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Old 02-03-2010, 11:39 PM   #1
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Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

I bought this product for Christmas and finally got to use it last Sunday!. See "Observations" for details
Product(s) used previously: Griot's Garage 6 inch Random Orbital Polisher V2
Initial Product Observations:
Manufacturer Claims: Absolutely True
Packaging: Nicely packaged with Foam support to hold it snug in box

Color: Black and Red
Size: Approximately 16" long +/-
Weight: 5.73 lb
Speed: 160-480 rpm
Orbit rate: 3200-9600 rpm
Power input: 900 Watt
Power Output 500 Watt
Made in: Germany
Price: 299.99

Some of the additional products used for prep or during and after application:
1.- DP Universal Detailing Clay - $24.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/dp720.html (review here) http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/20889-review-dp-universal-detailing-clay.html
2.- Lake Country Hydro-Tech 6.5 Foam Pads (Cyan and Tangerine) - $11.99 or 2 for 19.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/lc-hydro-tech-foam-pads.html
3.- LC flat pads (white and grey) 6.5"
4.- Griots Machine Polish 1 - $12.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/griots-machine-polish-1.html (review here) http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/23255-review-griots-machine-polish-1-a.html
5.- Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0 - $34.99 -http://www.autogeek.net/wolfgang-total-swirl-remover-car-polish-3-0.html (review here) http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/22002-review-wolfgang-total-swirl-remover.html
6.- Menzerna Polish PO85RD - $29.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/menzerna-final-finish-po85rd.html
7.- XMT polishing pad conditioner - $12.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/xmt--pad-conditioner.html (review here) http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/22110-review-xmt-polishing-pad-conditioner.html

8.- XMT Polishing Pad Cleaner - $12.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/xmt-pad-cleaner.html (review here) http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/22111-review-xmt-polishing-pad-cleaner.html
9.- Brinkman Dual Xenon Flashlight - $26.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/brinkmann-xenon-spotlight.html
10.-3M Scotch 233+ Premium Automotive Masking Tape - $4.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/3m-scotch-tape-18.html
11.-Foam Pad Conditioning Brush $12.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/padtool.html

12.-Shoulder Holder Microfiber Detailing Apron - $14.99 - http://www.autogeek.net/edge-microfiber-apron.html
13.-bottle 50/50 IPA water
14.-Indigo polish removal towels


Observations:

First thing I did while preparing my Flex was to remove the 5.5" backing plate. The Flex comes with an allen head tool to remove the screw (see photos) After removing the plate I added a couple drops of air tool oil onto the felt ring for extra protection (thanks for the tips guys). One of the first things I noticed was how well this machine is crafted. The manufacturing tolerances seem to be nice and tight and the materials high quality. I fastened the backing plate back on and reviewed the manual that came with it as well.
The pads I have are 6.5" pads so I had to take a bit of care to center them properly. However just spending about 10 seconds eyeing it before I placed it against the backing plate I was able to get it right every time. After placing some polish on the pad I placed the pad against the paint and started it up with the trigger which is perfectly placed on the unit. The trigger is variable speed which means that when you pull the trigger all the way down you are running at the maximum speed setting you chose with the speed dial. Just as great, if you let off the trigger, the flex slows down. After spreading the polish I pressed the small conveniently placed lock button. Pressing that button allows you to release the trigger while the machine can continue to run at the selected speed. The speed dial (located next to your thumb) is 1-6. If you press the trigger again it releases the lock and returns control to the trigger. Or you can use the lock feature to lock in your max. speed without using the trigger. All this function and specifically the excellent placement of the controls alone I found to be a major upgrade over the Griots. The front bale handle is also formed and placed just right. The bale handle is adjustable or if you prefer removable using the same allen key that was used to remove the backing plate. I however was so pleased with the handle down (directly over the pad) as was shipped I didn't even think to try adjusting for the review. The Flex was quieter then I expected and did not have any annoying noise to it. After using the Griots I had expected more vibration. The Flex was EXTREMELY smooth! With what I do for a living my carpal tunnel was very happy with how smooth the Flex runs. The power of the Flex was certainly apparent. On horizontal panels it's just plain fun! Plenty of power but without no vibration. I also found I did not have to press down quite as hard as I had expected to. Most important thing was that I focused on keeping the pad flat with even pressure. On vertical panels there was a bit of a learning curve for me. At first Flex wanted to take off on me It didn't take me long to get the hang of it but it certainly took a little focus and using my legs and my back a little more. That puppy was ready to work! A couple times I touched the paint to see how warm it was getting. The paint was not at all hot. The photos below are of the Flex unit, packaging, backing plate innards, and felt ring. For photos of the work I did my first time around on the Flex please click the following link and scroll down to the photos since I already posted the pictures on that review. http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/product-reviews/23255-review-griots-machine-polish-1-a.html




