Tool ReReview - Refurb Delta Unisaw - Part One (Long-what else?)

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Since that last review went over so well... :-\
I'm breaking this up into sections so that I may assimilate the backlash in bite-sized nuggets. And for you who missed it - Great!
Agree or disagree, but as Sergeant Friday says, Just the Facts, Ma'am. If in error, you may call me on it, but it's a report, not brand debate. I have found other's "real world" assessments of tools very helpful in selecting a product from the myriad available. I have read reviews in the rags that, upon viewing the object of their glowing affection, have provoked the question, "Are we talking about the same widget here? And just what criteria are they using?" Sarcasm and humor may (or may not?) accompany this information. This is as much for entertainment's sake as for information. Benchmarks have long been a part of my life in the electronics and computer biz, so...
A salesman once told me, "I hate those magazines. I just can't make their readers happy." And as I pondered his dilemma, I considered the variabilities between machines, potential mis-interpretation of the data, and the "Slick Willy" factor and came to the conclusion that he may or may not be right.
So, here we are...
Came close to just selling it all - too much aggravation and expense. And there is no point in having this stuff if the primary tool of use is such a POS that you don't want to use it, or go deaf from trying.
So, I again went in quest of the "Ultimate Affordable Cabinet Saw." Decided to look around at other brands - I looked at Lobo's, General's, Jets, Powermatics. I looked in the paper for gnused. And came to the conclusion that, for me, the Delta Unisaw refurb unit was worth another shot. Wasn't about to wait on delivery trucks, freight damage claims, or shipment of missing and broken parts. I wasn't going to spend $2200 on a cabinet saw. And like the kid in the candy store, I wanted it NOW. So please, spare me the web referrals and the "Here's what I got". I appreciate the gesture, but it's not germane. Everything in life is a collection of compromises. <G>
And since the results are being held to a higher standard, I'll briefly touch upon the methodology used to obtain the sample.
I like simple, durable, uncomplicated machines. No gilmer belt driven height adjusters, no plastic internals, no off-the-wall imported parts you can't find replacements for in 3 years. No parts that have been re-engineered every season in concert with marketing hyperbola.
Just Big, Dumb, and Strong. Like my women. <ducking...> And that about sums up the Delta Unisaw - so far. (And if anyone wants an Old Chicago 16", 3HP for $400, let me know.)
The requirements were : Left tilt, 2-5 HP, long, sturdy fence with cursor on the right side of the fence and 36" or greater ripping capacity. Ease of obtaining replacement parts. Durabil... Oh, we covered that already.
Anyone who has read my other longwinded, bombastic reviews knows that I generally check a few pertinent characteristics with basic measuring instruments. In this case, a replacement Delta Unisaw was obtained on the chance that I simply "got a bad one", and this is my assessment of that replacement. My critiques of Delta's Q.C. are still applicable, and I still feel that a multistage Q.C. is a necessity when working with beings as inconsistent as humans, and that a unit in that condition should have been caught. It's far too expensive to ship defective products around the country, especially in light of current fuel costs, and is simply a good business model. So it costs you a round of golf. JMHO.
Unit had been demo'd. But the top was apparently re-ground. You guys should really wash the grinding dust out of the extension table holes before re-assembling the unit. Grey grit makes an annoying job, well... annoying. So, boys and girls, clean those threads and make your life much easier. I used solvent and a rag, rolled into a point to probe out what I could. An air-nozzle finished off the rest. It would be much easier to do this before assembling the table to the base, as the backs of several holes are blocked by the cabinet and trunnion mounts. FYI.
The foamed in place packing was a real PITA. The guy that did this was definitely intent on filling this sucker up. I had to cut portions out with a handheld sheetrock hole saw. But considering the handling freight can receive, I didn't mind too much. All of the foam was contained in bags, until I attacked it with a jagged saw blade.
Runout of the arbor - .0005" (Yes, this is acceptable.) Cleaned and lightly oiled flange and dial indicator. (No, it's not from Harbor Freight.) Average of two points on the flange.
Arbor seems cast, but the grain structure looks tight. Canadian General claims a forged arbor (and the only forge in the business) on their better saws, but to be honest, I've never heard of a broken arbor that wasn't accompanied by abuse. Bent blades, impact, big hammers, and bad bearings all come to mind.
They call it a GPE switch, but that is an acronym for it's vendor, not it's name. And it's neither, anymore. Now it's an NHD switch, so jot that down in your acronym handbook for when you go shopping. And that represents NHD Industrial Co., Ltd. And as you can tell from their own company description: <This is for you, Swingdude!>
We are professional manufacturer of magnetic switch.
They are also Taiwanese.
The NHD magnetic/overload switches are classic Taiwanese electronics items - well made, well spec'd, but slightly on the delicate side. Tight control over costs is what makes them so competitive. So kiss off another US company...
Table surface quality is far better than the original unit. The grind is clean. It's no Powermatic, but if a polish job is worth $900, then I'm in the wrong business. <BFG>
However, the table flatness is not as good as the original unit. For some reason, and I'm no metallurgist, the area around the throat plate opening is problematic. This is one factor that made my old saw so irritating. There is a hump on the left side of the throat. Seems to be a common ailment in cast-iron tables from Delta and others. Cast-iron table located by it's mounting points on a jig, ground in a matter of seconds by a huge grinding wheel. Under those conditions, the malleability of iron is prominent. I hope you guys have a support under that throat, 'cause it's moving on ya.
Table Flatness: Within .003 across most of the table. .035 Front Left to Right Rear .028 Front Right to Left Rear. Varying between .006" and .012" across the throat.
If it weren't for the hump around the throat, we'd be there. It runs in a narrow band along the trailing edge of the grinder, assuming the setup I envision is used. (It's on the left...)
It's far better than what I've been using, but seems a little lax to me. The proof of the pudding is in the cuts, however.
Clearance between the miter T-track bottom and the table surface is .418 in the rear, and .424 in the front - even within .006" and identical on both sides. Clearance between an "average" miter gauge and table top is considerably more than the .001" of the last unit at a more conventional .018-.020".
I'll finish off this sucker next time I sit down to eat a bagel. So look forward to Part 2 - at an Internet Cafe near you.
Greg G.
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Greg,
Just a thought to ponder since you're considering another refurbished unit. The warranty on a new tablesaw is 2 years (180 days on a refurb) so it is possible that the refurb you're getting is at least two years old (or older) and possibly has seen lots of use and abuse. Could be these were factory rejects also but I rather doubt that.
Since you said that Delta removes the original serial number, then you have no way of knowing the saw's true vintage. May or may not be helpful to know that but if an item was made during the period of time a company was in transition, or having other problems, that particular year may not be a good choice and you would be better off going with something else.
Your money,
Bob S.

