Having issues with the Alpha Pioneer DC, where to go from here?

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Jopspin, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    I would really appreciate it if some of the experienced stringers on these boards could weigh in.

    After extensive reading on Talk Tennis, I decided to buy a home stringer and opted for the Alpha Pioneer DC plus for the following reasons:
    - Great mounting system with fixed clamps and a linear gripper
    - Great customer service (This turned out to be true)
    - Widely regarded as a great machine
    - Many people said that a drop-weight machine isn't that much worse than a crank and it wouldn't take much more time to get used to it (I categorically don't agree with that)

    Well the first time I was stringing the screw (6x16 set) that holds the drop weight in place (at the resting position) got sheared off. I waited a few days for Alpha to send me a new bar assembly (which I am really thankful for) and installed that. I was mystified that the same screw sheared off again on the new assembly on my third string job!! I also hated the drop-weight tensioner when stringing with poly. It was just very hard to figure out how much string needs to be fed into the gripper and the string kept sliding out of the fixed clamps. I have decided to abandon drop-weights altogether and get something different.

    Note that Alpha offered excellent customer service to me. Mark Gonzales was very helpful and agreed to take the machine back and even sent me a return label. I am however looking for a reliable product that fits my needs and I narrowed down my options to the following:
    1- Upgrade to the Revo 4000 and trust that this Alpha machine is not going to break down on me. The crank will be much easier to use according to Alpha.
    2- Keep the Pioneer DC and buy a Wise Tension Head with a bracket. Not sure how easy that would be to install. How much better would this option be over the Revo 4000?
    3- Buy an Eagnas machine with an electronic tension like the Combo 3800 which seems to be a very good deal. Now I know a lot of people don't recommend that, but if the highly acclaimed Alpha machine broke down, wouldn't that lend truth to what Eagnas says on their website, that they basically import the same machines from Taiwan as the other importers and sell them cheaper?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks again!
     
    #1
  2. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    The "everything-besides-tensioner" kit is more or less identical between the DC+ and the Revo 4000, so if you decide to swap the WISE and the Alpha, you are really comparing tension heads at that point. You need to then ask yourself the question: If you upgrade to the Alpha, will you ALSO eventually upgrade to the WISE? If so, you can skip the step and just upgrade the DC+. You can always revert back to the dropweight if everything else fails.

    I'm surprised you were able to shear the screw. I honestly wouldn't make too much of a fuss about it, and just purchase a new screw at a hardware store (maybe a brass one, or something), and call it a day. Hardware fails, and when it comes to hardware, most manufacturers are going to go with the lowest bidder, it doesn't make sense to add to your manufacturing cost when you're pumping out a ton of machines at once. The fact that it happened twice would suggest some systematic issue, not necessarily a hardware issue. A sheared bolt/screw is pretty rare, to be honest. I'd give Mark another chance to make it right, and see if he can reproduce the issue and analyze it. If you don't have the time for this, though, I understand your frustration.

    As far as how much string needs to be fed into the gripper, have you considered starting your weight below parallel (with the table), and then ratcheting it upwards instead of starting with the weight above level and trying to 'guesstimate' what slack is required to get parallel after a drop? Starting from below level will probably end up making a lot more sense once you try it.

    As far as string slippage, you might have manufacturing grease that requires cleaning, or you need to tighten your clamps. As a beginning stringer, you're probably pretty paranoid about clamp tightness and damaging strings, but you should get a quick feel for how firm your clamps (and tension jaws) need to be tightened. You should have to clamp firmly and get a positive 'clicking' action on your clamps, but you should never feel like you're in danger of crushing the string. If you grasp the clamp shaft and handle at the same time, I liken it to a very firm handshake to shut the clamp. If you require a lot of force, you're too tight.

    If you upgrade to the WISE, you have more options available to you, bells and whistles. If you use the crank, while I love cranks, there are systematic differences to other machines that you'll always feel like you're playing 'catch up' with. This is especially true if your goal is to eventually run a business and compete with constant pull machines in pro shops. I actually like the crank string bed feel, but the reality is you've got some systematic differences that will have to be dealt with. You'll also have knot functions (increases tension for a pull), pre-stretch, etc.

    I'd personally at this point recommend just fixing your machine with a $0.20 screw, and then string more racquets to get experience. Evaluate again when you're ready. Fixing this with a new machine is only going to help if the machine truly is your only source of problems. Sounds to me like if you have constant clamp slippage you should spend more time with your machine. Hardware issues aside, the Pioneer DC+ really is a good value. I have no comments on the sourcing of the machine, but throw your ideas over to Mark... He's a straight shooter, and I'd expect honest answers from him. Great guy.

