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Thread: So who fixes large power tools if the manufacturer won't?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    So who fixes large power tools if the manufacturer won't?

    Had an interesting / frustrating day in the shop today. My Grizzly Wide-Belt sander stopped working. I looked inside, and the platen was clearly shredded. Funny as I've never used it.

    So I looked up the manual, and it looks pretty easy to remove it. Just put in this key / hook that they provide and pull.

    Well, no dice pulling with all my strength (or lack thereof). So I call up Grizzly tech support, and the tech, who was very nice, said to just pull it, or take a lever and lever it out.

    That clearly didn't work. I eventually put in the platen tool, and hit it with a small sledge hammer. Several hundred times. Didn't budge. I love the concept of taking a sledge hammer to an expensive power tool. I asked if spraying a lubricant would help, and he said no.

    Called tech support again, asked if there is a panel to be removed to get more access. Nope. Then I asked if they have technicians who can come out to the workshop to fix it. Found out that they have no service department.

    Eventually, I sprayed some dry teflon lubricant, and a few dozen more hammer strikes and it miraculously came out. So no great points there for Grizzly tech support, and I'm stunned that they don't have techs that for a price would come out to fix it. Felder certainly would. The Grizzly tech said that I could have it freighted back to Grizzly for thousands of dollars, and then pay their tech $95/hr to fix it.

    So, my question is, what do other people do when they need repairs to large machines, like a wide-belt sander, and the manufacturer doesn't provide that service?
    - After I ask a stranger if I can pet their dog and they say yes, I like to respond, "I'll keep that in mind" and walk off
    - It's above my pay grade. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

  2. #2
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    In my experience the owner does that. You can hire someone, but my philosophy is that it's better to mess something up myself than to hire someone else who will mess it up for me. At least I will know what I did, and it'll be a lot cheaper. In my experience an independent repair technician is frequently just someone who owns a shirt with his name on the pocket.

  3. #3
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    Almost all of my work experience has been among people with a limited supply of cash but tons of ability. I try to emulate them and do my best to fix all of my own stuff.

  4. #4
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    Grizzly and Felder operate in different worlds. You'd pay twice as much, just to pick a number, for a Felder machine and then have to pay to have their tech come out to fix it if something goes wrong. I bet having those service techs is a net loss for Felder, or is part of the purchase price. In any case, it could be a good thing if you're running a business, but not so much for most of us hobbiests. Grizzly offers a value proposition that many find attractive. Having a staff of roving service techs doesn't fit with that approach.

    I can't remember having any issue with one of my machines that I couldn't fix myself, or at least get apart enough to take to a machine shop to repair. What you experienced must have been pretty frustrating, but in the end you got it done.

    John

  5. #5
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    Interesting thread about fixing machines. I would bet someone could make a good career fixing woodworking machines. I read so many thread about peoples problems. The catch is that it will not be cheap. A service call on household appliances is expensive.

  6. #6
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    Some import sellers basically send you a kit machine and expect you to be the quality control person and the machine repairman. They always get great praise for having a good customer service department, but I prefer buying new machines that don't need repair.

  7. #7
    Seems like you wound up doing the right thing, although penetrating oil should precede brute force in that situation. It's not surprising that the platen got stuck if it never gets used or withdrawn. You might want to just leave it out of the machine to avoid a repeat. It must have been in play without you realizing it to get chewed up. I have recovered a worn platen with graphite covered canvas and felt, it wasn't difficult on our Sandingmaster.

    I have learned my machines inside and out by repairing and tuning them, but there are independent service techs and there must be some decent ones near you. Contact some commercial shops and ask who they recommend. I have learned a lot about widebelt sanders from the Surfprep website, specifically from blog posts by a tech named Adam West. I think he does onsite service and it would be worth getting in touch with him, at least to get a reference for a local service.

    I can't imagine shipping a major machine off to get it repaired. By looking around and getting leads from other shops I have found electricians good with controls and metal fab and machine shops to fix stuff that I can troubleshoot and pull parts for repair locally. One resource you might consider is the old woodworking machine site (owwm.org)- there are a lot of folks on that board who are good at figuring out and fixing (even new) machines.

  8. #8
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    OWWM will get its collective panties in a twist at the mention of a Grizzley machine.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by William Hodge View Post
    OWWM will get its collective panties in a twist at the mention of a Grizzley machine.
    True, posting about this particular machine there would not fly, but those are the kind of people who know how to fix stuff. You just have to do a little digging to find them.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 04-08-2024 at 10:43 PM.

  10. #10
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    Large power tools? Millwrights.
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  11. #11
    ive seen one or two people advertise they repair machines on Kijiji.

    When I was lucky i had a German tool and die maker friend. He not only could make and repair stuff, he also improved stuff for companies that had issues with things, he had the ability to identify why and improve. .

  12. #12
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    You will be hard pressed to be able to get on-site service (from the manufacturer/vendor) for most woodworking machines that are not from "premium brand" and even then, you'll pay dearly for it. There may or may not be someone independent working locally, but they may or may not be pegged only to things they happen to sell. 'Nature of the beast and it's been that way for a very long time.
    --

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

  13. #13
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    Shops must maintenance their own equipment, it’s part of the requirement of owning and operating equipment. Large shops in days past would have at least one employee capable of doing so.

    I have a set of mechanic tools at every tool station, and general metrology tools for the shop. Sometimes I also have those at the tool stations. Basically every group of tools has a dedicated toolbox with a complete set of sockets/allens/wrenches and anything case specific to them. This saves the travel time from one tool station to another. Other folks might have a rolling toolbox but my shop is broken up into multiple locations.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  14. #14
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    Mar 2014
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    I bought a 15" widebelt sander used. It was taking way more material on one side.
    The maker (I won't say who) still sells new machines here in Los Angeles - they said to bring it in, would be better than their tech coming to me.

    I hauled it 40 miles on a rented trailer and left it with them. I explained the problem thoroughly, and left them the very thorough manual.
    Got a call the next day - the machine won't run.
    Drove up. They had this 3-phase machine wire-nutted to a single phase cord.

    Got a call the next day. The machine is working fine now.
    Drove up. The sander was strapped to a pallet and they loaded it onto the rented trailer.
    Back at the shop it still took way too much on one side. Called them. The said they didn't check for that, just that the machine runs.

    I counted to ten, then rented the trailer for a third time and took it back to them.
    This time I recognized one of their techs from having met him at a woodworking show. I explained the shambles and he fixed the machine in an hour. Been working fine since.
    The upshot is that you don't know who is working on your machine.

    And they lost the manual. Have never found a copy online.

  15. #15
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    This is totally age/experience dependent, if you are young enough and naive enough to trust people that you don't know, either call someone to come and fix it or take it to a machine shop or the dealers. Then when when you have done that a few times and managed not to get arrested, you will buy the tools and equipment and learn how to fix it yourself.

    Screenshot 2024-04-09 112949.jpg Screenshot 2024-04-09 112605.jpg

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