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BobS said:

This is true, but I inspected this one briefly before delivery - which is what I should have insisted on the first time. I don't believe any of these are 5 year old units run hard and then swapped out by customers. In fact, this one was only manufactured in Oct of 2004, and the refurb was done March of 2005. It sat in a box till now. The ones I have seen are not beat up, and come with all new accessories. Fence, tables, legs, etc. The motor on this unit looks like new - inside and out. It HAS cut a few pieces of wood, but in all fairness, it looks like a demo unit. It is a current production DeltaX model. I don't believe Delta is trying to dump a bunch of old crap, but stuff does happen. Cabinet look new, less a scratch or two. Doesn't bother me. I'm more worried about hammered up mechs...
As for as the warranty, I have learned through years of service work that things usually break early on. Most complaints come within a few months of purchase. But caveat emptor. I do my own repair work, so most of this is non problematic.
My only real concern is getting a 'live' piece of live cast-iron - one that distorts continually, or has a sub-dermal crack. Compared to the course, grainy crap that flows from China, these are almost like forgings - if they make it through a few months, they should be fine.
And as I mentioned, I was born under the FUBAR star - if there is one out there, I'll get it. <G>

Apparently, not all have the serial removed. According to the Rep, it fell upon the individual that did the work to remove the proper data. Mine has one. Some may have gotten a little carried away...
Greg G.
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"Greg G." wrote:

So, if you're bound and determined, what's the point of coming here?
(Not saying the decision is necessarily a bad one, but if you've already made it, what else is there but to follow through? Nothing you do here is going to change anything or provide any useful data that you can use as near as I can tell.)
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

While the OP may not gain any benefit from documenting his analysis, it will certainly provide useful data that some of the rest of us can use.
Greg, I'm enjoying reading about your experiences, as I'm sure I'll be in a similar situation at some point.
Chris
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Chris Friesen wrote:

I guess I misinterpreted--I thought he was going on again before and reposting the old saw data other on the table...not a different unit.
That in a _short_ post w/o so much editorializing would have made for a more precise reading on my part rather than the thought "been there, done that" reaction I got...
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Duane Bozarth said:

That's why it's a ReReview. Not a RE: Review.

