Review By Bill Esposito  Triton Website - http://www.triton.net.au



3-1/4HP 1/2" Precision Router Review
By Bill Esposito
By Dean Bielanowski

 

 

"A powerful 1/2 router with revolutionary features.
Use hand-held or fitted to a router table - its perfect
either way!"

Photo & Quote Source: Triton Website - http://www.triton.net.au

The Market Survey... I wanted a big router. I wanted it bad. I had ruled out the Freud and Hitachi for various reasons and set my sights a bit higher into the $300-$350 range. What I found there was the Bosch 1619evs, the new Milwaukee 5625-20, and the Australian Triton TRC-001. I had been waiting for the Milwaukee figuring I'd get the big brother to my 5615-20 Body Grip, but it was November 10th and the Milwaukee was nowhere in sight. I knew the Bosch was a proven performer and couldn't go wrong with it. But ever since I'd seen the Triton last summer in a magazine, I had a secret yearning for it.

The Decision...After going back and forth in my mind, searching the newsgroups and message boards, I finally decided on the Triton. It does after all, have the coolest depth mechanism this side of the equator...and the other side as well! It allows one handed bit changes from above the table, and its chock full of safety features. It was a no brainer, I got out my credit card and clicked the Amazon.com URL.

Cold Feet... Ok, as soon as I clicked the order button I started having doubts. First, I had actually never seen or felt this router...suppose it was a piece of junk? I had also read some newsgroup messages which discouraged its use as a hand held router because of its balance. It also has feature which had escaped me before, a 1/4" reducer for the smaller bits. And lastly, service. I just spent $300 on a router whose parent company was on the other side of the world, and whose US operation was only a few months old as far as I could tell.

Communications with Oz... It was Sunday afternoon on November 10th and I decided to email Triton and pose my questions and concerns. Within a couple of hours I received an email from Triton stating that they had forwarded my technical questions to the engineer responsible for the router, and my service and warranty questions to
Triton USA. By 5:15 that same day I received my first email from Graham, the engineer, answering my questions. I wrote back and we exchanged a few emails and I was satisfied with all his answers.

To my surprise on monday morning at 11:40am I received an email from Mark, General Manager of
Triton Workshop Systems USA, and we began our own exchange of emails. I was still having cold feet, not because of service or anything else, but because I still had never seen the router and Amazon's return policy states that unless the returns are defective, they must be in new condition. I had to leave on a business trip so I canceled the router from Amazon and got on my airplane. Mark and I continued our email exchange and then finally spoke on the phone. Mark assured me that I would like the router and offered to take it back if I didn't. I ordered the router from him and it was on my doorstep two days later when I returned home.

I tell you all of this because both you and I know that just as important as a tool's performance, is the performance of the manufacturer's customer support, and in my book Triton Workshop Systems has exhibited first rate customer support. Now on with the review!

Features and Specs:
 
  • 15 amp, 3-1/4 hp motor with soft start and variable speed control (8,000-21,000 rpm)
     
  • Through-base collet access with automatic spindle lock and power switch lock-out
     
  • Winder handle rack-and-pinion plunge with micro-adjuster for superfine depth settings
     
  • Conversion switch for conventional free plunge
     
  • Removable plunge spring plus fully enclosed, built-in dust extraction
     
  • Lighted power switch
     
  • Throat opening just over 3"
     
  • Edge Guide/Circle Cutter
     
  • Weight 13 lbs

First Impression. This is a really cool router. It kinda looks like Robby the Robot from Lost in Space. The winding plunge (I like to call it ratcheting) mechanism is really cool and believe it or not, so is the lighted power switch. I get a feeling of security knowing at a glance whether or not the router is plugged in. While it looks top heavy, it isnt and the soft start makes it easier to handle than my Body Grip. The fit and finish is better than the Bosch and for icing on the cake, the colors fit right in with the New England Thanksgiving season.

Lets start with what's in the box
 


 

You get the router, edge guide, wrench, 1/4" reducer, a 1/2" straight bit, and the instruction manual. Everything was packed fine and arrived safely. Starting from the top, speed is controlled by this wheel.


 

It is marked 1 through 5 and there are no positive detents so the numbers are to be used as a guide only.
 

Triton Speed Control Settings

1 =  8,000rpm
2 = 10,000rpm
3 = 14,000rpm
4 = 18,000rpm
5 = 21,000rpm


Right below the speed control is one of the brush access covers. Both brushes are easily replaced.


 

The lever to the right and below the brush cover is the plunge locking lever. Once you've set your depth make sure to lock the router. The position of this lever can be changed to suit the user.

