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Unrivalled industry knowledge and expertise
Unrivalled industry knowledge and expertise
Pallmann Spider Rotary / Planetary Floor Sander Triple-Plate Maintenance and Problem Avoidance Tutorial 

Pallmann Spider Rotary / Planetary Floor Sander Triple-Plate Maintenance and Problem Avoidance Tutorial 

So, you have a Pallmann Spider and triple plate. You want to know how to get the best out of it, produce an exceptional floor finish that will leave your clients in no doubt that they chose well when they found you, earn an enviable reputation, prevent it from becoming broken on site, and speed up your work for time and cost efficiency? 


The reader may also like to study this Pallmann Tripe Plate Manual  

  1. Velcro pad care  
  2. Standard Velcro disc combination 
  3. A note on mixing Velcro shim pads of different origins 
  4. High-pressure Velcro variant 
  5. Consequences of not cleaning between abrasive pad grit changes 
  6. Consequences of not cleaning stress on chain/sprockets 
  7. Chain tension setting 
  8. Chain and bearing lube 
  9. Design choice of bearing tolerance rating 

This could be a good read for you. 

1. Never leave the Spider parked upright with the Triple Plate on the floor; The weight of the handle will accelerate compression of the Velcro pads nearest it, and they will soon take on a permanent set. This will lead to irregular and uneven pad thicknesses between planetary discs. It can cause bouncing, and the quality of your sanded finish can suffer. In fact, don’t even allow the weight of the motor and Triple Plate to rest on its Velcro pads. Get into the habit of tipping the Spider back onto its handle when taking a break and take it off the Spider and turn it upside down for storage/transport. 

2. Triple plates are designed for use with three removeable Velcro discs, all with holes in them to let the saw dust through. All Velcro surfaces are colour-coded red and blue. Red sticks to blue like you-know-what to an army blanket, but like colours don’t stick. Starting with each of the three steel planetary plates, first on is the exhaust pad. That’s the one we call the ‘Ninja’ pad, ‘cause it looks like a Ninja death star. The holes are open to the edge of the pad to let the dust exit sideways, encouraged by the vacuum of your extraction system. 

    Next on is the shim pad. This has a thin metal disc sandwiched in the middle. 

    Last on is the support pad. Like the Ninja pad, this is squishy and has holes, but they’re not open to the edge. 

    It’s important that when each pad is fitted, its holes line up with the those in the previous pad, otherwise the dust can’t get out and will cause problems. See point 5. Needless to say, when fitting your abrasive pads, they should have dust extraction holes and they should line up with all the other holes.

    3. There are pads made to different standards of thickness. They can easily be identified by the specific shade of their blue Velcro. They are all just as acceptable, but, it’s important that all your pads be of the same thickness. See point 1. So, check that they are all the same shade of blue, and not mixed and matched. Should you decide to replace shim-discs, it may be best to replace all three at the same time. The same rule applies to the other Velcro discs.

    4. If your floor surface needs more ‘bite’ from the abrasive, it is possible to dispense with the shim pads and the support pads, and just use the exhaust pads. This reduces the area over which the weight is applied and thus increases the pressure. Just like the elephant and the person wearing stiletto heels. The stilettos make a deeper impression, not because a person is heavier than your average elephant, but because their weight is all concentrated into a tiny area compared to the size of an elephant’s foot… and having only two stilettos and not four big feet over which to spread the force.

