Saturday, June 21, 2014

How To Find a Tippmann Boss For Sale

The Tippmann Boss Leather Stitchers can often be found for sale on eBay. However, many times these machines get "bid up" to prices that are actually very close to the new price from the factory. This is good for the seller, but can be expensive for the buyer.

Tippmann Boss machines are also offered for sale on Craigslist, and some of these can be bought for quite a bit less than what the same machine would bring on eBay. The problem with Craigslist is that you can usually only search for items in one specific city or locale at a time. This is by design, since the whole point of a Craigslist ad is to do business with a local customer who can go to a location, inspect the item and then buy it on the spot. 

However, some items, like the Tippmann Boss can be shipped to a buyer - and some sellers do not mind shipping their machine, if you just ask them.  In this case, the problem for the buyer becomes one of searching all of Craigslist to find any and all Tippmann Boss machines that might be for sale in the entire United States.

There is a website that makes this rather easy to do. The site is called SearchTempest, and is located here. When the search screen opens, all you need do is put in your own Zipcode, and tell SearchTempest what you are looking for; like "tippmann boss". You also need to specify a category like "sale/wanted" and a sub-category. If you put in a range in miles, SearchTempest will restrict the search to a certain range from your Zipcode. The whole process is extremely easy to do, and quite often you will find a Tiippmann Boss that could be a real bargain.  You might also find someone who is looking to buy a Tippmann Boss.  Incidentally, your search will generally show you any machines that might currently be listed on eBay, as well as others for sale within the range you specified. 

Give this search a try; you might be surprised at what you might find, and very often you could get the item cheaper than competing with a bunch of other bidders on eBay.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thread Take-Up Lever Tension

Setting the Primary and Secondary thread tension is important to good results, but there is another "tension" setting that needs to be set correctly.  The tension setting on the AR-12 Thread Take-up Lever, also needs to be set correctly. Most all of the machines currently in service have a revised "tension" assembly utilizing a shoulder bolt, a nylon washer and a steel compression spring. It is this combination of parts that constitute the revised assembly; and is the subject of this posting. Some earlier versions of the Boss utilized a different type of spring and cannot be adjusted according to the following instructions. These earlier machines would have a Serial Number of approximately 5000 or less.

According to the recommendations of Tippmann Industrial, the tension setting on the AR-12 Thread Take-up Lever should be adjusted so the Lever "just" stays in the "up" position, after  the Thread Take-Up Arm-Bracket moves down and is no longer holding the Take-up Lever in the full up position.

When this tension is not adjusted tight enough, the Take-up Lever will begin to fall down as the operating handle begins the down stroke for the next stitch. This will allow the thread to make a small loop just where the thread passes through the hole in the needle; and this loop can cause a faulty stitch.

The tension on the Thread Take-up Lever is adjusted by loosening the 5/16-18 Hex Nut on the front of the machine and then tightening or loosening the HS 98-3 Shoulder Bolt, from the back of the machine.

This bolt either adds or subtracts compression of the Compression Spring, and thus the amount of tension on the Thread Take-up Lever.

I have found setting this tension can be a little tricky because tightening the Hex Nut can upset the setting. However, with a little patience and some small adjustments, you should be able to acquire the correct tension where the Lever "just" stays in the "up" position, after the Thread Take-up Arm-Bracket moves down away from it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Recognizing Operating Problems Before You Break or Damage Something

Occasionally I buy a used Tippmann Boss off of eBay or Craigslist. Most all of these used machines are in need of some kind of repair and a good cleaning.  If there is one thing I have learned about the Tippmann Boss; it is that it does not have a chance of working correctly if it is extremely dirty.  And, if it has any damaged or broken parts, naturally they must be replaced.  I guess you might say that it is sort of a hobby of mine - getting these used machines, tearing them down and then restoring them to like new operation.

The other day I got one in from a seller who advertised it as "lightly used" and "works fine".  In fact, he just out-right lied.  He may have been the original owner, but it certainly was not "lightly used", nor did it "work fine".  Truth is; when I tried the operating stroke, there was a very obvious point in the stroke where something was binding quite badly; and that was before I attempted to stitch anything with it. So.... it could not have been working fine.

