View Full Version : Review of Flex XC3401 VRG

Pages : [1] 2 3

11-07-2007, 08:13 PM
Let me preface this review by saying my comparisons will be made to the PC and my limited use of the rotary (Hitachi). Also I will be the first to admit that if you have mastered the rotary you can do everything with one tool and this may not be a need for you, however if you are like myself and didnít have the time to dedicate to practicing and honing your skill with the rotary this could very well be the perfect tool for you. OK so on to the review:

Out of the box: I must say it has the look and feel of a rotary. It could pass for the rotaryís little brother. It has the color scheme of the Milwaukee tool line with red, gray, and black. When I pulled it out of the box I immediately noticed that it was a solid feeling tool. It doesnít weigh much more than the PC but the weight is very well distributed, thus making it feel very balanced. One of the first things you notice is that the backing plate is not flexible, but I had no issues with that at all. In fact, the lower profile it has was actually beneficial for getting under and around side mirrors. The backing plate is large and only 6.5Ē pads or larger will work but I am receiving a free smaller backing plate about 5Ē and will be able to use 5.5Ē and 6.5Ē pads with it.


The front handle reminds me of the Metabo, maybe itís a German thing. I really didnít think I would like the handle placement as I did like the bail handle on my Hitachi which was on top. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort the handle gave me, plus as you will read later you need both hands on this machine. I also think the handle placement made me feel less vibration as compared to the PC because I usually palm the top of the PC when I use it.


The cord was just as long as the one on the PC. One feature I noticed and knew I would love was the trigger switch and trigger lock. It was exactly like the one on my Hitachi and I loved that. The speed dial (1-6) was a little hard to find at first as I was looking on top of the Flex and it is actually on the left hand side of the handle at the top. Makes it a little difficult to see but reduces the chance of moving it unintentionally.

Included in the box was a hex wrench for changing the backing plate and instruction manuals. I must say I was a little disappointed in the manuals as the instructions were encompassed into about 5-6 pages and very general. I brought the manuals in to work to read figuring I would have plenty of time to do it there and I finished them in about 10 minutes. If you are familiar with a PC or rotary this is really a non issue however I could see where it would be a problem for someone that mad the Flex their first buffer purchase.

Using it: Well to test it out I decided to use it on the 05 Volvo XC90 I just bought my wife. It had only minor swirling and some spider webbing as you can see from the pics. I decided to use Menzerna 106ff and my green Lake Country CCS pad. The green pad is just a little bit coarser than the white polishing pad. Put my 106ff on the pad and spread it over a 2íx 2í area with the machine off. I decided since I had not used it before to start at speed 3 and spread the polish then move up. I turned it on speed 3 and locked the trigger, did I say how much I love this feature.

Man this thing was strong even on speed 3. You can actually see the direct drive in action when you crank it up. You know how sometimes when you look down at the PC you think itís spinning and then you think no itís just jiggling, wait no now itís spinning Iím sure, well wait a minute itís sort of jiggling-spinning now. Well there is no doubt with the Flex. Well after spreading the polish I bumped it up to speed 5 and man it really started to feel like a rotary some. I have heard a few complaints about it walking like a rotary does. Well I really didnít notice that but it could be because I have grown accustomed to it from my limited use of the rotary so it didnít surprise me. Like I said though I really didnít notice any walking at all. I worked the polish at speed 5 for maybe 2 minutes. I released the trigger and noticed that it does take longer than the PC to coast down. I wiped away the polish and the swirls were gone. Also gone are the days of having to work the polish 3-5 minutes to get out minor swirling. You can look at the after pictures and see what the Flex accomplished.





I was able to polish the Volvo in about half the time that it would have taken me with the PC and the results were stunning. The swirl free finish that had an absolutely amazing shine to it had me standing there just staring at it. On a few of the horizontal panels I got a little brave and bumped the speed up to 6 just to see how it was. I have never been able to run my PC on 6 regardless of how bad the swirls were because the vibration was just too much. The Flex on speed 6 was an absolute monster but in a good way. I had no more vibration on speed 6 than I would get from the PC on speed 4. At speed 6 the Flex was like ďAlrighty then letís go fix some paint!Ē Also on speed 5, I really put some pressure on it and never got it to bog down one single ounce. This machine begs to be worked.

A number of times after working the polish before I would wipe it off I would feel the paint and it does get really warm. This machine is no poser, itís really working. After polishing I decided to use some ## WMF with a gray Lake Country CCS pad. I always spread my glazes/sealants/waxes on speed 3 with the PC. Well I started at speed 3 with the WMF and it was just way to fast for it. I couldnít get good even coverage at that speed. At this point I momentarily thought about going to the PC to put on the last steps, but man the Flex was working so well and felt so good working I wanted more time with it. My alternative was to turn it down to speed 2 and it did a fine job. I actually about ľ of the way through turned it down to 1.5 and found that to work really well. I applied the JetSeal next with a red Lake Country CCS pad at speed 1.5 and next came the Megs #16 with a blue LC pad at speed 1.5.