Flex 3401 Box


Box Interior W/ Foam Support


Flex 3401


Removing Backing Plate



Backing Plate Removed


Pointing to Felt Ring (Thanks for the photo copied from a different thread: AG member wfedwar)



Pros:
1.- Very well built to tight tolerances

2.- Variable speed trigger (Extremely convenient!)
3.- Smooth, Smooth, Smooth! (Vibration non-existent)
4.- Very ergonomic bale handle (adjustable) but I prefer keeping it down. Very comfortable!
5.- Terrific correction ability and power without causing imperfections or overheating the paint
6.- All controls in proper location so you don't have to move your hand
7.- 13 Ft. power chord

Cons:
1.- Some would say price but it is more than worth it. What's the price difference? 1 full detail? You'll be glad you bought

2.- You can not use a different size backing plate unless you use the Edge adapter.


Additional Observations, Information, and/or Summary:
I was leary of paying the extra money. Especially since I am not a pro and won't do that many full details each year. Well I was really blown away by this product and enjoyed using it so much I will probably be doing more polishing then I would have. Some of my friends and family will get the benefit of how much I enjoy this machine.


Notable manufacturer claims or info from Autogeek:

...The FLEX XC3401 VRG buffer effectively removes swirls, scratches, and oxidation that can’t be removed using other D.A. polishers. The FLEX XC3401 VRG Polisher is one of the best polishers we’ve ever tested!

...On the FLEX polisher, the stroke length is 8 mm (0.31"), a huge distance in terms of orbital polishers!...
...has a true dual action motion. The pad moves in a forced rotation that keeps moving even when you put some pressure on the machine. This forced circular motion REDUCES VIBRATION. No more jiggling! The FLEX Polisher operates smoothly because of the controlled motion of the pad...
The FLEX Orbital Polisher is rugged like a work truck but it has sophisticated electronics, like a luxury sedan. A seven-fold microprocessor offers constant speed control by tachometer generator, soft start, accelerator trigger switch, restart protection after power interruption, overload protection, temperature monitoring, and speed selection.
...When the carbon brushes wear down, the motor automatically shuts off to avoid damage...

_______________________________

And the link: http://www.autogeek.net/flex-orbital-polisher.html


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Last edited by CEE DOG; 02-28-2010 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:59 PM   #2
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Once again you've amazed me Corey. AWESOME review my friend! VERY comprehensive and thorough. THANK YOU for spending much of your time to do such a Great write up!!

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Old 02-04-2010, 02:39 AM   #3
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Agree.... EXCELLENT REVIEW!!
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:24 AM   #4
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Great job on detailing all of the aspects of the Flex. Welcome to the Flex crew! Always look forward to your reviews.

How about some impressions of the comparison between the Flex and the Griots?
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Old 02-04-2010, 07:42 AM   #5
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Great Review, very detailed too. Thanks
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:20 AM   #6
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Without question you have the most detailed well written reviews posted.

Great Job.

Enjoy your Flex.