Of course the first thing I do with any machine I get in, is to completely disassemble it.  And I mean complete. Sometimes I leave the Presser Foot assembly attached to the operating handle, but that is about the only thing that is not completely disassembled.  In the process, I wipe off all the old lubricant and dirt that has collected through ordinary use.  Each part is inspected to be sure it is not excessively worn or damaged.  In this particular machine I found the AR-10 gear was cracked and needed to be replaced. The Bobbin area was extremely dirty and the dirt was actually packed and caked in the race where the Bobbin is supposed to turn unencumbered. Quite obviously this area of the machine had NEVER been cleaned. Perhaps that is what was causing the binding; I don't know yet. 

But what really struck me as extremely odd was the damage to the little insert in the top of the needle plate. The one pictured here is a new one. The former owner had run the needle into that little insert, so many times that he had literally chewed away much of the metal. It looked like a beaver had been gnawing on the inside edge of that little insert.  Who knows how many needles he actually broke in the process of chewing out that metal insert.

The point I want to make here is; there is really no reason for constantly running the point of the needle into the needle plate. Either the needle plate is not properly aligned, or more likely, the operator is pushing or pulling the leather as the needle is coming down, so that it is no longer aligned with the hole in the insert. In either case, the operator should be doing something about the problem before they end up breaking or damaging parts.

When something is not working right, the stitching is not coming out right, or there is binding in the operating stroke - generally speaking the solution is NOT to use more force and continue damaging or breaking parts.  The solution could be as simple as a tension adjustment, or perhaps some cleaning of the bobbin area, or maybe some additional lubrication.  The Tippmann Boss is a mechanical machine, and the manual does say that it needs occasional lubrication and cleaning.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tippmann Boss Parts Breakage - Who Is At Fault?

I try to keep up on the latest articles, reviews and customer feedback concerning the Tippmann Boss. The other day I ran across a Tippmann Boss user who was more than just a little frustrated with the number of instances and the number of parts he had broken while using his Boss.

Apparently, he has voiced his displeasure with the machine to the factory, and his suggestions for design changes fell on deaf ears. So, in retaliation, he has taken his complaints to a public platform in the form of YouTube videos. He has every right to do so and I was curious what he had to say, so I watched two or three of them.  I must say, this particular fellow had what I would say was an incredible number of broken parts instances. Most of these were the Rack Gear, the AR10 Needle Shaft Gear or the 1/4-20 bolt that holds the Stitching Handle to the Needle Shaft Gear.  Further, as he described his broken parts it was evident that he broke these same parts on a regular basis.

After absorbing this fellows rant and thinking some about his trials and tribulations - I could not help but feel the frustration he must be experiencing.  However, at the same time, I thought how strange it is that probably thousands of these same machines are used by other operators every day; and they do not appear to have anywhere near the amount of parts break, as this one other user. Could he merely have a defective machine? He talked like he bought it new, so I wonder if he ever sent it in for replacement or repair? Certainly it must have been under warranty when it was new.

Logically, I thought, there must be something either in the setup of the machine, or the application that is contributing to the higher than normal rate of broken parts. Think about it; if every Tippmann Boss user was suffering the same rate of broken parts, as this one user, they (the company) would have been put out of business years ago. 

Consider when the "average" user suffers a broken part, such as a Rack Gear or the Needle Shaft Gear. There could be a whole host of things that could have caused a single instance of one of  these broken parts. Maybe the operator exerted extra pressure on some dry thick leather, or perhaps the needle got out of alignment and struck the Needle Plate on the down stroke. The point is, through ordinary usage, there is the "occasional" problem that can occur which could cause a Rack Gear to shear off teeth or completely break, or cause a Needle Shaft Gear to break.

Further, the reason these parts are made from a die-cast material rather than hardened steel, is so they will break first and prevent other more expensive parts of the Boss from breaking or becoming deformed. Thus saving the owner from needing to replace other more expensive parts.

Still, this occasional broken part is NOT something that should be happening on a regular basis. And, for the majority of "satisfied Boss users" - it does not happen on a regular basis. With this one thought in mind, I went back to a couple of the videos this particular disgruntled user has posted. I was looking for a clue as to why he was constantly suffering multiple parts breakages.

