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They've Ruined the Harbor Freight Tools Large Case

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#1 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 05:54 AM

Yesterday I bought a new Harbor Freight Tools large case (17" x 12" inside dimensions). It only cost about $19 with coupon. I did this as a cheap quick way to get fresh foam for a new arrangement of eyepieces.

This will be the last time I ever buy an HFT large case. I must have bought at least a half-dozen of these cases over the years. But the foam they use now is flimsy and too easy to tear. The old foam was stiff, stayed in place, and did not tear at the seams just because you take an eyepiece in and out of the case. The new foam sucks eggs.

Also, the two tabs inside the top cover near the hinge are metal now, not hard plastic. I suppose the manufacturer looks on this as an improvement, but it doesn't help me. These tabs often get in the way of eyepieces stored near the hinge. Usually I hacksawed those tabs off in my old HFT cases. That would take a lot more effort now that they are metal.

So I advise everyone to stay away from the large Harbor Freight Tools case for storing eyepieces. They have ruined a good thing.

Mike

#2 MRNUTTY

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:28 AM

bummer Mike. Thx for the heads up!

#3 csrlice12

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:29 AM

A quick Dremmel tool would make short work of the tabs, I just don't put anything in the case where the tabs would hit truthfully. I will be replacing the foam though. Theres a few mattress/Upholstry companies here in town so raw materials shouldn't be a problem. The case itself is actually pretty sturdy and is still a good buy for the price.

On my "accessory case" I used the dividers and used the pluck foam and placed it it the lid because it placed just enough pressure to keep everything within the borders created by the dividers.

#4 MRNUTTY

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:36 AM

Mike, when did you last buy one? I think mine were like that. I bought them about a year ago.

#5 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:40 AM

I don't have a Dremmel tool. Not everyone has. When the tabs where hard-plastic, all you needed was a little hacksaw. But I only took them off if I was using the case for eyepieces. I pack my cases, so some eyepieces are pretty close to the hinge line.

I don't see buying the case and then having to replace the foam. I already have several of these cases that I can reutilize if I can find good replacement foam for them. I want some pick-n-pluck foam, not something I have to freeze and then cut with a knife. I'm not doing that.

But I won't be buying any more of the cases, period. HFT is done. Stick a fork in it.

I had a big bag of the wooden dividers. I threw most of them away. I experimented with putting them in a case, but didn't think much of it. Especially for eyepieces, I don't want those hard wood dividers in the case.

Mike

#6 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:42 AM

Mike, when did you last buy one? I think mine were like that. I bought them about a year ago.


I bought the last case yesterday. Before that, I think I bought one last Fall. At that time, they had already made the change to metal tabs, but the case still had the good firm pick-n-pluck foam. The foam they have in it now is not good enough for gerbils to tear apart for nesting.

Mike

#7 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:00 AM

Anyone know a good source for decent pick-n-pluck foam to fit a case that has 17" by 12" inside dimensions?

Mike

#8 Jaimo!

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:08 AM

Mike, you need to get yourself a "Dremmel Tool"... I hear HFT has them for cheap.

:roflmao: :roflmao:

Sorry, couldn't help myself,
Jaimo!

#9 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:12 AM

This looks like a possibility for replacement foam for the HFT case.

1501 3 pc Replacement Foam Ser for Pelican 1500 Case

The Pelican 1500 Case might be the closest equivalent to the HFT Case in inside dimensions. The pick-n-pluck layer for the 1500 is 11-1/2 x 17-1/4. I measured the HFT Case as approx. 12 x 17. I'll have to remeasure more accurately to see if the 1500 stuff will work.

I might end up buying a 1500 Case. I know for sure I can get replacement foam to fit it whenever I want.

Mike

#10 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:14 AM

Mike, you need to get yourself a "Dremmel Tool"... I hear HFT has them for cheap.

:roflmao: :roflmao:

Sorry, couldn't help myself,
Jaimo!


Buy tools at Harbor Freight Tools? You're kidding, right? :shocked:

Seriously, I've bought hex keys and such at HFT, but never anything more sophisticated than that. It would be like buying a household appliance at an Ollie's Bargain Store. Can you say "refurbished?" :grin:

But the point is moot, because I won't need a Dremmel to cut the tabs since I'm never buying another HFT case.

Mike

#11 Starman81

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:58 AM

Yep, they sure have. I still bought one though for random accessories and I am using a mix of some of the terrible foam and the dividers. It will suffice for that, but I would never store eyepieces in a case with foam like this.

#12 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:27 AM

It was a good deal before. I put as many as 30 eyepieces in one case and never had a problem. Now it has shoddy foam.

Mike

#13 Starman81

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:36 AM

I hear ya, I am still using mine from last year for my EPs. I get the whole argument that you spend $$$ on EPs to have a $25 case is somewhat foolish, I get that and was about to order a Pelican Storm case but then I looked at the HF case and the foam and it's doing a good job, one year later. Yeah it won't last forever and isn't waterproof or breakproof but as long as I am careful, I think I can get another couple years (if I really wanted to) before feeling like I need to replace the foam and if you need to replace the foam, might as well replace the case, since the case was so cheap to begin with.

[/ramble]

#14 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:01 AM

My HFT cases have lasted at least six years now. None of them have fallen apart at the hinges, none of the handles have broken. But now the shoddy foam ruins the whole deal. So you pay $20 for the case, then $40 for good foam? That's $60 already. Maybe it's time to start shopping for another case.

I think the Pelican 1500 case comes nearest in size to the HFT large case. But the 1500 is at least $100. Might be a good deal, though, if you intend to keep using the same case for years and years, and you have some expensive eyepieces you don't want to worry about. I'm finally getting to that position.

