Fantastic Chuck ! Really appreciate your response.
I will try this on a scrap and see how it works out. Should definitely help with what I am trying to do...
To complete my story from the start of this thread, I did go back and return the 3 1/4 HP, and started using the 2 1/4 Bosch 1617 again. I went thru two panels - raising the bit about 1/16" or so (approximately 1 turn of the router knob) and really had to go very slow - really really slow ... but did finish the job. Took me a long time but it did get the job done - took me about 3 hours or so.
Have about 8 more to go... so removing the 'waste' material using the saw should definitely help.