Powertec - BD6900 (Rating: 4)

For decades, literally, I have used a Toolkraft 6X48 sander with a slightly undersized motor. I believe I took it in on trade for some refinishing work back in the late 70's. But the bronze bushings were finally wearing, it wouldn't track right anymore, and the motor was pretty shot, so I started looking. Settled on a Powertec from Southerntool after the HF unit on sale for $199 was out of stock USA. Southerntool is an Amazon associate dealer. Paid $268 including shipping.
Sold the Toolkraft at my garage sale for $25.

Received this Powertec in a very timely manner from the Amazon Dealer. Was actually surprised at how fast it arrived. Two days.
Took a couple days to get it unpacked and set up as I was not ready for it.
The instructions are good. They say it is a 1.5HP Peak motor, which means it really is a 3/4HP motor.
I was missing the clamp for the dust bag, plan on calling Southerntool to get a replacement.
Also, the bolt that holds on the table was rattling around in the box, thought I had lost it. It came in it's own carton, proudly announcing to my neighbors that I have a new sander as it sat on my porch.

Once I got the unit set up, I first hand-turned the belt and wheel before plugging it in, only to hear a loud scraping noise. The belt was hitting something. I took off the side plate, (plastic, as is most of the base and other covers), to find that the dust deflector had warped, (probably during the injection molding operation), so it was hitting the belt. There is no way to adjust this deflector, so I surmised that the only thing to do would be turn it on and let the belt grind away at it until it cleared.
I also noticed that after I turned it on and got the deflector ground down, it was still a bit sluggish in starting up, even though the belt now was clear and free. Having about 35 years experience with this kind of tool, I immediately took penetrating oil and lightly oiled the top roller bearings. It made an immediate difference in the amount of ramp up speed time, and the unit ran much quieter, so I oiled every bearing I could get at. As I did, the unit improved appreciably.

As far as sanding, I have only used the belt with the table attached. Don't use it in a horizontal position. The belt tracks well, although there is only one tracking adjustment on the right side as you are looking at the table. All my previous ones had an adjustment on both sides. The belt is somewhat difficult to change, having to take off a dust collection cover, and that cover is a little warped as plastic sometimes is.
Dust collection by the unit is iffy. Bag only expands about 3/4 of the way. If you are taking off a little bit of wood, OK to go. If you are trying to flatten a side of a wooden box, for instance, like the 3X5" box bottom I sanded flat on the sander, I got dust everywhere. I plan on using a vacuum cleaner to see if I can improve it. The outlet pipe is 2". Unfortunately, all my dust collectors take a standard 2 1/2" hose, so I have to get an adopter. $3.00 at HD.

Overall, it looks like it will do the job I bought it for, light sanding of items not too big. Having to move the table to the disc everytime will cause me to probably not use the disc, since I have a 12" disc sander on the other side of the shop. The walk is quicker than moving the table, and I would wear out the screws over time anyway. A second table, while probably increasing the price about $50, would have made this a pretty versatile unit.
I decided to buy the second table, which I found on Amazon through this dealer. You get the entire table and the bar to mount it for a little less than $50. So now I have a table on both the belt and the disc, but I am into this unit for $317. It really makes this machine much better, since now you have a table for the belt and the disc. Much, much better.

Considering that the Harbor Freight unit was $199 on sale, and this was $30 more plus shipping, (both in one table variation), I might have been better off to wait, but the Harbor Freight unit is almost always out of stock. Also, the HF unit has lousy dust collection as I see it, and we all know HF is hit and miss, mostly miss.

Apparently this Powertec unit is an exact copy of one sold by Sears and Hitachi, but much less money than the Sears, so a mixed bag on competition. A comparative Grizzly unit is over $100 more. A 4X36 Porter Cable unit can be had from Lowes for $179, but you soon find out that the smaller belt is an inconveinence, and the little 6" disc is mostly worthless.

As long as the motor holds out, and it sounds smooth, I will keep it oiled and clean and it should last a few years.
And the more I use it, the smoother it seems to run. Overall, 4 stars, but I had to provide a stand as this is really a tabletop, albeit a big one. Some of you have read how I critisize Craftsman, so we'll see how this actual Powertec holds up. I find myself now using it everyday, since I now have both tables.