Belt failure resulting in expensive repair

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Review by MitchSaginaw posted 06-20-2010 03:12 PM 4695 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Belt failure resulting in expensive repair No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am writing to warn the readers that I had to replace the drive belt internal to my Porter Cable 371 belt sander after only 4 months of use.

This is a great tool for the shop for its compact size and ability to remove material fast with good control.

The problem is that the unit appeared to overheat and the belt came apart. I took it to a warranty center expecting to have it repaired under warranty but found out it was not covered and the repair cost $49.92. ($11 for the belt and the rest labor) The shop explain that Porter Cable rejected the warranty claim because they stated that it was a “normal wear item”

I only paided $100 for the sander which was a good price for what I thought was a good quality tool.

I am almost afraid to use the sander now because I don’t want to go thur belts. The owner manual provides no explanation on how to replace or inspect the belt. I wrote an email to Porter Cable with no response so I am posting this review.

Honestly I don’t believe the belt should have worn out in 4 months.

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1 post in 3673 days

16 comments so far

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 06-20-2010 03:33 PM

I was thinking about getting one of these once, but now that I read this I am glad I did not. I bought a Makita 3 X21 variable speed belt sander and just love it. I had a 3 X 21 Makita belt sander for over 30 + years and it finally died. The old unit did not have VS but with the variable speed you can control stock removal better. Thanks for the info.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View ellen35's profile


2747 posts in 4207 days

#2 posted 06-20-2010 03:39 PM

I have one… used with once with great success. Nice shape, size and heft.
I’m now wondering about the belt.
Perhaps, it is a fluke… I’ll be interested in the experience of others as well.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3850 days

#3 posted 06-20-2010 03:56 PM

I have one of these and, so far, I have had good luck with it. It is my sander of choice when I have a lot of material to remove.

However, it does get hot. The handle is, effectively, wrapped around the motor and it can get so warm that it is uncomfortable to hold. I stop on a regular basis to let the machine cool down before continuing.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3698 days

#4 posted 06-20-2010 04:16 PM

Personally I feel that if someone can build something,I can figure out how it works and how to repair it. If it dies again I’d take it apart. Take pictures as you go along and you have something to refer back to.

-- Life is good.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3797 days

#5 posted 06-20-2010 06:11 PM

I’ve had one of these for a few years now and it’s been a workhorse for me. Like Rich, it’s my go to sander if there is a lot of material to remove and it’s fantastic for scribing. It does get hot with extended use but I’ve had no problems with mine.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4352 days

#6 posted 06-20-2010 06:26 PM

I have one I’ve had for years and it works great. but this is a light weight sander you can’t get heavy handed with it. The other problem is that the factory sanding belts break very easily, So I have custom ones made.


View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3841 days

#7 posted 06-20-2010 08:57 PM

I agree with Jim, you have to use it for light jobs. The first one I got burnt out the same day. The guys at ACE gave me a replacement and I have been really careful not to overheat it or work it for a long time

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4045 days

#8 posted 06-20-2010 10:24 PM

I have a pc and a bosch 1276 DVS (which is by far the better sander). The PC I bought at a yard sale and it has served me well for medium sanding jobs (I keep a 100 to 150 grit belt on it)....the bosch gets the heavy duty stuff (and has either a 60 or 80 grit belt on it most of the time)....and I work it hard….I have never had a problem with it….but I believe it is much more expensive then the PC models.

I would agree with the statements above…..don’t try to sand a very heavy job all at once…..heat and dust are a tools worst enemies….I will typically stop every hour or so…and blow out the tool (especially the switch (I keep a festool dust collector on these tools at all times).....check the tool…and let it cool for a few….then back at it.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View loflin's profile


4 posts in 3679 days

#9 posted 06-20-2010 11:08 PM

I must just be lucky with the two PC 371 sanders that I have owned. The first was stolen after about a year of use. While refinishing the oak floors in my house it easily ran for several hours at a time in all of the areas that a floor sander and larger belt sander would not fit. I never felt as though it vibrated too much or that it got too hot. Although I have only had a few belts break on me I agree with a1Jim and buy 3rd party belts. This is a great little sander and I don’t baby it in the slightest and the new one has been going strong with a lot of use for more that two years. My 4×24 and 3×21 inch belt sanders are just too big and heavy for some jobs and these little sanders get their share of the work.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3797 days

#10 posted 06-21-2010 12:02 AM

Reggie may have hit on a key point. I use mine pretty heavily but I always have dust extraction hooked up while I’m using it. The extra air flow of the dust collection along with not allowing dust to build up on the tool components probably goes a long way to preventing terminal overheating.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4732 days

#11 posted 06-21-2010 03:11 AM

I have one also, and I don’t use it allot. It does get pretty hot when you run it for extended periods of time. I have had nothing but good results with this sander….I always use it with my sander dust collector (an old canister vacuum) and that seems to help keep the heat build up down. I just try and let it cool off by taking breaks while using it.


View Tim_456's profile


173 posts in 4370 days

#12 posted 06-21-2010 04:56 AM

I’ve had mine for a few years now and have had great luck with it, no problems at all. sorry to hear you had a bad experience with yours.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4007 days

#13 posted 06-21-2010 05:44 AM

For that kind of service. You are FAR better off paying for a couple of Harbor Freight belt sanders and just chucking them when they break…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4079 days

#14 posted 06-22-2010 06:22 AM

If you use it with a shop vac it really helps dissipate the heat.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Kelly's profile


3010 posts in 3719 days

#15 posted 04-15-2017 06:26 AM

Add me to the list of people who have owned one of these creatures for about six years, with good luck. I should add that mine was used here and there commercially. It’s still going strong.

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