The Flex got a taste of everything: polish, glaze, sealant, and paste wax and did a phenomenal job with all. Just a little trial and error with the speed settings but once I got those it was great. I could have stopped after the JetSeal but I was enjoying it so much I went on and did the Megs #16. Heck I was hating waiting the 15 minutes for the JetSeal to cure and then another 20 before I could put on the Megs.

Working the Flex on the side panels does take some getting used to because it is so much more powerful than the PC you really really need to keep two hands on it and that requires some adjustment for getting the lower panels. I just got me a folded up towel and got down on my knees and went to work (alright keep the jokes to yourself I know how that sounds). The only real difficulties I found with working with the Flex was around the bumper areas and on the back lift gate. The PC is a lot easier to handle in these areas. Oh yeah and the roof as Iím used to being able to reach on out there with one hand and cover a lot of ground with the PC. I couldnít do that when polishing but with the other steps at speed 1.5 I was able to one hand the Flex.

11-07-2007, 08:14 PM
Final thoughts and analysis: The Flex is an absolute godsend for me. I wish I had been able to spend the time practicing with the rotary and really wish I could have had a mentor to really guide me because I think I would have really loved the Hitachi. But here in the real world I just didnít have either so this was by far a great alternative. I did a paint correction on a black F150 with my PC and that was a JOB. I really wish I had been able to use the Flex as it would have taken less time and I would have enjoyed the job a lot more. After the F150 I really didnít think I wanted to tackle anything like that again, but after my work with the Flex, ďHell line Ďem up!Ē If the PC just isnít cutting it and you are thinking about stepping up to the UDM because it is a little more powerful I would say save some more money and skip the UDM and buy the Flex. You wouldnít be disappointed if you did, I know Iím not!

11-07-2007, 08:28 PM
What a great Review, I want the flex already ;)

So you think that this cuasi-Rotary is all you need, I mean, no more PC for you? or you can use it to remove defects quickly and then use the PC to finish the job?

11-07-2007, 08:57 PM
What a great Review, I want the flex already ;)

So you think that this cuasi-Rotary is all you need, I mean, no more PC for you? or you can use it to remove defects quickly and then use the PC to finish the job?

Thanks and PC is now relegated to shampooing and interior work only. My backing plate has already been removed from it and the green aqua brush installed.

11-07-2007, 09:09 PM
Great review!!! Boy, good thing I didn't read this thread a few years ago, I'd be a few hundred dollors poorer :). I was hoping that the UDM would be like a Flex comparing performance ... But atleast there is the Flex to bridge the gap between a PC / UDM and rotary. I'm getting more into becomming proficient with a rotary... I have one and necessary materials ... might as well use it right? Thanks for the pics and write up.

11-07-2007, 09:10 PM
great review...

11-07-2007, 09:18 PM
Great review! I might have to jump on this bandwagon soon. The good news is that between the good old PC, the UDM, the upcoming new Meguiar's G110, and now the Flex there is an abundance of choice when it comes to quality D/A polishers.

11-08-2007, 12:37 AM
IMHO PC, UDM and G110 can not be put in same category as Flex. They are not even remotely close IMHO.
They're all D/A's just because one is more powerful than the others and doesn't mean that they're not in the same category. They may not all be in the same "league" but they're definitely all in the same category.

11-08-2007, 04:53 AM
Wow thank you for this review. I've been thinking that I want to get either the Metabo or a Flex. Your insight and that of others on the board are making me lean toward the Flex.

Gary Sword
11-08-2007, 06:30 AM
Nice review. and I'm sure the machine is very good. I have used a Flex wet stone polisher for years. It's basically a rotary with hose attached so you can cool the stone with water when polishing. It's a great machine that I've never had a problem with.

11-08-2007, 07:11 AM
There is a reason why I used word "category" and why I said they are not in same category nor even remotely close. Flex is direct drive with forced orbit component. PC and it's "relatives" do not have that.

I tend to agree with you also, the Flex truly is more of a baby rotary for most uses and purposes.

11-08-2007, 10:27 AM
Excellent review! One of my gripes before reading your review was the backing plate. I thought it only supported the lager plate and therefore, 6.5 or bigger pads. I love my 5.5 inch pads, so that was a deal breaker for me. How were you able to acquire a smaller backing plate for free, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks again for taking the time to write up and post the review.


11-08-2007, 10:38 AM
Great review; darn it now I want one :mad:

11-08-2007, 11:57 AM
Excellent review! One of my gripes before reading your review was the backing plate. I thought it only supported the lager plate and therefore, 6.5 or bigger pads. I love my 5.5 inch pads, so that was a deal breaker for me. How were you able to acquire a smaller backing plate for free, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks again for taking the time to write up and post the review.


Pete the business I bought from told me that Flex knew that the backing plate had an issue with possibly the velcro seperating so they had come up with this size as an alternative and he said we'll send it to you for free. You have to love that!

11-08-2007, 11:58 AM
Great review; darn it now I want one :mad:

I don't think you would regret it. Just imagine using this thing on that beautiful Mustang.... I know I'm bad and not helping matters:D!