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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most problems with machine are due to incorrect setup & use
I recently bought a 31-250 and initially experienced the same problemss that seemed to plague many who have written about their negative experiences ie, difficulties with table raising mechanism, belt tracking, stalling, sniping, etc. From previous good encounters with Delta tech support, I decided to give them a call.

The call lasted 5 minutes, and the rep...
Published on March 25, 2005 by Sawdustmaker

versus
144 of 151 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars New Machine, Old Problems
I bought one of these new drum sanders but ended up not keeping it. There were several issues, some solvable, some not.
First, the table raising mechanism has been revised on these newer models. The cog belt now has two idler pulleys at each end of the machine presumably for better belt wrap. The table height mechanism worked fine on my machine, and there is a...
Published on September 12, 2003


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144 of 151 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars New Machine, Old Problems, September 12, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I bought one of these new drum sanders but ended up not keeping it. There were several issues, some solvable, some not.
First, the table raising mechanism has been revised on these newer models. The cog belt now has two idler pulleys at each end of the machine presumably for better belt wrap. The table height mechanism worked fine on my machine, and there is a substantial portion of the owners manual dedicated to solving problems in this area.
The primary problem with the machine was with the sanding drum. The drum that came with the machine had 3 problems:
- The drum was not properly balanced
- The drum had runout (out of round) by .007 (1/128) inch.
- The drum was machined such that the wall thickness varied by almost 2:1 around the circumference of the drum.
The drum vibrated noticably when running unloaded. The runout in the drum caused the machine to shake severely when sanding. The runout may not sound like a large amount, but it is recomended to sand as little as 1/256" at a time with finer grits, so the drum would engage the work piece and then release it as it rotated. The drum support is very stiff vertically, but the 4 sided box construction is not rigid front to back and can move quite easily.
Delta customer service was very responsive and shipped a new drum assembly to my door. The replacement drum had the same wall thickness variations and runout problem, but was better balanced.
Once the machine was set up and running, I ran a handful of test pieces (red Oak) through it. The sander had a problem with snipe more severe than a planer. The work is held down onto the feed belt with a pair of pressure rollers. The initial part of the work is sanded while it is being held down by only the infeed pressure roller. When the work reaches the outfeed pressure roller, it is pushed more firmly against the table and this is where the snipe ends. Snipe is not uncommon with drum sanders and the fix for this is to adjust the pressure rollers. Unfortunately the pressure rollers are not adjustable on this machine.
It looks like a nice design on paper, but it's performance in the shop was not up to par.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most problems with machine are due to incorrect setup & use, March 25, 2005
By 
Sawdustmaker (Yonkers, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I recently bought a 31-250 and initially experienced the same problemss that seemed to plague many who have written about their negative experiences ie, difficulties with table raising mechanism, belt tracking, stalling, sniping, etc. From previous good encounters with Delta tech support, I decided to give them a call.

The call lasted 5 minutes, and the rep covered all of the material necessary to effect a proper setup.

In setting up the feed table, the first consideration is that it has to be level. using a block of wood underneath the feed table at each of the four height adjusting screws, one must look for a "just makes it" fit between the top of the machine base and the bottom of the table support. Anything more than 1/64" will spell trouble.

Next, the cast iron feed table must be firmly attached to the support and the timing belt tension released so that the vertical alignment of the height adjusting screws can be accomplished. Each screw has a bushing that is secured to the tool base with two small carriage bolts. Looking at the feed side of the machine, the bushing for the right screw, and the bushings for the two rear screws must be simultaneously loosened, but not removed. Then you give the feed table a good shake to re-seat/re-align the bushings. Tighten each of the bushings, then re-tension the belt as per the manual. The table should be easy to raise/lower with just a single hand and moderate force. If binding persists, try aligning the bushings with the table elevated at a different height. It may take one or two tries to get it right.

