View Full Version : Porter Cable or Colombo
09-16-2003, 01:13 PM
I've been spending months going back and forth on this and I want to hear other opinions on the Porter Cable and Colombo. I'd like your advantages and disadvantages on the following:
Bit changes? How do you accomplish multiple changes? (I own a PC)
Price? Is the Colombo worth the money?
Has any gone from PC to Colombo or vise versa?
How does the Colombo operate? Shopbot software control or manual?
These are just a few of the questions. Thanks Guys and Gals!
09-16-2003, 02:31 PM
The difference is the Columbo has MUCH tighter bearing tolerances, ceramic bearings that last much much longer ( Columbo claims I should send it in for inspection between 2,000 if I abuse it and 5,000 hours if I use warm up and cool down periods as they reccomend ), runs quieter and has considerably more cutting power and rpm control. Unless you order it with a quick change collet (an expensive option) you'll change bits with a pair of wrenches. The RPM is controlled by a frequency box and you can run from something like 3,000 to 21,000 rpm on my model. If one project requires multiple bit changes you write a seperate toolpath for each bit. If you're looking at production work there is no comparison. The spindle is the best choice. We've been running ours 18 hours a day for months.
09-16-2003, 03:34 PM
You said it Eric! I love my Colombo. In fact, I was just given a job by another botter (wasn't that nice of him??!!) because his PC couldn't machine Hard Maple like the Colombo could.
If you tell a 5HP Colombo to go through material at 12,000 RPM...it will go through it at 12,000 RPM...It doesn't bog down where the PC does.
I bought it mainly for the superior bearings and higher duty than a regular PC. I also bought it with the idea that it will pay for itself one day as my business grows...It made me money last week.
Yep...seems like a lot of bread when you think about getting it...BUT when the box shows up you'll see that it is a serious piece of machinery. I swear I drooled all over it while I was waiting for the SB to arrive! LOL!
The Colombo requires 3-Phase power. You can get away with a 1 to 3 phase rotary convertor for around $500....may be cheaper if you shop it. It is controled by a frequency invertor that lets you dial in the RPM to the single digits. I recommend getting an extension harness for the keypad so that you can mount it remotely like I did...Pics of revised setup to be posted today...
Hope that helps,
09-16-2003, 04:13 PM
Here is another question...
There is only one motor on the Y carriage, correct? Can you add a second to compensate for the heavier Colombo. And what does it cost?
09-16-2003, 04:19 PM
Not to throw cold water on Brady and Eric.... cause I WISH I had a Colombo Spindle....there are simply other things I want more. I think it comes down to what you plan to cut with your spindle. With the Colombo roughly ten times the price of the 3.25 PC.... there are other considerations at hand. If money is no object....get the Colombo. I agree it is superior to the Routers available....Of Course ! BUT....A PC, paired with Artcam Insignia....which is about the same money.... would be far, far more versatile than the Colombo with Vector or Partwizard for MOST applications. Now, if you plan to cut Ash or Oak or Hard Maple ALL THE TIME....then you'd be wise to invest in the Colombo...even though the PC is an absolute Horse and will do 90% of the same thing. But if you are looking for the most versatility and bang for your buck....there are other ways to go. Good design software will make you money much faster than a spindle.....D
09-16-2003, 04:26 PM
Stickman...The single Y motor is fine with the Colombo.
Darrell...True about priorities. I have a soft spot for fine Italian machinery
09-16-2003, 05:34 PM
I agree with the need to match the tool to the job. But we need a tool to work a minimum of 40 hrs a week. We also paired it up with Artcam. Our machine cuts 3/4 plywod sheets by the thousands and solid wood up to 2" with multiple passes. We were told by several experienced people that the PC probably would have a lifespan of 6 months doing this kind of work. Another thing is a big vacuum for the vacuum table. We are currently using a 15 hp FPZ but what I'd really like is a 25 hp Becker or it's ilk. One thing to remember if you switch to the spindle is to talk to shopbot about your Z-axis springs, you will need heavier ones. Yes you can save money for lighter applications but you can also hamstring your growth potential into unexpected markets. We are very glad we bit the bullet and spent the money! It's paid off in spades....
09-16-2003, 07:41 PM
Artcam Pro, plus dual z's (one Colombo spindle, one Kess spindle) on a 5 x 12 table, with a Huge vacuum system.....and the Shopbot Swedish Bikini Team to install and maintain it. I gotta go sell some stuff....later....D
09-17-2003, 12:56 PM
Do you recall how much the quick change system ran?
I started thinking about a Columbo last week when the brushes gave out on our PC at 5:00 PM with much work left to be done. I keep a spare set now.
09-17-2003, 01:10 PM
Darrell --- I have not heard of Kess spindles, can you provide web page(s) where one could get more information - maybe an online catalog?
09-17-2003, 01:40 PM
Amen to that Sheldon....I keep a bag of brushes and buttons for the various routers in my shop handy at all times and have a backup router for emergencies. I too have gone down in the middle of a job....and if that happens on a weekend.....
