Whether to Rebuild an Edgebander

Here's a savvy discussion of the pros and cons of replacing a few important parts on an edgebander to keep it running for more years. June 15, 2014

Here's some shop info first: Location is North Jersey shore and Iím bidding on a lot of Hurricane Sandy jobs. Iím only getting the ones from the people who can self-finance themselves. Nobody is getting any real insurance money - that's another story. We are a four man 5,000 square foot shop (own). We have an SCMI Slider,1265 vertical saw, boring machines, Cabnetware and etc. Iíve been doing cabinetwork for 30 plus years.

I have a 16 year old Holz-Her 1436 SE with jump buffing bought new 31K. We have run on average 20-30 sheets per week through it so that's probably 20K plus sheets. It has served me well, with minor tweaks like most EB's and I have probably spent 4K in parts and tech's during its life. The last year or two we have been getting to do a lot of glue cleanup. We have worn down the glue nozzle to almost no grooves. Also the track pads are well worn and glossy from all the mel sent through it. Itís like my Toyota with 200K - it still runs strong but when it dies do I put a new engine in it? Through WOODWEB I learned that a new complete glue station is $2,800 and a new feed chain with all the pads is $1,000. Other parts to bring it up to new will probably be couple hundred more. So Iím looking at $5000.00 in parts. I have a good local tech who can do the work, and estimates about $2000.00 in labor with my help. He is booked for several weeks installing CNC routers and I am not on his emergency list.

So, do I Invest that and hopefully get several more good years out of it? Or should I buy a local HH1403EB 3phase model that has a control panel on the arm like my 1436? Thereís no buffing and yes itís small! It only has 338 hours on it. Itís from a one-man shop and I know the guy and he bought it new. For $2500.00 to tide me over for a year or two till new is this worth it?

To answer my own question I will buy it anyway, use it while mine is out of commission, then resell when mine is back up and running. At this time a new one 30K plus is not an option. If the money became available it would be in software upgrades and a router/ptp first. Am I crazy in my thinking?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor H:
It seems reasonable to me. Will the one you have be a better bander when finished than the used one you are going to buy? They are fussy machines and even if you get a new one it will just as fussy.

From Contributor W:
No you are not crazy. My Brandt KD 54 did an excellent job for ten years run hard. I rebuilt the gluepot, all pads blades and some air connections, purchased a backup KD 57 used (incase) and I expect another ten years out of it. The rebuild cost $5,000.00 and the backup is $10,000. Now I have two good banders!

From contributor M:
For $7,000 you would end up with a rebuilt $40,000 bander. My hunch is that if you rebuild this is where your original investment will really pay off. Putting a new engine in a Toyota with 200k miles might be pointless. Probably because rust is starting to set in and the vehicle will fail inspection within a year or two because of it. Bring it to Vermont and you would get one more winter out of it! Your bander is in a climate controlled shop, and you know how it has been maintained, and what has been done over the years. What else could go wrong? What else may need to be replaced in the next five years? Now the question is, what if you can find a better used machine in the $10-15k price range? We are in a buyerís market in regards to used equipment. This may be possible.

From Contributor C:
I have a Holz-Her 1402 and purchased it used a few years ago. I have changed the conveyor belt, with the pads, for about $1000. It was pretty straightforward and took me a few hours. One suggestion that I will make is to tie a piece of heavy string or twine to the end of the old belt and to the beginning of the new belt to help guide the new one in its place. Then, use the lubricant under the belt that is recommended. I did think about changing the pads only, since they were deteriorating (former owner had the machine in non-climate controlled storage for about a year just before I bought it), but I was very wisely talked out of that. After trying to remove one of the pads from the old belt, I realized how correct the suggestion was. I have also replaced numerous air lines as they became old and brittle (again, that year of storage probably did not help at all). Your plan of maintaining your current machine sounds fine to me.

From contributor L:
There are lots of other things that wear on a bander so you will likely have more repair costs and downtime than if you had a new one. I don't see anything wrong with extending the life of a machine that does what you need. Some newer machines have better features or you may want to have additional capabilities justifying the cost of a new machine. If you can do your own maintenance the costs aren't so bad but if you need to call in techs it gets expensive fast. At some point parts will become difficult to find.

From Contributor K:
There are many options and it can be difficult to know which way to go in regards to a newer machine or rebuilding yours. You can rebuild your glue pot or replace it. In regards to rebuilding it, there are two options. You can have it done onsite by yourself or a qualified tech. Or the better option is to send it off and have it rebuilt. There is a place I deal with that will do a great job and offer a warranty on their work. They will re-coat the glue pot with teflon to prevent the glue from sticking. This can be around $1,300 on up to have done.

It depends upon the machine and it sounds like you have a Holz-Her. You don't always have to replace the chain and pads but on that type of machine it is easier and sometimes less expensive. This can be less expensive than buying a used machine and a tech should take one day to align the glue pot and install the chain. You can install the glue pot yourself, but people always forget and don't realize to properly align the glue pot in relation to the board to prevent rubbing and being too far from the panel.

I see you are also looking at a used machine. You know the condition of yours and how it works. You also know your machine's quirks. When buying a used machine, no matter how many hours are on it you don't know it's quirks. You also don't know that a machine that only has 338 hours could be in great condition. Or it was crashed several times and you don't know this. That is with any machine. You also don't know if any major components will fail. It is also out of warranty and could be costly one month after purchasing. You will also want to have a tech help install it and adjust everything prior to running production. This will prevent any problems from happening as soon as you run the machine. A used machine or new can be a cost saver compared to rebuilding your machine, but you don't know and if your machine isn't that old I would say rebuild it. The new machines are starting to get more proprietary on their parts and it is making it difficult to get replacement parts outside of the OEM.

From Contributor R:
Replacing the chain/pads and rebuilding the glue system is probably a two day job for a tech. We rebuild our glue system as opposed to replacing (ours uses pellets not the glue slugs) but it might be less expensive to just replace depending on labor. We are also located in Northern NJ and have been very happy with Pettit Technical Service out of PA. They specialize in Holz-Her banders and were called in by Holz-Her to troubleshoot some issues with our bander when their tech couldnít find the issue.

From Contributor Y:
I have run Holz-Hers for almost 20 years including a 1436 and a 1402 and some of the bigger units with corner rounding and such. I currently have a 2001, 1411-3. I personally would not rebuild a 1436. The only reason is it is the old scissor mechanism for the front and back cutters (all else is nearly identical as far as mechanics of the stations between the 1436 and 1411). I have a pretty keen eye and want the stuff out of my bander perfect. I always struggled with that on the 1436's because of the end trim mechanism. The linear rails of the newer machines (like my twelve year old 1411) is far superior.

Without hesitation I would rebuild my 1411 if that were necessary. If I bought a used one I'd try and find the tech who serviced it and could tell me how the owner did (or not) keep it up. I would still be willing to wade into an unknown HH machine because I have run them so long, but that probably would not be the wisest thing. There are so many little things to know and check on an abused machine, but I would not sink $7k into a 1436 unless I had no choice, especially if it was still producing satisfactory product for me.