The next picture shows the fine adjustment knob. Once you've used the winder on the right handle to adjust your gross depth, you can fine tune it by twisting this knob.



 

Speaking of the winder, this next series of pictures illustrates the operations needed to adjust the depth. First, while grabbing the handle, you squeeze the ring to unlock the handle and allow it to turn.


 

Turning clockwise plunges the router while counterclockwise raises it. Once you've set your depth, release the ring and the handle will lock.


 

You can then use the fine adjustment knob for that last little tweak and then lock everything up by setting the locking lever. While not a killer feature, it's clear the engineers at Triton were thinking of ergonomics when they designed the router because they've designed the locking lever so that you can adjust its position to your liking. So far I've left it in its default position.


 

While we're talking about setting the depth, lets look at the free plunge mode. In this mode, the Triton works like a conventional plunge router. What we have to do now, is disengage the rack and pinion assembly. To do that all you have to do is twist the winder lock.


 

In this case, locking means that we will lock the winder handle so it can't rotate. To do that, you simply twist the yellow plunge mode selector clockwise, then push it in, and twist clockwise again till it stops. Once it's locked, neither the winding handle or the fine adjustment knob have any effect on the router. You simply plunge the router to the desired depth and then set the locking lever.

HELPFUL TIP!

I had some initial problem with this mechanism. While I could get it to lock very easily, I was having a difficult time unlocking it. I sent an email off to Triton and within a couple of hours received the reply. The reply instructed me to apply slight pressure on the top of the router while unlocking the winder. This is because two sides of the dog clutch are not in perfect alignment and thus the clutch will not engage immediately. The slight pressure solves the problem. This information was clearly provided in the instruction manual...but who reads those right?
 

While using the router in the free plunge mode, you will want to take advantage of the Triton's depth stop turret. This clever device allows you to dial in the depth of your cut (you can set two different depths). The operation is actually pretty simple.

1. With your bit installed, zero the router by plunging it until the bit just touches the work piece (or tabletop) and lock it with the lever.

2. Next, adjust the depth nut to the desired depth, in this case, 1/2"


 

3. Rotate the turret so that the fixed turret post lines up under the depth stop rod, and release the rod until it springs down and contacts the post. Then re-tighten the depth stop rod.


 

4. Next rotate the turret again until the depth stop rod is aligned over the adjustable post. The rod is actually a piece of tube so it will fit over the threaded rod of the adjustable post and stop the plunge when it contacts the adjustment nut. The Triton has two adjustable posts. You can just rotate the turret until you line up the the post set for your current cut.


 

If you prefer to use a gauge block you can just rotate the turret to the fixed post, and use your gauge block off that reference.

As long as we're talking about hand use let's not forget the included edge guide. This guide is like nothing you've seen before. It's really an offset router base plate which doubles as an edge guide and circle cutter.

Attaching the Guide is a snap. You simply loosen the two spring loaded thumbscrew bolts and slide the guide onto the router base.
 


 

The actual position of the edge guide is adjusted by thumbscrew action also as seen below.
 


 

I added a knob to the guide to provide more stability and turn it into an offset base.
 


 

** CAUTION **

The edge guide has a design flaw which can affect you when edging. By its design, the guide has a channel running down the center of it. When you are putting a profile on the edge of a tabletop for instance, as you reach the end or corner, if you are not careful the router will drop into that channel and ruin your profile. I solved this flaw by double-stick taping a piece of 3/16th shim into the channel. This fix does not affect any other mode of operation of the guide, but prevents the problem described above.


 

Hand Held Use:

Although I purchased this router for table use, I have run some hand held test passes. The first thing I noticed was the soft start. I've never owned a router with soft start before and the Triton's is a pleasure to use. I swear that I feel less torque during operation while using the Triton than I do my Milwaukee Body Grip, and because of the soft start, I feel more comfortable using the big Triton than the Milwaukee.

The built in dust collection is great and made cleanup after the tests a cinch. The dust collector picked up better than 80% (very unscientific measurement) of the sawdust produced although routing with a dust hose attached takes some getting
used to.

While I was very concerned about the router being top heavy, that is not the case. The router feels just fine and is not top heavy at all. You may experience some instability if you don't use the guide just because the handles are located about 2 inches higher than most other routers and you simply have better control with a router whose handles are attached to the base and closer to the work.

The Collet:
The Triton comes with a single piece collet and a 1/4" reducer.


 

Here's a shot of the collet and the included 1/2" straight bit.


 

For 1/4" bits, you must use a reducer. The old style reducer required you to line up the slots in the reducer and collet for ease of bit release... that is no longer required.


