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So I had Dave Jones work on my machine and it seemed better but I'm having problems again. When he worked on it it seemed timing was fine, needle depth a tiny bit too low and machine did fine with a self wound bobbin but we put a magna glide in and within 5 minutes the needle hit and bent. I bought a bobbin winder and have been doing ok for the most part. Then last week I hit again and bent another needle. When I started to recheck my timing discovered that my needle bar was way too low and not sure how it got so low. Fixed that and I've been sewing fine. Last night I turned it on to work on a part of my quilt and worked for about 5 minutes. When I stopped I realized my tension was way off and I had the thread on the back just laying on the fabric. This is even though I hadn't changed the tension, bobbin or anything else.

Any suggestions?

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If this has been happening ever since you purchased your machine, it sounds like maybe something (or several things) are majorly wrong.  If you were not new to long arming there shouldn't be that much of a learning curve in getting used to an APQS  from any other brand.  I'm wondering if you bought this new if it is a "lemon".  I would call APQS and let them know your dissatisfaction and detail all the problems you've had with your machine.  You may have to ship it back to the factory and let them work on it.  I know this has to be frustrating for you.

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No, it's not new. It's a 21 year old APQS Ultimate II. I am fairly new to long arm quilting but I feel like it can't be just me as sometimes I do fine, no problems and other times every thing goes wrong though I'm not changing anything. I used magna glide bobbins for several quilts with no problem and now I can't use them at all. I've reached a point where I kind of hate this machine. I can almost never just sew on it without having to work on something.

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Talk to Service dept at APQS and if they advise sending it in it would be worth all the frustration you are feeling. I don't know what is wrong but sounds like something creates some minor movement to cause problems. Sorry I have no ideas of help but will check back to hear how your problem gets solved.

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I would call Dave Jones back, and ask him what gives?  I for one believe when he left your home that your machine should have been running perfectly, without the needle depth a bit low.  He should have watched you quilt, and I would have thought he would have pointed out any issues you had that might have caused a needle strike or other major event.  He might be able to stop by your place on his way around the country.  I would not have thought the machine would have crashed a short time after he fixed it.  

 

After that, to be perfectly honest with you, I would consider your machine a lemon.  I would stop putting anymore money into it, and start saving for a certified used or newer used machine.  Quilting should not be this much work for you.  It should bring you pleasure, not pain.  Reading your posts, it seems painful.  While you have produced wonderful quilts at times, it seems like it has been a lot of work to do so.  

 

I hope everything works out well for you.  Best of luck, and keep up your spirits.

 

Cagey

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Hi Cagey, it actually was sewing wonderful for maybe 8 hours after Dave left and needle depth had been perfect. It seemed as though it "fell or dropped" with use. I truly think though that there is something really wrong with the machine. Yes, I have done a few nice quilts on it but for quilt I've done there has been some amount of work in keeping the machine running. Dave had explained he did not like the magna glide bobbins and that it was best not to use them however I had done a fair amount of sewing with them and was fine, until I wasn't. Things like the needle depth changing without me doing anything out of the ordinary etc.make me think there is something just off. Yes I'm ready to stop spending money on this machine and get something else. I've been told several times that the machine is a work horse and should run for many years but I'm so tired of fighting with it and it seems so futile putting more money into it.

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I have two commercial vintage sewing machines, a blind hemmer and a serger, that sew as awesome as they did when I bought them 40 years ago. APQS machines are commercial machines and build to be used and used and used. Some parts, with many hours of use, can wear and need to be replaced.

You mentioned your machine is 21 years old and used a lot, there could be a worn part. Call the Service Department at 800-426-7233. Angie and Amy are amazing and will definitly help you troubleshoot. The call is free! They can look up your serial number and see what history they have on your machine.

Just curious if the needle bar is loose. If you hold the needle bar between your thumb and fore finger, can you move it sideways, even just a little bit? Close your eyes and feel. I had the privilege of working on vintage APQS machines at the factory for a week and the needle bar was one of the worn parts we replaced. Angie and Amy would be able to tell you what your machine needs. There are times a machine needs to be sent back to the factory, but many of us, who are APQS Reps, have taken advanced training and can do much of the repair work previously done at the factory. APQS has wonderful instructions with pictures and videos, so you, as an owner, can also do much of the service on your machine! (I would rather have a problem with an APQS machine than my vacuum cleaner. The APQS Service Department will help you even if you weren't the original owner, and they do it with an awesome attitude!)

