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Another Rockler Innovation with sub-par product execution

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Review by CaptainKlutz posted 05-13-2019 10:07 PM 1559 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Another Rockler Innovation with sub-par product execution No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Have owned one Rockler All-Terrain moble base for almost two years, and couple months ago bought another to replace mobile base that shredded it wheels. Felt it was time to share my findings in a review.

DESIGN: (4 of 5 stars)

This ‘All-Terrain’ mobile base is only base that offers 5” wheels available for retail sale. It also has the highest ground clearance of any base I have tried in market (and I have tried most of them).
Here is comparison picture with Portamate/Woodcraft mobile base:

This height difference lets the All-Terrain base cross over the grooves in my driveway, where others get stuck.

From a design perspective, there is only one serious drawback to this base:
The tool weight is always sitting on wheels.
Every time I start to roll around my 400lb 8” jointer on this base, it sounds like shopping trolley at Walmart with bad wheel. Goes: Thump, Thump, Thump, and lots of vibration if you push fast. Base is rated for 800lbs, I have it half loaded and I have flat spots? This is not performance I expect from a $200 plus mobile base.
The flat spots disappear once the tool is moved, but then I make another one if tool sets for longer than couple days. The caster flat spots are worse in Arizona 110F summer temperatures, but they also disappear more quickly in summer.

There is one other minor design flaw considering this base lists for $229.99;
the pivoting front casters are not stopped from rotating when locked.
They lock only the wheel rotation, not the caster rotation. With all 4 locks engaged the tool doesn’t move. But if you fail to engage the rear fixed wheel locks, the front of tool can move or pivot/rotate slightly when pushed.

Beyond the above issues; the base works as advertised.
It will roll over power cords, and crosses the 3/4” high step leading into my garage, and the 1” wide crack stop grooves in my driveway with no issues.

Here is picture of Rockler All-Terrain next couple other bases I own, can see how the other bases get stuck on the grooves due smaller wheels:

Part of my shop challenge is I move my tools between 2 garages located 90 degrees from each other, and have to roll across ~20 foot of concrete between them with a grid of grooves. :(

ASSEMBLY: (5 of 5 stars)
The base is relatively easy to assemble. The main review picture above shows box contents. The casters arrive already assembled on the corner brackets, which doesn’t leave much left to do.
To assemble: Measure the size of tool base, slide bars between the wheels, line up the hols, and tighten some nuts/bolts. Put tool on top the base.
BUT:
Be careful that don’t cut your hands! ....

QUALITY: (1 of 5 stars)
Standard quick and dirty Chinese quality parts, The welds are adequate, but not 100% covereage. The paint is complete minus some minor scrapes, and damage from from broken box during shipping. But big issue is metal flashing or burrs on all stamped metal parts!

The 1st base I received has some stamping flash on edges of metal, but I didn’t have near the problems I had with latest one.
Assembling the newest base, had sliced my hands twice before I realized I was bleeding everywhere. EVERY ONE of the stamped metal pieces had sharp edges on them. Ended up having to use a file to remove the edge burrs. Here is a before and after picture of the cross bars:

.
The burrs prevent the cross bars from sliding into the corner assemblies, and had to be removed before assembly (unless used hammer to insert them).

Here you can see the exposed metal after filing off the burrs on the caster assemblies:

.
Sliced my palm open when I picked up the caster assembly the 1st time. :-(
Sorry, not pictures of blood or gore; I don’t wait for pictures to fix open wounds. :-)

SUMMARY:
The latest All-Terrain base purchased & assembled is being for a used/rebuilt Powermatic 15” planer.

It weighs ~500 lbs. The base rolls with ease, even over cords, and concrete obstacles in my home. If the tool is parked for about week, the casters get flat spots, just like my other one. So beyond the horrible manufacturing quality issues with metal stamping, the new one works likes old one.
If you absolutely need to All-Terrain capability, then it is about only option to suggest or recommend?

You might notice above I own a Grizzly Bear Crawl base in picture above. I attempted to use this under my planer as it was 1/3 the price of the Rockler All-Terrain base. I really like Grizzly Bear Crawl base, rolls nice, the caster locks stop movement, and I recommend it; but the wheels are just a little too small to get over my driveway obstacles. When I saw Rockler put the All-Terrain on sale for $169 recently, dipped into the grocery funds and bought another one as I was tired of challenges of small wheels. If you don’t need larger wheels, it is much better value mobile base.

For record:
1) Mobile bases hate me, and I hate mobile bases as they always fail to work properly.
They might work for awhile, but if you really load any base with rated weight – the casters fail over time due improper load ratings. Never trust load ratings on mobile base! Since I started wood working in Arizona high heat and low humidity 18 years ago, learned that plastic/rubber casters are guaranteed to dry out and fail in 3-5 years, while urethane version last 5-10 years.

