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-   -   Silent Partner Smart Feed Problem - Help! (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=446085)

dwminner 11-18-2012 05:09 PM

Silent Partner Smart Feed Problem - Help!
 
My Silent Partner Smart stopped feeding balls yesterday. I will be contacting SP tomorrow (Monday) and I'm confident we'll figure it out and get it working again, but in the mean time....anyone got any thoughts or opinions?

This machine is about 6 months old, but I am the 2nd owner, so officially no warranty (SP doesn't transfer warranties even in the first year.)

While using the machine yesterday a ball got jammed under the feed carousel. I removed all the balls from the hopper and removed the carousel and the stuck ball. When I re powered the machine the carousel turned and my initial thought was that all was well. After refilling the hopper I found that the feed was still not operating correctly (no feed). I pulled the hopper off. I found the carousel works only when there is no load on it. Anytime there is a little load put on the carousel it stops turning and seems that there is some slipping inside the gearbox. Otherwise, when there isn't load on the carousel the speed of the carousel does respond changes in the feed rate on the control panel.

So my limited diagnosis is that the control panel is ok, the motor is probably ok, but that the mechanical connection between the carousel shaft and the gear has failed. This seems logical if while the ball was jammed the feed motor and gearbox continued to try and feed balls. Something had to give. Either the motor would burn up or the gearbox woulsd fail somewhere or......any of a few other possibilities....but it appears the weak link was in the gearbox. Agree?

Anyone else have problems with jammed balls..........careful now! Don't let your mind wander!!!!

Anyone else have problems with the feed failing on SP products?

My plan is to contact SP tomorrow and while I may have to pay for the parts but I'm confident they will get me the parts to fix the machine.

Thanks for your opinions and help.

Dave.

WileyCoyote 11-18-2012 07:28 PM

Feed
 
I have a Star, but assume that the carousel motor and gears are the same as your Smart.

If I understood your post, the ball got jammed UNDER the carousel. Never seen this on my machine. All the jams that I have seen on my Star involve jamming between the carousel ball holes and the hopper when two balls try and fit in the same hole. If the jam was UNDER the carousel, this likely put a great deal of stress on the unit and is likely the cause of the broken gears.

My Star occasionally quits feeding balls because the carousel is stopped by a jam and it does not seem to hurt anything, but the jam is not UNDER the carousel. I clear the balls however I can and it always comes back to life. I do not think you can hurt the drive motor and gears by just stopping rotation.

Sounds like you have diagnosed the problem as a hurt gear assembly in the carousel drive assembly. If you are a bit mechanically inclined, it should be easy for you to replace the unit, but you need to make sure the fit upon reassembly is such that the balls cannot get jammed UNDER the carousel.

SP should be very helpful, they always are with me.

Harry

Chotobaka 11-18-2012 07:34 PM

If things get jammed up in a manner that stresses the motor excessively the circuit breaker should kick in and shut things down before damage can be done. I have a Star and haven't had any issues with jams like the one described. These machines are fairly bullet proof. In any event, Steve will take good care of you -- customer service is excellent.

dwminner 11-18-2012 08:18 PM

Operator error
 
I mistakenly didn't install the pin that holds the hopper in place. The hopper rotated slightly about the front alignment "tab". Somewhere in that process the carousel must have lifted slightly and a ball ended up below the carousel. Anyway, looking forward to talking to Steve tomorrow.

Dave.

tennis_ocd 11-19-2012 05:45 AM

Going from memory at work but is the carousel fully seated?

dwminner 11-19-2012 07:29 AM

I'd say yes, it was fully seated. The weight of the balls above the carousel kept it fully seated.

That said, when the hopper popped off the back "anchor", somehow a ball got underneath the carousel, say you could easily imagine that the carousel must have lifted up a little bit to allow a ball to get under there.

The shaft that connects the carousel to the gearbox is keyed with a long flat, matching the shape molded into the carousel. So a slight lifting of the carousel wouldn't in itself prevent the carousel from turning.

Thanks for the suggestion, but I think it's more serious than a seating problem.....though, until I know for sure, I'll hope that it's that simple.

tpotter 11-19-2012 10:11 AM

sounds like you may have broken the gears in the gear motor....meaning you need a new motor

dwminner 11-19-2012 10:57 AM

Talked to Steve, consensus is that I need new gearbox/motor assembly, and it's on it's way.

Funny thing is, and I wouldn't normally do this but as long as new parts are on there way...., if I spin the gearbox by hand, meaning that the carousel is attached and I use it for leverage to turn the gearbox, the gearbox actually spins both forwards and backwards. It doesn't sound or feel like there is anything broken inside. And then, as I increase the force/torque on the carousel it seems that the shaft slips within the gearbox. Not the gears skipping a tooth, but the interface between the shaft and the gear it is attached to. Not sure if this is a press fit or not, but it doesn't appear to be a spline.

Whatever it is, there has to be a weak link somewhere. Something's gotta give, either mechanically or electronically. My constructive criticism for SP is that this weak link should be serviceable by replacing a fuse or a resetting a circuit breaker or designing in a pin that could easily be replaced if/when the carousel gets jammed. On the other hand this seems to be an unusual failure, so perhaps it's better to leave well enough alone.

Being an engineer, I may have to open up the gearbox to see if I can identify the failure......

Chotobaka 11-19-2012 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dwminner (Post 7024630)
Talked to Steve, consensus is that I need new gearbox/motor assembly, and it's on it's way.

Funny thing is, and I wouldn't normally do this but as long as new parts are on there way...., if I spin the gearbox by hand, meaning that the carousel is attached and I use it for leverage to turn the gearbox, the gearbox actually spins both forwards and backwards. It doesn't sound or feel like there is anything broken inside. And then, as I increase the force/torque on the carousel it seems that the shaft slips within the gearbox. Not the gears skipping a tooth, but the interface between the shaft and the gear it is attached to. Not sure if this is a press fit or not, but it doesn't appear to be a spline.

Whatever it is, there has to be a weak link somewhere. Something's gotta give, either mechanically or electronically. My constructive criticism for SP is that this weak link should be serviceable by replacing a fuse or a resetting a circuit breaker or designing in a pin that could easily be replaced if/when the carousel gets jammed. On the other hand this seems to be an unusual failure, so perhaps it's better to leave well enough alone.

Being an engineer, I may have to open up the gearbox to see if I can identify the failure......

Or, alternatively, you could just follow the instructions and secure the pin so as to avoid the atypical jam in the first place.

dwminner 11-19-2012 08:14 PM

Wow, hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the encouragement, but I've beaten myself up enough for being a dumbass without the need for any help. But I suppose I deserve it. I did readily admit that it was operator error, right?

But the damage is done and unless you've got a Back to the Future Delorean, I think I'll stick to trying to solve the problem at hand, and then worry about not having another dumbass attack!

tennis_ocd 11-20-2012 05:15 AM

fwiw, my carousel has gotten jammed many, many times for various reasons and I've never had issues after clearing. Jams are not atypical; permanent damage is.


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