A plus for the 1500 - and other Pelican cases - is that the foam can be easily replaced from many sources. Also, the 1500 appears to be deeper than the HFT case. That would make it easier and safer to store long eyepieces vertically, which is the way I like to do it to save space - and store more eyepieces.

Mike

#15 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:06 AM

Yellow might be nice. Easier to see at the dark site.

Pelican 1500 Case with Foam (Yellow)

Mike

#16 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:09 AM

In the reviews, I noticed some guy used his 1500 case to transport a Wii unit. Talk about a pig in a poke. He should have just thrown that mess in an HFT case.

:grin:
Mike

#17 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:12 AM

These Pelican cases are so nice I might buy a separate smaller one for my small planet/lunar eyepieces.

Mike

#18 Geo31

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:18 AM

I wsa just planning on bending the metal tabs flat against the side of the top. I figured that would also help hold in the upper foam.

#19 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:27 AM

That would work, too. Be careful, though, because IIRC those tabs are involved with the hinges, and you might weaken the case by bending the tabs.

Since the HFT cases now have the metal tabs and the shoddy foam, they are a lost cause for me. I'll keep the HFT cases I already have and work around the problems, but I'm not buying anymore of them.

Mike

#20 ibase

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:05 AM

I think the Pelican 1500 case comes nearest in size to the HFT large case. But the 1500 is at least $100. Might be a good deal, though, if you intend to keep using the same case for years and years, and you have some expensive eyepieces you don't want to worry about. I'm finally getting to that position.

A plus for the 1500 - and other Pelican cases - is that the foam can be easily replaced from many sources. Also, the 1500 appears to be deeper than the HFT case. That would make it easier and safer to store long eyepieces vertically, which is the way I like to do it to save space - and store more eyepieces.


+1 on the Pelican 1500; also found locally a $32 case similar to the Pelican:
Posted Image

Posted Image
$32 "CDR-King" watertight case

Sample EP layout (vertical EP layout is also possible):

Posted Image

Below is side-by-side with the Pelican 1500:

Posted Image
Pelican 1500 top, CDR-King bottom

Not sure if this is available in the US, but maybe someone will import these there. Case review here.

Best,

#21 Matt Wallin

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:24 AM

Why are you guys cheaping out on cases? Just buy a Pelican case and be done with it for life. They make every size you could imagine and replacement foam and deviders are readily available. Spending many hundreds to thousands of dollars on eyepieces, filters etc. then quibling over an incremental $60 on the case is just foolish, go for some quality protection for your glass. Also get some reusable silca gel moisture absorber packs while you are at it, Pelicans seal air tight! (I am in no way associated with Pelican, just a very impressed and happy owner).

#22 ibase

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:29 AM

Um.. because we're cheap? :lol: (at least I am LOL)

Seriously, the replacement Pelican is actually good for the money, as pointed out in a comparison in the blog review.

Best,

#23 FirstSight

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:39 AM

These Pelican cases are so nice I might buy a separate smaller one for my small planet/lunar eyepieces.

Mike


I used to use a close cousin of the Harbor Freight case, aka the famous "Lowe's Case" for my eyepiece case. (I think) they used to come with decent pluck foam.

However, I concluded several years ago that once you accumulate a few relatively expensive eyepieces, say cumulatively over about a thousand dollars worth, these inexpensive cases become penny-wise and pound foolish, and the prudent choice is to purchase the right-size Pelican or Storm case for your eyepiece collection. Look at it this way: your eyepieces are collectively worth on the order of one to three thousand dollars, whereas the top-of-the-line Storm/Pelican type case costs only on the order of a hundred to hundred-fifty dollars, versus twenty-something for the Harbor Freight type case. That eighty to hundred twenty dollar difference in case price is cheap insurance over the medium to long-term; Storm/Pelican latches and hinges won't fail from an impact, Harbor Freight-grade cases are DEFINITELY vulnerable to failure and warping from the impact of a fall onto a hard surface. Been there, done that.

The default configuration for Storm/Pelican cases is that they come with high-grade pluck foam which I initially used with the Storm 2400 case I keep my Nagler collection, filters, Parcorr, and Powermates in, but some time ago I switched to the padded divider configuration because I double-nest my EPs in individual bolt cases inside the Storm case. Of course, my approach with the double-nesting is a bit of overkill, and the Storm/Pelican case with a foam bed will prudently suffice for many people's tastes.

#24 FirstSight

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 11:44 AM

Why are you guys cheaping out on cases? Just buy a Pelican case and be done with it for life. They make every size you could imagine and replacement foam and deviders are readily available. Spending many hundreds to thousands of dollars on eyepieces, filters etc. then quibling over an incremental $60 on the case is just foolish, go for some quality protection for your glass.


THIS!!! The classic way of phrasing this piece of valuable advice is that one should not be "penny wise and pound foolish".

#25 WesC

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:50 PM

I've never understood how people can say that they see the value in having a case for their very expensive EP collection, but can't see the value in getting a GOOD one. Its just a matter of time until one of those cheap plastic latches fails and thousands of dollars in EPs are falling to their doom.

I'm going with a Pelican. I buy them for my rifles too. I watched a guy at a match dump his $3,500 rifle with a $2,500 optic onto the asphalt because he cheaped out on a knock off case and the latches failed.

Harbor Freight is cheap Chinese garbage. Its the Dollar Store of hardware stores. I have a friend who is so cheap he won't even buy a decent tool at Sears, but he will buy the same cheap Chinese tool over and over again from HF because he thinks he's saving money. It breaks and he goes back and buys it again. He never realizes that between buying multiple times and the cost of traveling 30 minutes to that store repeatedly, he could've bought Snap-On!






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