2) Hate to post mostly negative review, but for this Rockler base I must get this information on web:
Why?
They deleted my 3 star review of this product on their site.
Never trust any reviews on Rockler site. They delete any review that points our mfg defects, or has critical information. Have had 3 of 7 product reviews removed as they weren’t glowing 4-5 star reviews.
If there was any other commercially available mobile base with tall casters, I would not have bought the all Terrain Base; that’s how much I distrust Rockler. :-(

Thanks for reading all the way to end, and have a great day!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!




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CaptainKlutz

1236 posts in 1856 days



10 comments so far

View Chuck Anstrom's profile (online now)

Chuck Anstrom

90 posts in 3386 days


#1 posted 05-13-2019 10:59 PM

Why don’t you buy plywood, wheels, and lumber (or use scrap) and make your own base? It is much less expensive and you get exactly want you need.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA_jpEoaz3Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-8DI1OM0UE

-- Chuck Anstrom - Virginia

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1236 posts in 1856 days


#2 posted 05-14-2019 12:27 AM



Why don t you buy plywood, wheels, and lumber (or use scrap) and make your own base? It is much less expensive and you get exactly want you need.

- Chuck Anstrom

hehe, another youtuber…

BTDTGTTS

1) Have made bases from wood. Metal frame bases are significantly smaller. The tool usually always has to be lower than top of caster (especially 4-6” casters), and making mobile base from wood with caster on outside creates a much larger stance. I am a Klutz, was constantly tripping over wood bases with casters hanging on sides. :( Never again, unless the wheels can go UNDER the tool.

2) Please check the math on less expensive. If you want cheap 2” tall casters, and use scrap shipping container wood; can make a mobile base, that would cost less than All Terrain. But then the comparable cheap bases can be bought for < $40 online too? Have you priced a set of quality ball bearing full lock 400lb rated 5/6” casters lately?

3) The All-Terrain base serves a purpose, higher ground clearance, and bigger wheels for taller obstacles. That is why I started using them. This is what happens to cheap 2.5-3” caster mobile bases in my shop:

Broken hubs:

Chunks missing and the 4” replacements I’m testing:

FWIW:
The above will be last mobile base I buy. Despite not using a welder in 25 years, decided I need to weld my own from now on. Currently looking for inexpensive used welder to help me overcome limitations of buying commercial products or being limited to only wood construction at home.

Cheers!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View ocean's profile

ocean

158 posts in 1195 days


#3 posted 05-14-2019 12:42 AM

I don’t understand why mobile bases for tools have such a problem with poor quality wheels. I had a 7800lb boat sitting on polyurethane rollers for years and they have never flattened under the point load of the keel. They just don’t make good quality urethane wheels for mobile bases. Would they cost more? sure but they would be worth the money when it came time to roll the base around. Live in hope and die in despair.

-- Bob, FL Keys

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Peteybadboy

698 posts in 2312 days


#4 posted 05-14-2019 11:39 AM

Thanks for posting. I have also noticed bad reviews disapearing on the site.

-- Petey

View edapp's profile

edapp

258 posts in 1792 days


#5 posted 05-14-2019 12:30 PM

I have one of these (dont pay full price! They put them on sale regularly… ) and dont plan on buying any other mobile bases in the future. Works great with my grizzly 15” planer.

Really like mine, and dont have issues with the swivel lock as long as I lock all four corners.

View pottz's profile (online now)

pottz

5033 posts in 1346 days


#6 posted 05-14-2019 02:01 PM

yeah i have 3 of them and wont buy any others,ive tried em all and their all crap.the rockler is not perfect but as close as it gets.ive not had the issue of the wheels getting flat spots or the pivot wheels lock.and as edapp said watch for sales.as klutz shows hard plastic or rubber wheels are a waste of money.i just replaced the plastic wheels on my jointer that split apart with 4” polyurathane,rolls with one finger now.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

558 posts in 3320 days


#7 posted 05-15-2019 01:30 AM

Well-written review: well done!

I wonder if it’s the heat that is leading to the described flat spots on the wheels. I’ve never experienced a flat spot on my Rockler HD base, but “hot” my way isn’t very…

Since my purchase I’ve found a source for free (!) industrial casters and so fear no driveway crack or load of any weight. $400 of casters and six bucks in 2×4s can produce miracles.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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Sark

95 posts in 722 days


#8 posted 05-19-2019 07:56 PM

Excellent review. Thanks. Sorry that Rockler removes negative review comments from their site, Not surprised. They aren’t the only ones.

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Sark

95 posts in 722 days


#9 posted 05-19-2019 07:57 PM

Duplicate post

View TEK73's profile

TEK73

73 posts in 69 days


#10 posted 05-22-2019 05:56 AM

Thanks for the review, good writeup.

Maybe you should look into flattening your transitions and bridging your cracks to reduce the stress on your casters?
Would make it easier to move around as well…

-- It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. - Ursula K. LeGuin

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