wet Belt sander question - WarmGlass.com

wet Belt sander question

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JimH
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wet Belt sander question

Postby JimH » Sun Apr 06, 2003 2:19 pm

Looking to purchase a wet belt sander and looking for comments, sources and experiences.
Thanks
Jim

Tony Smith
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Postby Tony Smith » Sun Apr 06, 2003 4:16 pm

You really only have two choices: Sommer and Maca (Somaca) and CR Laurence. They both sell workhorses that will last a lifetime. The question is how long it will take you to come up with $1500 USD to buy one.

The other option is to buy a small unit made by Covington Engineering. They are good units, but they are small. I had one for a while and Amy in Milwaukee still uses one (I believe). You can get most grits for the smaller unit, but I'm not sure anyone is making a cork belt for them. They are available from Kingsley North at http://www.kingsleynorth.com

Tony
The tightrope between being strange and being creative is too narrow to walk without occasionally landing on both sides..." Scott Berkun

Brad Walker
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Postby Brad Walker » Sun Apr 06, 2003 4:28 pm

Cork belts are available for the Covington wet belt sanders. Diamond and silicon carbide belts are also available, as well as felt and a few others I think.

The Covington units are table top and come in both 3" by 24" and 3" by 41 1/2" sizes. (The larger units from Somaca et al have 4" by 108" belts.) Covington prices from around $450 to $850, depending on size and motor.

Carol Craiglow
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Postby Carol Craiglow » Sun Apr 06, 2003 4:49 pm

Hi Jim-

Or you can do what I did (following Brian Blanthorn's suggestion)...I called a local glass supply house (plate glass) and asked if they had a used Somaca belt sander. Turned out they were looking for an excuse to upgrade to a new machine and sold me their older, recently refurbished, belt sander for about $500. So it's worth making a few calls. Also they are on e-bay from time to time.

Carol
Bob L Workshop - Take Two
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Santa Fe NM
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Steve Immerman
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Covington vs. CRL

Postby Steve Immerman » Sun Apr 06, 2003 5:49 pm

Although I am new to using a wet belt sander, I have a few novice's observations:

I have the Covington 3 x 41 1/2" , and I have used the CRL unit. There are pros and cons to each.

I particularly like the 13" back plate on the Covington unit which allows you to hold the edge of a straight piece vertically on the belt, and there is a grinding plate in front that helps holding the piece perpendicular to the belt. It is also smaller and less messy, because the belt has several inches of reservour in front of it to catch water. The fact that it goes on a table top may allow you to put it at a height that is more convient and comfortable for you. I'm not aware if the CRL height is adjustable.

The CRL has bigger wider belts, has wheels in front to help glide the glass along the belt, and changing belts seems a bit easier to me than with the Covington.

I can't say that I noticed that either one worked generally faster or did a better job with grinding than the other. The CRL unit sure looks like a workhorse that would last forever.

Steve
Last edited by Steve Immerman on Sun Apr 06, 2003 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

David Williams

Postby David Williams » Sun Apr 06, 2003 8:57 pm

I've been quite happy with my 3x41 1/2 Covington. I do large work with it. I think the cr lawrence and somaca machines are oversized for what most of us do. They are good for schools because of their flexibility to allow students to do big work and good for your neighborhood window glass shop because they have big glazing projects. I think they're only marginally faster. I have about 2-3k invested in belts which gives me flexibility and if I had a 104 I think that would be more like 10K or more. One thing about my covington that I didn't like was that the optional taller backplate I got was softer than you'd like. So I had to have a stainless one fabbed and that cost me like 100$.


Ps. another thing I wasn't thrilled about with covington was the drive wheel kept slipping so I had to keep the tension higher than I ewanted. So I called covington about it and they said they had a specially coated drive wheel that would increase the friction. So when it got hereit turned out to be a regular wheel someone had slipped a piece of bicycle inner tube over...
Last edited by David Williams on Sun Apr 06, 2003 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Amy Schleif-Mohr
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WBS

Postby Amy Schleif-Mohr » Sun Apr 06, 2003 9:20 pm

Yes I do have a Covington. And of course I have a few thoughts too. Like Steve I also have used the larger sanders in other studios.
Like David I also have started to invest a considerable amount of money in belts, though not as much as him.
Here are my thoughts:
The Covington has served my purposes well. I do large work that is approx. 1" thick.
I found that I was going through my SiC belts really fast. I believe this is because of the smaller size. I have started to invest in diamond belts and am very happy with this decision.
I paid in the area of $700 for my Covington and the diamond belts are around $200, at least the ones I bought were.
I also like the bigger backing plate but have removed the flat resting plate for ergonomic reasons.
The bigger sanders are more expensive as are the belts but it would make sense that they would last longer.
I am certianly not an expert in this I just know what has worked for me and what I could afford.
I also checked with a local showerdoor distributor to see if they had a used Somaca that I could buy. They told me they wouldn't sell thier's for anything. But it was worth a try. They also let me try their's to help me decided what I wanted, which was nice of them to do.
So, those are some more thoughts.
One last thing, I use my sander almost on a daily basis and am able to achieve an edge that is more than acceptable with it. A larger sander would be nice but this one does what I need it to do.

