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Thread: PC Belt Sander Disappointment

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
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    PC Belt Sander Disappointment

    Hey everyone,

    I just bought a PC 3" X 21" PC VS Belt Sander. I am not very happy with it. I am used to using a Montgomery Ward Power Craft model that is at least 35 years old. I killed it this afternoon. I really liked it and it served my father then me very well. I had to finish a remodeling project so I went to the Orange Borge and bought the PC. ($189.00) Right out of the box it did not track right, I kept having to adjust it every minute or so. It also left about an inch strip of belt in the middle of the belt untouched. It also tips sideways easily and gouges the work. I guess I thought tools like these would be better after 35 year. I just want to check with everyone to see if I got a lemon and the PC is really good, or is there a better one ( better balance and tracking would be great) like the Bosch or Dewalt. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks

    Tim Palmer

  2. #2
    I have the same one, and love it. No problems yet. But I do have to adjust it a few times when I first put on a new belt. After that, it does a nice job for me.
    Member - Uncle Sam's Misguided Children '82-'85.
    Once, Now Former, But Always!

    "Among individuals, as among nations, the respect for the other's rights brings peace."
    Benito Juarez

  3. #3
    Tim, I don't have any experience with the PC belt sanders, so I can't tell you if you got a lemon or not. My own belt sander experience is limited to two relatively cheap ones, but one of them in particular I have used a lot so I feel qualified to make some observations. I'm also interested in other peoples' comments because I anticipate needing a new sander before too long.

    My first belt sander was a little cheapie Skil brand (about $50) that had "automatic tracking", and both the tracking and the sander itself worked surprisingly well. I had it for 6 or 7 years, but only used it occasionally for short periods of time, and it died a premature death last winter.

    At Christmas time, LOML gave me a B&D "Dragster" belt sander. I liked the idea of the smaller front roller (and subsequent bigger platen), and it had decent reviews on the web, so I asked for it without having seen one in person. Pretty much from day one, this sander has made an intermittent squawking noise like that sounded like it had a bearing going out, but I figured I would only use it periodically, so I didn't worry about it. Fast forward about 3/4 of a year, and now I find myself deeply re-immersed into woodworking and making lots of cutting boards with just a table saw, a belt sander, and a RO sander. My poor little Dragster sander has been run hard and put away wet many, many times, and it keeps churning (and occasionally screetching) along. It gets used 2 to 5 times a week sanding down rough glue-ups from 50 grit to 120, and sometimes it runs for 3 or more hours straight. Other than sounding like the dickens, it does a good job, it's easy to control, and properly handled it'll sand a cutting board flat enough for my purposes. The dust collection is a joke...sometimes a bit of dust accidentally makes it into the collection bag, and the outlet is rectangular and not suited for attaching to a round DC or shop vac hose. The tracking (which is manually adjusted) seems to need adjusting for each belt change, but as long as I'm using good quality belts, it stays in place pretty well. (Cheap belts required constant tracking adjustments.)

    When I got this sander, I wasn't planning to use it a lot, since I didn't anticipate making a truckload of cutting boards. Of course, now I wish I had a drum sander, but I need to find a steady enough market to justify the expense. In the meantime, I somewhat expect the tired old Dragster to hit the wall one of these days, so I'm interested to see what other comments get posted here.

    - Vaughn

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I always hated the PC 3x21, for the same reasons you mention. I can't keep it flat, period. For big jobs, I was comfortable with the Bosch 4x24; if I needed 'finesse', an older Dewalt 3x21 is lightweight and 'underpowered' enough to not 'dig in'. I consider a belt sander a 'last resort' tool...if there's another way to get the job done, I'm all over it.

    KC

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan
    The dust collection is a joke...sometimes a bit of dust accidentally makes it into the collection bag, and the outlet is rectangular and not suited for attaching to a round DC or shop vac hose. - Vaughn

    Vaughn -- You are correct about the dust collection bin that comes with it, Why they even waste the time and money including it when they have to know it is useless is beyond me. They do make a vacuum adapter, why they don't include it with the sander is also beyond me. http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/at...productID=6361

    I use the it with my shop vac and it works very well (better than I had expected).
    Tony