The leather he was sewing was not particularly heavy, nor was it dry and hard. However, in one of his videos he was describing the Tippmann Boss and he mentioned that the machine comes with a platform to put the thread on, and a wire hook arrangement the thread goes through before it feeds into the thread tension post and wheels.  Then he casually said; "...but I don't use that platform and I just put the spool of thread on the bench behind the machine."  ALERT #1!

In another of his rant videos, I actually watched him using the machine. To me, it seemed he was using an overly "harsh" and abrupt motion to cycle the machine through fairly lightweight leather. I would call it a bit more "heavy handed" than is required. Also, it appeared that his machine was not really secured that well to a mounting surface. ALERT #2!

The Tippmann Boss, like any mechanical device, was designed and engineered to perform a certain task, and to be operated in a certain way.  If a user tries to use the machine in a way that is contrary to the way it was designed, then certainly the end result will probably not be as expected.

For instance, not using the thread platform and wire loop to support the thread will definitely create a variable thread tension and could indeed make for erratic operation, perhaps even broken parts. The machine was NOT designed to have the thread spool located down on the bench behind the machine. Also, not having the Boss securely mounted to a work surface will drastically influence the quality of the stitching and perhaps broken parts because of an erratic operating cycle.  In addition, if a Boss is securely mounted to a work surface, but the entire work surface is prone to movement during the operating cycle - this TOO can cause a problem and lead to less than desired results. I have found the Tippmann Boss operates the best when it is mounted to a bench, and the operator's weight seated on the bench adds to the sturdiness of the platform.

In summary then, when specific users of the Tippmann Boss report (complain of) a high rate of broken parts or less than quality stitches - they should FIRST look at how they are using the machine. Are they using it as it was designed to be used, and setup according to the machine instructions?  If not, then they need to change their own setup and operating methods before blaming their problems and breakage on a poorly designed machine.  Once they adjust their own setup and procedures to as close as possible to the factory specifications - if they still cannot get acceptable results, or are experiencing a lot of parts breakage, then by all means complain to the factory and find out where the root of the problem lies.  This would be true in the operation of ANY mechanical hand-operated machine - not just a Tippmann Boss.

(Please note that I am in no way affiliated with the Tippmann Industrial company, nor is this blog sponsored or affiliated with them.  I am merely a private user of a Tippmann Boss and have created this blog as an informational aid to other Boss owners.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Tippmann Boss Rhythm for Good Stitching

Getting good equally spaced and consistent lock stitches from a Tippmann Boss requires several things. The most obvious would be a machine that is in good mechanical condition and is well lubricated. That is, there should be no bent or broken parts and the mechanism surfaces that turn and wear against each other should have a slight coating of the proper grease and perhaps a drop or two of some good sewing machine oil. The manual details where to put a drop or two of oil.

The next most important facet for producing consistent stitches would be a properly threaded and adjusted machine. The Needle size, Thread size, Presser Foot tension, Bobbin thread tension and the Needle thread tension must be adjusted for the leather and thickness of the project being sewn.

Lastly, is another variable that is often overlooked, and could very likely cause inconsistent results if not done correctly.  That variable is what I call: the rhythm of operation. Since the Tippmann Boss is a hand operated machine, and it is very easy to operate it slowly enough to place each and every stitch exactly where you want it, some beginning operators tend to slowly pull the handle down - placing the needle exactly in a specific spot. Then, in a like manner, they will slowly raise the handle until it pulls the stitch tight and is ready for the next stitch.

Believe it or not - slowly raising the operating handle can be detrimental to the quality and consistency of the stitches you are placing in the project. It can also cause a jerkiness to the operation of the machine.

Here is why. The upstroke of the Boss, is when the lock stitch is formed and tension is applied by the machine Take-Up Lever to tighten the thread and finish the formation of the stitch in the leather. There is ONE critical moment during the upstroke, when the needle thread must pass around the entire width of the Bobbin case, while at the same time the Take-Up Lever is pulling on the needle thread. If you slowly raise the handle, the point where the needle thread is passing over the Bobbin case will tend to cause the thread to catch momentarily on the Bobbin case exactly where the Bobbin thread is exiting the case. This "catch" is felt in the operating handle and can actually cause the operating handle to stop momentarily; causing the operator to then apply extra force to get past the momentary "catch". This can upset the tension being applied to the stitch, or perhaps momentarily lift the Presser Foot; and any of these things can cause a missed stitch or a stitch that may not be tensioned correctly.