Good luck making your decision.
Amy

Jack Bowman
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Postby Jack Bowman » Sun Apr 06, 2003 10:13 pm

I went to a lab glass place and bought a used Wilt 6x48. My first choice would have been Somaca. Wilt is much more expensive but I don't feel it is any better than Somaca.

Jack

Tony Smith
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Postby Tony Smith » Sun Apr 06, 2003 11:09 pm

Jack

That seems to be an odd belt size. CRL belts are 4x64 and 4x106. Have you been able to find belts for the Wilt 6x48"?

Tony
The tightrope between being strange and being creative is too narrow to walk without occasionally landing on both sides..." Scott Berkun

David Williams

Postby David Williams » Sun Apr 06, 2003 11:45 pm

Jack Bowman wrote:I went to a lab glass place and bought a used Wilt 6x48. My first choice would have been Somaca. Wilt is much more expensive but I don't feel it is any better than Somaca.

Jack


I like the sound of that. Shorter and fatter.

Ron Bell
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Postby Ron Bell » Mon Apr 07, 2003 12:26 am

I also have a Covington -- about a year now -- and I love it for the size work I do. It is a tad slow, you can't really bear down on it like the bigger ones. Getting belts don't seem to be a problem, I even bought some on sale at the Gem Show in Tucson in February. My one complaint would be that the water hookup and drain is poorly designed and clumsy.
Ron Bell
Black Creek Glass

Anea
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Postby Anea » Mon Apr 07, 2003 2:21 am

I very recently (two weeks ago) purchased the smaller Covington from cyberrockhound.com for a little over $600. Best price I could find. It has the motor and is mounted and ready to go. I was trying to stretch my money further instead of investing in the larger Covington from CR Lawrence, which I completely loved and had used many times.

Unfortunately if I had to do it again, I would splurge on the big one. The small one has huge hassles in changing the belts, getting a drip system to work without getting cloggs, issues with the back plate and more. I have been very dissappointed in the smaller unit. You literally have to whip out the wrench to change a belt and loosen a screw, reposition the barrel things, reposition the backplate, the thing that holds the sponge and work the extremely tight belt on again. The whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes before it is alligned right and not sliding one way or the other causing you to repeat the process. It will get the job done but the time and frustration getting there does not quite seem worth it.

The larger models change belts quickly and easily. The water systems are more straightforward and cleaner. I would think about all of these things before I got the smaller one. My vote would be for the larger $1500 model.

Hope this candid reflection helps-

Anea

Marty
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Sanders

Postby Marty » Mon Apr 07, 2003 2:31 am

If you go for the large unit, I reccomend CRL. Be aware that they sell 2 machines under their name- get the one made by Bee in Canada.

Lots in the archives....

Amy Schleif-Mohr
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Postby Amy Schleif-Mohr » Mon Apr 07, 2003 9:32 am

[Anea's post
Unfortunately if I had to do it again, I would splurge on the big one. The small one has huge hassles in changing the belts, getting a drip system to work without getting cloggs, issues with the back plate and more. I have been very dissappointed in the smaller unit. You literally have to whip out the wrench to change a belt and loosen a screw, reposition the barrel things, reposition the backplate, the thing that holds the sponge and work the extremely tight belt on again. The whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes before it is alligned right and not sliding one way or the other causing you to repeat the process. It will get the job done but the time and frustration getting there does not quite seem worth it.

ANEA,
Did you get one of the tiny ones from Covington? I'm not understanding why you are having so much trouble changing belts. All I do is loosen the nut at the top and slide the belt on or off.

I'd like to help you so it works easier for you.

Amy

PS I tried the quote thing and it didn't put it in the box so hopfully no one will be confused.

Bert Weiss
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Postby Bert Weiss » Mon Apr 07, 2003 9:40 am

Anea wrote:I very recently (two weeks ago) purchased the smaller Covington from cyberrockhound.com for a little over $600. Best price I could find. It has the motor and is mounted and ready to go. I was trying to stretch my money further instead of investing in the larger Covington from CR Lawrence, which I completely loved and had used many times.

Unfortunately if I had to do it again, I would splurge on the big one. The small one has huge hassles in changing the belts, getting a drip system to work without getting cloggs, issues with the back plate and more. I have been very dissappointed in the smaller unit. You literally have to whip out the wrench to change a belt and loosen a screw, reposition the barrel things, reposition the backplate, the thing that holds the sponge and work the extremely tight belt on again. The whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes before it is alligned right and not sliding one way or the other causing you to repeat the process. It will get the job done but the time and frustration getting there does not quite seem worth it.