    5. Sanding dust can be your public enemy number one if not managed. Your extraction system helps, but it can waste lots of time labouring under the misconception that it’s a cure-all magic wand. It doesn’t remove all the dust from the business end of a rotary sander or everywhere else on the floor. Just stop sanding for a minute, tip your Spider back and look under the dust skirt for proof of that. Grains of dust can act as a grinding paste. As you progress from course grits to finer grits, any grains of dust still rattling around between the pads and the floor will scratch the floor and leave deeper grooves than the ones you’re trying to flatten. In between grit changes it can be much more productive to vacuum out the remaining dust from the crevices of the Velcro pads, the Triple Plate, the inside of the dust skirt and sweep or vacuum the floor. It is vital to use an effective dust extractor. Professional floor sanders have found a heavy-duty dust extractor combined with a pre separator works most efficiently. Some setups use a Festool CT26 on its own and in our opinion that is far from adequate to remove dust and spent or part spent abrasive particles, thus leaving scratches on the floor. In addition to this, some old floor coatings can contain lead which can cause personal respiratory damage, and certain types of wood dust and older treatment additives are considered carcinogenic if it becomes airborne, so attention to good dust management is all the more important.

    6. Dust might also cause premature failure of your Triple Plate if not removed regularly. It should not be able to find its way into any of the bearings because they are sealed for life, see point 8. But, dust has a habit of collecting in the crevices between each pair of teeth on each planetary sprocket. This extra volume of material forces the chain to travel a slightly bigger radius of circles round each sprocket and hence a longer route. If the chain was previously adjusted to take out all the excess slack, it will now be too short for the extra length of its route. It gets tight enough to compact the dust in the crevices between the teeth on the sprockets. This puts far more stress on the chain and the bearings, and in turn, it puts more load on the Spider motor which can result in the machine going into a staged overheat / overload control, and while it’s doing that you can’t sand with it.

    7. The chain should be adjusted to take out nearly all of its slack. However, if you rotate the arm on the centre sprocket through small movements at a time and check the allowable movement on the chain’s longest runs between any two sprockets, you will see that the chain goes loose, tight, loose, tight. So, find the position where the chain is tightest, slacken the tension adjuster nut, push the little adjuster sprocket with a mediocre amount of force towards making the chain tight, and tighten up the adjuster nut. Then re check the chain tension. 

    8. “Should I be lubricating the chain and dropping a few drips of oil into the bearings?” 

    Definitely not. The bearings are sealed for life anyway. By the time the seals are worn enough to get any lubricant in, they will have filled up with sanding dust, seized up, and spilled their guts everywhere. Oils, whether mineral or synthetic, are dust magnets. The chain runs in a highly dust-dense environment, and the dust would congeal with any wet lubricant, wear the chain ten times faster and foreshorten its life… and put far more stress on the bearings. See point 6.  

    9. If checking the planetary bearings for wear and excess play, you can expect to see a little play, and that’s normal, but did you know this: Bearings are deliberately made with different amounts of slack, or play, known as the ‘C’ code, from C0 to C5. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But there’s a reason. Axles driving or driven by a chain or belt experience not only an axial torque but a side-ways load stress, as the tension in the chain tries to pull the two pulleys or sprockets together, resisted and held in place of course by their respective bearings. The additional force and friction cause them to heat up more. Some parts of the bearing expand as they reach operating temperature. What would happen if the designer didn’t allow some measure of slack when cold? It would expand but have nowhere to go, seize up, and spill its guts! 

    So, to that end, Pallmann fitted ‘C3’ coded bearings to your Triple Plate.  


    Summary of Regular Maintenance to keep your Spider Triple Plate in best condition and last for many more years: 


    A. Remove all dust from around the Velcro pads and dust skirt when changing abrasive pads.

    B. Remove any and all dust that builds up in and around the chain and sprocket area after every job.

    C. Sparks from sanding exposed metal nails can cause dust in bags and extractors to catch fire. Check and empty dust bags and extractors safely after every job.

    D. Check the chain tension once a month.

    E. Don’t be tempted to use any lubricant, anywhere on the Triple Plate 

    If you’d like us to check over your machine or repair a fault, or even try out other machines, please see our webpage for details. 

    It should be noted that this tutorial is intended to provide the owner/user with a collage of useful tips written in readable prose, where possible, rather than dry technical specifications. It is hoped to complement the advice indicated in the relevant official Pallmann publication(s), and not to contradict it. Where there may be conflicting discrepancies, the author would recommend going with Pallmann’s advice.

     By Simon Gallaway January 2023 

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