 

Here's a 1/4" bit inserted utilizing the reducer.
 


 

So far I have not experienced any problem with releasing either size bit and Triton prides itself on that fact. Additionally the bits have stayed right where I put them even after overloading the bit to try to force it to change position.

Shaft Lock
Tightening and loosening the collect is a one wrench operation. The Triton's shaft will lock to allow one wrench bit changing. One of the many safety features of the Triton is that the shaft lock mechanism and the power switch are interrelated. The shaft will not move into the lock position unless the power switch is off, and the power switch cannot be turned on again until the shaft is unlocked.

As long as we're on the subject of power switches, the Triton has a unique power switch feature or two.

First, the power switch is lighted when power is applied. This provides a visual indication of power.

Next, the power switch is located behind a sliding door. This prevents power from being accidentally applied and also forms part of the shaft lock mechanism.

In this picture you can see that the power is applied, but the power switch is off and behind that closed door.


 

Here the door has been slid open and the power switch is on.
 


 

Guide Bushings:
Triton Workshop Systems offers a guide bushing set for use with this router. The bushings are very different than what you are used to for other routers. Since the Triton router's dust collection system is optimized to work with an open bottomed router table, using the normal PC style bushings would defeat the system. So Triton Workshop Systems has designed a set of bushings which will allow the built in dust collection to function normally. The bushings have slots which allow the dust collector to draw the sawdust through the base.

The kit includes O.D.'s of 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 5/8, 51/64, and 21/32" with the I.D.'s running from 1/4" through 3/4". Also included is an adapter to allow you to use the standard PC bushings (just below the black ring in the picture) and a spacer for use when the router is mounted in a table.


 

While I haven't tried the bushing set yet, It appears to be of high quality and should work just fine.

Preparation for use in a table:

The first thing you will want to do to prepare your Triton for table mounting is to remove the plunge spring. If you leave the spring in, it and the weight of the router will make it impossible to use the fine adjustment knob.

Removing the spring is easy.

1. With the router sitting on its base plate, use the handle to raise the router to its fullest position. Doing this will relieve most of the tension on the spring.

2. Using a phillips screwdriver, loosen the screw which locks the spring cover in place as shown below.
 


 

3. Maintaining a firm grip on the spring cover, twist the cover and remove it. The spring and its plastic guide rod can then also be removed.
 

 


 

4. Replace the spring cap and re-tighten the retaining screw.


 

4. Store the spring and plastic guide rod in a place where you will be able to find it again
 


 

The router is now ready to be mounted in your table.

HANDY TIP!

If you plan on using some large bits and your technique for taking small bites out of the work involves raising the bit through the base opening than you may wish to remove the dust collection shroud. The Triton allows for 2-1/4 inch bits to fit through the base plate opening with vacuum shroud in place and a 3 inch bit with vacuum shroud removed.
 


I mounted the Triton in my table utilizing a phenolic insert. The 1/4" insert I used was not strong enough to handle the router without sagging. I still need to make a new 3/8" insert.

The screws provided with the router are not long enough for even a 1/4" thick insert so you'll have to procure new ones. Luckily they are standard 1/4" screws and not metric. I removed the plastic base and mounted the router to the insert. If you want to use the guide bushings, you mount the bushing plate to the router and then the router to the insert. You may also have to use the guide spacer provided with the kit.

In this picture you can see how much of the collet is exposed above the table for bit changing. Bit changing is a breeze with the Triton.
 


 

Table operation:
I used the above Freud panel raising bit to make a test raised panel out of hard white birch. I made the profiles in three passes utilizing the fence to control the size of each pass. I ran the router speed at the slowest setting of 8000rpm. While I could hear the motor change pitch a bit when I pushed the work through, the Triton and Freud bit performed flawlessly.

I also used the Triton in my miter station project to make 56 drawer lock joints (length varied from 4" to 12"). I ran the bit at high speed and had to vary the bit height about a dozen times because of the sequence in which I was working. The fine height adjustment and lock worked great every time. I am very satisfied with the height adjusting mechanism on the Triton.

Dust extraction. My table has great dust extraction capabilities so I did not test the Triton's built in DC in the table mode. I did attach my shop vac to the router when making test passes in hand held operation and the dust collector worked exceptionally well. I presume that when the router is mounted on a Table Saw Wing that you should see very little sawdust escape the Triton's dust shroud if you connect it to a shop vac.

Below is a picture of the Triton's 1.5" dust hose port. You just screw the hose onto the port.


