Robland X31?

A typical european combination woodworking machine has a sliding table that can be used with the circular saw and the spindle shaper. The machine also has a thickness planer, a jointer, and a mortiser. These machines generally have three separate and identical motors; one for the saw, one for the shaper, and one shared by the jointer/planer/mortiser.

I bought my 1990 green Robland X31 in February of 2016 for $2100. My understanding is that it was purchased new from Laguna Tools, CA in 1990-91, was used for ten years, and then basically not used much until I got it.

In order to get it out of the basement where it was stored I had to take off the sliding table and rail, electric control box, left side cabinet, saw top (with attached saw+motor and shaper+motor), and both jointer tables.

I moved it with hired help to my basement for $500, and re-assembled it. The jointer/planer/mortiser motor burnt up within a couple of months and I managed to remove the motor through the side panel. I called Laguna Tools and they suggested having the motor rebuilt since a new motor from Belgium would cost at least $1200 plus shipping. I had a shop in Schenectady do the work and they charged $650.

Last week the shaper motor died. I used ratchet straps to take up the saw top, (and quickly bought a chain hoist) so I could remove the motor. The motor is now out being repaired. The saw motor is running at 11.5 amps and seems to be fine. [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here] The rebuilt jointer/planer/mortiser motor runs at around 11.7 amps. Even though I had run all the motors before I bought the machine, I didn’t check amps until after the first motor burnt up. I have been using the shaper and after a little while it would run over 13 amps, and it had that acrid-hot-motor-smell.

Observations:
1.  The saw top is now back on the machine and the saw is running fine [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here]. The top is secured with only four cap screws, and getting inside the machine to do maintenance/repair (including the planer motor, drive belts, and chain drive mechanism) is really best done by removing it (and the attached shaper and saw) with a chain hoist.

2. By now I have almost $3500 into the machine (not including moving costs). I’m very glad I got it for the price I did. I like having one dust hose and one power cord. I like that it is compact. The mortising machine is great. Actually, the whole thing is good. I don’t even mind the saw adjustments and the fence.

3. Buying and keeping a vintage (25+ year old) euro combo machine is like taking on a long-term committed relationship. The trouble involved with moving a 1400 lb. machine out, and/or trying to sell it, makes you think twice about getting rid of it.

4. I have both a small 5” jointer and a 10” jointer/planer (Inca brand). Most of the time I use these other machines, and save the Robland jointer/planer for when I have a pile of wood to mill. It is really inconvenient to swing out the jointer tables and then have to wind the planer table all the way up (and back down again) in order to flip over the dust hood. Really.

5. A trick I learned: In order to use the saw to cut a wide board (or use the shaper), without removing the jointer fence, I can swing the infeed table of the jointer out of the way with the fence attached. This works up to 25″ – anything wider and I have to take the jointer fence off.

6. I’m not sure why but I have an amp meter on the machine all the time to check to see how the motors are running. Just a little paranoid I guess. If you have a spare Robland motor for a reasonable price let me know.

IMG_0269

The ratchet straps lifted everything fine, but it was not so smooth going back down! I bought a chain hoist and had a much easier time of it.

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