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New Year's Gift to that Special LA in Your Life--Machine Maintenance

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Give a gift of love to that special longarm in your life this New Year's:

Take the time to thoroughly clean your machine -- it will thank you for it!

I don't see any training videos on the Forum for this -- but maybe there should be one. I know there are directions in the manual that came with our machines. Anybody know of any u-tube links to help out newbies on this?

By the way, Happy New Year!

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Interesting that you would bring that topic up! Indeed, getting more YouTube videos completed about lots of APQS topics is one of our New Year's resolutions. We'll keep you abreast of when we get them completed and uploaded for viewing.

In the meantime, if you perform the following maintenence checks (you're right, they are in the manual) you'll be ahead of the game!

[*] Thoroughly clean the hook area of your machine, following the cleaning and oiling procedure in the manual.

[*] Examine the hook itself for any nicks or burrs. These happen from broken needles or near misses. A scratch on the hook can affect your tension, and can even snap your top thread. The manual includes a section called "Hook Maintenance" in the appendixes to help you locate and address any burrs.

[*] Remove the needle plate and clean its back side. Examine the needle hole for any nicks or rough edges (both top and bottom). As you quilt, your motion and the fabric causes the needle to deflect. If it flexes enough, it can scratch the needle plate. Your top thread slides all around that needle hole. If it snags on a rough spot, you'll get thread breakage. Smooth any rough spots with very fine grit emery cloth (available in hardware and automotive stores). Be careful not to enlarge the needle hole with excessive sanding. When you reinstall the plate, make sure the hole is centered under the needle (it is possible to accidentally get it on backwards.)

[*] Check your thread guides for wear. Try grabbing the thread both above and below the thread guide, then slide the thread around the guide as if you are "flossing" it. The thread will catch on any rough spots. Use a magnifying glass for closer examination. Replace them if necessary.

[*] Clean lint from between your tension disks. Check the little wire tension spring next to the disks. When you pull down on the wire, it should rebound into its resting position with a little snap.

[*] Verify your thread path and that the guides are still in the correct position. The larger wire guide at the back of the machine should be positioned directly above the cone. The first 3-hole guide in the middle of the machine should be "vertical". The next 3-hole guide near the tension disks should point from "8:00 to 2:00" on a clock face. If it has slipped lower than 8:00 you'll experience tension issues and top thread loops.

[*] If you don't have a fly wheel cover on the right side of your machine, then remove the left side cover (near the front) and check for thread or other debris inside.

[*] Use the appendix in your manual to guide you on checking your motor brushes (machines of different vintages will have different motor brush locations). Replace them if necessary.

[*] Check your oiling wicks and your oiling procedure. Touch each wick with a finger. If it's dry, add 1-2 drops of oil. Do not oil a wick that is wet. Over-oiling is worse than under-oiling. How do you know if you have over-done the oiling? If you see lots of lint hanging on to your needle bar or your hopping foot, oil is grabbing it. If you remove your front handle mounting plate and find lots of black residue or oil, you're overdoing it:).

[*] Verify your hopping foot height. When the needle is in its lowest position (no fabric under the foot) you should just barely be able to slide a single business card under all sides of the foot. If it is too high you'll have stitch quality issues. Your manual includes information on adjusting the hopping foot height. The foot should also be "level". If you use lots of templates or rulers, you may have one side higher than the other. You can very gently pry the foot to level it, being careful to not exert too much pressure to break the weld. It does not take much force to change the foot's position.

[*] Check all of your wheels for thread wrapped around the axles.

[*] Clean your wheels and rails with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol to remove oxidation from the aluminum. You do not need to wax your rails.

[*] Check that your table is level and square. If you park your machine at one end of your table routinely and have it on carpeting, the carpet pad eventually breaks down and can unlevel your table. If you have a table truss, make sure the center of your table does not sag or have a "hill". Adjust the truss bolt as needed.

[*] Check your wheel settings for the smoothest ride possible. If you have adjusting cams (nuts with a hole in the top of them) for your wheels, here's the secret to proper adjustment. The sewing head's adjusting cams are on the sewing head wheels on the right side of the machine (when viewed from the panto side of the machine) and slide along the carriage. They control the "front to back" feel of the machine.

Look at the nut. The circle cut out in the top of the nut is not "centered". It's off to one side. Find the spot on the outer edge of the nut where that circle is closest to. We call this the "narrow" portion of the cam. That little narrow section between the cut out circle and the edge of the nut is the key to adjusting each wheel.

On the sewing head, that "narrow" portion should point to 5:00 when you view it from the pantograph side. Both of the two sewing head wheels should point to 5:00.

Now walk to the front of the machine and observe the two wheels that ride along the front rail...these are attached to the carriage. These adjusting cams also have a "narrow" spot where the cut out is closest to an edge of the nut. Locate the narrow spot on each cam. These two cams should have that narrow spot pointing to "9:00" when standing at the front of the machine. They should both point to the same location.

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your machine humming along in 2011!

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