SherrySews

Advice needed on possible purchase of Ultimate 1 (LONG)

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Hello Everyone!  and thank you in advance for your help.

 

I've come across an Ultimate 1 with a 14' table with what sounds like a good price, but I'm not sure what to be checking, what features it does or does not necessarily have, and what I can add/upgrade (and at what cost!) if I need more functionality than what it comes with as is.  I do know that it does not have a 'needle down' position (is that the same as a stitch positioner?), is not stitch regulated, does not have a laser light (but does have a stylus/pointer which they've been using for pantograph quilting).  The current owners are not the original owners, and they do not have any manuals/paperwork so I don't know how old it is and would want to get a manual / DVD so I could do proper setup, maintenance and maybe some repairs.  I've seen it being used and gave it a quick test run myself, but was a bit concerned when the bobbin thread kept breaking.  Seemed better after I got them to change the needle (after they'd changed the bobbin twice and also changed the thread they were using).  Reading many posts and comments in the forums, and seeing how they loaded the sample, I'm pretty sure they over tightened the rollers.

 

Some of the things I will need to test when/if I see it again are the needle bar, hopping foot and rocker bushings. Are these expensive to replace?  Is it something I would do or would I have to send it off to APQS?  I'm near Ottawa, Ontario and don't know if there are service people near here.  I think there is a dealer in Prescott, Ontario, but I don't know if they service as well

 

I think the foot that was on it looked like the the 'flip flop' foot, and I can't remember if it hopped or glided over the fabric surface.  The wheels on the part holding the machine (is that called the carriage?) I believe were vertical, but I think this would be unusual for a Ult 1? The wheels were a dark grey/black material, definitely not plastic.   I found the movement kind of heavy ... but maybe I'm just wimpy and it takes a bit of muscle to maneuver??  Or should it be smooth regardless?  They told me there is nothing required to be done to the tracking system (tells me they don't clean it or oil it ... if that is necessary?)  The table is a big, solid, dark wood one, with 4 rollers.  They also had two large rollers hung in front of the machine which they load big rolls of batting onto.  There are 30 pantograph patterns that come with the setup.

 

The owners could not seem to answer the last time it was serviced, but they don't do regular tuneups ... just call in 'the Polish guy who fixes all their machines' whenever something doesn't work. They have 2 other industrial sewing machines for their upholstery business which he services as well, so I assume he has a basic knowledge of sewing machines, but not necessarily an APQS expert.  Not sure what he's fixed or replaced over the years on the Ult 1.  Makes me a bit nervous that they have used the machine for 10 years making quilts for local home builders who were staging model homes and yet they haven't kept track of maintenance records, or done any regular maintenance other than oiling 4 spots on the top of the head.  They are selling the machine because they no longer have the contract(s) with the home builders.

 

Big questions, to summarize:

 

1)  Would the lack of regular tuneups/maintenance and not knowing what parts have been replaced/cared for over the years be sufficient to indicate that I should wait for another machine that has been better cared for (respected!!)??

 

2)  Are there other things that I can check besides the bushings to ensure I'm not getting a problem machine?

 

3)  Are there any APQS certified technicians anywhere near Ottawa that I could have a good tuneup done on the machine?  How much might this cost?

 

4)  If the timing is off, is it ALWAYS possible to re-time it, or are there reasons that it would be a throw away machine?

 

5)  I would really like to be able to use rulers, templates, etc.  Would the Hartley extended base fit this older machine?  How do I know if there is a thread cutter on the machine?  I didn't see anything obvious, but would have to check again.

 

6) I would like to do something to have 'needle down' position available, and single stitch (for bringing up bobbin thread), without having to manually turn the flywheel.  How might I accomplish this and what might it cost?

 

I'm not really looking for SR.  I went to a demo day on a Bernina machine and actually found I stitched better without it!  Might (Will?) take practice, but I would prefer to learn to stitch free motion without it.  I am expecting to use the machine for personal projects, as well as charity quilts (I volunteer for a couple of organizations that make quilts)

 

Sorry for the long post, just hoping to be able to make a good decision.  I don't want to get a machine that will end up costing me more in repairs than necessary, but also don't want to pass on what could be a good deal.  All of your wonderful comments regarding APQS customer service has me pretty much sold on looking for one of their machines, whether it is this one or another one available in the future.

 

Sherry


Lenni owner with Bliss Table - Aug 8, 2015

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Not knowing much about the Ultimate machines I can tell you--

 

You can find out the vintage by sending the serial number on the head to APQS to date it.

 

If you want to do ruler work, you'll need a different foot and an extended base. I don't know if a Hartley Fence will fit, but a Rulermate for Ultimate 1 is available.

 

A thread cutter is very obvious and I don't imagine you have one on this machine.

 

It's always possible to correctly time these machines.

