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Inland swap top

Posted by Paul Hewitt  
Paul Hewitt March 22, 2011 01:04AM
I bought an Inland 8" swap top about a year ago. The motor burned out after less than 10 hours of use. I bought a new motor for it but did not use it until last week. The new motor died after about 4 hours of use. I am using the machine correctly and cannot believe my dumb luck. Has anyone else had any experience with this machine either good or bad?
Rick Dalrymple March 22, 2011 04:57AM
I quite selling these machines in my store because I couldn't keep up on the warranty work. Of the first 6 machines I sold, I had to do major warranty work on all 6. It didn't get any better with the sales of more machines. My wife does glass art and she bought one of their band saws and it lasted less than one cut on glass.

If you want a dependable quality machine you will have to pay more to get a quality machine.

Good luck.

I know I am in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.
Mark Gottlieb March 22, 2011 11:10AM
Same type of problem with mine. One motor replaced under warrantee in less than a month; replacement dead in less than a year of very little use. Not a quality product IMHO.
Paul Hewitt March 22, 2011 02:31PM
Thanks for the input guys. I am going to take the motor to a local electrical shop and see if they can do something with it. Maybe they can put a quality motor in the waterproof housing. If that happens I will let you know.
Paul Hewitt March 22, 2011 07:22PM
I took the motor to a shop today and they said they could replace the bearings but it would cost $70. He also said that the little washer that sits on top of the housing around the shaft is supposed to spin with the shaft and act as a water slinger to prevent water from entering the motor. I took the motor apart and found water and mud inside the housing and only the top bearing appears to be bad. I am going to replace that bearing myself and fashion some sort of seal for the top of the motor to keep water out of it.
Jamey Swisher March 26, 2011 03:29AM
Inland's, sorry to break the news to you, are not the best machines at all. They are meant for extremely light and occasional usage! You'd be better off looking for a used B&I or Sears GemMaster/GemMaker type lap setup, not terribly expensive typically. I have one and love it. I tend to use the 8" lap on my Scintillator more often though, lol, but more so out of convenience. Really want to cab good, look for a Genie, best machine I have used to date! Typically you can snag one with the Nova wheels wasted for under $600 if keep an eye out, then if the Nova wheels are not cracked nor torn send them into Amber-Werx for reconditioning (all 4 wheels will be about $160), as I hear they do a great job, or just snag a set of Eastwind replacements, all four wheels are about $260. The newer Nova wheels are not like the older ones and are not worth the money any longer IMHO.

But the Inland is either hit or miss, and more then anything, they are a miss! Especially if using anything more then casually for an hour or so at a time.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Dan R. Lynch March 26, 2011 05:34AM
My dad sells these at his rock shop and we've had pretty good luck with them. I use one regularly for cutting very small agates and other quartz-based materials. As with any diamond saw, letting the saw do the work is key - pushing too hard overheats the motor easily which triggers the safety shut-off.

We once got a bad batch of them that had their plastic frames moulded improperly, and we had to modify them to work correctly. But out of the dozens my dad has sold, we've only had two come back, and Inland was very easy to work with for getting replacements.

Certainly not the best equipment, but it does the job. No idea why yours would have quit after only 10 hours though. I've been using my same saw for over 2 years, turning it on several times a week.
uncle soska March 26, 2011 07:07AM
I've had the Inland for a few months now, and with the right accessories, I find it quite easy and fun to work with. Granted, the saw is underpowered, but if you're trying to cut slabs with it, good luck. It's meant to be a trim saw. The grinder is great, I've already added the jewelery grove bits, and they work great for groove wraps. The lap is tricky for doing cabs, but I just do the preforms and then send them to a vibe tumbler. I haven't tried to polish on it yet. I think for the price, it's an amazingly versatile intro to lapidary. I think some folks tend to push the envelope with it, and also don't attend to some of its basic needs, like shaft lube, and drainage so as not to flood the motor from the bottom. (assuming you're using it in some sort of tub to contain the spray. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with it, especially since I picked up a couple of used trim/slab saws. Best advice is be gentle with it, don't force it ever, let the diamond do the work.
Paul Hewitt March 26, 2011 12:52PM
I took the motor apart myself and found mud inside it. The housing is not meant to be waterproof and it does not stop water from getting to the motor. There is a small washer (looks like ceramic) on the motor shaft that is supposed to spin with the shaft to sling water away but it does not. The motor tech told me that I should superglue that washer to the shaft if I fixed the motor to help in the future. I found a supplier that sold me the bearings for about $4 apiece and I will rebuild the motor myself, an easy job if you are familiar with electric motors. I also plan to put a dab of heavy grease around the motor shaft where it comes through the housing to keep water out of the motor. So basically, just replacing the top bearing and some cleanup should solve the problem for about $4 instead of $80 for a new motor (or whatever). I do think the Inland people should look into installing a 50 cent seal into the housing to prevent this problem in the future.

