Flex XC 3401 VRG Review

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About & Specifications
The Flex XC 3401 VRG is a random orbital (3200-9600opm), direct drive (160-480rpm) polisher. The combin2ation of orbital/direct drive puts the power/cutting abilities in between a Dual Action Random Orbital polisher (Porter Cable 7424/UDM) and a Rotary type polisher. This gives you greater cutting ability over a D/A, yet still easier and safer to use then a rotary.



· Specifications ·

  • · Power input 900 Watts (7.5 amps)
  • · Power output 590 Watts
  • · Rotary RPM: 160-480
  • · Orbital OPM: 3200-9600
  • · Orbit (stroke length): 8mm
  • · Velcro back plate (included)
  • · Weight 5.75 lbs
  • The Flex weights 5.75lbs, that is about 1lb. more than a Porter Cable (specs on the PC state 5.75lbs. but the PC actually weights less than 5lbs). The hand position (12 and 6 o'clock) is very comfortable and similar to the Makita 9227c. The trigger on the Flex is variable speed and has a lock for trigger free operation. The variable speed feature allows you to have the Flex on full speed, yet still be able to spread your product around on a slower speed. It's feature is also useful if you want to slow down your speed to work around delicate areas or edges.


    The speed dial is located on the left side and can be easily changed with your thumb without having to stop the machine.

    The Velcro backing plate is a specially made, geared backing plate that creates the forced rotation. The Flex XC 3401 VRG originally came with a 6" backing plate but it had problem with seperation between the velcro and the backing plate. They are offering a replacement backing plate for anyone who has the original backing plate (contact your place of purchase for more information). The new backing plate is much better then the original, not only is it smaller (5.5" instead of 6") they also added a foam cushion in between the velcro and backing plate. This foam cushion allows for flexablity and a bit more distance between the machine and pad. The smaller backing plate also allows you to use 6" pads.


    The sound and vibrations at full speed is similar to the PC, different tone, but without the rattle.



    Polishing
    The cutting ability on the Flex is definitely much faster than with a PC. The direct drive on the Flex can generate some heat and helps the polish break down quicker. The power and force rotation of the Flex also helps prevent the machine from bogging down under load or pressure. Now, because of this forced rotation, the Flex can grab, skip or fight you, similar to a rotary (not as severe though), so it takes more control than it does with a PC.


    I also noticed with the Flex virtually no micromarring or hazing, which makes it not only a great cutting polisher, but also a great finishing polisher.


    Size Comparison
    · Here is a size comparison of the Flex XC 3401 VRG to a Porter Cable 7424 D/A and a Makita 9227c Rotary ·

    Pro's
    1. · More power than a Porter Cable 7424 or Ultimate Detailing Machine ·
      The Flex offers 9600opm & since it's a direct drive, it also offers up to 480rpm. The PC and UDM only offer up to 6000opm and no direct drive.

    2. · Better cutting ability ·
      Because of the higher OPM and the addition of RPM it will cut much faster then a PC/UDM

    3. · Faster breaking down of a finishing polishing ·
      The addition of force rotation aids in the breaking down of polishes faster. The Porter Cable can finish to a high gloss, it just takes longer.

    4. · Still Safer than a rotary ·
      Even though it is force driven, it's still a R/O so there is less risk of damaging your paint (though still possible).

    5. · 13ft cord ·
      Comes in very handy when working around the car.

    6. · Variable speed trigger ·
      This is one of my favorite parts of the Flex. This allows you to start slow and spread the polish without having to change speeds. I also like to slow down the speed a bit when finishing so this is beneficial when the polish is broken down too.

    7. · Will not bog down when pressure is applied ·
      Again the forced rotation allows you to apply pressure without the worry of bogging down the machine.

    Con's
    1. · Cost ·
      For the price of the Flex alone you could get a nice PC starter kit that would include the PC, backing plate and a variety of different pads.

    2. · Only One size backing plate available (as of now) ·
      Since the gear for the direct drive is on the backing plate, it's not interchangeable with common backing plates. Flex at this time only offers a 6" backing plate for the Flex, so you are forced to use 6" or larger pads. Edge system is working on an adapter for their system though.

    3. · Not as easy as a PC for a novice user ·
      Since it's force driven it requires more control then a PC/UDM. It can grab, skip and jump a bit just like a rotary.

    4. · Still does not have the speed or cutting ability of a rotary (definite step up from a PC though) ·
      but the risk factor is definitely lower.

    Conclusion
    This is a great machine and I would recommend it to anyone that uses a PC and is looking for more power but is hesitant about going up to a rotary. It's powerful, easy to use and has a small learning curve (very little if coming from a PC). This machine does the work of a PC and more, but much faster. It will give you better and faster cutting power then a D/A, but still offer lower risk of damaging the paint.



    Below is a video showing
    the cutting power of the Flex
    compared to the Porter Cable 7424

    Flex XC 3401 VRG
    vs. Porter Cable 7424


     
     
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