The Rupes TA50 Mini Random Orbital Sander/Polisher touts a spec sheet reminiscent of an F1 racing engine! Random orbital machines have been around for decades, but this little jewel is small, lightweight, and spins its backing plate lightning-fast (up to 15,000 RPM!)
Little Taz dances the Two-step.
The Rupes TA50 (nicknamed Little Taz, in reference to the Tasmanian Devil) creates two separate motions, that combine to deliver fantastic sanding & polishing results. "How does it work?" I'll attempt to explain.
If you were to grab ahold of the TA50's backing plate and give it a flick in either direction, the backing plate would free-spin, eventually coming to rest. The backing plate is able to rotate freely and at a random rate because it is bolted into a bearing-mounted spindle. As you fire up the TA50, its motor force-drives the backing plate along a tiny orbital path. Dynamic factors including speed, pressure, friction, bearing load, and orbit size combine to determine the frequency and direction of backing plate rotation.
The TA50's random orbital motion greatly minimizes clogging of the sanding disc, especially when compared to rotary or orbital-action machines. Should any unfortunate scouring of the surface occur, you'll be hard pressed to see a consistent sanding pattern.
The Rupes TA50 is a sander and a polisher!
Initially, Rupes recommended that the TA50 not be used as a polisher. Marco the engineer claimed, "The gears are not built for it!" Regardless, we were the first to go out on a limb, touting the TA50 as a polisher. Since then, we've sold untold amounts of TA50's, without reports of a single failure. Note: The TA50 is now listed on the Rupes website as a dual-purpose machine.
The TA50 is utterly capable of being used to polish small parts, door pillars, body trim pieces, headlights, engine parts (and on and on and on). To minimize absorption of the machine's random orbit-action, we recommend that you utilize very thin, lightweight buffing pads. We offer four varieties of pads, perfectly suited for use with the TA50.
What speed setting should be used for when sanding with the TA50?
In general, it is not necessary nor desirable to use vision-blurring speeds. This little dynamo tops out at whopping fifteen-thousand RPM, which is way too much speed for most situations. Luckily, the TA50 delivers an impressive amount of random backing plate rotation, even at very low speeds. If too much speed is used, you're certain to blow through untold quantites of sanding discs because the abrasive particles that accomplish all the work will break away from the disc.
To extend the life of the sanding disc (and deliver a superior sanding result), use a low rather than high operating speed. The ideal speed setting is one that allows the disc to travel smoothly across the sanding surface, all the while delivering at least some random rotation of the backing plate. If too little speed is used, the sanding disc will grab or grip the sanding surface. This will cause the machine to steer your hand in varying directions. Avoid this potentially damaging situation by initially using a low speed setting. Then, gradually adjust machine speed up, until the disc is gliding along smoothly.
Next, bump the machine speed up until there is at least some random rotation of the backing plate. In general, anywhere from a half turn to a few turns per second of the plate is sufficient. To gauge backing plate rotation, place a contrasting line or dot onto the edge of the backing plate.
Warning: bad things can happen rapidly when using high operating speeds (15,000 RPM = 250 RPM per second), so it's important to use only enough pressure to keep the disc or pad planted against the surface, and only enough machine speed to keep the backing plate rotating. Excessive pressure will overstress the machine's gears & bearings, while too much speed will inevitably demolish sanding discs and buffing pads.
Which sanding discs work best with the Rupes TA50?
Currently, no major manufacturer we know of produces a two-inch diameter sanding disc.
Luckily, it's relatively simple to make them yourself, using a typical arch punch.
09-03-2015 Note: We plan to offer 2" sanding discs in several varieties... soon!
Add a spare backing plate.
Better to be safe than sorry! Having a spare backing plate on hand is always smart. The Rupes 9P01.046 2" Backing Plate is a direct replacement for the factory installed unit. This backing plate is not all that common in the USA... so plan ahead! (regularly $22.14, save 15%)
Looking for a bigger air-powered random orbital polisher?
Check out the Rupes BigFoot LHR75 3" Mini Random Orbital Polisher.
Looking for an air-powered de-nibbing tool?
Check out the Rupes LD30 30mm Orbital De-Nibber.