As stated in the first real paragraph, it's partially for amusement. And that's why it says LONG in the header... But I guess you're not really amused - hard to tell when you can't see the audience Seriously, though, how many riveting stories can you tell about a chunk of cast-iron?
I'll post a concise list of specs when I'm through. (seriously) Feel better now? <g>
Greg G.
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[top posted for your convenience]
Thanks for posting this. You're a good writer and I enjoy reading well written material, even though I have no dog in this hunt, having bought a new Unisaw last year.
By the way you said (in one of your other responses) this was an X5. Seems to me the X5s have only been around about three years or thereabouts, so it can't be too old.

--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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LRod said:

Thanks - You're my hero! It sounded funny to me, but I'm biased. :-\ I always like to leave'm laughing...
But where were you when I inquired about Unisaws to begin with - I was soliciting opinions as to usability, etc. <g>

See my response to BobS, earlier in this thread, where I define the characteristics of the saws. DeltaX5 models, 36-L31XBC50, new accessories, etc. Manufactured in 2004.
Greg G.
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Well.... I think if he will take the time to read, measure and assimilate the data into a coherent form, I can stand to read it. Who knows, maybe the first saw was a POS, and now we find that Frank was right in defending his old company so vigorously.
I for one and glad to see something pertinent to woodworking posted. And think about it this way; at least it is actually ON TOPIC information, unlike the dearth of political/religious fanatical diatribes that are so common here.
How I long for the days when all we did on off days was whine about Home Depot, Lowes, and Norm. We all seemed so innocent then...
Robert
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Chris Friesen said:

Duane, I don't only come here to bask in your revelations. <g> A lot of people lurk, and might find it interesting.
And it's always your choice to drop me or the thread into your ignore list. I figure most already have... <g>

Chris, Thanks. I hope it was at least mildly entertaining - that is why people visit here - to hear and talk about wooddorking and tools.
Greg G.
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I'd like to second your opinion on Greg's assesment. I seriously doubt that magazine reviews of tools are not biased in some way. I am impressed by his seeming patients with the situation, I would have flipped out by now.
Don
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On Tue, 08 Nov 2005 09:58:18 -0600, Duane Bozarth

Geez, a guy posts a well written, ON TOPIC, review of his experiences in setting up a new acquisition and you're complaining?
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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LRod wrote:

...
I already noted in another followup I misread the post as essentially a re-visiting of the previous thread, not another saw (yet)...
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Oh, No! Why didn't he get a General...or a Jet...or anything but a Delta.........
Already a couple of statements of fact based on assumptions or opinions that are not accurate, however, not terribly relevant either and I plan to only react to the important if at all
Frank.

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Frank,
I for one think your input is and has been very valuable. It provides the technical expertise as well as the sense of the corporate culture behind what Delta does and why. There's some good information being provided here - from both points of view and it's been meaningful and I hope to read your counter-points as well as Greg's findings. Yep, he's biased....it's his money but he's made the decision to give Delta another try.
You may not like some of his assumptions (how it was damaged and when, etc.) but the fact remains, he ended up with a damaged tablesaw which indicated it was not assembled correctly to begin with. You, pointed out a thing or two out that shows it takes more than a gorilla with a hammer to align the inner workings of one of these Uni's and some of the rationale behind Delta's design decisions (UL approvals, etc.).
This is one of the better threads - real information, in almost real time from knowledgeable individuals.....it doesn't get any better than this......;-)
Bob S.
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Thanks Bob S.
my post was tongue in cheek. I'm glad Greg is trying again. I was upset that he was not going to give Delta and the dealer a chance to make it right. And I know they will.
I only ask for facts without assumptions stated as facts and no exaggerations. For instance, on an earlier post there was a comment about the original saw having " wobble of almost an inch" on the tilt wheel. Now I don't know if he was talking about radial or axial, or a combination but I do know that it is geometrically impossible. Either the mechanism would not turn at all or the two front trunion bracket cast bored bushings would have broken off. I also know it would be impossible to assemble in that manner. Was it bent at all? I don't know, certainly could have been, however credibility is lost with the exaggeration. I saw the picture and it had a curl at the end of the keyway from the back bevel. So do both of mine and they come out of the cabinet at about the same orientation in the clearance hole.
Another post indicated he was willing to try again as long as the "Corporation that did this (closed plants, outsourced, etc.) didn't profit by it. Easy to do, just buy. The corporation that initiated the failed strategy is long out of the picture. Once they began to realize what they had done they were smart enough to sell the tool group to B & D. B & D seems to be excited by finally having a stationary industrial line and has a much better plan, and I hope they understand the value of the Delta tradition.
I will continue to post what I know and challenge posts that I know are not true. Delta has many competitors and many of them are worthy. Delta is also not perfect, far from it. Individuals make their buying decisions based on many factors and I would never question those individual decisions. I do think that everyone should get as much good accurate information as possible when making those decisions.
And I remain sincere in my offer to help Greg or anyone else with what I know about the machinery and the company that makes it.
Frank