Harold, As far as Kess spindles....they are actually KRESS spindles. I apologize for the typo...I was drooling. They are a smaller lower cost precision spindle for doing engraving and finer carving in wood and soft metals. They have a longer collet to diminish vibration in the smaller bits and handle 1/8 and 1/4 sizes easily. I often have need for intricate carvings on signs and art pieces. I've used the Kress on a Techno-Isel engraving machine before and was impressed by the smoothness. They are German I think....but I do not know the website. They have only recently become available here and I am searching for a dealer. Think of it as an extremely overbuilt (1 1/4 HP) dremel tool. It even looks like a big Dremel.http://www.techno-isel.com/CNC_Routers/Spindles/variable.htm.....back to lunch....D
09-17-2003, 01:40 PM
Does anyone have a good location to research Colombo more?
09-17-2003, 02:17 PM
09-17-2003, 02:53 PM
I think the quick change option was something like $900.00 when I bought my spindle a little over a year ago. I am, however, working from a seriously overloaded memory on that! Pecision Drive Systems should be able to give you a quote though.
You also would need to make the investment in the tool holders which I think are HSKs but again don't quote me on that. That can set you back a fair amount as well. I figure I can manually change and zero a tool in under three minutes and we rarely do work here that requires it. Others will probably have different requirements. We primarily cut repetitive parts in large to medium quantites. I think our current record is around 36,000 parts for one customers run. Often we'll cut as few as 50 or so. These require no tooling changes so we stuck with the manual change setup for now.
09-17-2003, 06:43 PM
When I went through your dilemma one thing that I thought important was that the Shopbpot could only support 1 Colombo.From the experience that I had had on a CNC with a 10hp spindle and toolchanger I considered the two tool ability of the Shopbot one of its strongest points.
The other thing that influenced my decision was this. (This is NOT a criticism about the ShopBot. Your Shopbot will pay for itself so quickly you will be wondering why you didn't buy 2,,,but)I couldn't see the point of putting 7.5hp on a carrage that can only run at 3-4" per second.
I am always using both routers on my ShopBot, I wish it had another. When the day comes that I start buying MDF by the semi full. I will keep my ShopBot and buy a fast Point to Point.
09-18-2003, 12:12 PM
Are you running a PC?
09-18-2003, 01:42 PM
Do any of you use the quick change collet for the PC? Had any problems with that collet?
Is there anything special about the one ShopBot sells, I can get it here for about 65 dollars.
09-18-2003, 04:02 PM
Stickman, I think you'll find the quick change collet is to the Shopbot, as the automatic transmission is to a racecar. If you're serious about good work....use a wrench. It takes a couple of minutes to change a bit with a wrench and you KNOW it won't slip then and ruin expensive sheet material. I would also find it hard to believe the tolerances (runout) are anywhere close. Save your money...D
09-18-2003, 05:42 PM
Well I am happy that you made word of that before I went and put money into something that wouldn't save me much time if I ruined some material.
Has anyone leased to own a shopbot?
09-18-2003, 06:31 PM
No in Australia the PC's($800.00) are over double the price of Makita 3612, so I been running the makita's. The varible speed PC's would be nice though.
I agree with the guys above, it wouldn't matter how much you spend on any machine, the software will be more limiting than the machine in our application.
The ShopBot is a VERY VERY good machine right off the shelf.By the time your comfortable using it you will have a lot more of an idea of what you need
09-19-2003, 10:15 AM
Anything special about the PC you buy in Australia? If not, you should be buying them from me here in the US. It can't cost that much to ship them?!
09-19-2003, 06:41 PM
Anthony the power requirements are different in Australia, standard single phase power outlet is 230 volts 50 Hz where in the U.S. as you know is 110 volt 60 Hz, then with the currency exchange and shipping it makes the price comparably about the same
09-19-2003, 06:43 PM
Sorry, reply above was meant for Stickman
09-19-2003, 07:01 PM
I don't think you can buy them here.When I bought my ShopBot our dollar was only worth .52 of yours so it effectively doubled the price plus shipping.
Anyway the Makita's hammer away, I can't complain.
09-20-2003, 05:59 AM
Dont forget the noise issue PC's are LOUD! spindles are far less noisy and when you are working them for long days on end the noise issue is important (well for me anyway)
09-20-2003, 09:15 AM
Yeah, I can understand the noise, I use hearing protection almost daily at day job and anytime that I am in my shop I am wearing it. I have a miter saw that about makes a person sick, as noisy as it is. And I do want to be able to hear my grandkids later in life. I own a PC 630, the smaller version of the router ShopBot uses and I like all the features that it presents. I'll probably start small, with the PC and in time and when I need to buy a second Bot with a Colombo as business warrants.
04-24-2004, 10:37 AM
Does anybody have any problems mounting a columbo with a porter cable, it seams that the electrical box on the columbo hits the bracket for the router, is this a problem.
04-24-2004, 10:44 AM
Does anybody have an idea for the best spot to mount the control box for the colombo.
04-24-2004, 11:07 AM
It's a tight fit, but you can mount both in the space. You'll have to re-engineer the dust collector. You have to move the Z-axis as far apart from each other as you can. This means that you may have to shim the Z up a little so that the bent 90 degree angle on the Z sits over the Y-car that it bolts to.
The high-frequency inverter is best mounted permanently to the wall near the bot. Preferably high enough and far away from 'spraying' dust. You'll have to clean it from time to time nomatter what with compressed air.
04-24-2004, 04:35 PM
I am hiting the router holder about 5/8 with the electrical box of the columbo, do you still think I have the room.
04-24-2004, 06:24 PM
Look at page 5...there's a pic of them together...
04-24-2004, 07:53 PM
Thank you for your help.
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