How can someone let this happen to a perfectly good Shopsmith Mark V?

My adult daughter gave me a call yesterday to tell me that she just visited a yard sale where there was a Shopsmith Mark V of some sort that was for sale for $150.  What's funny is that I'm still driving around with the Mark V and accessories in my van from last weekend because my shop has a dirt driveway and it's been raining all week.  $150 is a great deal if the tool is in even half decent shape, do I drove to my shop and off-loaded the other Mark V and the four SPT's, and after popping a few Tylenol I was off the the other end of Greensboro.

As I approached the drive of the home I could see the Mark V out in the lawn near the road, along with an old washer, a table full of glassware and a couple other lawn and garden odds and ends.  Sweet, it's a 510!
I jumped from my van and casually walked past the other items, feigning interest in a few, but all the while trying to assess the details of the Mark V.  Finally I was standing in front of the tool and my heart sank.

Now, to put this tool into perspective I need to tell you about the Mark V that I saw that was in the worst condition ever.  It was when I was working at the Shopsmith Factory store back in 1990ish and some poor fella had an almost new Mark V that went down in brackish water on a boat he had been restoring.  It had been under water for ten days when they finally raised the boat, and his insurance man advised him not to touch anything until everything had been inspected.  Several weeks later he was finally able to start the clean-up process, and by that time rust had begun to seriously eat away at the way and bench tubes and the quill, and who knew what was going on inside the headstock.

He decided that a trip to the factory in Dayton was in order, so he strapped the Mark V to a borrowed flat bed trailer and started to pull away.  Now, I don't know what clued him in, but after a few seconds on the road something made him stop to investigate and what he found was that the Mark V had fallen over and was hanging off the bed of the trailer and riding on one corner of the headstock casting! 

By the time we received this dog at the factory it was totally beyond repair.  I'm sure his insurance company gave him something for it, but there was really nothing we could do.  After an act of God, followed by poor moving skills, his Mark V was dead.

Back to this weekend. 

The Mark V before me was missing a few items.  No, it was missing a lot of items!  The fence, the miter gauge, the upper and lower saw guard, the floating tables and support tubes, the support legs, the sanding disc, any saw arbors, and any safety equipment were all gone.  It did have the drill chuck mounted on the quill, but the hex hey and the chuck key were missing, so whoopty freakin' do!   But here comes the worst part:  The tool was covered in rust, corrosion and for some unknown reason about a quart worth of white paint drippings.  It looked like someone had left this poor machine on an open porch and had used it as a work bench for painting bird houses! 

Now, I don't know about you, but when I purchased my Mark V back in 1987 it was my most valued possession.  To this day I cherish that very tool.  The few times that I've entered my shop to see a little rust on the surface of my jointer, I dropped everything I was doing and nursed her back to health. 

It is behind this backdrop that I ask, "How can someone allow this to happen?"  I mean, I suppose the original owner may have died, and the new owner didn't value it.  Or perhaps it was purchased in an auction for a song.  I don't know, but I left that Mark V where I found it, and in a weird way I actually felt a loss not unlike the loss of a family member.  I debated negotiating with the owner just so I could part it out and perhaps get some benefit from her death; but I just couldn't bring myself to talk to him.

Sorry but this isn't a happy post.  I think I need to go wax my Mark V and assure her that this will never be her fate. 


  1. Sad story, but I enjoyed the read. I felt like I was there with you.


  2. When you mentioned the Mark V that went down on the boat and had some rust on it I thought you could just use some sanding abrasives on it. Than I kept on reading about how it was dragging along. I died a little on the inside. Such a sad sad story. I didn't cry when I watched the ending of Titanic but you sir, made me ball like a little baby. At least my wife can't call me the tin man any longer.

  3. I am looking at a mark V that has some rust/spotting on the tubes. Everything moves back and forth smoothly so it is not terrible but I'd like to know what I can/should do beyond waxing should I purchase it. Thanks!


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