By David Frane
Last week I was at the Remodeling Show in Baltimore, where I attended a demonstration of the CR175C, a new fuel-powered roofing gun from Paslode. With so many types of nailers having gone cordless, I had been wondering if and when someone would develop a workable gun for roofing. Bostitch attempted this several years back, but their battery-powered tool did not gain wide acceptance and has since been discontinued. The problem was, it drove with multiple blows, required proprietary fasteners, and did not really look like a nail gun.
Paslode's gun will probably be better received because it looks and works like any other fuel-powered nailer. Of equal importance is the fact that it will take any brand of fastener - though its manufacturer is quick to point out that it works better with their PowerBoost Nails, which feature a ballistic tip, a lubricating coating, and a grooved shank for better holding power.
One of the technical challenges of developing this new Paslode gun was coming up with a way to advance fasteners. Stick nails are easy because they can be pushed from behind with a spring-loaded follower; coil nails are trickier - they must be pulled off the coil and then pushed under the driver. This is done by means of feed pawls, which pivot back and pull a nail forward each time the gun is fired. The feed pawls in a conventional gun are powered by compressed air; in the CR175C they are powered by combustion gases diverted from the cylinder.
Cordless guns have gotten better over the years, but there continue to be tradeoffs. With a fuel-powered nailer you have to buy gas cartridges, recharge the battery, and every so often – remove the cap and clean out the cylinder. And you must accept using a gun that is heavier and slower than a pneumatic model. On the plus side, with a cordless gun, there is no compressor to haul and set up or hoses to drag around and trip over.
Part of Paslode's presentation at the show was devoted to explaining why they developed this gun and where they think it fits in the market. According to their research, the asphalt roofing market is 60% re-roofing, 29% new construction, and 11 % repair work. They also found that 69% of roofers do repairs, a number that is up from a few years back when roofers could be pickier about the jobs they took.
The upshot is that Paslode believes there are plenty of applications for this tool, arguing that it is a plausible replacement for a pneumatic gun for those parts of the job where you are not simply blasting on shingles. This would include flashings, ridge vents, skylights, and the like. Another application would be smaller projects where the time spent setting up a compressor would be a significant part of the job – repair work in particular, but also dormers, porches, and small additions. Based on a survey of roofing contractors, Paslode estimates that using a cordless nailer will save 40 minutes of setup time per use, which could provide meaningful cost savings on repair jobs. The CR175C is not intended to be used for production work, but it could be a good second gun for a professional roofer (who uses it for repairs but does the bulk of his work with pneumatics) and perhaps the only gun for the general contractor who does repairs and the occasional small roofing job.
There is not much to say about how this tool performs – I got a chance to fire it and it is just like shooting Paslode's other fuel-powered guns. It can cycle twice per second and at 7.5 pounds is about 2 pounds heavier than a pneumatic roofing gun. There is a belt hook on the back and an adjustable depth-of-drive mechanism on the nose. The CR175C is currently being sold in a "value pack" that consists of a backpack, gun, battery, charger, safety tether, and one fuel/nail combo pack. A combo pack is a box containing six coils of 120 nails and one cylinder of fuel, which is enough to install two squares of shingles. Fuel cells can also be purchased separately for use with other brands of nails.
The MSRP for the value pack is $529. Combo packs are expected to sell for $13. This gun is also available from Paslode's sister company, DuoFast, as the DFCR175C.