Direct-Drive Versus Belt-Drive Ripsaws

A brief discussion of the pros and cons of ripsaw drive systems. October 19, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
Direct drive vs. belt drive ripsaws - everyone says their method is better. What are the pros/cons from real-world experience?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From Contributor M:
Have you ever treid to replace a motor on a direct drive machine? Even worse yet try to find on for that nice big1945 Yates jointer you just bought at auction? Iíll take a belt drive any day. I can replace the motor, change pulley sizes and even change the machine over to a modern grooved belt setup with no problem!

From Contributor E:
Not to argue with Contributor C, but Mereen-Johnson isn't going away any time soon, so parts, should they be needed, would be easy to come by. I know that's one of their selling points that the direct drive motor delivers a better edge. I don't buy it for one second. Once the power from the motor is transmitted through the bearings to the arbor, the arbor doesn't know if it's direct drive or belt driven. The more important question to ask is the cost of a chain rebuild.

I'm within a few months of adding a shifting blade gang rip to my operation so I too have been doing the research and asking questions from not only Mereen Johnson but Raimann also. If and when a Mereen Johnson needs to have the chain rebuilt it costs around $3000. A Raimann is going to cost around $20,000, and my guess is that the import saws are also going to cost more the MJ. Just some food for thought as you consider which saw is best for your operation.

From Contributor W:
We sell Riamann over in the UK and have the same questions asked from our customers. My experience is that both methods work well, but for sure belt driven is easier to work with when you have motor problems or spindle issues. The one thing I can suggest is the most important thing to consider is timber recovery and the Riamann sure as good measuring systems in Ripassist and TimberMax. If itís the same as the UK wood is getting more expensive and the more you can make from it the better.