Mutual Power Hercules 680 Review (Pics)

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by Max Winther, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    After countless hours researching and deciding which stringing machine to get, I decided on the MP680. I recieved my Mutual Power Hercules 680 today. Came in 4 days, one of which doesn't count because I was not around to sign for it. I'm going to do a comprehensive review after just 2 stringings.

    Packaging and Assembly

    The packaging was pretty sturdy. Plenty of styrofoam to absorb impact. Everything was wrapped up in heavy plastic. The weight of the package was 49 lbs. I did not recieve any sets of string with my machine, which was kind of dissapointing because some were saying they got as many as 14 sets of string with theirs. The tools were a box wrench, 3 hex wrenches, an awl, and needlenose pliers.

    Assembly was simple. The included instructions were easy to understand and included helpful diagrams. All that was needed to do was put the drum weight on the tension rod, insert the tension rod in the tensioner, and tighten the tension rod retaining screw with the included 3mm hex key. The side mounts had to be put on, but all that was just removing the thumb screw, placing the mounts in the farthest out holes, and putting it back on again. Other than those 2 things, the machine was pretty much assembled.


    Base and Turntable
    [​IMG]
    The base itself is really sturdy. It barely flexes under tension. The clamp base track is pre - lubricated, and the clamp bases are pretty smooth after the initial break in. The turntable is smooth as well. Can make it almost a full 360 with a gentle push. The turntable brake is functional, although my screw was bent on arrival. It's not that big of deal, just an annoyance because its not as fast as it would be without the bend. Overall, I was impressed with how smooth and sturdy the base and turntable are.

    Mounting System
    [​IMG]
    The mounting system on the MP680 is pretty simple. The posts were easy to line up and lock into place, and the side mounts and micro-mounts were easy to get adjusted as well. All the screws and knobs were easy to grab and had plenty of grip for your fingers. All it took was one try to get the racquet securely mounted. Shook the handle, and nothing moved. Good, well designed mounting system.

    Clamps
    [​IMG]
    The clamps are nice and smooth as well. I was thinking that since the clamp bases were cone lock, they would be somewhat hard to clamp into place to get sufficient hold. It doesn't take much muscle at all, but then again I've never used spring - assisted clamps so I don't know the difference. I'm just saying that the clamp bases didn't take that much to get them locked.

    The clamps themselves are quite smooth. No harshness, stickyness, or clicking of any kind. The thumb adjustment is easily accessible and took no muscling or torquing to get it adjusted. They were a bit bulky, but they don't flex or move under tension at all.

    Tensioner
    [​IMG]
    The linear gripper is really nice. After the first 2 or 3 pulls, It could be done without thought. The ball bearings provide a smooth, positive gripping. The ratchet mechanism is a bit stiff at first, but by the time you get to the crosses, it has broken itself in and is pretty easy to rotate. There is a parallel mark on the tensioner. The groove for the string to go in could be wider or deeper, because sometimes, I would have to put it back in to the groove. Other than that minor inconvienence, it is pretty simple to get accurate and consistent tension with this tensioner.

    Overall this was an excellent buy. Obviously it has to prove it is durable enough, but I have confidence that with how solid the construction is on everything, not much can go wrong. From arrival at my door to final knot it took around 1.5 hours, which goes to show you how easy it is to use. Everything is second nature; there's no searching for a knob or wondering how to operate something. If anyone wants to see more pictures of anything, just ask. Thanks for reading my review.
     
    #1
  2. Il Mostro

    Il Mostro Banned

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    Thanks for a nice review -- looks like you scored a great machine!
     
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  3. dancraig

    dancraig Hall of Fame

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    Very nice looking machine.
    I would contact MP right away about the bent brake screw. They will probably send you a replacement part. When you have to string O3 frames, you will want the brake to function as smoothly as possible.
     
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  4. Il Mostro

    Il Mostro Banned

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    Why more critical with O3's? Thanks in advance!
     
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  5. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    nicer review

    that is because for most of the crossed with an O3 the string will want to go at an angle, watch Yulitle's video
     
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  6. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Yeah I was gonna send him an email today.
     
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  7. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    What about tension? is it accurate? I've heard of the tension being off by around 5-10 lbs.

    This is one of the machines I looked at initially.
     
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  8. radigan

    radigan Rookie

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    Great looking machine and nice review. Thanks for the pics and review. Have fun with it!
     
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  9. meh

    meh Semi-Pro

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    Looks like they resolved several of the problems with the 610. There's a new version, the 690, on their website now, too.
     
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  10. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Yes, they added better, IMO, side mounts and a clutch lock.
     
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  11. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    Is the lock so that you don't have to hold the tensioning drum?
     