The larger models change belts quickly and easily. The water systems are more straightforward and cleaner. I would think about all of these things before I got the smaller one. My vote would be for the larger $1500 model.

Hope this candid reflection helps-

Anea


I have had the 3 x 24 covington for nearly 20 years. I don't use it often. Mine uses a sponge for the water source which is kind of goofy. The belts don't last long if you are doing serious work with it, but I can change them by hand. It is a Mickey Mouse machine, but serves it's purpose in my shop.

Since most of the glass I work with is large, I'd rather take the sander to the glass instead of glass to sander. My primary tool is a 1 1/8" x 21" Makita dry belt sander. It is easy to handle and will do plenty of sanding.

Occasionally I get out my stained glass diamond grinder and bring the diamond wheel to the glass. This is useful if I need to remove 1/8" or something like that.

Lately I have been using a 400 grit diamond hand pad to edge seam my glass. It is light, fast and does the job of removing the sharp edge, which is my primary task with the sander. When I actually have to grind a whole edge, the other tools work OK.
Bert

Bert Weiss Art Glass*
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JimV
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Grinding and polishing

Postby JimV » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:11 am

Consider also the alterntive of the flat-lap. Covington makes a 16 inch unit and H.I.S. Glassworks sells 16 inch diamond plates for it.

I find very few situations where the belt unit is a better answer. (I have both.)

If you get one for diamond use, be sure to tell them; they will have the spec for the slower surface rpm needed.

Jim V

Kevin Midgley
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Postby Kevin Midgley » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:15 am

Don't forget the BEE 4x106"metal sanders from Canada. They too last a lifetime and could be cheaper. Check the archives. Kevin

Phil Hoppes
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Bee 4x104 WBS

Postby Phil Hoppes » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:59 am

I have the Bee WBS and it is by far one of the best and most used tools in my studio. C.R. Laurence sells this unit as well as one of their own. When you look on the CRL website the Bee unit is the free standing green unit. The CRL unit is blue and is made to be wall mounted. That is fine as you know where you want your unit mounted and don't plan on moving it. The free standing Bee unit gives a little more flexability, all be it both units need a water hook up so that restricts you a little.

Phil

David Williams

Re: Grinding and polishing

Postby David Williams » Mon Apr 07, 2003 1:11 pm

JimV wrote:Consider also the alterntive of the flat-lap. Covington makes a 16 inch unit and H.I.S. Glassworks sells 16 inch diamond plates for it.

I find very few situations where the belt unit is a better answer. (I have both.)

If you get one for diamond use, be sure to tell them; they will have the spec for the slower surface rpm needed.

Jim V


I have a homemade lap with variable speed that I can put any size up to 16" on. But I hardly ever use it anymore. It really depends on what you're making. The thing I like most ergonically about the belt is its vertical. You can lean into the work. And brace it. I always found it a lot harder to coldwork fused strait edges on the lap. And bases of blown stuff. Just about everything actually. The one thing I can say is it doesn't chip out the work as much and doesn't catch the edge as easily. Two things.

Paul Bush
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Location: Portland, Oregon

Postby Paul Bush » Mon Apr 07, 2003 2:43 pm

Anea wrote:I very recently (two weeks ago) purchased the smaller Covington from cyberrockhound.com for a little over $600. Best price I could find. It has the motor and is mounted and ready to go. I was trying to stretch my money further instead of investing in the larger Covington from CR Lawrence, which I completely loved and had used many times.

Unfortunately if I had to do it again, I would splurge on the big one. The small one has huge hassles in changing the belts, getting a drip system to work without getting cloggs, issues with the back plate and more. I have been very dissappointed in the smaller unit. You literally have to whip out the wrench to change a belt and loosen a screw, reposition the barrel things, reposition the backplate, the thing that holds the sponge and work the extremely tight belt on again. The whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes before it is alligned right and not sliding one way or the other causing you to repeat the process. It will get the job done but the time and frustration getting there does not quite seem worth it.

The larger models change belts quickly and easily. The water systems are more straightforward and cleaner. I would think about all of these things before I got the smaller one. My vote would be for the larger $1500 model.

Hope this candid reflection helps-

Anea


Anea,

I also have the same machine, which I bought used for $75! I'd like the larger one also, but this will do for now. Your machine should have a large black plastic nut on the left side, that controls the tension of the upper drum. Simply loosening this should allow the belt to slip right off. If not, loosen the nut, then turn on the motor, and the belt should walk nearly off the drums.

Also, Covington makes a nifty water supply device, that uses a pressurized garden sprayer tank, with a hose that connects to the water inlet on the machine. I collect waste water in a 5 gallon drum, which I empty before it gets too full and too heavy. Hope this helps.

Paul
Paul Bush
Flying Fish Studio
Portland, Oregon


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