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"Frank Boettcher" wrote in message

IMO, your participation here in that particular context is invaluable, Frank. Keep it up ... and thanks.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 11/06/05
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Frank Boettcher said:

It was difficult to tell, but certainly implied otherwise. The dealer was never the problem, I never claimed they were a problem, and I certainly don't hold them responsible for the conditions that subsequently unfolded. This is one reason I refused to divulge the dealer's name.

The statement stands. As stated in the post, from the backside of the handle, facing the cabinet and TO the cabinet, the distance varied almost an inch over it's plane of rotation. I did not pull the shaft to measure it, and from the looks of things, it would be almost impossible to remove without destroying the casting or cutting the shaft. It freaking wobbled - the rim of the wheel moved radially left to right when facing the machine. I'm sure there was a certain amount of axial movement as well, due to the bend, but that wasn't the point.

The implication that I would intentionally lie about such a thing is incredulous. And as for the bushings, I guess that would depend on their clearances, now wouldn't it. I know that when I saw the wobbling shaft held by that bored in cast-iron arm, I was shocked as well that such a thing could happen. And no one EVER claimed that it was originally assembled that way, only that is was refurbed that way, and was in that condition when I received it. And it was certainly not easy to turn. The replacement is straight and exhibits no problems. Why would I fabricate a lie about that? And your clouded denial doesn't alter it's existence.

No, you don't know. But if you would like to inspect it, it's at the Dealer's - they aren't going to fix it either. Like you could tell such a thing from a 2 dimensional picture, anyway. Again, it is a limitation of the medium. But video demonstrates it clearly.

This I agree with. But why the hard sell? My critiques are directed towards those who make decisions and rectify such conditions - and that is not you - or is it? The assertions may be rhetorical, but they are of concern to me, and to potential customers. And these units were shipped while B&D owned the company, and that makes it relevant to them as well.

This I agree with as well, and is why I posted my re-review. Besides, I couldn't leave one negative review as sole representation. But attacking a poster although you have not seen the product or it's defects, reeks of an intense desire to quell any negative press. And the implication that I would fabricate faults to smear Delta or B&D is outrageous.

Well, that would past tense, but I appreciate that - Really!
Greg G.
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Frank Boettcher said:

Dude, they were out of Generals, Bummer! Yeah, I'm disappointed too.
But here you have responded directly to my post, yet refer to me in the third person. What was it you said about the trained monkeys?
And for the record, most of my observations thus far have been in a fairly positive light - so whatcha whining about? It's better than the first review. I have seen tablesaw throat problems on Delta, Jet, Rockwell, General, Delta, and, oh yeah, Delta. It's a manufacturing problem that has appeared on numerous other brands, and is not exclusive to Delta. Or Delta. <g>
[Editor's Note: This is where you develop a sense of humor...]
I have posted product reviews on a myriad of products over the years, and several times, manufacturers have responded by implementing the changes based on observations I have made. Whether they came to these conclusions based upon my reports or through independent research is moot as long as things get better. I have no agenda other than to possibly elicit a grin and participate in the free disclosure of information. Nor will I be anyone's sock puppet. <Not an accusation.>
Like the DP350 review hearkening from the winter of 2002/2003 - and the Reeves pulley which was subsequently modified. Let's jump into the WayBack machine...
--------------------------------<QUOTE ON>
Newsgroups: rec.woodworking Local: Thurs, Feb 27 2003 12:49 am Subject: Delta DP350 Drill Press Failure - Review addendum...
Posted a review of the Delta DP350 variable speed drill press a month ago and now it is time for a follow-up on it's reliability.
Tonight, while using it, it began to rumble in a strange way. Immediately shut it off, and pulled the top cover. The Reeves pulley on the drive side had failed.
Apparently Delta has not learned about the differing thermal expansion characteristics of aluminum and steel. The pulleys are Aluminum and have a steel press-fit bushing in the center which is keyed to the motor shaft by a large woodruff key. The top pulley half expanded due to heat from belt friction, and slipped off the steel bushing. No setscrews, no splines and no snap-rings are used to hold it in place - just a poorly designed press fit.
----------------------[QUOTE OFF]
The replacement pulley I obtained through customer service had a running change implemented - A grub screw - Imagine that. Not the best solution, but it works. While you may hold my opinions and observations to be flawed, apparently Delta didn't in this case.