The feed conveyor has a tendency to track the belt to the open end of the machine. With a new belt, or one that is misbehaving, the only way to set the belt is to tighten the tension on the open end side of the belt as per the instructions - enough to resist moving when pinched, but not so tight that you cannot stop it with enough pinching force. The motor side of the belt must be loose enough to prevent tracking to the outside - even if it is a little loose or floppy. Then run the feed conveyor for at least 5 minutes at high speed to ensure that the belt tracks correctly. For the first 2 hours of use on a new belt it is important to monitor the tracking as the belt breaks in.

The total time to set up the machine was about an hour and a half, including the phone call to Delta.

I did not experience any snipe problem at all. There is a kit that is available from Delta at no cost that corrects the pressure on the feed roller to help minimize snipe.

On a dedicated 20 amp circuit directly connected to the wall outlet, I was able to hog off almost 1/32" in one pass with an 80 grit belt on a piece of oak that was 12" wide, without the machine bogging down or stalling.

In short it is a solid machine. While the table may be a little fussy to set up initially, a few extra minutes spent getting it right gives you extremely precise results. The table mechanism can be adjusted to be perfectly smooth throughout its entire 4" range of travel. Don't even think about using this machine without a 1 hp or greater dust collector.
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77 of 82 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Delt Drum Sander, September 10, 2003
By 
desertrat "dpearcy4" (Tucson, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I too had problems right out of the gate with the table elevation mechanism. I had read the unfavorable reviews but decided to buy anyway based upon Fine Wookworking's favorable review.
My machine was improperly set up right out of the box. I spend several very frustrating hours taking the machine apart, properly setting up the indexing belt and adjusting the table mechanism.
Once I got everything corrected it works great, but for what I paid, it is extremely frustrating to have to spend hours correcting what was to have been "factory assembled and adjusted".
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars just what I needed, February 3, 2004
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I would love to have a dual drum sander, such as grizzly's 24" model. I don't really need the extra capacity of the Delta. However after much thought (my wife calls it indecision) I decided on the 31-255. As a part time job we rehab/restore old houses which results in the need to move my entire workshop every couple of years, more often if the house doesn't have a garage or barn, so the 450lb grizzly beast was out.
I've had the delta for two weeks now and I don't know how I survived without it. Assemby took about an hour. The first time I turned on the drum I couldn't believe how quiet it was. There was no wobble or shake to it. As a sander it's great, keep in mind it's not a planer, and expect to make multiple passes.
It's worked great on cabinet doors, old barn boards and cabinet stiles and rails. However, its not so great on larger face frames a r/o sander is quicker and easier. I haven't tried any really big and heavy pieces yet but so farn snipe has not been a problem. I find that my planer and jointer have gotten less use but they are still needed from time to time
One side note -- after buying the delta it came to my attention that Sears sells a 18x36 drum sander that seems similar to the performax 16-32 for $699
available online only :
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't understand the problems mentioned, March 6, 2004
By 
T. Bergman "woodworkertom" (Jefferson, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I carefully compared this to the Performax 16-32 at a woodworking show. I had planned on Performax because a friend has the 22-44, but that's an entirely different machine (much beefier) than the 16-32. Side by side I decided on the Delta. Although it is more expensive, it is beefier (I could rack the performax arm).
It was true right out of the box. Set up and alignment is straightforward and well explained by the manual. It is on a 20 amp circuit. However, this is a sander, not a planer. Stalling, tripping, or burning problems are signs of trying to remove too much material. I suppose with 36 grit paper you could remove stock, but even then only 1/64 to 1/32 at a time.
I have noticed no meaningful vibration, the unit is very quiet, even when removing stock (can hardly hear if no stock is in the sander). Belt change is simple (would have prefered 3" belts, but the 2" work fine).
Maybe quality control is really as bad as some of the reviews indicate. Mine was better than expected.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delta 31-255X Drum Sander, November 27, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
After studying both the Delta 31-255X and the Performax 16-32 Plus drum sander, I purchased the Delta unit. My primary reasons for this decision were the fixed drum/moveable table design and the Dec. 2000 Fine Woodworking review. The fixed drum design seemed to me to be a superior to the moveable drum found on the Performax sanders. I felt that the inevitable play that is found in moveable parts would lead to inaccuracy in the Performax models. The four post design of the moveable transport table on the delta also seemed to me to be a more robust design than a one or two post design. Reality, however, was a different matter. On the positive side, the sander's welded steel frame to which the sanding drum was mounted was indeed rigid. I could detect no play in the arm that housed the sanding drum or the sanding drum itself. Given this fact, if the transport table could be set parallel to the drum and maintained parallel ,accurate sanding should be attainable.

