Was DA or Rotary, now, how good is the Flex XC 3401?

Discussion in 'Detailers Domain' started by cgfen, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. cgfen

    cgfen Virgin Detailer

    I’m sure this has been discussed ad nauseum, but a search provided no obvious threads.
    I currently have a 3+ year old Porter Cable DA polisher and am unhappy with its performance. It seems that lately whenever I use it, it “stalls out” whenever I put a bit of pressure on it or come to a contour. It seems to function OK when floating over a flat surface.
    So I was considering stepping up to a Makita rotary.
    Logging onto DD I see that now the cool-n-groovy polishers seem to be made by FLEX, both DA and rotary.
    So the decision was, buy the Flex XC 3401 VRG DA, or the FLEX PE14-2-150 rotary?

    I’m a hobbyist that will only polish my own cars, all of which have good – excellent paint, (1996 and 2009 911s and 2011 Audi Avant). The Avant needs the most correction since it lived its first year being washed be dealer “lot boys”, sigh. <Both the 911’s have a lot of clear bra that I’m still trying to figure out how best to care for, but that’s a different thread>.
    I guess there’s really no need to step up to the rotary and go through that learning curve??????

    So the real question is, is the XC 3401 VRG a significant step up from the CP DA that I already have?

    Would love to get your thoughts ASAP so that I can take advantage of our hosts Black Friday sales.



    993 shown below post paint correction by RAGS just prior to clear bra install.
    (he didn't use a DA :worship2: )

    Attached Files:

  2. Pureshine

    Pureshine DB Pro Supporter

    I've been using a DA for 3 years and still going strong. I am getting the Griot's everyone seems to like it better?
  3. bryansbestwax

    bryansbestwax DB Forum Supporter

    Yes it is a step up from a da. I don't like the flex 3401 as for me it seemed to fit in no mans land as I have been a rotary guy for years. You may want to consider the rupes 15 which is only a few bucks more than the flex.

    sent using my thumbs, mispelling most words
  4. Swanicyouth

    Swanicyouth Two Bucket System Washer

    I've never tried a 3401, but some people say the machine tends to "walk" on its own. I considered one, but that turned me off.
  5. SoCal Garage

    SoCal Garage DB Forum Supporter

  6. Kaban

    Kaban Welcome to Detailing

    The 3401 is super easy to use... All that shit about it walking is probably being passed around by some beginners who have never used any type of power tool before. I'd just get that because going to a rotary from a PC is a huge jump in feel and technique and since you are only doing your own cars, it's not really needed anyways. If you can get both than by all means, I use the rotary all the time especially in tighter spots.
  7. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    I disagree. I've been polishing cars since before most of you were born and after trying my 3401 on a couple of cars I sold it. It definitely does "wander" which is a trait of the forced rotation combined with the random orbital movement. The 3401 is a love / hate thing. If you are just doing your own stuff, the Griots machine is definitely a step up from the Porter Cable, albeit with less reliability and the pricing is reasonable.(Keep your PC as a back up.) It is also by far the loudest polisher I have used. I wear -29 db foam ear plugs and -29db earmuffs over top of that. I haven't had a chance to try the Rupes yet, but for the enthusiast, (unless you have money to burn ) it may be overkill. If you are competent with a rotary, the Flex PE 14 is a fantastic piece of equipment. It doesn't have the torque of say a Dewalt, but unless your paint is FUBAR'd, you won't miss it. I use a Griots in my shop daily but will be getting the Rupes as well.
  8. SoCal Garage

    SoCal Garage DB Forum Supporter

    I'm wondering whether Craig might try the Meguiar's MF System with his existing Porter Cable as two of his vehicles are already pristine and the Audi is the one needing correction? This would prove a huge money saver.