  6. #6
    The Bosch 4 x 24 also gets my vote.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Griswold Connecticut
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    Tim. I have the PC 3x21, and use it quite a bit, at least I did until I got a drum sander. Mine is about 10 years old, so maybe there are some quality issues with newer ones. I hope not because PC has a fine lineup of tools, and I would hate to see the quality go down across the board.
    I don't have the issues that you have. The rollers are flat across the lengths and the belt tracks true. The plate on the bottom is flat and aligned with the rollers. If you need to use it sideways, you have to readjust belt tension/tracking.
    The dust bag that comes with it is a waste of time, about all it does is stop you from shooting dust in your face. I hook mine up to a shop vac, with the hose, and the cord coming down from the ceiling. This way nothing can catch the edge of the bench, or the material and cause you to lose control of the sander for a moment.
    It will get away from you though. It's definitely a two handed tool. I use 120 and finer grit belts only.Anything heavier removes material way too fast. The heavier the grit, the slower I have the speed. This helps mitigate the
    "wobbling" Generally mine is set about midway on the speed control.
    When I use it, I keep a continuous motion over a large area, and keep the sander moving at a pretty fair clip.
    You may have just got a sander that has some problems, and needs to be returned. I wouldn't like the fact that the belt was not making contact properly.
    I've had good luck with mine, and still use it when something is too big for the drumsander.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    I have the PC 3x 21 and it seems fine. The belts track fine once their set. Sanding even surfaces takes some practice. Actually applying more downward pressure to keep the sander flat and swinging large arcs using 2 hands...kind of locking the elbows seems to work best
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  9. #9
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    I own the Bosch 3" x 21" and in the very rare occasion I use it, it's performed well and predictably. No problems.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    I've got a Ryobi 3x21 belt sander. (I figure a belt sander is a pretty crude device, so there's little point in spending more money.) It works pretty well. Belts track properly. It was easy to hook my Fein shop-vac to it to get good dust collection. It is noisy, but Peltor's best earmuffs take care of that.

    Incidentally, Norton's new 3X belts work very well.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Falotico
    Vaughn -- You are correct about the dust collection bin that comes with it, Why they even waste the time and money including it when they have to know it is useless is beyond me. They do make a vacuum adapter, why they don't include it with the sander is also beyond me. http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/at...productID=6361

    I use the it with my shop vac and it works very well (better than I had expected).
    Thanks Tony. Do you know if this DeWalt adaptor will fit my B&D sander? It's hard to tell from the pic.

    - Vaughn

  12. #12
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    Jul 2004
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Thanks

    I just wanted to tell everyone thank you for your replies. I have learned from this forum not to be to judgemental on new tools. Every great company makes a lemon once in a while. I am definately going to take this belt sander back, I just have not decided to get another PC or something different. Not a dig on the PC but I figure maybe I should shop around a bit more and make a more informed decision. I did like the power the PC had and the comfortable grips. It just feels a little unbalanced. Anyone have any experience with the Makatita. It looks similar and maybe a little easier to hook up to my Fein Vacum. Thank you again.
    it is always a pleasure to hear from experts.

    Tim Palmer

  13. #13
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    Jun 2005
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    Meredith, NH
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    Tim,

    I have the same sander - it's about four years old now. I've not had severe tracking problems, however, I have found that some belts do not track as well as others. Recently I have been using up Suncoast belts which are nothing special, but they do track well. So, I would try a different brand belt. If that does not help, then take the sander back to the big box store.

    Regards,

    Phil Glover

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    20 miles NW of Phila, PA
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    I have both the PC 3x21 and 4x24 and have had no problems with them. I use Kingspor's "box of belts", $29 for 36 for the 3" and 30 for the 4" and they last forever. Of course, to get the "forever", I use one of those "abrasive cleaning sticks" to keep the sawdust off the belt.

    As far as the dust, PC sells an 11' hose that fits all of their units that have dust collection bags. The hose is standard at one end for shop vacumns and narrow at the other end for the PC units ($21 at Kingspor's, $24 at Tool Crib, etc). The hose fits the belt sanders, circular saws, biscuit jointer, 1/4 sheet sander, etc.

    Did you give PC a call about the problem you are having? Might be as simple as a loose or missing bolt.

    Regards (and good luck), Joe
    Two weeks, your project will be done in two weeks!!! (From the Money Pit)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Palmer
    I am used to using a Montgomery Ward Power Craft model that is at least 35 years old. I killed it this afternoon. I really liked it and it served my father then me very well.
    DISREGARD if you're looking for any excuse to purchase a new tool:

    Have you examined the motor brushes? Often, replacing those will put your 'tried and true' old hand power tool back in business......
    Tim


    on the neverending quest for wood.....

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