Regarding the MagnaGlide bobbins, the purpose of the small magnet in the bobbin is to put a little drag on the spin of the bobbin so it doesn't over-rotate. Bobbin cases are inexpensive and many of us have one we use just for MagnaGlide, or other pre-wounds, so we don't have much adjustment when we replace a bobbin. Pre-wound bobbins are convenient!

You have a machine capable of some awesome quilting. Let's get it working!

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A friend has had an Ultimate II machine for almosst 20 years and only had the timing adjusted once.............she has quilted hundreds of quilts...........your machine definitely has problems.............Did you buy it privately from an individual?   Maybe that's why THEY sold it............

I bought it privately. As far as why I can speculate but will likely never know.

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I have two commercial vintage sewing machines, a blind hemmer and a serger, that sew as awesome as they did when I bought them 40 years ago. APQS machines are commercial machines and build to be used and used and used. Some parts, with many hours of use, can wear and need to be replaced.

You mentioned your machine is 21 years old and used a lot, there could be a worn part. Call the Service Department at 800-426-7233. Angie and Amy are amazing and will definitly help you troubleshoot. The call is free! They can look up your serial number and see what history they have on your machine.

Just curious if the needle bar is loose. If you hold the needle bar between your thumb and fore finger, can you move it sideways, even just a little bit? Close your eyes and feel. I had the privilege of working on vintage APQS machines at the factory for a week and the needle bar was one of the worn parts we replaced. Angie and Amy would be able to tell you what your machine needs. There are times a machine needs to be sent back to the factory, but many of us, who are APQS Reps, have taken advanced training and can do much of the repair work previously done at the factory. APQS has wonderful instructions with pictures and videos, so you, as an owner, can also do much of the service on your machine! (I would rather have a problem with an APQS machine than my vacuum cleaner. The APQS Service Department will help you even if you weren't the original owner, and they do it with an awesome attitude!)

Regarding the MagnaGlide bobbins, the purpose of the small magnet in the bobbin is to put a little drag on the spin of the bobbin so it doesn't over-rotate. Bobbin cases are inexpensive and many of us have one we use just for MagnaGlide, or other pre-wounds, so we don't have much adjustment when we replace a bobbin. Pre-wound bobbins are convenient!

You have a machine capable of some awesome quilting. Let's get it working!

Hi Heidi,

I have been in touch with Amy and Angie and they have been great. Their recommendation finally was to send the machine in to have them check it over. At this point I'm really reluctant to spend what could end up being close to a thousand dollars with shipping back and forth on this machine when I will likely not come close to getting what I've put into it back out of it if selling it later. I will check the needle bar and bushings tomorrow to see if that is the issue and if I can fix that.

I do have several bobbin cases that I had removed the spring from to use the magna glide bobbins. I had been using them and it was fine but a few months ago I started constantly breaking and bending needles. When Dave Jones came out he stated he doesn't care for them, he did some minor adjustments on my machine and it was sewing fine. We put a magna glide in and within 5 minutes broke another needle. It was recommended I get a bobbin winder and just wind my own bobbins which I have been doing and had been doing fine, finished almost a whole lap quilt when I broke another needle. That's when I noticed my needle bar had moved or fell to a very low position.

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Thanks for the update! So if I understand, if it's going to get fixed you want to do it without sending it in to save money. We can check a few more things out to see if it's something you or a local rep can fix. I have a few more questions...

How is your tension? Does it seem like the upper and lower threads are meeting in the center of your quilt? Is your bobbin thread a different color than the top thread? Mine usually is.

What size needle are you using? Are the needles ones you purchased from APQS? The machines are timed with a commercial MR 4.0 needle, which means you can use an MR 3.5 to MR 4.5 needle. An MR 4.5 for heavy threads and an MR 3.5 for by fine threads. MR 4.0 is the most commonly used needle.

Do you know what adjustments were made when your machine was serviced? Were any parts replaced?

