Last fall we invested in some “new” woodworking equipment as our cabinetry sales increased over the year.
In my last post I mentioned adding a Blum Mini-Drill 7-head line drill machine, and a Powermatic Model 66 shaper.
Next up on my woodworking equipment hit list was a wide belt sander.
We have had our eyes on purchasing a widebelt sander for as long as I can remember. Since the beginning we have been using a stroke sander, which is incredibly versatile and a great tool, but a widebelt sander beats it hands down in terms of accuracy, ease of use, and quality of sanding.
Once again, Coby of Advanced Machinery was keeping an eye out for a good quality used single-head widebelt sander in the $4K-$7K range. He ended up finding the one pictured above, a 30-year-old single-head 37″ Timesaver widebelt sander. Coby could not believe how good this sander looked, especially for being 30 years old. It was meticulously maintained.
The conveyor belt, which can cost up to $2,000 to replace, had no cracks or tears, and the sanding drums had absolutely no pits or grooves. Once his technicians gave the machine their approval, we purchased it and had it delivered.
But before we were able to hook this machine up and use it, we had to address one issue: how to power the thing! Most industrial machines, and all the machines seen in this blog entry, are 3-phase machines. Don’t ask me exactly how it works, but normal residential-type power is single-phase, and industrial-type power, which larger machines need, is 3-phase. 3-phase motors tend to be more efficient, longer-lasting, and more powerful.
Our shop does not have 3-phase power, but we have multiple 3-phase machines. They are run using a phase convertor, which uses single-phase power to generate the 3-phase needed. Phase convertors come in many different sizes, and all have max HP outputs.
The largest phase convertor we had was a 20HP, which could only run a motor of about 13HP max. The bad news is, that massive motor seen in the bottom right side of the widebelt is a 20HP motor, which would need at least a 30HP phase convertor to adequately power the machine.
So, while the sander was being shipped to us, we were searching for the best deal on phase convertors. After scouring the web for used phase convertors, we were able to find a lightly used 40HP phase convertor in Jupiter, FL, via Crazedlist. The phase convertor weighed almost 800 pounds, which meant that shipping on the unit was insane, but the convertor was the best value that we found, so we purchased it.
After purchasing the widebelt for $5,000, the phase convertor for $1,700 + $700 shipping, and paying the electrician ~$1,800 to wire everything up, we had a beautiful widebelt sander.
The fact that we had to acquire a phase convertor made the initial purchase of the widebelt a bit expensive, but given how easy the machine has made our sanding lives, it has been well worth it!
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.