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  12. YULitle

    YULitle Hall of Fame

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    Yep. It also makes it easier to disengage the linear gripper.
     
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  13. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    oh, yeah that lock would be better. I thought the only diff. between the 690 and 680 was the tool tray. guess i was wrong. And about the tension, I don't have a calibrator to check it with, so I don't know.
     
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  14. Mansewerz

    Mansewerz Legend

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    KK, don't leave sleep over it, like YULitle always says, the reference tension is just that, a reference number. I've just heard of some problems with it. Enjoy your stringer!
     
    #14
  15. dancraig

    dancraig Hall of Fame

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    Because with the O3 frames you have to use the brake so much on the crosses. A smooth operating brake engage and release would be appreciated by you.
     
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  16. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Just an update, I was able to clamp the bent screw in my vise and straighten it enough to where it's acceptable. James at MP returned my email within 30 minutes and was willing to ship me out a replacement, but I figured I'd give it a try with the vise.

    And yeah, the tension feels about right. No glaring overage or underages on the tension.
     
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  17. dancraig

    dancraig Hall of Fame

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    I'd let him send me a new screw.
     
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  18. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    haha yeah mind as well, in case this one fails or something. but at least this way I can now trouble him for the free string that some got. I know its nothing special, but hey, nothing that can't make a good cross in a poly hybrid right?
     
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  19. IceNineTX

    IceNineTX Semi-Pro

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    Have you ever strung with a KlipperMate? If so, how does it compare speed wise? I'm wondering how much time the linear gripper and clamps would save for me. I'd be interested in your thoughts once you get used to it.

    It takes me about 90 minutes now with poly. Time is something I have precious little of, so I'm looking to upgrade.

    If I can't find a used Revo, I'm considering something like this.
     
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  20. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    No sorry, this is the first machine I've strung on. Today I did a full job of Big Ace (poly) in about 50 min, so It should save you a little time. I've got a set of cyberflash (your string according to your sig) that ill try in a few days to let you know how stringing went. How long have you been stringing?
     
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  21. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    drop me an email about the revo, istringstringing@gmail
     
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  22. IceNineTX

    IceNineTX Semi-Pro

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    About 20 frames. So, not that long. I could do PSGD one piece in about an hour watching TV. CF was 2 hours to start (2 piece). Lately, I've had problems with it snapping (as other seem to have as well on drop weights). I did finish yesterday in record time (90 minutes), even with my 3 year old helping.

    But I want to get it under an hour, so I can do 1-2 frames a week. My only free time is Friday nights typically. I'm willing to pay a little more for a quicker machine, even though I don't string all that many racquets.
     
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  23. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    oh ok, well yeah a machine like this could cut down 10-20 minutes. I'm sure if my weaving skills were a little better, I could get a racquet done in around 40. On a racquet that you know really well, The mains would only take around 10-15 minutes, especially if its 16x19 and/or a mid/midplus.
     
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  24. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    hey max winther, how would u compare the the 680 to the 690? by looking at the descriptions, could u give me some advice?

    here is the site

    http://www.mutualpower.net/sm.htm
     
    #24
  25. IceNineTX

    IceNineTX Semi-Pro

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    According to James at MP...

    "One-hand operated clutch weight drop system and added tool tray" is what you get for the extra $30 for the 690. I've never tried either machine, but was researching.
     
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  26. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    thanx. but is it true when yulitle said that the tesioning may be 5-10 lbs. of a difference on these machines. i really ike the 690 so far and am thinking of buying one.
     
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  27. IceNineTX

    IceNineTX Semi-Pro

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    It doesn't matter if it's off by a few. Just calibrate and see where yours is. You then can adjust the sticker or just know to +/- weight when you string. If it's +5lb, string your 60lb at 55lb etc. As long as it's off consistently, it makes no difference on results.

    Make sense?
     
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  28. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    yes. thanks for the advice. are there any other dropweights that are at a great quality for the price?
     
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  29. IceNineTX

    IceNineTX Semi-Pro

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    KlipperMate and Gamma X-2 are the entry level ones. I have a Klipper. Both can produce superb results. I'd put a ratcheting system at a high position in your want list though. X-2 and 690 have that I believe. It's a time saver.

    Alpha Pioneer DC Plus is another. Search on it. I know nothing about it other than Alpha is supposed to be really good.
     
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  30. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    any thing else that comes with a bit more features or quality? what i meen is that is the x-2 good enough because it looks a bit wimpy.
     
