Stringway MS140 Quick Take

loosegroove

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With a global pandemic limiting my tennis and completely eliminating my travel, it seemed only sensible to pickup a portable stringing machine :unsure:. But I’ve been a bit intrigued by this machine since its conception, so when one came up on the classifieds, curiosity got the better of me. Plus, feedback about this machine on here has come largely from biased or questionable sources, so I thought a review from such a trusted and esteemed poster as myself (heavy on the sarcasm) would be welcome.

Setup: Out of the box, the MS140 feels quality. The materials seem robust yet relatively lightweight (the entire stringer minus the flying clamps and table clamp is under 15lbs), and the engineering solid. Though there are a few items that reveal this machine isn’t from a big player. The odd “wheels” used as feet look like parts bin finds, and the little plastic head and throat retainers are not affixed, meaning they can easily fall out when a racket isn’t mounted. Would be bad news bears to lose one of those when you need an emergency racket strung at a tournament. Assembly is straightforward. The table slides onto the swivel mount, the tension lever attaches via one allen screw, and the racing slicks simply screw onto a threaded rod. The machine needs to be clamped to a table otherwise it will lift up when operating the tension lever. I actually couldn’t use my dining room table (wife not complaining here) or one of my workbenches because the sides skirts were too big to get around, and there wasn’t enough table top between the skirt and table edge to clamp to. Not a big deal, but definitely something to note.

Mounting: My machine is the latest iteration with the more traditional Stringway mounting system using L-bolts. Not as compact as some of the initial ideas, but the now defunct “quick mount” throat and head clamps looked super wonky and to still be in the prototyping stage, and their constant evolution and eventual discontinuation seem to support that notion. The current mounting system definitely seems solid, though I’d be happy to never see another graphic about how the Stringway mounting system is superior and common 6 points deform rackets. The turntable is quite rigid between the thick spindle and main base, but it exhibits minor play at the mounting plates, which isn’t perceivable once a racket is secured. Mounting isn’t super fast, as you’re essentially adjusting 6 things: the main spindle to adjust length, the four L-bolts (the most time consuming part), and the thumbscrew for the additional center support. I actually quite like the design, particularly the implementation of the spindle, though the L-bolts are a bit cumbersome and I'm surprised they settled on it being so wide.

Stringing: Stringing on the MS140 is pretty unremarkable, and that’s a good thing! No weird quirky tensioning devices, plenty of room to weave crosses as usual, it’s all fairly...normal. Simply lift the bar to open up the string jaws, insert string, release the lock (can be done quickly with same hand you just inserted string with), lower the bar, and clamp off. Then lift the bar up again to release the string, and the tension head will automatically lock back in the upright position. It’s not ultra fast, but fairly efficient once you find a groove. I was afraid that lifting the bar might require a bit of muscling, or seem like I was torquing (not twerking!) on the table, but I found neither to be the case. The speed and motions were somewhat similar to when I used to string with a Gamma X-2 dropweight which I upgraded with Stringway flying clamps. I actually may have been slightly speedier with the X-2 because I was so accustomed to it, and since I use poly at low tension, it was easy to get the bar level. And speaking of flying clamps, the included double and triple clamp are bomber. They were formerly the de-facto best flying clamps, but I’ve yet to try the new Pro Stringer Claws. The mounting isn’t conducive to using a starting clamp, so I’ve opted to use a homegrown starting pin ala Klippermate for beginning the mains. Most rackets should have clearance for 360° rotation.

Portability: This machine is pretty portable and lightweight, though not Pro Stringer/Mi Stringer territory. It would fit in a large tool box, yet wouldn’t be so heavy and unwieldy like when you put a Klippermate in a FatMax. In total, the machine and clamps came in at just under 17.5 lbs. And since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, all you need is a usable table. So I think it’s a good option for travel, and a great option for people with limited living space looking for an easy to stash unit. You’re paying a bit of a premium for this machine, but I don’t think there’s anything else out there that’s quite like it.
 
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