    My 2 cents.
     
    #2
  3. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Thanks for your suggestions. We did talk to Mark again and decided to upgrade to the Revo 4000. I'm not really looking to compete with Pro shops, I just want an easier time stringing. I don't really rule out that I was doing something wrong which was causing the drop weight resting screw to fail. I hope that these "teething" issues will not surface with the Revo 4000.
    Eagnas is definitely out the question with the customer service offered by Alpha.
     
    #3
  4. merlebo02

    merlebo02 Rookie

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    Thanks for the post, I am in the process of looking into getting a stringer and these are the exact 2 machines I am looking at… I am leaning towards the Revo 4000 with a wise tensioner myself.. If you would keep us updated on your experience...
     
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  5. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Cool, if you need some assistance and aren't in a time crunch, I'm in your area. I work in Eastside, live in Upper QA. I also string at UW if you ever want to swing by for an observation style tutorial.
     
    #5
  6. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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    Alpha is known for great customer service. Eagnas, not so much, but I will say that the few times I have dealt with Eagnas, they were okay.

    The Revo is a better machine. That should be fine for your needs. Drop weights are okay if they have linear ball bearing grippers. Not a fan of cam grippers myself but they are adequate for personal stringing.

    I think the Wise is probably overkill unless you are a pro stringer. A good lockout/crank machine is a pretty sweet setup for 99% of us.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
    #6
  7. sstchur

    sstchur Hall of Fame

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    That's a very nice offer from a very good and very experienced stringer. I'd take that deal!
     
    #7
  8. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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    ^ Dire is a great, very smart, guy.
     
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  9. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    I've strung several sticks over the past couple of years on my DC Plus and not had any issues with it. I don't know how you could be having these issues unless Alpha has changed the quality of their machine.

    Perhaps it was user error? How exactly do you sheer off the screw holding the weight in place? Hand tight is only so much unless you're a gorilla and you don't know what tight is.
     
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  10. taurussable

    taurussable Professional

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    my gamma 602fc seems holding up fine. I purchase the 602fc because the alpha pioneer dc was sold out at the time of purchase..
     
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  11. Java

    Java New User

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    I’ve received my Pioneer DC Plus yesterday and strung my first frame.
    The machine was easy to put together, it came with an easy to follow manual and a dvd with instructions on how to put the stringer together and how to string.
    The machine is super solid and easy to use, the fixed clamps work really well. It took me a while to get used to the linear gripper, but after a few trials stringing was fine.
    I am still a beginner at this, I only string for myself and my family. I’ve done less than 10 string jobs mostly on a prince NEOS 1000.
    I’m very happy with my DC Plus.
     
    #11
  12. darklore009

    darklore009 Professional

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    i'm a happy with my DC plus, after reading numerous threads about the creeping in the towers. So, i did switch out the washers with a larger one and it works fine.
     
    #12
  13. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    An easy thing to do with the linear gripper is to put the string though it and then rotate the head/gripper and lock it into place. Then start tensioning with the bar. This way it does a quick strong lock on the string and you don't have to mess with it trying to use two hands. Don't worry, you won't be putting that much tension on the string when you do this. Just twist the tensioner enough to lock the string and pull the string taught. Then tension with the bar to the desired setting as you normally would.
     
    #13
  14. struggle

    struggle Hall of Fame

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    ^^^ i just put the string through the gripper and slide it closed with my thumb while gently pulling the string toward me/to the side of the gripper as it's coming out (tail end). it locks it in place, gripper closed as i grab to tension with the other hand (lockout, but same idea i think with a DW as i recall, been many years...).
     
    #14
  15. Java

    Java New User

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    Swank, struggle

    Thank you for your recommendations!
    I will try them next time.
     
    #15
  16. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Thanks man! Much appreciated! It's great and very gracious of you to offer that. If you don't mind, can you email me at -removed- so I can have your email?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2014
    #16
  17. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Like I said, I'm not ruling out that I was doing something wrong but I didn't believe so at the time I was stringing. I'm not the most handy person on this planet by any stretch but I wasn't muscling the machine either.
    The screw I'm referring to is actually a spring inserted into a hole inside the tensioner assembly. It's not bolted in or or mechanically stabilized. I also found that if I feed a little in the gripper, it very likely to get stuck when the bar is horizontal, and I'm gonna have a hard time unclutching.
    The two times when the spring screw sheered off, I had already fed enough string, tensioned, raised the bar because it was below horizontal, and let it fall to horizontal... And then it snapped and the bar would fall and rest against the table.
     
