Author Topic: Karcher Sys Dock Mounted to A Starmix/Metabo/Hitachi ISP Vac  (Read 557 times)

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Offline TinyShop

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Karcher Sys Dock Mounted to A Starmix/Metabo/Hitachi ISP Vac
« on: February 27, 2019, 09:20 PM »
I tried posting the following a few weeks ago but a bug of some sort prevented anyone (including me!) from seeing it.

So, now I'm trying again.

As I somewhat cryptically alluded to elsewhere, I decided to take a little closer look at the Karcher "Adapterplatte Systainer® NT 14-1" (26419820) that I picked up almost two years ago to the day originally with the intention of retrofitting it to my re-branded Starmix ISP ("i-Pulse") dust extractor.

Anyone not wishing to learn from the following background can simply skip ahead to the next section.


I'd lit upon the idea while while researching a post I uploaded to another forum that sought to add some additional potential options for those who were looking into the idea of retrofitting various sys-docks to their Starmix IP vacs. Around the same time, I placed an order from a very helpful European retailer, Retailer "A", for an assortment of both NAINA and "AINABCE" (Available In North America But Cheaper Elsewhere) items who, although they didn't deal in Karcher products, was nonetheless agreeable to accept delivery of the Karcher sys-dock. More on that in a second. I went ahead and purchased the sys-dock from a retailer, Retailer "B",  located in a third country and arranged to have delivered to Retailer "A". The idea behind this albeit convoluted routing was to get around the sys-dock retailer's N.A. shipping restriction. Moreover, this workaround also saved me a tidy sum (over having the sys-dock shipped on its own to N.A. - another seller was willing to do but wanted a bundle for the international shipping). In essence, being creative in this way allowed me to pay a small amount for shipping the sys-dock between Retailer "B" and Retailer "A" and then bundle everything together into a single international international shipping charge (which I was having to pay anyways - adding the sys-dock into one of the boxes didn't cost me anything extra).

Shortly thereafter, I found myself away from home for about two years (pleasure not business) so I wasn't able until recently to accomplish any of the projects I've wanted to over the same duration.

Which brings me almost to the present.

Then, about two weeks ago, Starmix unvelied an OEM sys-dock that's designed expressly for their pre-Smartfix IP vacs. "Smartfix" is the name given to a redesigned lid that comes as an option on the latest generation of IP vacs (which, as of this writing, are NAINA) which, in conjunction a set of mounting rails, allow Classic and T-Loc systainers (but not L-Boxx, I might add) tool boxes to be stored/transported on the top of the extractor. The bad news, we just found out, is that the OEM sys-dock is not going to be released until October 2019. The discrepancy between the "SmartFix" system (which isn't compatible with L-Boxx boxes) and the forthcoming OEM sys-dock (which is compatible with L-Boxx boxes) makes me scratch my head. Will Starmix update the "SmartFix" mold to make it compatible with L-Boxx containers or will they discontinue the "Smartfix" system and go back to the older lid-style and simply sell the OEM sys-dock as an accessory. This whole process doesn't seem very well thought out.

Anyway, with my patience waning, and with the Karcher sys-dock sitting in the box it came in (I actually tried to sell it but there was no real interest) I decided that maybe it was time to again revisit the idea of seeing how I might go about attaching the latter to the former. My thought all along had been to borrow some inspiration from Tom Gensmer (who along with one other's approach had already fashioned a couple of different methods (1st, 2nd) for systainer attachment to his rebranded Starmix vac) and simply screw or bolt a layer or two of plywood (with a cutout for the sys-dock's handle assembly to recess into) to the lid of my vac. As I said, that had always been my intention. However, with the imminent (albeit far off) release of the OEM sys-dock I was even less loathe to permanently disfigure my vac (and compromise the remaining warranty in doing so).     

Retrofit Attempt

With my re-branded Starmix, my Karcher sys-dock and me all in the same room, I took a closer look at the method that the sys-dock was designed to mechanically fasten to the vacuum it was designed in conjunction with (the NT 14/1). I then took some measurements. Then I measured again. And again. Something I hadn't noticed in the past was just how close the Karcher mold was to the Starmix lid and handle design. It was almost as if either whoever made Karcher's vac had copied Starmix's, that Starmix made the Karcher vac, or that whoever made the sys-dock has also designed a version that would fit the Starmix IP vac. The similarities were simply too striking to ignore.

Getting back to the retrofit, I decided that a) since my attempts to sell the sys-dock hadn't generated any interest (if the NT 14/1 had at one point been available in N.A. it must not have had much market presence - no one in N.A. wanted the compatible sys-dock) and b) since even if I went ahead and modified it, doing so would not preclude me from subsequently fashioning a sys-cart out of it and c) since October was a long ways off, I figured I'd have a go at the modification.