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  31. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Hey sorry kfactor just now saw your posts. I would say the self ratcheting gripper and the tool tray on the 690 is worth the extra 30 dollars. I was unaware of this when I bought my 680. The self ratcheting gripper will probably be helpful, because since mine is still getting broken in, if you have to take up more slack in the string, you've got to hold the gripper pretty stoutly to move the weight back up. My question would be this: When the string is done tensioning and youve got it clamped, how much of a hassle is it for you to move the dropweight back up without the gripper thinking you are taking up more slack? If its a simple transition (like going slower or moving the dropweight a certain way) then that wouldn't matter. But if its something inconsistent and tedious to get the gripper to let go of the string, then it may be more of a hassle than a convienence.

    The tool tray couldn't hurt either. I've had to search around my table a few times for my awl or pliers, so having them in a place everytime would save a few minutes. Plus, a bigger base only helps to anchor down and further stablize the machine on knot tying and whatnot.

    I would advise you stay away from the X-2. This is just my take on it, but it seems like this would be my pattern of thought if I bought the X-2.
    1. "Sweet, I got this machine for way cheap, and look at all this string I got!"
    2. "This mounting doesn't seem that sturdy. I know that the dropoff between 2 point and 6 point isn't all that big, but I'd still like a little more support."
    3. "Man, these clamps are really hard to work. I'm getting cuts all over."
    4. "None of these free strings I tried play any good."
    5. "Man, check out that Alpha Pioneer DC plus! Its got fixed clamps, so I will get more consistent tension. Spring assisted bases will be a whole lot easier to work. 6 point mounting will give me peace of mind and probably will cut down on racquet distortion."
    6. "I sold my X-2 for 80 bucks, so I have to save up some more for a better machine."

    Why not skip the X-2 and go straight for a better dropweight? If you find out stringing isn't for you, then high end dropweights like the hercules and pioneer dc hold their value really well, and you will probably only lose 20 or 30 dollars. The X-2 does the same thing that a 3000 dollar electric machine does, its just a matter of how many racquets you will be stringing and how long you can wait for the return on investment.

    So all in all, I would say get the 690. Or if you want to go a step further, get the alpha pioneer DC plus.
     
    #31
  32. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    thanks for all that help max, i appreciate yours and icenines help. i was thinking more on the mutual power becuase if i am going to spend 500 for the pioneer dc, i would rather go for the revo. the mp hercules 690 is more to my liking.

    also, is your machine off by a few pounds on the tensioning?
     
    #32
  33. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Well, the Pioneer DC can be had for 400. I forgot who sells them, but just look around on google for a bit and you should find one. But i dont think that the DC is 60-70 dollars better than the 690. You do get the spring assisted clamp bases, but all that does is make locking down the bases a little easier. The 680/690 bases are just fine, not hard at all. The clamps look about the same, as does the tensioner, mounting system, and turntable. Alpha is a bit more reputable than MP, but nothing is wrong with MP customer service. If I were buying a more high end machine like an electronic or something, I'd probably want a better brand than Mutual Power, but for something as simple as a dropweight where little can go wrong, it really isnt that big of deal.

    About the tension, I don't have a calibrator to test it with. But it feels about right. For instance, the day before my machine came in, I got one of my AG200's strung with SPPP at 54 at my tennis club. They use a babolat sensor, so I know its probably right on. The next day, my machine came in and after a few trial stringings with forten nylon, I strung up some SPPP at 54. They feel pretty much identical. So it may just be a machine by machine thing. Maybe I got lucky. I wouldn't stress to much over it. If it feels to tight, lower it by 2-3 pounds. The only reason to stress over tension is if you are stringing for other people who require really accurate tension, like top juniors or something. Since I'm not doing that, I just go by how it feels.
     
    #33
  34. meh

    meh Semi-Pro

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    Funny thing is, with the 690, they went back to the side mounts used on the 610.
     
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  35. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Hmm, thats weird. I wouldn't see how the supports on the 680 could fail in any way. It says on the website that their steel - plastic. Like steel reinforced?
     
    #35
  36. tennis50

    tennis50 New User

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    I bought a 680 in March. I am thrilled with it. I put it on a stand which makes it a lot faster. My referenced tension was about 5 lbs light so I moved the sticker and it is dead on accurate. It's a superb machine. Very solid.
     
    #36
  37. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Ah, good idea about moving the sticker. Adjust once, and never think about it again. Did it come up easy? I also built a stand for it yesterday. Will post pics in a sec.
     