    Also entirely with you on ear protection. I have the foam, earmuffs and custom molded ear plugs too!
  9. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Good point given the Audi although I would be hesitant to use the MF system on the P cars. I have them to mar like crazy as the paint is a bit on the soft side. How do you like the molded ear plugs? One of my clients has them and had them done to accomodate an Ipod jack.
  10. SoCal Garage

    SoCal Garage DB Forum Supporter

    Soft paint marring = bad. Therefor, I'm with you and the Griot's DA is the most cost effective for Craig's situation. I overkill my purchases and typically do not regret it, BUT something newer is just over the horizon and unless you are getting your money's worth out of a tool sometimes it's not worth it.

    The custom-molded plugs are great and I had them initially made for motorcycle riding. However, I found they were dangerous as they cutout too much noise for riding so it was back to foam. The only other issue I have is one along the lines of hard versus semi-permeable contact lens as oxygen to your ear canal is beneficial, hence, I do not wear them for extended periods of time.
  11. Kaban

    Kaban Welcome to Detailing

    Ken, I'm not gonna argue with you and I respect your opinion. You probably have more knowledge and experience than most people here. Personally, I just didn't see the 3401 wandering at all if you kept the pad flat. For me it's like a rotary, if you don't keep the pad flat and controlled it will wander also, so I didn't see it as a big deal.
  12. SoCal Garage

    SoCal Garage DB Forum Supporter

    I've often wondered whether being left or right handed makes a difference with using the 3401? The rotation is opposite the typical DA. I'm ambidextrous so I've had no issues with the 3401, but maybe this is the reason why.
  13. Kaban

    Kaban Welcome to Detailing

    I am right handed if that means anything. Maybe the types of pads you use with it also has an effect?

    I really hated how the CCS LC pads felt on it, but the regular flat pads feel great on the 3401.
  14. Legacy99

    Legacy99 Wax on..Wax off

    I'm right handed, use flat pads and it still walks on me. I know about keeping it flat..been polishing for more years that I would like to admit. Give me a Flex PE and maybe the new Rupes. I'm with Ken on this one.
  15. cgfen

    cgfen Virgin Detailer

    Thanks to all for the input.
    The Rupes "15" looks interesting and the marketing does say "The tool can be easily used even by unskilled operators"

    Looks like it might only be sold through esoteric car care?
    Their site says "available for pre-order only".

    Have any of you actually used this tool?


  16. bryansbestwax

    bryansbestwax DB Forum Supporter

    I have the 21 and polished an expedition over the last couple days as a good client needed a huge favour. I worked till 1 am and 2 am over the last 2 days. Took me almost as long to clean the interior as it did to polish the outside. I didnt fatigue as much with it as say a rotary or get numb hands and with my PC or gg

    sent using my thumbs, mispelling most words
  17. Auto Concierge

    Auto Concierge DB Pro Supporter

    The above quote is wrong, Phil @ DetailersDomain is now a dealer, and Kevin Brown was "Neck deep in it" to bring the machine here(Rupes line). Ken had it right concerning the 3401, sold mine for cheapness a longtime ago and those who say it is better than GG and the new Rupes have not used either machine or they are not experienced at doing full paint correction.
  18. detailersdomain

    detailersdomain Administrator

    we will have them in soon, however I believe Kevin should has his order in sooner. :thumb:
  19. JOMAX

    JOMAX Two Bucket System Washer

    Is the rubes a forced rotation?

    Sent from my iPhone using
    2000 Black DRW F-350
    Gauges, DP tuner, ported housing, T-500:evil:, JW VB, 5in turbo back, hutch/harpoon mod, 6.0 IC, tru cool tranny cooler, etc
  20. cgfen

    cgfen Virgin Detailer

    my "quote" was a question, hence the question mark.
    despite my passion for Campagnolo bicycle components and their Italian engineering, some italian engineering / design is suspect IMO.
    I'm going to go with the Deutsche engineering which I assume is behind the Flex product line.
    (who knows where they are actually manufactured?????)
    either way, phil gets my business.

    ciao, or perhaps guten abend.


    ps, love the RS in your avatar.

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