General Int'l 25" double drum sander #15-250 -- opinions?

Dear all,
I'm contemplating purchasing a General #15-250 sander. I have checked with Uncle Google, but haven't found many accounts of extended real- world experience with this beast. Can anybody comment on quality/reliability, ease of adjustment and use, ease of replacing paper, effectiveness of dust collection, etc. of the machine?
Also, anybody know where "General International" tools are actually made? I didn't see it on General's site, nor on the google cites I checked.
Any comments about the likelihood of satisfaction with this purchase welcomed. Pointers to where it can be found at the lowest price also gratefully welcomed.
Cheers, Abe
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Can't comment on their sander (I have the Performax) but I did buy the General International mortise. Chiwanese but supposedly under General's QC. I found it to have a couple of minor problems which were easily solved and it was a fair value.
I doubt I would purchase another General International product because of the lack of support from General. Took over a two months to get a replacement part since they don't stock any spares in Canada for the product line (at least not last year).
Bob S.
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says...

Bob -- thanks. Support matters to me, too; should have included it in the list of criteria that are important. Which Performax do you have? Looking at their product line, the size that makes most sense to me is one of the 22/44s, or something similar. As I mentioned in another response, I'm worried the non-cantilevered 25" size of the General is going to be too restrictive in the long run.
One thing that has put me off so far about Performax is the reviews on Amazon's site. Though few complain about the quality of the machines, an amazing number of people complain about shipping problems, in particular about receiving damaged units or boxes with missing parts. I wonder whether this is peculiar to Amazon (which from personal experience delivers a lot of damaged merchandise, even books, if you use the default shipping) or whether Performax itself doesn't do shipping well. Crappy factory packaging or something like that. I suppose I could buy one locally, but state sales tax really adds up. Any thoughts?
Best, Abe
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Abe,
Buy locally and support your local suppliers. The difference in cost is neglible compared to the alternatives.
I have the 16/32 and it's a great hobbyist, light duty shop sander. The 22/44 is more commercial grade and thats the reason for the price difference. Bigger, better motor, bearings etc. Not trying to make the 16/32 sound like a wimp, it does what its supposed to do and does it well but it sounds like you're looking for something better like the 22/44.
All the reviews I've read have favored the Performax models for this size sander.
Bob S.
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snipped-for-privacy@noplace.com says...

Bob -- Thanks. In fact I am looking for something bigger, although I'm not running a commercial operation. There aren't many local suppliers where I am, unfortunately. Borg, BorgII, and some specialty outfits. I agree with the sense of your advice, though, and always check around.
Abe
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I've got one. There is a learning curve to properly installing the sanding strips and figuring out the correct grit to use. I managed to destroy several belts within the first couple of uses due to my stupidity more than anything. I didn't have the belts tight enough and they shred very easily.
It's under powered so it's necessary to take very shallow passes. I believe the thinnest stock you can sand is 3/16" inch which in my experience is fine.
Any knots or areas of soft grain may gum up sections of the sand paper leaving burn marks in the wood or even digging a trough in the wood (mostly seen with the knotty alder I was making cabinet doors out of). This is where the advantage of a wide belt sander (e.g., Timesaver) has an advantage
The front drum is fixed an not adjustable as far as I can tell so if it's out of parallel with the table you're screwed. The rear drum can be adjusted for parallel or depth of cut which comes in handy as you go to finer papers.
But my biggest complaint about the machine is that it's not the 37" model! This machine is really on good to about 23" and that's pushing the limit. Any larger surface and the stress on the sand paper increases where the paper is the narrowest, where it attaches to the spring clamps. One learns to put wide sections together in two pieces, sanding each then assembling them.
Dust collection is good but then I have a 3 hp Oneida with a 6" feeder supplying the two 4" pick-ups. MDF causes some problems but then most people won't be sanding MDF (I needed some 3/8" MDF and only had 1/2").
Once you figure out how to properly set up and use this machine I think you will like it. I just wish I would have sprung for the wider model because inevitably I always seem to need the extra width.
Gary
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snipped-for-privacy@qwest.net says...

