One major part of any quilting system that is often overlooked is the table or frame. This is half of your system. If the frame is not working properly, then your machine cannot possibly work correctly. A frame that is in bad condition or improperly assembled can make quilting very frustrating.
Some frames are set up for you when the system is delivered. Be sure to watch this process and take notes and pictures. Don’t be shy about asking questions and getting involved. This is important in case you ever want to move your quilting system. Most of the people installing and delivering these systems are very experienced and may know some shortcuts to make the job easier.
You will notice that the installer has leveled the frame. It is very important the frame is kept level. If the frame is not kept level, the machine will move by itself or it will move easier in one direction than the other. This can cause imperfections on your quilting. I recommend you recheck your frame for level every three to six months. Houses seem to expand and contract with the changes in the weather, causing the floors to move slightly. When you check for level, be sure you check the rails on the carriage and the long rails on the table because the machine doesn’t ride on the tabletop itself.
You have probably noticed your machine moves easier from front to back than it does from side to side. You will notice this mostly when moving very slow. It is not a flaw, just simply the way it has to be. The reason for this is that when you move the machine from front to back, you are only moving the machine. When you move the machine from side to side, you are moving the machine and the carriage. This adds a little more weight and will take a bit more effort.
Keep the wheels and track clean and dry. Never oil the track system. This will only draw in dirt and dust. The oil would also get on your quilt. Try cleaning the wheels and track with alcohol. Alcohol will evaporate and not leave an oily film. Also pick out any thread that has been caught in the wheels and track. Thread caught in the wheels and track could bind the machine movement, making it harder to move the machine. Call your manufacturer to find out what they recommend you use to clean the wheels and track.
It is a good idea to check the condition of the electrical cords occasionally for bare spots or frays.
Be sure to talk to your manufacturer before making any modifications to the system as this may void your warranty.
There are many new accessories for the tables such as hydraulic lifts to raise and lower the table and light bars to add more light and remove shadows.
If you decide to move your quilting system, it is a good idea to remove the machine head from the frame. This helps prevent damage. As always, good luck and keep the quilts rolling!
Dan Novak is the lead technician for Nolting Manufacturing Inc. Dan is responsible for the assembly, retro fit, repair and adjustment of all longarm machines built and repaired at Nolting.