 

Conclusion
I am quite happy with my Triton purchase. I am very impressed with the level of technical and pre-sales support I received from both the parent company in Australia and by Triton Workshop Systems USA. The router is loaded with safety features, has an excellent and unique height adjustment mechanism, easily removed plunge spring, great built in dust collection, very smooth soft start, and enough power to swing the big bits. The only negative I can see is the edge guide's design which I had to get around with a shim. Would I buy it again? You bet!

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One Year Later
Triton TRC-001
3.25HP Plunge Router
By Bill Esposito
 

So here we are one year later and I'm constantly responding to inquiries about the Triton router. Do I still like it? Have I found any more problems with it? Would I buy it again? My answers to those questions have been, yes, yes and yes. In this redux I'll go over what I've experienced over the past year, and what Triton has done to correct those issues, and some I didn't encounter, with this latest update.

The problems, workarounds, and improvements:

First off, have no fears, the Triton is still orange and still resembles Robbie the Robot. As a matter of fact you wont notice any visual difference in the updated router with the exception of the power switch.

I encountered several problems with the router, most were easy to work around with one requiring a warranty repair.

The first problem I encountered was with the fine adjustment operation when the router was mounted in a table. What was happening was that when the router base was screwed to my router insert, the fine height adjustment mechanism would no longer operate smoothly. I tried three different routers and four different insert plates and found the problem was repeatable. After some experimentation I discovered that the router base was distorting when it was screwed down to the insert and was causing the bushings to bind on the posts. The work around for this was to shim the base plate so that it wouldn't distort, which is what I did. A few months ago while reviewing a router table from Woodpecker, my discovery was confirmed and apparently was not unique to the Triton because the instructions for installing a router to the insert explained how to shim the base plate to avoid this condition.

In the updated router Triton has opened up the bushings a bit which has both fixed the above problem along with making the "Winder" operation smoother. I took the new router to my table and removed the old one and its shims. I then installed the updated Triton and sure enough it works as smooth as can be. In hand held use the winder operation feels much better as well. In addition to the redesigned bushings the Triton now sports a metal worm gear in the adjustment handle. Both engagement of the winder lock and winding is smoother and just plain feels better.

The second problem I had was with the depth stop. On a couple of occasions it came lose after I had tightened it. The fix for this is not new to this version of the router but happened sometime last year with Triton redesigning the depth stop lock. The old version (photo right) had a nut inside the case which would come loose or fall out.

The new design is simply a knob and a brass post which cinches against the depth stop tube locking it in place (photo at left). It feels secure and this is a common method of locking a rod but I haven't used the new router enough to certify this as "fixed".


The last problem that I had encountered and the most serious was one which required a warranty repair. After about 4 months of use I went to the shop to use the router and flipped on the power switch. The router started, stopped and then started again and worked fine for the remainder of the session. I thought it was odd but the shop was cold and I hadn't warmed it up before starting the router so I thought nothing more of it. The next day I went to use the router and it would not start. A call to the folks at Triton and I and a new router was on its way while I returned the dead one. We discussed an old issue of dust in the power switch which they thought had been corrected...apparently not.

The correction for this problem was to design a dust boot to cover the switch.

In switch in the photo at left is the old one, the booted switch is the photo at right.

 

The good news for owners of the original router is that this switch boot is retrofitable so "Any customer with a service/warranty issue should call us direct at 888 874-8661 for hassle free, direct support.  (that's not a slogan)" . That is a direct quote from Adam at Triton and it has been my experience as well.

The next few things are welcome improvements.

The Triton supports 1/4" bits by way of a reducer. You place the reducer into the 1/2" collet and insert the bit. This was a bit tedious because the reducer would often slide too far into the collet. The improvement is a simple captive clip as seen on the reducer on the right hand side of the photo at left. This allows you to just drop the reducer into the collet and it stops at the correct position. then insert the bit and tighten and away you go. While the Triton collet works just fine, I would still much prefer a self releasing collet.

This next improvement I noticed when I was installing the router into the table. In my previous version, the plunge spring alignment post was a separate piece and had to be stored along with the spring when not installed. Now it is part of the cap and remains with the router. One less thing to lose.


All in all the fixes and improvements make the Triton even better than when I first reviewed it and have assured that it will remain my primary table router. I also want to reiterate my original assertion that the Triton's dust collection was excellent. As I mentioned earlier in this article I had the opportunity to review a Woodpecker Table Saw Wing router table and I used the Triton for the test. Between the Incra Wonder Fence and the Triton hardly a bit of dust escaped.

Now if we could just convince Triton to upgrade to a self releasing collet!

 

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