 

Check on the dealer directory on the home page for the one closest to you and contact them for their opinion. Find out whether they can look it over for you or give you some things to look for.

 

Modifications of various sorts (needle positioner, SR, etc.) are not usually available on this style longarm but call or email to find out for sure.

 

Unless this machine is really really really (did I say really?) cheap, I'd advise to pass on it. It's a workhorse but not knowing what is worn out and needs replacing, plus the shipping costs to Iowa, might make it so much more expensive that you may find something ready to stitch on for that same added amount.

 

Good luck with your search!


Linda Rech

Finely Finished Quilts

Millennium on Bliss rails--hand-guided

http://www.topperquilttools.com

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Hi Sherry

 

Welcome to the forum.  This sounds like quite an old machine but may still be quite serviceable for your needs.  If it doesn't have the single stitch you won't have the thread cutter.  APQS is the only machine I've ever seen it on and a good number of us never use it anyway.  Needle bar and hopping foot bushings are cheap (less than ten dollars for both) and I can tell you where to get them locally if needed.  To check the bushings grab the needle bar and see if there is any play side to side and front to rear should be none.  Check the hopping foot the same way plus up and down and again there should be almost none.  Up and down can be the rocker bushing and that is also cheap. Timing can be a challenge the first time you do it but only takes a few minutes after your first time.  Machines don't go out of time on their own.  It is usually when you hit a ruler or jam a rag in the hook when the machine is running.  For ruler work you would need the Hartley base for the non thread cutter machines or you could also make one yourself and there was also one called Rulermate but I don't know if they are still in business.  There is nothing wrong with vertical wheels but those are probably due for replacement and that will cost close to $300 whether vertical or horizontal. I don't know of an easy way to add the needle positioning without going to something like an Intellistitch stitch regulator and currently there isn't an installer that will come to Ontario. Take a good look at the tracks for bends and dents if you find some that is something else that will need fixing.  Basically what I am saying is if it is really cheap go for it you can fix everything at home. 

 

Nigel

 

I see Linda is thinking like me about the price.


Brenda Wells - Green Millie. Sold November 2017
Nigel Wells - Ultimate 1 with |Intellistitch & IQ

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Sherry:  The Ult 1 is a good machine to begin with.  I would not worry too much about lack of service records, and wear and tear on the machine.  The bushings you mention are not too difficult to change if they need to be replaced.  An appropriate foot and extended base is something you could fit.  I think you could also replace the OEM wheels with an after market set.  I don't think APQS ever made a problem machine that couldn't be put in good order.  Especially the unregulated models.

 

That being said, a stitch regulator (needle up/needle down and single stitch) not being on this machine is a definite disadvantage.  Kasa engineering used to offer the Intellistitch up grade, but I'm not sure they still do.  In fact APQS used to also do up grades, but I think they've discontinued that as well, so you'd pretty much be limited in the future to what you have.  There are several people here on the forum that use "bare bones" machines with great success.  I have a Ult 2 that came as "bare bones" and I found that I wanted something more convenient, and I've up graded it with all sorts of whistles and bells.  But that was when Kasa was still doing Intellistitch up grades.  (BTW, the Intellistitch up grade cost me $3200)  The thing I found most tedious about my original bare bone Ult 2 was the lack of a single stitch to bring up the bobbin thread.  I really got weary of rotating the machine by hand to accomplish that task.  APQS may still offer the single stitch, needle up/needle down up grade.  You'd have to ask them.  I think they once did it for under $500

 

I'm with Linda.  If you can buy it really cheap it would be something to consider.  When I say cheap, I mean an investment that you would not mind losing if you decide it isn't up to your requirements.  If you decide you need the features I mention, you would have to replace it.  On the other hand, you can't buy a better bare bones machine.  If you can live with the lack of convenient features, the Ult 1 will serve you well.  Unregulated machines make doing artful things difficult.  Difficult, but not impossible.   By the way, the vertical wheels and  wooden tables were just fine, so don't be put off by them.

 

I hope this is of some help.  regards.  Jim

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Sherry

If you call APQS they can tell you how much they would give you for that head on a trade in.  When they get enough of them they do a run of "Green" machines so the head still has some value.  If you can buy the unit near that price you could trade down the road and not be out of pocket.  When I got mine the trade in value was about $1500.  Jim and I have talked about the wheels offline a couple of times and he knows of a couple of alternative suppliers depending on your needs if APQS doesn't have ones to fit.

 

I can photocopy and mail my manual if needed.