You mentioned breaking needles. When a needle breaks it often hits the needle plate and/or hook assembly where it makes a little scratch or burr somewhere. (Sometimes a heavy seam can cause enough needle flex to cause a burr without breaking the needle.) Whenever a needle breaks, always look for that burr and buffed it out! A piece of pantyhose rubbed against the hook assembly and needle plate will often help you find the spot. Emery cloth is the preferred buffing tool. If you don't have any, you can pick it up at an auto parts store or from the APQS Store. You will want to use fine, 400 grit, emery cloth.

When you find the burr on the hook assembly, use the hand wheel to rotate the hook assembly so the burr is facing the floor. Gently buff it out. When you find a burr on the needle plate, remove the front screws attaching the needle plate and loosen the back screw. Gently rotate the needle plate away from the machine and tighten the back screw. Support the needle plate with your hand when buffing out the burr.

I'll do some research and try to figure out why you would break a needle when using a magna glide bobbin. Initially, it makes no sense to me because magna glides are just consistently wound bobbins with a little magnet. I'm thinking something else is causing the needle breakage.

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I understand shipping charges etc.  Heidi Patterson is giving you some great things to think about or check.  I never heard of a bobbin type or thread causing a needle to break (not doubting you, just saying).  Are you using items provided by the original owner?  Were the bobbin cases purchased from APQS?  You can get bobbin cases from vendors that look and fit like APQS cases but may be slightly different.  What type of quilting fabric are you using, type of batting, etc.   How fast do you move the machine.  These affect needle flex.  Did Dave re-time your machine, especially if parts were removed or changed.   Heidi, had a good point about where the needles came from and the sizes.  A few years ago a couple companies advertised "long arm machine" needles and several bought them but the specs were slightly off producing broken needles and timing problems.    I know this is frustrating but we'll keep trying to help. 

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Heidi,

 

My tension had been fine but the last bit I had sewn had been off, now sitting on the floor I see at bit more of it was off as well, loops on the bottom. Likely since I had changed the bobbin last time. I have several bobbin cases and I had one I was using just for the magna glide bobbins and now one I'm using for self wound bobbins. I had been trying to use the same color bobbin thread as top as color showing through on top and bottom when I use different colors but on the practice quilt I've got on now I've been just using cream on the bottom. All the regular bobbins and bobbin cases I have I've purchased from APQS.

 

My needle size is a 4.0 which I did buy from APQS.

 

The only adjustment that Dave made was to raise the needle bar a tiny bit. He said I had done a great job timing it (yay I did something right although with as many times as I have timed this machine I should be an expert at it by now). My needle bar was a little too low so it was raised. He adjusted a bit how the power cord was attached to the machine, cleaned it, oiled it etc. and lowered my foot on the machine. He also checked my wiring to the motor and speed switch as I had replaced those and that was ok. He did think that there might be a bearing problem in the motor since it was getting too warm (frustrating since it's a new motor). 

 

When I break a needle (or bend as some haven't totally broken but they hit the hook and bend) its hitting the hook assembly. I've in the past buffed out the burrs with the emery cord (I never found the emery cloth on the store and had no idea where else to get it).

 

I took the side panel off my machine to look at or for the bushings and I don't see anything in there that looks like what is pictured in the store. I also looked around on the APQS site and didn't see any tutorials specifically on changing the bushings although it may be in another video?

 

Connie,

 

I'm the third owner I believe on this machine, I have a binder with a very minimal manual that basically shows how to thread the machine but not a lot else. The previous owner sent bobbin cases that were for a totally different machine and totally didn't fit the machine so I purchased new ones last year when I first got the machine.

When I've been breaking or bending needles isn't over seams or anything, it's random. Prior to Dave coming out and when I was using magna glide bobbins without the spring in the case I could sometimes sew for close to an hour, other times I could sew for maybe five minutes before I would hit the hook and have to stop again. I tend to move the machine somewhat slowly although to some extent I have to keep up with the needle if that makes sense. When I got the machine it wouldn't go slow at all. I did replace the speed switch and motor trying to get it so I could slow it down and it will go slower now although it still seems to go fairly fast. On this though I might be expecting slower than it needs to or should go. I'd love to try out someone else's machine but I don't know anyone nearby.

