After spending well over a year looking for a good used North American made planer and not finding one, I decided to bite the bullet and buy a brand spanking new planer.
My requirements were simple, North American made, 220 volt, single phase, something under half a ton, cast iron, belt drive with an induction motor. I was prepared to restore a sad bastard like I did with my old Canadian made Delta Unisaw, but after responding to many ads and attending many auctions and not finding one, I gave up. They either wanted too much money for the planer or it was impossible to restore due to missing or broken parts.
Delta used to make a couple of nice cast iron bed planers right next door in Guelph, but that stopped 30 years ago when they shut the plant down at started making many of their planers offshore. Up until just a few years ago, Powermatic in the US made a nice cast iron 12" planer, but since being bought by Jet, it is no longer being made and the Powermatic name does not necessarily mean US made any more.
The only small planer made in North American that I could find that fit my requirements was the General model 130 14" planer. It has a Baldor 3HP motor, the same motor that is in the General 350. It weighs in at about 500 pounds and is a serious piece of cast iron. One of my friends who likes to restore old machines frequently says, "The only thing better than cast iron, is MORE cast iron", This planer definitely falls into that category. And, of course, being General, it is made right here in Canada.
Friday night I picked up the planer and I had a number of big friends (Thanks Mike, etc.) meet me at the house to help me take the pallet off the pickup truck. I forget who made the comment, but someone pointed out that the scene could easily be from the Red Green show. Six guys standing around staring at the back of a pickup debating the best way to get the planer off the truck. For future reference, if you ever need to off load a large machine and you don't have a forklift at home, we removed the tailgate of the truck and used a number of 10' maple boards for a ramp and slid the pallet to the ground.
After freeing the planer from the crate and skid, I managed to wrangle it onto it's mobile base. It is amazing what one person can move with a long enough lever. As with all General machines, there is very little set up involved. All I had to do was wire up a cord to the mag starter, clean the cosmoline off the bed and it was good to go.
When I pressed the start button for the first time I could not believe it, it was soooo quite. Being used to a small portable planer with a universal motor, the difference is substantial. I can actually run my planer with no hearing protection, it is that quite. The DeWALT planer I owned was a great machine, but there is simply no comparison between it and the General 130. I do enough woodworking that it was becoming very tiresome having to take so many passes to dress stock with the DeWALT. That will no longer be a problem with the General 130. Once the stock is face jointed, it should only take one or two passes with the General to plane to final thickness. Now it was only cedar, but the board on the bed in the picture had almost 1/4" removed with NO whimpering from the planer at all.
Anyway, I have rambled enough and I still have lots of sawdust to make today, so, suffice it to say I am extremely pleased with this machine,