It has been my experience that you can make the down stroke as slow as you want, but the upstroke should be without ANY hesitation and should be done with a certain optimum rhythm and snap to it. Doing the upstroke in this fashion just about totally eliminates any tendency for the needle thread to "catch" on the Bobbin case, and thus actually requires less total force to complete. It takes a little practice to achieve this rhythm, but it will be well worth your time to learn.

 Also, I have found this is especially helpful when stitching thicker or older, dryer veg tan leather, then if you are stitching lighter weight more pliable leather.

Here is a link to a YouTube video. This video is merely a good example of how this leathercrafter operates his Boss, and demonstrates the rhythm I am talking about in this posting. Notice the distinct clicking sound on the upstroke.  This clicking sound is caused by the Thread Take-up Lever as it bangs against the inside of the Boss casting at the top end of the the upstroke.  If you are not hearing this clicking sound, your Take-up Lever may not be adjusted properly - or you might be operating the handle TOO SLOW in the upstroke.

This posting was modified to include more information on March 12, 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Height of Presser Foot Above Needle Plate

Presser Foot Assembly
It has been my experience that not all of the different Presser Feet (SM 16-1), available for use in the Boss, extend down to the Needle Plate in the same way.  For instance, the Center Presser Foot did not actually touch the Needle Plate when fully extended in the down position. There was a gap under it of almost an eighth of an inch.

My regular Presser Foot sat on the top of the Needle Plate just fine.

After speaking with a technician at Tippmann Industrial, I learned that there is a specific part that should be looked at, and may need adjustment. The end of the cable that connects the chrome handle to the Presser Foot Shaft, should be screwed into the Pin until it is just flush with the end of the pin.  Mine was actually threaded on beyond flush.  After I unscrewed the pin until it was just flush with the bottom of the pin, and reassembled the machine, my Presser Foot was in the correct position, and touching the top of the needle plate.

In order to make this adjustment it will be necessary to remove the side protective cover (held on with four screws). Then remove the operating handle from the Needle Bar Shaft. Next, remove the HS-100-3 Bolt that holds the Needle Shaft Gear to the Shaft. Next remove the Presser Foot Cam AR-26, Presser Foot Driver and Spring. While holding the Needle Bar Assembly, tap the end of the Needle Bar Shaft until the Needle Bar Knuckle is far enough out to allow the Presser Foot Shaft to be removed from the slot it travels in.  Once the Shaft is clear, it may be rotated to achieve the proper adjustment of the Pin which is captive in the Presser Foot Shaft slot.
Pin Holding Cable End

Shaft Presser Foot
If Presser Foot tension adjustments are inconsistent between different Presser Feet, you may want to look at how far the Pin is screwed onto the end of the cable that operates the Presser Foot Shaft.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Pages - Tips, Help and Information also For Sale or Wanted

This blog, is a little different than most Blogs you have seen. It actually has two distinct Pages, or sections where blog postings are published.

The first Page is entitled "Tips, Help and Information". The second page is entitled "Tippmann Boss Machines For Sale or Wanted". On the opening page of this Blog, at the top of the right-hand column, you will see these two pages listed.  If you mouse click on either of the two links, you will be taken to the top of that particular page. Of course the page, Tips, Help and Information is where you will find the bulk of all the postings, because that is the main focus of this particular Blog.

However if you will mouse click on the second page; that page is where you might find a posting where someone is either trying to sell a Tippmann Boss machine, or a posting from someone who would like to buy one. If you are one who is looking to Buy, or looking to Sell a machine; send me an Email with how you want your ad to read, and I will create the posting on this page and post it for you. You should probably attach a couple of pictures if you are trying to sell one. There is no charge for this service, and the posting will remain active until you Email me and tell me to remove it from the page.