    #17
  18. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    Hey Jopspin, just dropped you a line. Edited your post in case of privacy reasons.
     
    #18
  19. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    I will receive the Revo 4000 today. I had returned tbe Pioneer DC plus to Alpha two weeks ago. I will surely post an update once I string a few times with it.
     
    #19
  20. gkamieneski

    gkamieneski Semi-Pro

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    You actually let the bar drop as in just letting go of it?
     
    #20
  21. darklore009

    darklore009 Professional

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    Not like dropping the weight to the ground. You have to guide it gently that the weight and rotate the ratchet till it becomes parallel
     
    #21
  22. Alexrb

    Alexrb Rookie

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    I'm actually trying to decide between the DC+ and saving up the extra bit for the 4000, so please let me know.
     
    #22
  23. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Alright sounds good. Note though that my email is @ymail.com
    (Yahoo mail) not gmail. I haven't gotten your email so I figured I'd point that out.
     
    #23
  24. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    I just finished my first string job with the Revo 4000 and I couldn't be any happier that I ditched the Pioneer DC plus. Off the bat, I was able to cut down my stringing time to about 45 to 50 minutes from about 1h and 20 minutes. Once you string the first two strings, you'll never have to wonder how to do it again. A crank is so much easier and makes stringing a lot more fun. I would definitely recommend the Revo 4000 and the extra money I spent for it was worth it.
    Now there are a lot of people who are more mechanically savvy than me and they would like working with a dropweight (just like some people like changing the oil on their car or building their own porch...) but as a beginner, a user-friendly machine works better for me. I also play with a full bed of poly which will make using a dropweight more difficult. That's just my opinion...
    You should still keep doing your research and get more information.
     
    #24
  25. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    It's just you dude. I've strung on my DC over 50 times I think and it's still working fine on the original spring. Whatever your technique was, it was wrong. The fact that it took you almost 1.5 hours to string on it tells me that. Anyway, glad you're happy with the crank but there's nothing wrong with the DC. It was just wrong for you.
     
    #25
  26. gkamieneski

    gkamieneski Semi-Pro

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    Unfair to Alpha

    I think that perhaps it is time for the moderator(s) to change the title of this thread. From what we have learned (most likely misuse), the implications of this title have been unfair to the vendor.
     
    #26
  27. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    I e-mailed both, feel free to try me from my profile if you're not getting my messages.

    I'm willing to do so if OP has any new suggestions, but I think anyone willing to read the thread will find that Mark and Alpha handled it A-OK.
     
    #27
  28. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    Agreed. Title should be changed to "Having Noob problems with my Alpha Pioneer DC Plus... where to go from here?"

    That would be a better fit because that's basically what this is. The current title paints an immediate negative aspect of the product and you have to read the whole thread to figure out it was user error. That's stupid! Change it!
     
    #28
  29. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    I think you're being a little unreasonable... he had a sheared bolt. This could have been a manufacturing error. While it's very unlikely that it happened twice, there's NO EVIDENCE that this is not a machine issue. No need to start a witch hunt. In the end, the real takeaway was that good customer service kept a customer here.
     
    #29
  30. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    I'm ok with changing the title to "Having problems with the DC plus..." without calling it a horrible experience. I still maintain that I did not purposefully put any undue stress on the machine and tried my best to follow the instructions that came with the machine. I know though that this post is causing some anguish with the way it's titled and I don't want to be unfair to a pretty good vendor, especially that I eventually got a pretty good machine from them.

    Diredesire, thanks for your support and please feel free to rename this post as you see fit.
     
    #30
  31. atkinjr

    atkinjr New User

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    I recently purchased a APDC+ and just sent it back to upgrade to the Revo 4000. I had an old gamma fixed clamp drop weight that I strung thousands of racquets with in HS and college. I decided to get an DC+ to upgrade for better mounts and clamps. But the action of the linear gripper and the clutch mechanism on the drop weight just didn't work for me. I like the idea of a constant pull but just can't spend 1k on an electronic stringer for just my personal use. (1 or 2 string jobs per week)
    I'm hoping that the Revo is going to be the ticket for me...I've read on this board from many that this is a great machine. I just wish there was a place where you could try machines before you buy.
     
