eBay did it to me again!
There have been two pieces of equipment that I've been planning to add to the shop. Building Denise's recent cabinet drove the need for both of them home.
The first is a pocket hole machine. I was forced to use biscuits to build the face-frame on Denise's pantry cabinet. And I HATE biscuits!
I had planned to pick up a Porter Cable 552 Pocket Hole machine, but in the months that I've been watching them, they've gone from $799 to unavailable. The few places that still do carry them have jacked up the price to almost $1000.
I looked at the equivilant Kreg machine, "Foreman" I think it was. Well, I don't like Kreg machines for several reasons. They use proprietary drill bits to create the pocket holes. They use proprietary screws in those holes (although you can use other than Kreg screws.) They use a proprietary drill motor. And finally, the holes they create are at too steep an angle and parts have a tendancy to shift during assembly...requiring clamping parts down during assembly.
Well, I knew what the answer was, but that answer was WAYYY out of my dwindling budget. What I lusted after was a Castle TSM-21. That machine is the cat's...well, suffice it to say, it's THE production pocket hole machine! Actually, the TSM-21 is their 'entry level' machine. But even the 'entry level' machine retails for almost $3,000 !!!
They're worth it though. First, it uses a pair of standard off-the-shelf Porter Cable routers. Second, both routers use standard off-the-shelf router bits. Instead of a manual clamp that has to be adjusted to the thickness of the work material, the TSM-21 has a pneumatic clamp that automagically adjust as it's clamping down the workpiece. And finally, the Castle machine creates a pocket hole that is at a tight six degrees to the surface of the workpiece...reducing or eliminating the tendancy of the workpiece to shift.
Ok, so a Castle TSM-21 was the first item on my 'wish list'.
The next item on that wish list was a Wide Belt Sander. I had several opportunities to use tod's wide belt in the time I was there helping him. What a dream that machine is! It takes most of the drudgery out of sanding larger pieces.
The major problem I had with a wide belt was cost. Even the small Timesavers is about $10,000! The next problem I had was size and weight. Most wide belts are HEAVY! I've watched a few on eBay that were closer to affordable for me...but they were on the order of 5,000-6,000 pounds! I'm pretty sure I built the shop stout enough to handle that much weight, but 'pretty sure' doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
The other major problem I had with most wide belts was power consumption. Remember that I'm running all my three phase equipment off a phase converter. Well, the phase converter I have is capable of running a maximum of 30 HP, but the largest motor it 'should' start at a time is 10HP. Just about every machine I've watched on eBay has had a primary drive motor of 20HP or greater...many had 25-30HP drive motors, something my phase converter could NOT start! To compound that, my dust collector is on a timed circuit that causes it to start seconds after the phase converter gets up to speed. That dust collector motor is 7.5HP, so before I press the start button on any machine, I already have a 7.5HP drain on the converter. Add to that a 20-30HP motor and I suspect I'd have issues.
Well, two weeks ago on a Saturday evening I got an email from both of the saved searches I had on eBay for BOTH a Castle TSM-21 *AND* a wide belt. Hmm, interesting I think to myself. Well, I go and check the listings and it seems that both machines are listed by the same member. The lister is a company that deals with equipment coming off of lease, and they had just acquired a Castle TSM-21 and a Safety Speed Cut 37x60 Wide belt. Both machines were purchased new in late 2005, making them both less than three years old! They came from a company that went out of business, and both were dirty but in PRISTINE condition!
The lister had relatively fair prices for both machines...but I'm not one to settle for 'fair'.
I called the lister on Monday morning and made him an offer on both machines. It was an offer that made me happy and moved both machines for him without any hassles, so he took the offer!
My only challenge was that both machines were in their warehouse in Raliegh North Carolina...about 400 miles from here! Given the size and weight of the two machines, I knew freight wasn't going to be cheap. I checked and was correct...the cheapest rate I could find was about $1,000!
With freight not an option, I decided to take a chance and drive my F-150 up up there to retrieve my new tools...
The drive up only took me about 5 1/2 hours. After spending over two hours shrink wrapping and tarping both machines, (it was forecasted to rain most of the drive home), and then running half a dozen large cargo straps around everything, I started the drive home. It was 'interesting' to say the least. I had OVER A TON of equipment in the back of a truck rated for HALF A TON! I took it slow, and ran with my hazard flashers on the whole way.
I'm happy to report both the truck and I survived the trip...but it took over TWELVE HOURS to get those machines home!
And as usual, without pictures it didn't happen, so here's proof:
Here's the Castle TSM-21:
And here's what it produces in less than two seconds:
All I have to do is place the workpiece up against the rail on the machine, making sure I engage the two safety stops. Then I simply step on a foot switch with activates the pneumatic hold-down and drives the two Porter Cable routers up into the wood. SOOOO much easier and better than biscuits!!!!
And here's the Safety Speed Cut 37x60 Wide Belt:
And here it is, cleaned up and connected to dust collection, three phase power, and compressed air:
I've already gotten new belts for it and have it used it for quite a few things I've been putting off!
This particular sander works out for me for several reasons. First, it's not all that heavy. It only weighs about 1600 pounds. Second, it "only" had a 15HP main drive motor. I was a little concerned when I was hooking it up, hoping that my phase converter could handle the load. But once I had a run of 6 gauge up and wired into the control panel, it fired up first shot and runs smoothly even under a pretty good load!
Oh, and it turns out that 37x60 is one of the most popular sizes for wide belts, so replacement belts aren't that expensive and are a stock item for all the vendors I deal with!
I think I dun good!
I also think I have to keep my hands in my pockets, and leave my checkbook at home for the upcoming IWF show!
Now, back to working on "IT" !
Thanks for looking...
- Marty -