Preliminary Mini-Review - Grizzly G0453P "Polar Bear" Planer

A couple of months ago I was considering the purchase of a Grizzly G0453 planer; and asking about information regarding Grizzly's new "Polar Bear" series of machines. There was very little info at the time. I bought a "P" about 1-1/2 months ago. I suspect some folks are still wondering what the Polar Bears are all about.
Grizzly Floor Salesman: They introduced the P this year, if for no other reason, to stimulate interest and sales. The "P" version is identical to existing machines except for paint and a couple of minor upgrades that will be passed on to their other machines later. The most apparent upgrade is the safety switch, and substantial switch mast at the left of the table. They introduced the "P" at a substantial markdown to get them going this winter ($898 vs $995 at the time of my purchase but the standard machine did drop to $925). He said he originally thought it was a long shot, but all of the Polar Bear tools have been selling quite well.
My Opinion: With a pretty close inspection on the Springfield floor the "P" and non-P versions do appear to the identical. The "P" switch mast is a sturdy weldment that provides a much more substantial installation than the original plastic housing. The "On" switch is a safety switch that requires a quarter turn before you depress it. A nice feature, and time will tell on durability.
It is Heavy! While we live about two hours from Springfield, I originally considered having it shipped to our rural location. I thought better of that because of the hassle of getting it off of the shipper's truck myself. Hiring a second shipper, with a lift truck was driving the cost enough that we went after it. Grizzly loaded the machine at their depot onto our 16' dovetail trailer. It came well packaged in a plywood crate secured with metal angles and screws. The machine itself sat on an internal pallet. My wife and I took our time rolling it (675# shipping wt) to the back of the trailer using pieces of 1" pvc pipe. At that point we slid it onto the metal trailer ramps; and onto the garage floor. Took about 30-45 minutes with minimal grunting. The next morning I tore the carton off (reusable plywood), and finessed it to the floor using some 2x pieces.
Assembly is fairly straight-forward. Cleaning took about an hour using a citrus-based spray purchased from Grizzly. Cleaning was much more tedious than my table saw was, mainly because you have to get the waxy gunk out of the cutter-head area. That alone took about an hour. Remaining set-up consisted of installing the tables, assembling the pedal-operated roller, and checking adjustments as described in the book. Total cleaning, assembly, and playing 'n smiling took about 2-3 hours (after I got it off of the pallet).
I called this a preliminary review because use has been limited until now. Some comments so far:
1) The integral roll-around feature is very nice. Assembling it was kind of fiddly but it is better than conventional mobile-bases. Firm foot pressure on the pedal lifts the machine enough to allow it to be moved with minimal force. It turns much better than my 1023S cabinet saw on its mobile base. Lowering the machine involves only placing your toe under the lift pedal and flipping it. It drops rather firmly but onto rubber feet. The overall feel is just firmer, both when moving and when stationary. When it is down, it is down -- no fiddling with wheel locks or hand screws.
2) The machine is relatively quite, considering what it does. Its predecessor was an old Ryobi 12-1/4" "portable"; and the new machine seems quieter, especially when cutting (however, it does have a nice start-up sound). I suspect the heavier construction helps keep noise down. It has provided velvet smooth cuts at both feed rates. However, slower is a little better for finish.
3) I bought a dust collector at the same time; and dust collection, from the planer, is excellent. I expected quite a few chips to find their way to the table but that is minimal - very minimal. However, the center outlet of the dust collection hood is not a great design. While it is effective, a side-pointing port would have been better. As it is your hose is in line with the out-feed which makes it clumsy to keep the hose out of the out-feed path. Once I get my overhead collection pipes in place this shouldn't be a problem.
So, those are observations, so far, on the Polar Bear. We are just starting final finish of our basement and one more upstairs cabinet project and the house is D-O-N-E. I should have quite a bit more experience with the machine in a couple of months.
RonB
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RonB wrote: ...

...
For anything but minimal cut and small capacity planer, the need to move chips from one side all the way across the head to the discharge side would require much higher airflow and pressure drop than midpoint discharge. Hence, I'd not expect anything different from an industrial machine.
Not sure if they use horizontal or vertical (or something in between) hood outlet direction; the Rockwell Model 13 was horizontal so I added a sweep 90. The old Powermatic Model 180 is vertical so it's no issue (again, both are definitely intended for stationary collection systems).
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dpb wrote: ...

Of course, one could go horizontal for the elbow to get to the side of the machine for a local collector just as easy as overhead...
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Yes, I forgot to mention that our son-in-law has and older 15" Grizzly that has a port that points to the side at about 45 degrees (similar to some of the new, larger Grizzles). He told me that he doesn't have a lot of trouble with clogging, but when he does it is in the corner of the dust hood opposite the discharge direction. Apparently the stuff can't quite make the turn.
Ron
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On 12/20/2010 02:52 PM, RonB wrote:

Same issue with my GO505 and H7516 dust hood.
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