the roller to lower onto the shoe.
Here are some things you can try. I am writing this as if you didn't have too much experience with Ironrite Model
85, so please don't be insulted.
Before you begin trouble shooting, make sure there is a muslin cover on the roller. The roller should not be just
bare metal because if you do get this thing to work, the bare metal will contact the heating shoe and rub against it,
damaging the shoe.
1. Is there oil, but not too much, in the gearbox? This is critical before you proceed to other steps.
For help on this, see Oil Servicing. Recent experience tells me that insufficient or old, congealed oil is a common cause of roller problems. Be
sure to read step 7 in the Oil Servicing section, which raises the possibility that you may need to clean out your gearbox
with a solvent. Also, you should read "One Person's Experience" at the end of this section, which describes how someone
solved a roller problem.
2. When you turn on the motor switch, does the motor run? Do things rotate in the gearbox? (You can safely
run the motor with gearbox open, just don't stick a finger, or anything else, in there with motor running).
3. You are going to manipulate a few handles and levers but I want to describe them first:
a. The "disengage' lever: There is a red-handled lever behind the roller.
I think it says "disengage" or something on the red handle. It has two positions, forward, which is normal operation,
and aft (away from roller) which is the "disengage" position and raises the roller away from heating shoe. You should
be able to operate this lever fore and aft. It takes a little pressure and the roller will bang and snap a little when
it goes into one position or the other, but it should move freely.
b. There are two knee levers. I am working from memory here, but I think the
one on the right, when pushed outward, will lower the roller onto the shoe and the roller will begin rotating.
The left knee lever stops rotation.
4. Sit in front of mangle, turn on motor, make sure red lever is in the forward position. If all is well, there
should be about an inch of space between heating shoe and roller.
5. Operate the right hand knee lever. Does the roller lower onto shoe and begin rotating? If so, your problem
is over! If not, read on:
6. Can you tell if the knee lever is actually doing anything? This requires looking under the mangle case and
following the rods and bellcranks back to the rear. Something might be disconnected.
7. Operate the left knee lever and see if you can tell if this seems to be hooked up properly. Operate both
levers a few times just for good luck.
8. You can "cheat" by (with no pressure on either knee lever), with motor on, manually pushing the roller down onto
the shoe. You can do this by simply pressing down on roller itself or on the top of the metal sprocket cover at side
of roller. When you do this, does roller rotate?
This next step falls into the "black magic" or "blind luck" category, but it has worked for me:
9. After doing step 8, operate knee lever and see if your problem is solved. If not, cycle red "disengage"
lever back and forth, with and without motor switch on, a couple times, repeat step 8, and try knee lever again.
10. After several repetitions of the step 8-9 procedure, if you still can't get roller to operate properly, and you
think that the knee lever mechanism looks okay, you are now at the point where you are in big trouble! There may be
something wrong inside the gearbox. If you have already determined that your gearbox has clean and proper oil (see #1
above), you are pretty much at the end of your rope. I have not yet learned how to fix gearbox problems and I do not know
anyone who can.
One Person's Experience:
A web site reader had a roller that, when the right knee lever was operated, would not lower onto shoe or rotate.
She had tried steps 1-8 above to no avail. She reported that "everything was really dry" in the gearbox, so she drained
the gearbox and put in 5 ounces of oil. The problem continued.
She then put "an entire quart of 20W oil" in the gearbox and "within an hour" everything began to work properly.
The 20W oil was drained and 5 ounces of proper oil added. No further problems.
This story gives me some hope that roller/gearbox problems might be solved by cleaning out the gearbox, whether you use
oil as in this story, or solvent as described in the Oil Servicing/Cleaning the Gearbox section.
Let me know if any of the above steps help you, or if you have discovered any other solution. If not, don't give
up. I will ask two other sources if they have any better ideas and post the results here.
Gearbox problems are tricky. There are two vertical rods that go up into gearbox and make things work. These
rods are moved by bell cranks at rear of underside of case which in turn are moved by the knee levers. If moving the
knee levers does not move these rods up or down, that is the problem.
What happens after these rods move is a mystery to me. The mangle I have in my garage has a great-looking case, motor, gearbox,
and knee levers, but the roller does not lower or rotate. The only difference I can tell is that, when I compare
the position of the bellcranks, they are rotated to a very different angle than an identical Model 85 that works okay.
No clue as to how to fix this.
Please let me know if any of this helps, or if it doesn't.