    #31
  32. Chotobaka

    Chotobaka Hall of Fame

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    I imagine those "pretty good machines" would be "very good machines" if you had a clue as to what you were doing. And Alpha has a longstanding track record of being much more than just a "pretty good vendor".
     
    #32
  33. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Okay, this is the last time I am going to respond to a post that basically says "you're clueless and Alpha is outstanding". Again, I have never intended to take a jab at Alpha and I couldn't be happier with the service I got. I even agreed that a moderator steps in and changes the title so that both Alpha and their loyal customers do not get a heartburn over it.

    I'll have you know that I spent hours watching videos and learning about the stringing process before I tried to string my first racket. I didn't simply wing it. If you happened to pick up a dropweight stringer and string up your first racket unassisted, without any problems whatsoever, then good for you man. It wasn't like that for me.
     
    #33
  34. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Same here... Thankfully there was a free return policy for 30 days. I can't imagine being stuck with a stringer that doesn't work for me. The Revo is indeed a great machine. I found a video though of how to simulate a constant pull feel using a lockout machine. I haven't tried this yet though so I don't know if it works.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aYI5DXQxSA
     
    #34
  35. pmata814

    pmata814 Professional

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    Why isn't it possible that he simply got a defective machine? My first machine purchase (years ago) was also a Pioneer DC plus and I had to send it back because of a wobbly turntable. I spent many hours on the phone with Mark trying to fix the issue and finally had to send it back. I upgraded to an Axis Pro and I had issues with one of the base clamps. I sold that when I quit tennis for a while, and recently purchased a used Revo. I've had to deal with the Tower creep issue (and no, simple change of washers didn't do the trick), and again I'm having issues with one of the base clamps. Mark has been AWESOME every time I've needed help, but I don't have any problem believing that Jopspin got a defective machine. And I think this thread is beneficial to anyone researching stringing machines with intent to purchase.
     
    #35
  36. barry

    barry Hall of Fame

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    This message board has always been about users experiences with products and should never be redacted.
     
    #36
  37. gkamieneski

    gkamieneski Semi-Pro

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    Just because it is called a dropweight doesn't mean to just let it drop. That is not users' experience. That is misuse and I would contend the title would have been negative regardless of the brand of dropweight stringing machine that was being learned on.
     
    #37
  38. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    When I mentioned that I "let the weight drop" I meant that I supported with my hand and let it fall, as in guide it down without pressing it like the instructional video says. The only abuse here is people that are painting a picture of me slamming the drop weight and then coming here to air my self-inflicted grievances. That is not the case!!! Please spare me the lecture,
    stop pretending like you know it all and above all stop misconstruing my words.
     
    #38
  39. gkamieneski

    gkamieneski Semi-Pro

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    I'm pretty certain you were asked that question and this is the first you have explained. So, how are we to know when you don't answer the question and also have trouble telling us if it is screw or a spring?
     
    #39
  40. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    I wasn't getting my notifications about posts for a while so you're right, I did neglect to answer that question. It's actually a spring... however Alpha has constantly referred to the problem as "shearing a screw" so I adopted that language. The problem is that you're making this all about my intellectual abilities. I have a masters degree in an engineering discipline from a high profile university but this post is not about me proving myself to anyone. I also got a drawing from Alpha that breaks down every single piece that the DC plus tensioner is made of and I could have posted that and pointed to the piece that broke. I, however, will not do that because that's proprietary information for Alpha that does not belong here.

    Regardless, I did admit that I am not the most mechanically savvy person and gave the moderators my approval to rename this thread as they see fit. What more do you want??? I'm now a happy customer with the Revo 4000 and I highly recommend that stringer. I'll leave it right here.
     
    #40
  41. Jopspin

    Jopspin New User

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    Thanks man! I guess that goes to show even though issues pop up here and there, we still really appreciate the awesome customer service that Mark provides which definitely keeps customers coming back.
     
    #41
  42. gkamieneski

    gkamieneski Semi-Pro

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    I think you'll find, if you haven't already, that people here really just want to help. So whatever the cause, missing information can sure cause people to scratch their heads.

    Having said that, I will bet a majority of us here started with a dropweight machine so I'm sure there were more than a few of us suspecting "pilot error". Many of us have had to buy replacement springs or learn how to rework the remainder of broken springs so that the end will fit back into the engagement hole. I actually started stringing woodies with 2 awls and a hammer handle, then moved on to a Tremont like Irvin did.

    Glad you are happy with what you have now and that you appreciate the customer service Mark at Alpha provided.
     
    #42

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