just my 2 shiny new lincolns
Rick Dalrymple March 26, 2011 04:25PM

It boils down to, if you want a reliable machine then purchase a quality machine. Inland are the toy version of lapidary equipment. They do not hold up to use like a quality machine. Same thing with Harbor Freight Tumblers. They are toys not tools. You get what you pay for.

I know I am in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.
Jamey Swisher March 28, 2011 04:54AM
Rick Dalrymple Wrote:
> Paul,
> It boils down to, if you want a reliable machine
> then purchase a quality machine. Inland are the
> toy version of lapidary equipment. They do not
> hold up to use like a quality machine. Same thing
> with Harbor Freight Tumblers. They are toys not
> tools. You get what you pay for.
I could not agree more. I wouldn't call them a toy though, maybe in comparison to a proper unit, but not just generally speaking.

Just simply search Google, you will find out quickly all the issues folks have with the Inland Swap Tops. For the occasional work they will be ok IF you get a good one. If not, not even for mild work. Like I mentioned above, you can get a B&I or Sears lap/saw combo (even has a faceting attachment if you can find it) for a small fraction of the Inland and it does the same things and does not wear out nor break.

Inland should honestly have kept to making Sintered Wheels and such, as their Sintered wheels are hard to beat!! Love ours!

FYI, flat laps are notoriously difficult to cut cabs on honestly, wheels are far much easier. The simplest way to get around this on a flat lap is to stick with flat top cabs instead of domed ones or do faceted type tops and flat bottoms. If it has to be domed stick to low domes and not high ones. It can be done however for any cab. I can cut a flawless cab on a flat lap, both the B&I unit we have and the lap on our Scintillator faceting machine, but when tried to on two different Inland units kept getting flat spots and other issues. I am not so sure the laps spin perfectly on them is the only thing I could come up with.

On a side note, those Harbor Freight tumblers actually work excellent with a few tweaks. First off ditch their belts, junk, get the Lortone belt for the 33B model and it works great. Now, they say 3LB for the single barrel and 6LB (3LB x 2) for the dual barrels, ignore this, no way can they do it and this is what causes the belts to snap. Keep those loads to about half to 2/3 at most and they will run more smoothly. The other option is to do what we did with one, and that was to replace the pulley, fan, and motor with Lortone parts, lol, fraction of the cost, and works just like the Lortone we have now. ;).

There are also some tweaks for the Inland to make it better, but I can not seem to fidn the bookmark I have for the website. :(

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
STUART LEFFLER May 18, 2011 12:33AM
I myself have had no experience with the Inland swap top. However I have yet to read one single review that had anything positive to say about the machine. I am amazed that they are even sold by anyone. When I was considering a flat lap even the dealer recommended that I stay away from the machine... I would not put any more money into it. If you want to go with a flat lap go with either Ameritool or Highteck. If you have a lot of money to spend than the Crystalite. For that you will spend twice as much as for the Ameritool 8" or the nHightech 8"..

Best of luck to you and I am sorry about your situation.

Paul Hewitt May 18, 2011 12:59AM
I replaced the bearings in the motor which was pretty simple to do. But after about 20 minutes of use it started clattering again. I took it apart expecting to find bad bearings but instead one of the brushes was only half there. The rest was powder and chunks inside the motor. I was going to take it to my club's auction but decided not to burden anyone else with the problem. I learned a valuable lesson on this one.
Inlanduser July 30, 2011 01:43AM
Are you running the Inland on a dedicated circuit?
Inlanduser July 30, 2011 02:09AM
Are you making sure no mud or water is going over the shaft collar? You have to make sure the drain holes are not stopped up with mud.

Are you keeping the shaft and washer greased? Is the motor bottom touching any splashing or leaking water?