Examining the sys-dock it was clear that it was constructed of glass reinforced plastic. A quick web search reinforced and added to the limited knowledge I had of this material. I knew it was incredibly robust but I didn't know anything about what it was like to machine. What I read gave me enough pause that I opted to pose a question elsewhere on the FOG to ask for feedback on my planned approach. Following this I jumped into the project.

Here are the "before" photos of the sys-dock:

...and here are the "after" photos:

As you can hopefully see, all I needed to do was open up the channel of the recessed part of the sys-dock. And I only needed to remove everything back, oddly enough, to the nearest rib, as detailed below:

The new width of the resulting channel perfectly accepts the handle on the Starmix, almost like by design.

The next step was to remove the outer half of each of the two hooks which rotate down and grab ahold of the vac handle. As shown below, this component (and the associated handle) of the sys-dock is not glass reinforced so narrowing-up each hook was easy:

Also, if you believe the insert that came in the box with the sys-dock, both the handle and the hook assembly are available from Karcher as spare parts. The former snaps into and out-of the sys-dock with some force while the latter snaps into the former (and is also easily removed).

As can be seen from the following I also quickly knocked down some of the high points on the underside of the sys-dock (only the sections that come into direct contact with the lid of the vac):

In retrospect, I'm not sure this is necessary, though doing so didn't produce any problems.

I then reassembled everything and tried the fit. Although tight (as I mentioned before), the sys dock does lock onto the vac's handle. It also lays perfectly flat and is nicely centered from all profile views. IOW, it looks like it belongs on there.

When I then tried to fit a systainer into the clasps I realized that the sys-was, I thought, a little wracked. Examining the issue, I found that I had to use a couple of screws to nestle the hook assembly fully "home". Without the screws, the handle would stick up enough to bump into the underside of the base of the systainer, preventing it from sitting down properly on the sys-dock.

To try and alleviate the tight fit of the hooks to the handle I also spent a little time removing the little tab (not shown) and slightly opening the throats of both hooks (in effect, opening their inner diameters). My thought was that by carefully making a little more room in the hooks I could improve the interface. In the end, I think that just removing the little tab would have accomplished the same thing. In addition, I also removed a small amount of material from the floor of the u-shaped molded area that the handle snaps into. Doing so didn't seem to make any measurable improvement with the tight fitting handle.

After sitting installed overnight (and then being removed for me to take the pictures that are included in this post), its clear that what remains of the hooks have deformed a little bit. I'll keep an eye on this though, at this point, I don't see this becoming any worse (or even necessarily leading to catastrophic failure). It's not a huge concern since once I receive the pre-owned CT Sys that's currently on its way to me in the in mail, the Starmix will only venture for the biggest and baddest jobs (at least until the OEM sys-dock become available) and will otherwise serve only as a shop extractor and base for the systainers stacked on top of it. Tis is another way of saying that I don't know if I'd be comfortable relying on the somewhat bastardized connection to drag the vac up and down stairs. Moreover, knowing now how relatively easy it is to separate the handle from the sys-dock, werer I to use this roughly in the field, I'd also want to fasten a small stainless steel plate down over each handle axle to prevent the handle from pulling out of of the sys-dock (like while lifting the vacuum). This is a poor design that relies, I guess, on the combination with a smaller/lighter-weight vacuum to prevent it from becoming a problem. That said, however, I tested the connection by standing on a ladder and lifting the vacuum (fitted with a partially full bag and with all three systainers shown in the following photos attached to the top) and everything felt solid.         

So, here's the result:

And, here's the set up fitted with systainers:

For the moment, I am unwittingly basking in the ability to use my vac as a glorified sys-cart. Who knew one could get so much joy out of such a simple thing? Me think those Festool designers are onto something!

Oh, and here's to prove that no Starmix's were harmed in the shooting of this post (this is an "after" photo with the sys-dock removed):

« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 12:45 PM by TinyShop »
ETS 150/5 EQ (DE) [po], TS 75 EQ (DE) [po], OF 1400 EQ-F (DE) [n], CXS (DE) [n], CMS-GE [DE] [po], CMS TS 75 (DE) [n], LA-CS 50/CMS (DE) [po], VB-CMS (DE) [n], MFT/3 (CZ) [n], DF 700 EQ w/Seneca Small Mortise Kit (DE) [po], FEIN Multimaster 350 QSL (DE) [n], Bosch 1274DVS w/dust collection, sanding frame,  stand & fence (CH) [n], BOSCH 1590EVS w/dust collection (CH) [n], CS Unitec CS 1445 HEPA extractor <re-branded Starmix ISP 1435 H> (DE) [n], CT SYS (DE) [po], Milwaukee 0302-20 (US) [n], Two (2) Porter Cable 862 (TW) [n], Porter Cable 447 (US) [n], Zyliss Vise (CH) [n], Hitachi C 8FB (JP) [h]

[po] pre-owned   [n] new   [h] heirloom   (XX) country of origin

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