    #37
  38. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    #38
  39. iplaybetter

    iplaybetter Hall of Fame

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    wow, great stand, very nice work
     
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  40. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Thanks. It wasn't that hard and only cost about 20 bucks in materials.Granted, my dads got a nice woodshop set up in the garage as you can see, but it could be done with some simple tools and a bit more elbow grease. Next ill build a reel holder just with a 1" dowel rod stuck into the side. Maybe paint it a cool 2 tone with the same dark navy blue in the machine and a steel grey. Maybe a tool tray as I accumulate tools, but for now its all I need. Here's another pic in better light. Sorry for the horrendous quality.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
    #40
  41. tennis50

    tennis50 New User

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    Nice stand! great workmanship.

    My reference sticker came up easy. I used a razor blade to fillet the sticker. I have a calibrator so I used that to position the sticker more accurately. I have heard MP will send you new sticker for free if you ask. YUlittle helped me buy an old Serrano for $31 locally. I match spray painted the Serrano stand, removed the old stringer, bolted my MP to the stand and it's great.
     
    #41
  42. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    oh yeah i remember that thread. He saw it for sale and even though it was cheap, delivery was gonna be a killer right? Well, nice score. And ill remember that when I get a calibrator or borrow my clubs.
     
    #42
  43. mdjenders

    mdjenders Professional

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    how exactly do these clamps work? I tried to go without a stringing machine for a few weeks, but my first stringjob I paid for totally sucked, so I bit the bullet and bought a new machine. I have my machine (a MP) sitting here, and I can't figure out how to move the clamp bases around. I lift and turn the lever around, but the base won't move :(. I am a moron.
     
    #43
  44. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    So, your machine is the 680/690 right? Are you positive you are moving them in the direction the sticker says? Dont focus on lifting the lever, just push it counter-clockwise. It may take some force because it may be stuck or something. Make sure nothing is stuck on the underside of the track or if the clamp itself has come out of the track. This sounds weird, and it may be a factory error. I rememeber when I did my first job, it didn't take any thought at all. good luck!
     
    #44
  45. mdjenders

    mdjenders Professional

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    it is the 7600. I have tried everything, and the clamp bases seem cemented to the table. so I am supposed to 1) lift up the handle, 2) turn the handle CCW (towards OPEN)..... then what. do I try to move the base around when the handle is still lifted up? I guess I don't even know what the lever is for, or what turning it CCW is doing internally. Maybe I will take a video later on showing the ineptitude.
     
    #45
  46. kfactor/all/the/WAY!

    kfactor/all/the/WAY! Semi-Pro

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    hey very nice stand Max! my friend i giving me his klippermate stringer for free since he doesnt play tennis anymore! Do u have any advice for me? hopefully it will be alright for me to use in the time being till i upgrade
     
    #46
  47. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    thats weird. The 7600 clamp bases look to be identical. Well, since these are cone lock bases, its basicially just a lever that tightens and loosens a screw which locks the base to the turntable. Is the lever moving at all? My only other option would be to not focus on lifting up the handle. I dont really see how that could help things. Just grab a lever, and turn CCW, no lifting or pulling verticially. All the action happens horizontally. if that doesn't work, take a short video and post it so that we can further diagnose this problem.
     
    #47
  48. zidane339

    zidane339 Hall of Fame

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    Very nice stand Max, impressive woodwork. Makes me wish I took woodshop in HS! : )
     
    #48
  49. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    you don't have a stringer now correct? Well, I would look up Yulitle's videos on youtube. Hes also got them in his signature, and there is a sticky in this forum. He shows you the basics of stringing step by step, as well as knot tying and other variations of stringing. I would also watch xtremestarrunnars video of him stringing on an x-2. That will show you the whole stringing process and give you a more physical portrayal of how your hands and arms work the machine. The x-2 is also very similar to the klippermate.

    Order like 5 or 6 sets of junk nylon/cheap syn gut string from TW or anywhere else. I did like 5 straight jobs of practice string before I did string that I actually wanted to play with. A reel of Forten Competition Nylon is only like 17 bucks, and can string 17 racquets. Set aside a good 3 hours for your first stringing. That includes getting used to how the clamps work, how to adjust them, mounting your racquet, and measuring strings. Go slowly and think through every move and step. Don't get discouraged if you break a string or measure wrong or something your first or second go around. Its good to make these mistakes in order to correct them.

    Make sure your machine comes with the clamps (should be 2) and the awl and needlenose pliers. The original Klippermate manual is also a good thing to have, so ask your friend if hes got it. Also get any string from him that hes got laying around. Its probably a good thing your learning on a machine that is really basic. Nothing to complicate the stringing process. Nice score and good luck!
     
    #49
  50. Max Winther

    Max Winther Semi-Pro

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    Haha thanks. I'm pretty lucky that my dads a building contractor. Hes taught me a lot as far as design goes and actual building and stuff. This was kind of my test to see if I could do something (that serves an actual purpose) without having to get help or have him rework something.
     
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