Are you contacting Inland about the motor? They sent me a new one and told me to keep it on a dedicated circuit after mine smoked. My old one overheated and kept shutting itself off, and finally blew. It probably got water in ti occasionally from overflow. Or pushing too hard on the saw.

I have modified mine to drain better, putting a piece of flexible hose over the shaft collar of the top to raise the lever of overflow to the motor. All you have to do is attach the grinders and laps higher on the shaft.

I have also attached Lego bricks on the legs of the unit to raise it higher. That way the motor has less chance of sitting on water with all the water splashing and running underneath the unit.

I also drilled some holes around the sides to maybe keep the motor cooler. It sure can get steamy inside.

The new motor that was sent me was more powerful and had a fuse. I had to get use to higher speeds. Perhaps some ouside dealers have older motors?

I recomment contacting Inland for every problem. There are some tweaks that could be made for lapidary work. I know that many use it for stained glass work. There are also hobbyists that use it for small woodwork projects with other parts that inland has. They cant fix it if they don' t know the problems!

I have used my unit for four years, and the money I have saved allowed me to buy a four inch trim saw. The Swap Top is not stable enough or fast enough for rocks.
Paul Hewitt July 30, 2011 11:54AM
Thanks for the info but in my opinion it is a piece of junk. For the money I spent on it I should not have to drill holes and add drainage and attach lego blocks to make it work. They advertise it as a great machine for lapidary and glass work and it just does not hold up. I did contact them and they sent me a free motor which failed after an hour. The machine was on a dedicated circuit though I don't see why that matters. I even put an extra collar around the shaft to make sure no water was getting into the motor.

If you are comfortable with making modifications to a $400 machine and spending time on the phone with the manufacturer and waiting for parts to be delivered then by all means buy one of these. I will save my money and buy a quality product in the future.
Mark Gottlieb July 30, 2011 06:04PM
Paul Hewitt Wrote:
> Thanks for the info but in my opinion it is a
> piece of junk.

So true! Really dissatisfied with mine.
Anonymous User August 02, 2011 09:28PM
Paul, I had the same problem. The first motor quit after less than 10 hours of use. Inland replaced it without difficulty. The second motor did the same. Now I'm on a third motor and haven't contacted them yet about this motor quitting.
I don't think I pushed it beyond its reasonable use. The motor never sat in water as I made sure the drain was open. I did find water in the motors after the first 2 broke. I told the service man at Inland and asked what I could do about that as the same thing happened twice. He had no suggestions. I have never had a motor last long enough to even think I needed to grease it.
I only do light wotrk with the machine so I did not want to put out the $$$$$$ for a heavy duty machine.
herb August 10, 2011 01:12PM
I also have the 8" swaptop. Waiting for delivery of my 4th motor in 9 months! Have never abused it, have never gotten more than 30 hours on a motor. One motor went for 2 hours, another for about 10 hours.
Jerry at Inland is a nice enough guy, and the warranty replaces the motor, but who needs the aggravation, expense and time wasting of constantly replacing motors? I've spent almost $40 on postage just returning motors, not to mention the down time to my work. I'm not running an industrial shop here (30 hours use in 4 months) so it isn't getting over used., but the product just seems to be crap. I own over 50 power tools and machines, this is by far the worst, there isn't even a comparison.
As far as making modifications to make it work better....ok, fine, but you really shouldn't have to. At the very least, they should be telling you in the instruction booklet if things neeed to be done to it to make it work.
Unfortunately, the motor is a motor for 3 machines, so everything I bought ($400) will go in the trash when I finally get disgusted enough not to send in for another motor replacement. It's really a shame to spend $400 and get garbage like this. I am truly disgusted.
Inlanduse August 27, 2011 09:20PM
Did you contact Inland to have the motor replaced? I had no problem getting a new one quickly.
Paul Hewitt August 27, 2011 11:56PM
Of course I contacted them and got a new motor and that one failed too. It is not a question of customer service ... it is a question of selling junk products. My opinion of course.
JoAnn Whitcomb December 19, 2011 01:38AM
I wish I had found this thread before we got ours. Within one year we are now on our 4th motor and don't have a lot of faith that it isn't going to fail as well.. This last time we had it replaced Jerry told my husband they have done improvements and added some kind of seal. To us it looks identical to the others. We have a 50 year old Highland Park to do most of our heavy grinding and use the Inland for the finishing and polishing. With the motor failing on us again and again we have a lot of cabs waiting to be completed. Really sorry we didn't spend a little extra money on a more reliable machine.

