New bandsaw saga Part I (long)

Im writing this for an additional reference to those faced with the same dilemma I had when looking for my first bandsaw. Other reports like this have helped me greatly on other purchases so I though Id try to return the favor by restocking the net information fishing pools. I tried to break this up into reasonable sections that might help someone with a specific question.
Well I finally pulled the trigger and ordered a MiniMax mm16 16" bandsaw. The only previous experience Ive had with band saws has been as a user, I never got to play with the adjustments or really put features to the test, instead I just push the power switch and cut wood/metal. Overall I am quire familiar with large industrial machinery having worked in a machine shop using and servicing CNC mills and other large equipment. I can usually notice the "small" things that separate the good from the mediocre when it comes to machine designs. With todays optimized designs, quality is there for a reason. It is used minimally and only where it will make a significant difference (either in tool quality or the manufactures bottom line 8^)
My need for a bandsaw came with the desire to resaw some of the firewood I had been cutting lately since it is fairly unique to this area and quite attractive for small projects like boxes etc. I also was getting more serious about "real" woods and new the benefit to resawing for veneers and having a tool that can cut with a thin kerf and with lots of cut control for detail work.
The Choice
I had seriously considered the standard import 14" saw but I was a little concerned by the capacity which would be very close to the size of the material I wanted to resaw. Choosing a riser kit or larger saw was the obvious solution to future needs. The problem with riser blocks on the 14" saws is that while you do gain clearance (quite a bit of clearance), you are still basically stuck with the 1 - 1.5 horsepower motors the saws are shipped with. I read of many cases where people wished they had a "tad" more power for the tougher woods. Of course you can fit bigger motors but then the rest of the saw will be stressed more than intended and overall I feel in the long run its best to just buy the package. I figured I'd best be served by a 16" or larger saw with a metal frame that allowed higher band tension (for wider blades) and more motor options. Basically it meant double the cost from the common 14" variety. This is when I started really searching for info from the saw users out there in net-land. The Jet, Griz, etc. all looked capable and priced right, but some the wood wreckers in this group clued me into the European imports from Laguna and MiniMax. After reading lots more reviews and gathering information, I opted for the MiniMax based on general comments that overall it was a tad "nicer" than the Laguna and customer support being 5-star versus Lagunas rep for being rather "difficult". The other saws in this group still seemed to have power issues when really pushing the limits.
Due to my location I didn't have a way to actually see any of these saws first hand but I felt informed enough to know that either the Laguna or MiniMax would be a worthy machine. Typically I try to seek out somewhere I can actually touch the machine as I did before getting a Unisaw, but I had no options here. Fortunately I found loads of good detailed information from first hand users.
The Purchase
I checked the MiniMax site when I was getting the itch to spend some money and saw that they had a "special" going on with bandsaw pricing. I fired off an email asking details (no further info on the web site) and received back a reply from Erik Delaney at MiniMax with the lowdown. Basically $100 off with a free mobility kit, miter gauge, and blade added in. After thinking about it for a day I called Erik and placed the order. He gave me a good idea of what to expect and some info on cleaning and wiring. My total cost without shipping was right at $1800. Not as cheap as a year or two ago, but I beat the cost increase due to the rising Euro.
The Delivery
The shipment arrived about 4 days later at the shippers terminal where I arranged pickup. Since I'm in a remote area, local delivery would have added another $80 to the shipping and it's virtually impossible to get anyone to understand directions on how to find my house. I drove my long bed pickup and with the help of a forklift the shipping company was able to load the nearly 500 pound beast into the back. The saw was mounted to a pallet, strapped down to a second pallet, and surrounded by a sturdy framework of pine 1x4's. Inside, the saw had the accessories all shrink-wrapped in plastic so it was well protected from weather. All strapped down, (saw was upright) I headed home. I backed up to my garage and all by my lonesome tilted the saw onto it's back in the bed of my truck. I then slid it out onto some saw horses and with the use of two large floor jacks rolled it into my garage^H^H^H^H shop. Getting it back upright was easy enough with some creative use of saw horses and the floor jacks. Plenty of nails in the crating made the wood useless to salvage, but it was just some nasty pine anyway. The kid will love making some contraption from it to annoy the neighbors with Im sure. Beneath the thick outer plastic wrap, the table was wrapped in more plastic with the fence, toolkit, and miter gauge trapped within. Since this wrapping was done at the Italy factory, I must assume the miter gauge is not an optional item. The mobility kit was tie-wrapped to the motor cable. Beneath this second plastic layer was all the
grease I had been warned about! Overall it was not as bad as I had been led to believe, every bolt and cast surface was slathered in the stuff but all the painted surfaces were clean, besides, cleaning is one way to "bond" with your new toy. One worthy note is I was able to access every bolt and hex head screw with the tools included in the kit. Very handy! (everything is metric)
-Bruce
(continued in Part II)
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