Or possibly your inference of fact where there was none claimed? Pot... kettle... black? Comprehension?
Words like 'seems' and 'appears' do not imply declarations of fact, but of conclusion drawn from observation. Perhaps editorial license has been pressed into the fringe, but there is nothing dryer to my mind than a boring factual discourse. I am simply trying to inject some color into an otherwise dreary discussion. I would hope most readers could differentiate between expression and cold fact.
The only ambiguous facets of my current discourse involve the surfacing methods, the surfacing wheel used to do so, and the 'GPE' switch. So, I'll connect the dots and clarify.
Grey grit in the threaded table mounting holes _implies_ that the table re-surfacing process put it there. For all I know, Delta throws freshly surfaced tables into their aluminum oxide mosh pit and goes at it to the beat of Nine Inch Nails. But it's not likely.
But the grit isn't present on new saws, and has never been on any other new product I purchased from Delta. But since they were all carefully crafted in Taiwan, that would make it irrelevant.
Since the gist of the matter was that some bean counting fainant allowed grit that is difficult to remove to remain in ALL the threads, this is irrelevant as well. Perhaps it's my pedantic nature, but chasing an SAE bolt home through threads loaded with grit is not my nature of doing things - the grit must go.
Another possible ambiguity involves the method used to affix the table for surfacing. Concluding from the depths of cuts, thicknesses around the blank, and the machined mounting points, one would assume that the table was registered to the bed by these mounting points, as well as with some ancillary support. This could be inferred as a misrepresentation, but only if that isn't what happens. But the end result of whatever methodology they use to machine these surfaces is that there is a re-occurring problem with surfacing cast-iron.
And simply because a vendor places foreign NHD components into a black resin box and sells it to Delta doesn't mean that is was manufactured by XYZ company. It makes them a vendor of sub-assemblies, not the manufacturer of the relevant electrical parts - that high-priced resin box is mostly unimportant in contrast to the active components inside.

Oh, my God! My miserable life just isn't worth living! <G> And here I type this up especially for you, ignoring the couple of OTHER people out there, and you belittle my efforts. Like a flower bequeathed to a fraudulent lover - a triviality cast to the winds.
This post contributed nothing but a desire to inflame, and that makes this comment, quite frankly, a troll. An attempt to polarize a group of sleepy listeners and avoid meaningful disclosure.
May I also then conclude by the absence of any material follow up that there was nothing of substance in error of fact and that provocation was your only motivation for responding?
You are doing both yourself and Delta/B&D a disservice responding in this manner - IMHO. I am striving to present a fair and reasonable review of a product that I, as a consumer, have purchased. I've been complimentary towards you and your attitude is bewildering. And after many years of posting, is truly a first among non-political subjects. It's not personal, Dude.
I've worked with these (sorry, you) "Factory Guys" for 28 years. And most wear the same shade of sunglasses - deep, dark, rose. They hold themselves and their company high on a pedestal. No other manufacturer is as well intentioned, as well learned, or as perfect as your own. And my limited knowledge of mathematics indicates that all but ONE of them is full of it.
I've repaired and compared products from this country, and then Japan, Korea, and Taiwan for my entire life - side by side, brand by brand. The inconsistency of US products is what makes them pale in the face of the Japanese and Taiwanese products - and it's becoming so with Korean and Chinese products as well. And let's not even mention the Canadian, Australian, French, Italian, and German manufacturers, as I'm sure they appreciate not being included in this petty colloquy. (I know, I left some of you guys out, but consider it a favor.)
I'm not angry - more likely amused - but neither will I stand here and suffer circuitous remarks concerning my faint voice in the crowd. And from what I gather from my acquaintance in Bradenton, refurbishing is now done in Texas, not TN. Could it be that you're now so far out of the loop there's a clanking bell around your neck. <g> But this is not first hand knowledge, so what do I know?
And if the general consensus here in the wREC is that I should stop providing these assessments, then I'll be more than happy to desist.
Have a Nice Day, Seriously. :-)
Greg G.
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