KokomoEric December 28, 2011 01:28AM
I have the 6" swap top. I have not had any issues with the motor (yet). I am however having trouble cutting a domed cab. I am not sure if I am just not used to it or what. I know that in the beginning I was pressing a little to hard and they cabs were a mess! I am now letting the diamond disc do the work and just lightly making contact with the disc. I just cannot get beyond having tiny little flats on the dome. Has anyone else had this problem?
FrankMurphy November 02, 2012 08:57PM
I tried to but an Inland Swap Top . After placing the order that was the last I heard from the company. No answer at customer service and no response to e-mails. Does any one know anything about this company.
Paul Hewitt November 02, 2012 09:01PM
Be very glad you did not buy one. They are junk. The company saved you a ton of money and frustration.
Dan R. Lynch November 03, 2012 12:06AM
The Swap-top motor does have an auto-off function if it gets too hot. If you're using it for long periods of time or forcing a stone through the blade rather than letting the blade do the cutting, the motor will overheat and soon stop. This is not a "burned out" motor, but one that has shut down to prevent damage. The first time this happened to me, I panicked and called Inland, but they told me to just let it cool down. Sure enough, all was well.

I use mine to saw agates and use it every few weeks. I think I've had the same one for over 3 years now without issue. It isn't the best saw in the world (far from it), but it does the job. And I'm not saying that the motors don't burn out - I'm sure they do - but they're not for heavy use. Try letting it cool down and try it again later.

Good luck, everyone.
Paul Hewitt November 03, 2012 12:25AM
Thanks Dan but the problem that I (and many other people) had was water and sediment getting into the motor and burning out the bearings. Mine sounded fine for about half an hour then I thought it turned into a spice mill full of gravel. Inland sent me a new motor which lasted about an hour then did the same thing. I even took the motor down and had very high quality bearings installed and it happened again. Since the motor is mounted vertically the water naturally goes right down into it. It is not in a waterproof casing. There is just a water slinger on the shaft but evidently it does not work too well. It is a known problem that they could probably fix with a 5 cent rubber oring but in the meantime I have a plastic tub with $500 worth of trash in it. Just my opinion of course.
Ben Grguric November 03, 2012 11:33AM
I bought the Inland lap for the purpose of grinding home-made polished sections for ore petrology and also the odd thin section. I had the common experience of blowing a motor in the first couple of hours use. Replacement motor was quickly sent out at no cost and has lasted much longer but I'm careful not to put too much stress on it. Never had a drop of moisture in it. Turn the variable resistor to at least 3/4 so it gets a decent RPM up before putting a load on it etc. Yes, its a cheap machine, but I consider most of the better machines to be a bit of a rip-off, frankly. Why should anyone pay in excess of $1000 for what is basically just a sealed turn-table and an off the shelf electric motor. If the Inland blows again my next step will be to build my own. We had the same niche market rip-off with trim saws until the cheap Chinese tile saws came on the market, (<$100 including diamond blade). These do the job just as good as a $700 machine, and last for years.
Ali Kelly February 23, 2013 04:07AM
I have absolutely no faith in Inland Swap Top machines. I have used mine about 4 times to grind a window in some beads. Not heavy work at all and I have never used the saw. The motor failed and blew the power to the house. Would you believe it was two weeks out of warranty and Andrew at Aussie Sapphire replaced the motor for me splitting the cost with me for a new one because Inland Swap wouldnt honour the warranty being out of date. Andrew had told me he stopped selling the machines because they were always being returned with water in the motor. He said it didnt even have to be water... just moisture would be enough to wreck the motor. So here I am.... an hour into grinding the bead with the new motor when the same thing happened. Stopped dead. I sent the top and the motor back to Andrew who said it was "operator error" and I would have to pay for a new top because the little lip had worn down because I had put the arbor nut on wrong. I am not paying for another motor for a badly designed machine that uses water which is bound to go into a non water tight motor. And I shall never deal with Andrew at Aussie Sapphire again either.
tom henshue February 28, 2013 01:14PM
my motor failed after a short time i sent it back to inland and followed up with a call to find out why it failed they told me it was a bad speed control and would replace the motor when the next shippment came in 2 weeks turned to 4 weeks to 8 weeks so i started calling they finally shipped me a new motor but it had a big sticker on the motor claiming it was operator error and they replaced the motor as a courtesy and it would no longer be covered under any type of warranty so i guess if you complain to much they just change the rules anyway the motor still sits on the bench just the way the shipped it i may get a chance to use it this spring when it gets nice out i plan to go fishing and i might be able to use it as an anchor thats all it s worth i won't even try to sell it on ebay to screw someone else like i got screwed!
Rick Dalrymple February 28, 2013 05:14PM
Clearly your needs are different than that of a lapidary. We do lapidary for a living and a cheap Chinese tile saw will not do what a quality lapidary machine will do. However, you are right, those same quality lapidary machines do seem a little expensive. I feel the same way about "nicer" cars. They are just a car so why pay extra for a name, right? I guess the same can be said about a house too.