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Old 02-04-2010, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Quote:
Originally Posted by trichard View Post
Once again you've amazed me Corey. AWESOME review my friend! VERY comprehensive and thorough. THANK YOU for spending much of your time to do such a Great write up!!

Tad, your comments are very kind and make it worth the effort!
Quote:
Originally Posted by acc1079 View Post
Agree.... EXCELLENT REVIEW!!
Acc1079, thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it
Quote:
Originally Posted by mchess1 View Post
Great job on detailing all of the aspects of the Flex. Welcome to the Flex crew! Always look forward to your reviews.

How about some impressions of the comparison between the Flex and the Griots?
Mchess, Thank you very much for the kind words! Thanks for the past information you have shared on the Flex as well.
Impressions between the Flex and GriotsV2J I feel very strongly about this now that I have used both. You’re going to get me in trouble with somebodyJ Here goes…

Price:
Griots - $130
Flex - $300

Controls and Placement:
Flex - Very well placed and intuitive
Griots - Shame inconvenient

Vibration: This stood out to me maybe more than anything.
Flex – smooth as Skybababy’s skin!
Griots – too much vibration really took a lot of the enjoyment out of polishing my car

Noise:
Flex - quieter then I expected and a more pleasant deeper pitch in comparison
Griots - was louder then I expected and the pitch was annoying (It’s been a couple months since I used the griots but this is as I recall it)

Correction Ability:
Hands down the Flex is superior. While both the Griots and Flex certainly have the ability to correct the paint the flex did the job faster and with less downward pressure applied.

Craftsmanship:
Obviously I do not have access to the fabrication specs of either machine but being that I work in the engineering and design field I have a pretty good feel for a well engineered product. The Griots is a powerful DA machine that is built on the backs of it’s predecessors much like it’s competition. The Flex seems to be in its own category. With features and improvements over its competition that are unique to the Flex this certainly gets the nod in this department. Also of note the Flex feels like a precision machine crafted to tighter tolerances. This should translate to higher dependability. If you want to know where your other $170 is going it is to pay the engineers, designers, and fabricators that are skilled and have pride in their work, and for the materials of a machine that was well deigned.

Warranty:
Griots – Lifetime Warranty
Flex – 1 year warranty
How can you argue with a lifetime warranty? Well it’s difficult and Griots deserves a lot of credit for this insurance or belief in their product. What ever you want to call it. I will make a point though. Hypothetically: If the Flex and Griots were both to last 3 years and then break down at the same time, to me it would be well worth the money it cost to fix or repair my Flex. The happiness, time, and money that my machine saved me over that period would far out way the cost. If I was a pro you could narrow that 3 years down to 1 year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Showroom Shine View Post
Great Review, very detailed too. Thanks
Thank you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by DLB View Post
Without question you have the most detailed well written reviews posted.

Great Job.

Enjoy your Flex.

DLB
Wow! That is a great complement. Thank you!
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Old 02-04-2010, 09:22 AM   #8
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

That's a good write-up, but saying that it's better and faster at correction than the Griot's is incorrect. Again I state, I've got 6 months of HARD detailing using my Griot's side-by-side with a Flex and an equally skilled detailer and he works no faster and doesn't clean defects any more in-depth than I do. Most of the time, it really depends on the hardness of the paint we're correcting on whether I have a better outcome or he does.

Great write-up none-the-less. The vibration issue, I agree with you. I've got to center my pads very carefully or my Griot's is unusable. Also, after receiving my new Griot's, I have noticed that it's not quite as loud as my first one. Not sure why that is.
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Old 02-04-2010, 11:02 AM   #9
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

Great write up.
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Old 02-04-2010, 12:11 PM   #10
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Re: Review-FLEX XC 3401 Dual Action Orbital Polisher

The review matches my observations after using the Flex.

I see the benefit is about the smoothness and do not feel worn out compared to my UDM which now has 4-in pads for spot work. Even if the correction was less than another DA that vibrated more, I would still prefer the flex since I could polish longer without getting fatigued and do stupid things.
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