The negatives associated with this sander are all related to the transport table. For starters, out of the box, the transport belt both drifted to the left and had insufficient tension to move a board through the sander. The tension problem was easy enough to fix once the drift problem was corrected. The instructions in the owners manual for fixing drift were virually useless especially when the belt started with insufficient tension and it wanted to drift into the drive motor bushing. It took a half a dozen attempts before I got it to track reasonably straight. The left side of the belt suffered some damage from the motor bushing before I got to acceptable tracking. The next problem I encountered was the transport table was not parallel to the drum. While following the instructions in the owners manual for correcting this problem, I found that the four posts were out of allignment relative to each other. As it turned out this was caused by the mechanism that raises and lowers the table. This mechanism uses a toothed belt to synchronize the movement of the posts. The tension on this belt was insufficient to keep the belt from jumping teeth as the crank was turned. Once the belt jumped a tooth or two and moved the table out of allignemt, it was all down hill. Within a few turns the whole table mechanism jams and will not move up or down. The instructions in the manual for correcting this problem work reasonable well but are time consuming. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to work through them. Once the table is correctly alligned and the tension on the toothed belt is set properly. The transport mechanism can maintain an accurate position relative to the drum. It is, however, very easy for the belt to jump a tooth and force redoing the whole process. This transport mechanism is the weak link in this sander. Delta could have provided a far more robust mechanism. I agree with the reviewer who suggested a sprocket and chain design. A sprocket and chain would virtually eliminate the tooth jumping problem and it would be much easier to maintain proper tension.

When everything is properly aligned, the sander does a very nice job. I have used it to sand glued up panels for cabinet doors and am pleased with the results. I am not pleased with the maintenance time needed to keep everything alligned properly.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Machine, but not a planer!!!, February 19, 2005
By 
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I have the X5 version of this machine and it is top quality. Compared to the performax, I like it that the table moves instead of the drum and the Delta is belt driven instead of direct drive like the performax.

I noticed a lot of people complaing about this machine, but I have used three different models of this sander and all of them work extremely well and I have come to the conlusion that people are using them improperly. First of all these machines are NOT planers, they do not work well for dimensioning lumber. They do however, work very well for removing saw marks and for truing up panel glue ups and face frames. The key to good results with a drum sander is that you should remove small amounts of material, either 1/64" or 1/128" per pass seems to work best. Using this guidline, I have had no vibration issues, no problems with snipe and with the proper feed rate, I rarely burn up sanding belts or stall the machine. I have found that 120 grit belts are the best all purpose belts for most types of work and the 120 belts do not burn up or wear as quickly and also will remove stock for panel glue ups reason.

Set up and adjustment of the sander is quick and easy. It took me about 1 hour total to get the machine tuned up and the drum running true with the table. I haven't measured drum run out, but there doesn't seem to be enough drum run out to affect finish quality.

My only complaint about the design is that the pressure rollers are not adjustable. For smaller pieces, this means you need to have downward pressure both when inserting and when the piece is coming off the sander. I have since gone in an added a dry lubricant to the feed roller where the contact the spring mechansism and now all of these problems are gone. It seems that a bit of corrosion will build up underneath the feed rollers in the bushings that interferes with their function.