I do encourage you to build your own equipment. I have done it many times to fit our needs.

We sold the swap top units in our store for a short period of time--See my previous posts.

I know I am in my own little world, but everyone knows me here.
cbufalo March 10, 2013 03:13PM
Yes, I have been in contact with Inland. They tell me to send the saw in for repairs and the cost would be $95 for the motor and switch. I have used this saw so little over a two year period that I feel should be replaced with no questions. This was an ongoing problem in the beginning. When I first purchased the saw the motor pulsated and they replaced it with no questions. I received the new saw and hardly use it for a hobby and that motor pulsated and burned up cutting 1/8" glass. I could not get to first base with customer service for replacing the motor and I even offered to install it myself to save on shipping costs. All I would expect is that they send me a motor with out charge. Well I have since sent an email to the president of the company and have not heard back. After reading all of the same problems others have had with this saw I begin to think they certainly have a problem with the motors they use. If I could find a source that has a replacement motor I would certainly try that. If anyone knows of a source please email me.
Keith Bainbridge November 26, 2014 06:47AM
Hello Jimmy
I have read your thoughts on the inland swap lap and thank you very much. \I was going to purchase one for Christmas but you convience me not too. I live in Canada and would like your opinion on a cab machine for around $300.00. Do you know of any?
Ben Grguric November 26, 2014 10:38AM
I finally ditched my Inland after the motor burned out a second time. If they could re-engineer or up the specs on the motor unit it would be a good machine for occasional use. I had a business need to use a lapping machine more often so I bought a new Australian-made Gemmasta. Keith, if you visit a local lapidary club they often have good second-hand cabbing machines for sale at significantly lower prices than a new unit.
Olivier Langelier November 26, 2014 10:15PM
Interesting, I bought a 8'' Inland Swap top just a month ago. So far I haven't had any problem
with it and it already has lots of hours of near-abusive level work done without a hitch. I'm using
it mostly to clean rough before I send it to be cut oversea

The only negative side so far is the vibration. I admit that I use 80 grit Chinese disks but even
with the better disks of finer grit that came with the machine it vibrates and is noisy. Probably
due to the all plastic construction. I have not used the saw yet since I have another one setup

For a beginners this machine is quite all right. When I'll get better and have more budget I'll go
for a Covington Combo but until then I'm happy with what I have
Ben Grguric November 26, 2014 11:06PM
That is good to hear. Perhaps Inland have finally re-engineered the motor or controller unit?

Olivier Langelier November 29, 2014 04:40PM
I don't know if the motor is different or not, but the replacement is cheap and if it fails I may
just take it to my city's electric motor shop and have a better motor put in the casing.

Thing is there's really not a lot of choice in that price range. I wanted a Covington 6'' combo
drill and grinder but this thing is expensive, close to 2000$ with taxes and shipping. Maybe
one day but for now I'm more than happy with the Inland.

I even made my first Moonstone cabochons today :-)
Travis Hetsler January 23, 2015 08:15PM
My $350, 8" Ameritool flat lap has been with me for 8 years logging hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of abusive use cutting cabs, slabs, free-forms, spheres, etc and is still running strong as my go-to machine for most of my small cutting projects, preferred over my $1500 CrystalMaster Pro 12".

You do get what you pay for, but there are dependable machines to be had at reasonable prices.

Happy cutting!
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