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Thread: Tension issues, any ideas what to try?

  1. #1
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    Tension issues, any ideas what to try?

    Good morning, all! For the last 2 weeks, I have been trying everything under the sun and on the 'net to get the tension right on this setup I acquired. I did try to get help in the Vintage forum and got nowhere, I reckon it is an unheard of machine..? Anywho, this is what I have:
    A Singer 96-45 mounted on a frame for longarm-style quilting. The frame is similar to the kenquilt system, with the 3 rollers all the same height. (I have seen a lot of frames with one of the rollers mounted higher or lower than the others.)
    The machine has been cleaned thoroughly, tension assembly removed, cleaned and remounted, new needle(s) have also been used, bobbin housing was completely removed and cleaned as well. Timing has even been reset since the hook wasn't coming across the shaft at the exact middle, although it did stitch fine before and still does after. The issue is just the tension. I can't seem to get it right. I have used 40 wt & 50 wt threads, 100% cotton, and the poly-cotton/cotton-poly wrapped combo , all in every imaginable combination. The bobbin will take and use whatever thread ya throw in there. Upper thread breaks randomly. I believe this is due to it being too tight but, in order to get no loops on the back it has to be that tight. Any ideas, suggestion, tips, maybe even a spare sledge-hammer I could borrow for a few days?
    I have begun making sure the sandwich wasn't too taut, after reading that somewhere, but that's not the problem either. I am gonna add a few more thread guides this weekend, as was suggested in a YouTube video, see if that helps since I know there is at least 1 missing. I have tried new thread, old thread, in-between thread and am getting a bit frustrated. I also seen somewhere that maybe the 16 needles are not ideal for high-speed machines..? Maybe going up a size would work since it runs at 3500 spm? I tried to make a genie bobbin thing out of the teflon I use to FMQ with my domestic machine but all that did was super heat the bobbin and the thread! That did not work out so well, and actually stopped the machine. So, popped that out and let it cool off for a few hrs and she was all good again. Well, except for the small problem of the upper thread breaking. And I'm not so sure it's threaded right since the manual online(the only one I can find for this machine) is nothing more that a parts list and of absolutely no help! Grrrr.
    Believe me, I am totally open to suggestions and desperate for anyone's help! Thanks a bunch.

    Pics:
    stitches on top
    stitches on bottom
    **note* I have been restitching over and over til I get the hang of it, using different colors for each pass. that's why it looks such a mess! The really heavy bobbin is actually loose upper tension, very loose! Last pass made was with blue upper and blue bobbin, white was the pass before that one, and variegated was the first pass.
    how it is threaded(with arrows to help see it) :-)
    It comes off the cone/spool goes up into a make-shift cone stand "thing", then R to L thru first hole, L to R thru 2nd hole and R to L thru 3rd hole, down and around tensioner making sure to catch the spring, under the bar on the left there, up thru the needle arm hole, down thru 2 rings(not shown) on the face plate(?) first one has thread go under it to pop in there, and the 2 nd one you wind the thread thru it L to R, then down to needle bar eye and L to R thru the needle. Yes, the needle is in right as far as I can tell, it is round shank so hard to get dead perfect. Needles are DBx1 16x231 size 16. A size 12 refuses to work and is only good for skipping tons of stitches. This is why timing was reset, as it was suggested as a possible problem.
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    Last edited by PJisChaos; 04-05-2013 at 05:59 AM.

  2. #2
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    Can't be much help but my first suspicion is that the upper tension isn't engaging unless you tighten it to the max. Hopefully someone else will have better ideas because that might be a pain to fix.

  3. #3
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I will tell you that perfectly balanced stitches are something to strive for, but not always achievable. This is why many long armers use the same color thread in the top and the bobbin. Also, if just a tiny bit of top thread is showing on the back, and the bobbin thread is not just laying on the surface, I would try washing the sample. If you use cotton batting, it shrinks a bit and minimizes the issue.

    I don't have this machine, but have the 3 hole guide on mine. I was told to try skipping one of the guide holes.
    And finally, this video is not for your machine (I don't have this brand either) but the process may help:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  4. #4
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Since you're at your wits end and none of the advice on all of your threads on this machine have helped, why don't you send it in for service? If it has something wrong with it, it will be repaired. Worst case the machine will get a tune up.

  5. #5
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    When the top tension is not right on my machines (several brands including Singer), I've usually found that it wasn't threaded properly. Be sure it's properly threaded through the tension wheel.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    I will tell you that perfectly balanced stitches are something to strive for, but not always achievable. This is why many long armers use the same color thread in the top and the bobbin. Also, if just a tiny bit of top thread is showing on the back, and the bobbin thread is not just laying on the surface, I would try washing the sample. If you use cotton batting, it shrinks a bit and minimizes the issue.

    I don't have this machine, but have the 3 hole guide on mine. I was told to try skipping one of the guide holes.
    And finally, this video is not for your machine (I don't have this brand either) but the process may help:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1mRhcquZTM


    Now this is helpful. I have wondered about skipping a hole there since that is where there is a bit of drag before it hits the tensioner. Hmm, something to try anyways. Thanks! I was also wondering about turning the tension down just enough for only one or 2 small loops to appear and see if it stops the thread breaking, hoping when washed the stitch will balance out. I will be trying this as well, thanks again. Now the video I did watch yesterday and I have to say, I love this guy! This video of his, in particular, helped me tons. I never knew that and was always taught to do the drop test as well.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Candace View Post
    Since you're at your wits end and none of the advice on all of your threads on this machine have helped, why don't you send it in for service? If it has something wrong with it, it will be repaired. Worst case the machine will get a tune up.
    The machine has been looked at and gone over, twice, and both certified repair men said it is in perfect working order. To have it cleaned, which I can and have done, runs $179.95 and up because it's an industrial. I know this is operator error and thought putting it in general where more people see it would get some better feedback on things to try. The response in the Vintage machine section was minimal and I know of no one round here that can help me or just offer tips. I am sorry if I have overstepped by posting it in the main section. I should have done that to begin with, my regret.
    The advice on the other threads was to look at the manual, which is nothing more than a parts list, and I did, to retime it which has also been done, and to have it serviced which there is no need to as it's mechanically sound, according to the singer guys. Nothing to do with troubleshooting operator error, which is all I am trying to do here now.

  8. #8
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    Post the solution when you find it, will you? Could be it will help someone else one day . Good luck!

  9. #9
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    rethread everything again make sure bobbin is wound properly and inserted right in the case and in the machine. after rethreading the top and you have bobbin in try again. And try to slow down your moving the machine. I have to tell myself to slow down while I am fmq I hope this helps. I have a old nustyle no stich regulater and there is a definate learning curve. also make sure your thread is good quality

  10. #10
    Senior Member lfletcher's Avatar
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    I have a Gammill and on my three hole guide, I skip the middle hole. I noticed other people have mentioned this as well. Good luck.

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