Stupid Harbor Freight Belt Sanders!

I don't know what I was thinking, but a few weeks ago I wrote a post where I suggested that you could do worse than racing a Harbor Freight belt sander. Little did I know that 4 of the top performers at the 2009 AWFS BSRA belt sander race would be just that! I'm not saying that these folks from Texas took my advice (because they're sanders predate my post), but I was dismayed that a Chinese clone of my Makita sander could kick my sander's butt so handily! I suspect that it is a faithful copy, but it is much lighter, which gave it an advantage on the track. The fastest sander on the track, the Silver Bullet, set two track records but a hard tumble at the end of the track took it out of the running. Check

In the end my stock sander was knocked-out of the running by the eventual winner; A Ridgid sander raced by Fastcap's Ellie Bird.

My modified sander, which took second place in 2007, suffered from over-engineering! I watched videos of the 2007 races over and over to try to learn what went wrong, and I came to the conclusion that what I needed to do was to keep the sander from listing. With that I made a body that was easily 3-4 times heavier than my original. I also had a neat flame-shaped flame coming from the back of the sander.

The race was Thursday night, but late Wednesday I got the word that the local NBC affiliate would be at the track at 5:45am and that the promoter wanted some of the racers to be there to simulate some action. EXCELLENT! Even though I do not do mornings, I was able to be there and we got the chance to make a few runs down the track. It became immediately apparent that I had a big problem. We took our sanders back to our booth (we were also exhibiting at the show) and between demos of Metabo drills and saws, Sioux sanders and Leica lasers we slashed about half or the weight off the body of our sanders and disconnected the light bulb just in case it is draining more power than I expect. You'll notice in the video when I lift the sander to prove that there's a belt on it that the rollers on the front have been removed; along with much of the side pieces. This may have helped, but not enough.

To make matters worse, Ellie Bird (the eventual Stock winner) was also working within our booth and was ten feet away. While trash talk is fun, it turns out that it's mostly fun when you are doing it to someone else! In 2007 our modified sander ran the track in under 3 seconds, while this year it's fastest time was 3.8. Clearly we messed-up with all the extra weight.

More pics and info to come.


Anonymous said...

Can I clone your article to my blog? Thank you…

Scott said...

As long as you provide a backlink and mention that the content originated here, sure. Scott

Belt Sander Racer Takes Flight at BSRA Race at '07 AWFS