Overall, I am very happy with the sander and is has found it niche in my shop, but just realize you cannot use this machine like a planer
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Makerof finesawdust, December 29, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I'm giving this 3 stars, not because of the sander, but because of Amazon. I thought I was supposed to get a free mobile base with this sander, but I didn't. I'm investigating that with Amazon right now.

This sander took about 2hrs to set it up and start running, the manual isn't too bad, as far a manuals go anyways, it isn't great but tells you what you need to know. I've got several hours on it. I read all the reviews, and horror stories about this sander, I'm happy to say I've experienced none of these problems. It's true the sanding belt doesn't track 100% perfectly, it does take tweaking from time to time, it amounts to a 1/4 turn of the adjusting screws every so often. The manual also tells you that for the 1st several hours run time the new belt will stretch so adjustment may be necessary. It's not like you turn the machine on and BAMM the belt goes off track, it takes time for the belt to drift because even at its fastest speed the belt is still traveling pretty slow so it takes time for the belt to drift to a point where an adjustment is necessary. Keep an eye on it and it's no big deal.

The setup was pretty staight forward, nothing too complicated. I ran a 16"x24" piece birch plywood to test it out. The sander was within .007" accurate right out of the box. I've adjusted it down to .004", that's the best I've been able to get so far, well within my accuracy requirements. This machine is alot quiter than I thought, as far as power tools go it is one of the quietest now that I have. This machine runs smooth with no excess vibration. I've changed drum belts, it's a little tricky to get the belt tight while wrapping it around the drum, but with a little more practice I should get better at that too.

I will say, don't buy this machine if you don't have a DC, get a DC 1st. I think alot of problems people are having is because they may be trying to take off too big of bites of wood. I have a planer and jointer so this sander will not be used for thicknessing wood, only sanding taking off less than a 64th per pass, a 64th to me is too much anyways. This sander does everything it's been advertised to do and seems to do it quite well.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice addition to a workshop, November 20, 2005
By 
Hugh G (Chester, CT, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
After reading both the negative and positive reviews of this tool, I decided to give it a try, mostly due to the price. I am glad I did. Setup took about an hour including the mobile base. I fired it up and ran a piece of oak through the machine at a moderate feed rate. The belt drive slipped and didn't pull the wood evenly. I used the included hex wrench to adjust the belt tension by turning the adjusters 1/2 turn each. I turned on the feed drive motor again and checked the tracking...perfect!. I fed the wood thru again and this time it worked very well. Next, I put a cocobolo guitar back through the machine and checked the thickness in several areas. The dimensions were within .002", well within my requirements.

I think that the negative reviews of this machine may have been a result of the user expecting the machine to be perfectly adjusted out of the box. My machine required minor adjusting to get it operate correctly. Another issue may be that a user might be trying to remove too much stock on a single pass. That isn't going to happen with a single drum sander that runs on 120 volts...

I am very pleased with the fit and finish as well as the castings and frame of the machine. I have a 1hp dust collector attached to the dust port and it seems to handle the task easily. My primary use for this machine is to dimension acoustic guitar backs, sides and tops. It is definitely up to the task! I got a 10% discount, a $100 rebate, and a free mobile base, making this machine a great value.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delta Drum Sander better than expected, October 23, 2003
By 
This review is from: DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase (Tools & Home Improvement)
I purchased the 31-250 drum sander to sand tops, backs and braces for my hand made guitars. I set it up in less than an hour and it ran perfectly right out of the box. I did not have to make any adjustments and I was very pleased to find that I could actually run a glued top across the feed table. NO vibration, no uneveness, no problems at all. I was surprised to read the negative responses after I had purchased my sander. I have only run test pieces thus far and will write more after I run some highly figured Brazilian Rosewood through the sander. Right now I am very pleased with the product. Ran some highly figured rosewood and maple through the sander over the weekend and it worked great. NO snipe, no vibrations and even sanding across the board. Thus far I am very happy with the sander. (...)
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DELTA 31-255X X5 18-Inch 1-1/2-Horsepower Drum Sander, 120-Volt 1-Phase
$1,737.50 $1,300.00
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