 

Nigel


Brenda Wells - Green Millie. Sold November 2017
Nigel Wells - Ultimate 1 with |Intellistitch & IQ

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I would buy it if it is reasonable. Sounds like bobbin thread breakage may be bobbin case too tight or needing the fuzz blowed out of the bobbin case area. I have a no frill Ultimate II, and a Millie because I thought I had to have stitch reg. So much for that I don't even use it. lol  Timing is not that bad if it needs it. APQS offer a free video with Amy walking you step by step thru timing it is great. I use the Ultimate for small stuff. It is a 2004 model.I tried to sell it but people said I  wanted too much for it . I have the room so I kept it. It is like new. My first quilting machine was a 1995 Ultimate II and it paid for itself the first year. Also no matter if you bought the machine new or used APQS will help talk you thru it on the phone and the ladies on this forum are always helpful. Regards Carol

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Do you all know how wonderful you are?  Thank you for all of your words of wisdom.  I'm going to call and ask a few more questions of the owner (hopefully get a serial number, and maybe the repairman's name and number to see if any of the bushings, etc have been replaced)

 

Looking at parts in the online store, it appeared that the needle bar and bushings have to be replaced at the same time?  Or am I misunderstanding something.  The bushings are cheap, but adding the needle bar is quite a bit more, LOL!

 

The price being asked is $3700 Canadian, which is the machine with a 14 foot wooden frame/table, probably original track and wheels.  So, depending on what sort of tune-up might be required, would this be a good price for the entire setup?  

 

Thanks again for being so helpful to a newbie on the forum!  Much appreciated!

 

Sherry


Lenni owner with Bliss Table - Aug 8, 2015

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I'm not sure of the difference between the Canadian dollar and the U.S., but that seems a little high to me. I purchased an Ultimate 1 less than two years ago, 14 foot table, not wooden, with m & m wheels, laser light, New motor, very clean and maintained very well and paid less than the price they are quoating you. I do not have the hopping foot but still use rulers with a Hartley base. I have a thread cutter but do not use it and I do not have stitch regulation. I've been very happy with my machine and think it's a great one to start with. Mine is a 1997 model and going strong.

I would definitely negotiate the price down especially if you don't think it's been serviced regularly and you plan to modify/ upgrade some things.

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Sherry, I live just outside Ottawa and  I think the nearest dealers are in Montreal, Prescott or Hamilton.  I have a Millie which you are certainly welcome to come and try, to compare the "ride" and see if you are getting value for your $$. Just PM me.


Gail Olfert

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of times our breath is taken away

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Imo that is at least a thousand high. I paid $3500 for mine and it had the thread cutter, single stitch, laser light, bobbin winder and metal table.

I paid more than I wanted but I knew I could add the Intelliquilter because the single stitch was already there. Join our longarmer group and post there that you are looking for a machine.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SOLOquilts/infoMaybe someone is getting ready for an upgrade. Also there is a Nolting in Hamilton for sale and I believe it has be listed for quite a while so the price should be negotiable.

http://www.kijiji.ca/v-hobbies-craft/hamilton/lightly-used-nolting-longarm-quilting-machine/1027956597?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true

Nigel


Brenda Wells - Green Millie. Sold November 2017
Nigel Wells - Ultimate 1 with |Intellistitch & IQ

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Hello again!  I pretty much got no extra info from the owner, so I called APQS to see what they had to say.  I spoke with Mark, and with the information I gave he determined that the machine would have been built between 1984 and 1989 because the table design changed in 1990.  He also said that APQS would not be able to take it on a trade because they don't use that type of table for any other machines, so if I decided I didn't like it, I might have difficulty re-selling it.  As well, he said it would be worth about $1000-1500 USD, which is approximately 1/3 to 1/2 what is being asked.  With the unknowns of how it has been taken care of, and that there is not much that could be done to add any features I might want to have (needle down position being one), I've decided to pass on this one.  I am so glad that I posted here for help, and thank you all very much.  I'll keep looking.  I'm not in any hurry to purchase, just keeping my eyes open for a good deal    :)

 

Sherry


Lenni owner with Bliss Table - Aug 8, 2015

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Gail, thank you for your kind offer to test drive your Millie.  It is good to know that there are APQS machine owners nearby that I could call upon for help.  I think I will visit the shop in Prescott  ( We R Quilts) and see what they have. Since I live outside of Ottawa, it is probably only half or three quarters of an hour drive...shorter than the trip to Orleans to shop at Quilty Pleasures!

 

Sherry


Lenni owner with Bliss Table - Aug 8, 2015

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Sherry, the offer still stands, if you'd still like a test drive.  Sounds like the Running Stitch in Kanata would be closer to you than QP.


Gail Olfert

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of times our breath is taken away

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Nigel, thank you for the link to the Yahoo group.  I've joined the group and later today I hope to have some time to read messages and see what might be available in the way of used machines, etc.

 

Gail, you are a sweetheart for inviting me to test drive your machine.  I'll send you a private message.


Lenni owner with Bliss Table - Aug 8, 2015

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