 

Thanks everyone for all the input. I do appreciate it.

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Instead of shipping your machine back east, you might try contacting a rep here in the So Cal area (Rancho Cucamonga).  Here is the info.  It is very near Ontario, CA.  Certainly drivable from Santa Barbara.  Hope this might help you and save lots of $$$ in shipping.  Good luck!

 

APQS California| Rancho Cucamonga

69 miles (111 kilometers)
Dave Binnquist
9032 Archibald Ave
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
909-758-8707 | 909-758-6607
 
 
 
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I think you have a few issues going on and you should be able to fix them yourself.

1) Needle bar is dropping. Why isn't the screw holding? Bad screw? Stripped?

2) Timing. Is the needle too deep? Does the needle make a slight, or delicate, "kiss" with the hook assembly?

3) Is the screw that holds the retaining finger tight? How much of the retaining finger is holding the hook assembly?

On the APQS web under Support, Service Videos, Amy has a wonderful video on timing. You might want to watch it and carefully check your timing. It can take practice to get it perfect. I use a magnifying glass and some use a jeweler loop.

We're here for you to get you enjoying this machine!

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There is no way that Magna Glide bobbins are causing, or even contributing to, your needle issues. My renters use them in my Showroom every day and they've never caused a problem. So we need to look elsewhere...

Heidi had given you lots of things to check - you may find the problem that way. But I would encourage you to call Dave Binnquist and maybe schedule a service at his showroom. He can help you figure out just what's going on.

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I have called Dave Binquist before and he seems busy as he will call back and state he'll call me again and doesn't. I will try again though. Amy and Angie had made it sound like I had already tried everything he could do and my only option was sending the machine in to him. That said I will admit to having a problem or aversion with picking up the phone and calling people.

I have watched the timing video more times than I can count. When I first started breaking and bending needles I was retiming my machine every time before I figured out that even though I had just bent a needle I could put a new one in and it would start sewing fine again. At least for another 5 minutes or so. Dave Jones had said my timing was perfect except my needle bar height which he adjusted. After that I was able to do the most quilting I'd done in months and nearly finish a lap quilt before starting to have problems again in the last week or two.

I don't know why my needle bar fell but I'm now wondering if that has been a big part of my problem thus far.

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It sounds like you've checked and rechecked everything, but obviously, something is still not right. I'm assuming you've opened up the left-hand side of the head and taken a good look around? The screw that holds the clamp onto the needle bar should be "He-Man" tight, not just snug, otherwise the needle bar can indeed slip. That would be one thing to check.

Can you post a photo of the inside of your head and a photo of your timing (the hook as it meets the needle) for us? We might be able to help more if we could see what you're seeing.

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Another thing to check is something that I'm sure Angie and Amy asked about - the needle bar and bushings. If you can move the needle bar side to side or back to front, even the slightest, your bushings and needle bar may need to be replaced due to age and wear. If the bushings have gotten loose, your needle wouldn't hit the hook in the same place each stroke, which could cause your issues.

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Barb, I don't know much about the ULT II but it sounds like something is shifting/moving in a direction it shouldn't during operation.  Since the needle bar already shifted position (dropped) vertically, your thoughts are the same as mine.  The other thought was that the bobbin case was shifting on it's shaft ever so slightly as she sewed.  I guess the word would be "wobbling" for either item.  I'm not volunteering your for anything, but could she send her machine to your shop, shipping may be cheaper than sending it to Iowa.  I may be in left field but hate to see a fellow quilter having so much trouble and I understand the financial aspect too.

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Wish I could claim that I could fix anything - you make me blush, Heidi!  Truly, though, you're welcome to send your head up here, although I doubt it would be much less expensive than sending it to Iowa.  Keep posting your questions - and what you find - here, battynurse, and we'll help however we can!!

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I say pack the head in a good shipping box, arrange a date and for Barb to fix the head, buy and airline ticket from CA to WA (off season sales starting soon), check box as luggage, fly up there and have Barb fix and teach you everything she knows about quilting.  Fly home, with a fully operational ULT II, refreshed from your mini-vacation, and ready to concur any and all quilts.

 

Cagey

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