Gary -- thanks much for the detailed reply. Whether the width will be adequate for the long haul is also a big worry for me, so your comment leads me back to wondering whether I should opt instead for a cantilevered Performax or something similar that can at least do wider panels in two passes. Tough choices...
Best, Abe
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Did you check out the Delta 18x36 X drum sander? Looks like they improved on last years model. More $ but may be worth it.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net says...

Haven't seen one of recent vintage but I'll check them out.
Abe
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Hello there,
<snip of, I am having problems with my General International 15-250>
With regard to paper choice, the best paper I have found is Klingspore CS-311 paper. Most of the cheap sandpaper has too thin a backing material, or worse a cloth backing material that causes it to stretch *way* to much causing the paper to bunch up, cause burning and/or tear. Klingspore CS-311 is the sandpaper Performax relabels and sells as it's own to go with their machines.
About the front drum, you are right, it is fixed, but the table isn't. Like the larger Performax models it was based on, you adjust the table to the front drum, not the other way around. What you need to do is take off the side panels and disengage the "mitre" gear on one side of the rod across the bottom of the machine that connects the height adjustment wheel to the raise/lower screws on both sides. With the two screws no longer "tied" to each other, you can raise and lower one side of the table without moving the other. It is very easy to do.
Thanks,
David.
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Dear Abe,
<snip of, looking for info on General International 15-250>
Almost without question, I am sure I have the most experience with that machine than anyone else on here. The company I work for is in the top 5 dealers for General and General International worldwide. I have sold *many* of these machines and I know them very well.
The few small problems I have had with them are,
- A couple had a snipe problem that required a service call, and one that could not be fixed in the field that we replaced with a new machine and returned the defective one to General. - Table levelling problems. This seemed to stem more from shipping than anything else. Only the most mechanically uninclined users were unable to fix this themselves when the procedure was explained to them.
The biggest problem I have had with the machine is pilot error. It is not a planer and as such, like any drum sander, it can only remove so much material in each pass. One client that we delivered a machine to said it was a total POS and insisted that I go back and pick it up. When I sent the service person to visit, the client was trying to run the machine without dust collection. Duh, no wonder it didn't work. The machine has two 4" dust ports on it, dust evacuation is very important on a drum sander. Some people have tried to run a single 4" pipe to the machine and then split it into the two fours that the machine required. While this will work, barely, it is not how it is supposed to be run and your results will not be as good as they should be due to lack of CFM. You need to run a 6" to the machine and just before the hood, break it off into two 4" lines. From users who cannot get the machines to work for them, the major complaints is burning. Ninety nine percent of the time this is, again, due to pilot error trying to take off too much with too fine and grit. Mix that with not enough CFM at the machine and of course the results were not very good.
I sell these machines all the time and I like them. For a 3 hp dual drum 25" sander it is a very good value. There are no known issues with this machine that would make me suggest you not buy it. What I do strongly suggest though, is that you buy it from your local dealer. If and when you need support, your local dealer is the best person to provide this. If you do find a substantially lower price somewhere else, at lease give your local guy the opportunity to get as close to that price. A good dealer who stands behind the products they sell is worth much more than saving a few bucks by internet shopping.
If you have any specific questions about the machine, please ask.
Oh, and the machine is made by this company,
http://www.maoshan.com /
and this is the specific link to the sander,
http://www.maoshan.com/p4_ds-25.htm
Thanks,
David.
Every neighbourhood has one, in mine, I'm him.
Remove the "splinter" from my email address to email me.
Newbies, please read this newsgroups FAQ.
rec.ww FAQ http://www.robson.org/woodfaq / Archives http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search Crowbar FAQ http://www.klownhammer.org/crowbar
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snipped-for-privacy@rogers.splinter.com says... ...
David -- thanks for the informative response. I haven't taken the unit off my candidate list yet. If I do, it'll probably be over concern about width. (Of course getting more width will cost money, but there you have it.)
Abe
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