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I am back.  I purchased this low-to-medium-end belt sander/grinder last year, and it's been working reasonably well:

grinder.jpg

 

One issue I've run into, however, is the guard at the bottom.  If you look you can see the back frame at the bottom back (right in the picture) comes very close to the wheel.  So close, in fact, that it doesn't let let thicker sanding belts even fit.  They get caught on friction with the frame and don't move.  By "thicker" I mean a Trizact A300 belt, or a 30 grit belt, or godforbid a scotch bright.  I have a couple of those, but they simply won't work on this sander (as I discovered after purchasing them, of course).

I am considering taking a dremel cutting wheel and just ripping off the back bottom guard to make room.  I wouldn't take the whole back off as it's needed for the foot you see at the top left, as the belt rotates to lay flat if desired, just the bottom 20% or so where it gets very close to the belt.  I'm certain that would void any possible warranty, but as is there's a fair bit I can't do with it.  It would also allow me to, I think, use the bottom wheel as a contact wheel as right now the bottom half of it is blocked by the frame as well.  (Someone correct me if I'm stupidly wrong on that.)

My question is, is that a good idea?  Horribly unsafe idea?  Is there a better idea?  I'm already running it without the side guard on (because you have to remove it to swap belts anyway), and I've seen plenty of fully-open belt grinders, so I presume it's not unsafe just warranty-voiding.  Someone let me know if I'm about to kill myself before I do it, though...

Thanks again for all the help.

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Definitely cut that sucker off!  As for using it as a contact wheel, it being bare metal will make for a lot of chatter.  Contact wheels are rubber coated for good reason.

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Ha!  Well, I guess that answers that question. :-)  I cut it off yesterday with my Dremel, and nearly gave myself a heart attack when the upper wheel fell out in the process.  When I reattached it, it was misaligned and the whole frame was tilted, resulting in the belt rapidly sliding toward the remaining frame and ripping into it.  Fun times.  I was fortunately able to twist it back into shape, reseat the wheel, and unjam the trim adjuster, so we're back in business and I just burned through two 36 grit belts I wasn't able to use before.

So, yay? :)

 

Is it worth trying to coat the lower wheel in some way to make it function as a contact wheel, or just not bother?  (This is only a $150 grinder, so I don't expect much of it.)

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I’ve used cork which I’ve cut from 12” squares that I bought at a hobby store or office supply (can’t remember, sorry!). It’s sold in flat sheets about 1/8” thick for use as a “note board” or something. Just bevel the joins. It got me by for a long long time. On one old home built belt sander!

Gary LT

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