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I'm wondering if the check spring (after the tension disc, before the L hook) ever needs changed. Sometimes I see thread almost jumping when I am stitching as it passes through the pigtail before the needle. I'm getting occasional bird's nests on the back ... So I'm wondering if that check spring is worn or "tired" ....

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Yes that check spring does need changing occasionally.  It will get a groove worn in it just like the pigtails but not nearly as often.  The check spring’s job is to prevent the thread from getting wrapped around the needle.  It does this by taking up any free play between the tension and the needle when the needle is out of the quilt.  Some will disagree but it really should have no effect on tension unless the thread is snagging on the spring.  Have someone record the thread path with your cell phone camera as you are quilting.  When you review you may see your problem is further up the thread path, not feeding off cone properly, first guide not centered over cone, thread not inserted fully in tension discs etc.  

When you find your solution please post back.  It will help someone in the future.

Nigel

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