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Porter Cable or Flex

Monday, April 12 2010

 Comparing the Flex XC3401VRG to the Porter Cable 7424 Dual Action Polishers
XC3401VRG and Porter Cable 7424 Comparison:
These are two very popular DUAL ACTION (D/A) polishers for both the pro and weekend warriors. So which one works best for your application?
After using both machines let me try to help you decide which is best suited for your overall needs.
Cutting and aggressive polishing: such as removing sanding scratches, minor imperfections or medium to heavy marring of clear coats. The Porter Cable 7424, in my opinion, will fall short in this type of work because the random movement of this machine will generate very little friction to break down compounds for aggressive cutting. The XC3401VRG is more suitable for this work because of the forced orbital rotation. The Flex does not have reverse movement like the Porter Cable 7424 does, this machine works just like a D/A sander used to feather paint. The Flex forced rotation has a jitter movement allowing it to generate friction to break down compounds, enabling them to generate some heat/friction to do their work, plus it is a powerful machine.
Light scratches, swirls or holograms:  Lets compare the removal of light scratches, swirls or holograms from a prior rotational buffing job.  This is the stage that I call polishing, a very important step in any job. 
The Porter Cable 7424, and the Flex XC3401VRG are right at home here in this type of polishing.  However, proper polishing pads and compounds will be a key ingredient for success here.  So both will work, the Flex may be a little faster only because of its forced rotation and unique pattern, it may even help level out clear coats in some cases.  But remember it is a bit more to handle than the Porter Cable 7424.
Waxing, Sealing or Glazing:  The last step in polishing with a machine is waxing, sealing or glazing.  The Porter Cable 7424 is very well suited for this final step. The one thing I truly like about the Porter Cable is the ability to control this machine.  With very little practice this machine can perform the final finish with very little effort, and much versatility.  The Flex also works well in these final finishing stages, however this machine is one that takes both hands to control as it can be a little grabby and walk on you.  It is not the easiest to control so put the coffee cup down and  pay close attention with the Flex.  Plus the rotation is reversed from the traditional polishing machines, so this may feel a bit different at first.  
Overview:  The Flex XC3401VRG is one orbital machine which is capable of handling just about all phases of buffing and polishing, but is much more difficult to control compared to the Porter Cable 7424.
The Porter Cable 7424 is more for polishing and applying finishing products than it is for aggressive cutting and compounding.  However, with the correct pad  choice and compounds this machine can do all of the above tasks, but it will be slower, and less aggressive.   This machine is very user friendly and easily controlled even for an inexperienced operator. Our 6" DRC1000 foam buffing pads are already in use with many Porter Cable random orbital polishers  and having great success as it sports a 4" backing disc. 
Currently the 6" DRC1000 pads do not fit the Flex XC3401VRG as the backing disc on the Flex is to large, 5.5 inches in diameter.  It has a geared inner lip to make it forced rotation, and the backing disc may not be swapped out for a different size either because of this geared lip.  We are developing a New 6.5" DRC1000 foam buffing pad line that will be specific for all Dual Action Polishers.  We feel these machines are going to be the way of the future for any industry that has demanding customers who are not going to accept swirl marks, holograms or light scratches in their finishes.   Good luck, be proud of your work, and have fun!
Shine er up,  Mink

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