Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tension Headaches- the Sewing Machine Kind

It seems that the last few projects that I have quilted on my Gammill have taken longer to complete than they should have...all because of tension problems. Not mine, the machine's! Although when it has problems making a good stitch, it does put me in a rather foul mood. It's a good thing these machines are so big and heavy, because a lot of them may have been tossed out the window when they started acting up. My problems usually occur after I have been quilting for awhile, concentrating hard and making the top look great. Then I roll up the quilt for the next pass and AAARGGGHHH! The back stitches do not look right. Usually the back thread is not tight, or sometimes it has those "eyelashes" around the curves. Sometimes I notice this before I roll up. What happens is that the top thread pops out of the intermittent tension, and I don't notice as I am stitching along. I have done a little research over the last few days. The newer Gammills with the stitch regulator do not appear to have this problem, since the thread wraps around the intermittent tension instead of just riding between the disks. I have tried wrapping my thread around it, but that makes the tension too tight. I finally got improvement after loosening the bobbin thread WAY more than usual, and loosening both tensions on top. While I was looking around on the Gammill site and several dealer sites, I saw that Gammill now recommends cleaning the motor brushes every four months. What? What are the motor brushes? Mine had not been cleaned in four years, wherever they are! So, I followed instructions and dabbed the area out with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol. Yuck! There was a ton of black sooty stuff in there. It took about ten Q-tips for each side before they were no longer black. And I did get the brushes inserted back in. Who knew you had to be a mechanic and carry a screwdriver in your pocket to run these monsters. I also performed another maintenance task recommended in Unlimited Possibilities magazine: changing the felt pads in the rotary tensioner. Another little job that I had never done! The article was very helpful, with step-by-step instructions and photographs. The normally white felt pads were also covered with yucky black stuff. Anyway, I shall try to finish the little customer quilt I am working on and also a table runner that she asked me to quilt before we leave for the mountains for a long holiday weekend. We are getting so close to moving in...have scheduled a final inspection for next Tuesday! Assuming it passes, we will be able to put a bed in the cabin and have the hot water hooked up for showers! Yippee! My sister's brother-in-law Ricky put in the toilets, bathroom sinks, and hooked up the tankless hot water heater last weekend. Wonderful! We will be painting sheet rock again this weekend. Son Dave promises to come up and help. Good- he is six feet five and can do the ceilings! We are so thankful for all the help we have gotten from friends and family. It warms the heart!

One final note for today- my dad called me and thanked me for the blog post devoted to him. And he announced that he had indeed finished a large painting this weekend! Deadlines have always driven his work. I can remember many times when the car was packed and the family vacation delayed while Dad finished up a painting for an advertising client, often after pulling an all-nighter. This time the deadline was the Four-County Senior Games, and he wanted to put a new painting in the exhibit. Last year he won the Gold Medal for both painting and horseshoes, of all things! This year he came in second in horseshoes, but I have confidence he will score the gold for painting. No ones paints like my daddy! I can't wait to see it- a mountain scene at sunrise, with poppies in the foreground.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I don't know if you've already discovered this or not, but on my new Gammill Classic Plus I changed the "hole guide" (right before where the thread feeds into the intermittent tension device) from the 4 o'clock position to the 2 o'clock position so the thread would not jump out of the tensioning device. So far so good! It was really frustrating having it jump out in the middle of the run and the stiches always looked great on the top...and horrible underneath.