Gaines/Other Alpha owners

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Mike Cottrill, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    I just looked at an Alpha Blu-Dc Plus at a Sports Academy and Outdoors. The store is ~2-3yrs old, so I’m assuming that is the age of the machine. This machine has not been maintained, and I noticed some items that are of concern to me.

    1) There is a pin that the latch lever is attached to the clamp and between the clamp the lever there is a spring. This pin on both of the clamps was half way out and the lever was at a tilt as a result. The pin can be press back in, but did not see any way that it could be locked in place. Theirs is about to come out and shoot that spring across the store. No carter clip or such. Is this common problem with the clamps? Have you had this problem?

    2) The lever that locks the clamp to the turntable has to be pushed further than normal to lock. So much that is awkward to get it to lock in place. I saw another post by an owner of an Apex that has this problem and he was getting new brass ferrells. Have you had this problem? I also notice the black covers on top of the clamp base had a small hole punched in them. The holes are about the size that an awl would make. Maybe that was used to remove the covers to replace that brass ferrell?? If so, they must not last long. Have you had problems like this?

    3) The spring and brake system was not snug. It wobbled. There was one piece of metal, about a ½ inch long that was bolted to the system that just swiveled back and forth and was doing nothing. Something did not look right. Maybe it was put on the shaft wrong??

    4) The machine wobbled something terrible. I asked the worker if the floor was level. He said a couple of the feet mounts broke off. That puzzled me and then I figured out what happened. They store the machine under a shelf and they drag the machine out from underneath it when they need to string racquets… He said it did not bother to girl who does the stringing. I do not know how she can stand a machine that wobbles. This was defiantly the result of neglect.
    It was very nice of Sports Academy and Outdoors to let me look at their machine. This machine needs maintenance, but those clamps are what concern me the most. I look forward to your comments. Thanks in advance.
    Mike
     
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  2. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    Mike, 1) the pins in my clamp head locking levers have never moved and the springs are in no danger of popping out. 2) the locking levers on my clamp bases only take about 1/8 of a turn to lock. They are adjustable by removing a black cap on the side of the base and rotating the base so it lines up with a 3mm adjusting screw inside. This may need an occassional adjustment, but not frequently on my machine. 3) when I was using the crank tension head on my Apex it might have wobbled a very small amount, but nothing like you are describing and I don't recall any dangling metal pieces. 4) my base is very solid and has 4 adjustable feet. It would take some considerable abuse to break off one of the feet, IMO. It sounds like this machine has been abused. I do seem to recall that Steve Huff was having an issue with the adjustment of the locking levers on his Apex's clamp bases and he was working with Alpha to resolve the problem.
     
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  3. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Gaines,
    Just ordered Apex. Let the fun begin.
     
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  4. Match-Point

    Match-Point Rookie

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    As a proud Alpha owner I think you will be very pleased with your new Alpha stringer. The customer service I received from Alpha has but nothing short of AWESOME. Mark Gonzales is a first class guy.

    Match-Point
     
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  5. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    Congrats Mike! I think you'll find this to be a very well built machine. The frame mount and turntable are very heavy and it's the perfect platform for upgrading to a Wise head if you ever decide to go electronic. Just curious, did you buy it directly from Alpha?
     
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  6. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Gaines,
    Yes, I ordered it from directly from Alpha. Mark has been very helpful. The machine should be here tomorrow. So far I have been very very pleased with the service.
    Mike
     
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  7. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Received the Apex machine yesterday. Delayed putting it together for two hours because the Andre match was on when I got home. First set was great. Anyway, back to Apex. Easy to put together.. Only a few hex bolts to get it in operating form. Strung up one of my TI Rads. First Impressions: Mounting table is excellent. Best I have used, then again, this is the most expensive machine I have used. Looked at other models in retail stores (Alpha Blu-Dc Plus, Older Technifibre, Older Gamma).. They were older machines or not taken care of, but I have to say the mounting system on the Apex stands out in this crowd of machines. Smother, quicker and slicker looking too. It is apparent when you look at the whole machine that the manufacture spends more effort in machining the top end (table, arms, etc) than the rest of the machine. That is what makes this machine IMO.

    The machine color looks different than what is in the picture and brochure. The picture looks like an aqua blue color in a mat finish. My machine is a dark marine blue in a glossy finish. My wife likes this color better, so no issue there.

    Pleasant surprises:
    1) When Mark told me it came with the “H” H/T load adaptors. I have seen racquets with unwanted cosmetic indentions where the thin H/T mounts touch the racquet. Great to have!
    2) Not shown on the picture. There are rubber sleeves (like boots) that surround the bolt that H/T mount connects to on the inside of table. Nice cosmetic look.
    3) The extra badminton clamps.
    4) The great patience from Mark. More to come I’m sure.


    Gaines/Others, this one thing that seemed to hinder me and I was wondering if you noticed it. The clamp shafts come from the factory with light grease applied on them. When I started stringing, the grease would get on my fingers when I would lift the clamps up to the string. Not a big issue until I started weaving and then I had a hard time griping the string with my fingers. As I was stringing, I was trying to make a conscious decision not to touch the shaft, but still got the grease on my fingers. I’m sure this is not a machine issue, but my fat fingers. Once it was on my fingers, it got on the clamp lever too. Any tips?
    Thanks to all on this board, this is a great place to learn and share.
    Mike
     
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  8. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    Mike, I agree with your comments. On the issue of the lubricant on the clamp head shaft, I used alcohol and cleaned the shafts and the clamp slides. Then I used a silicone based lube on those surfaces. This does a good job, but leaves virtually no residue to come off on your fingers.
     
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  9. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Gaines,
    Did you use a silicon spray or tube? I have looked for water based silicon liquid and have not seen it in years. The last time I have seen it was when My father and his friend had a big gallon of the stuff for their diving gear. The only paste/tube stuff I have seen looked like Vaseline. I have some oil based spray, but it’s not the best.
    Thanks
     
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  10. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    I use the silicone spray. It is very light and not too oily. I spray a little on and then rub it around with a paper towel, which spreads it but also removes any excess. Works for me.
     
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  11. Mike Cottrill

    Mike Cottrill Hall of Fame

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    Thanks, I will give that a try. It has to be better than the grease.

    The Apex mounting system is so smooth, I had a hard time deciding how much to tighten the mounts. I think I sided on the safe side. I tightened just to the point where the racquet would not move when holding it by the handle giving it a light twist. I could have easily made it tighter. What do you use as a gauge on tightening the racquet down?
     
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  12. T.J. Planas

    T.J. Planas Rookie

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    Mike, I'm glad to hear that you like your Apex. I've been thinking about upgrading to one.

    My question is for Gaines. Did you ever figure out a way to fix the lack of 360 degree rotation when you added your Wise to your Apex? Thanks.
     
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  13. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    TJ, I left it alone. I could have fabricated a spacer to go under the turntable to raise it, but I am used to not having 360o rotation now, so I haven't bothered. It's almost second nature to swing the frame back around in some situations.
     
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  14. Gaines Hillix

    Gaines Hillix Hall of Fame

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    Mike, I tighten the mounts to the point where they are making good contact, then just a little twist more. Not too tight. I use the H load spreaders at the H/T. I thread the two center mains, then put them in. That way the grommet holes aren't masked by the adapters.
     
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