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Buying a Longarm Without a Test Drive

Buying a Longarm Without a Test Drive

Old 03-19-2014, 04:04 AM
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I see you have been posting a lot of questions about LA machines here. A LA is a big investment. Would you buy a car without test driving? That is my take on it. A LA set up can cost just as much as a new car. Some cost less but for any new set up you are looking at a minimum of $10K once it is all said and done. so my recommendation is to not just test drive but spend some serious time with one. Find someplace you can take a class, even if it means an over night trip. You need to experience loading the quilt sandwich on the frame and really working the machine. I have read far too many posts of people who were absolutely convinced they wanted one, until they spent a full day at the machine from loading the sandwich to standing several hours at a stretch long arming. Several decided it was not for them. Do not rush into this. JMHO.
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:38 AM
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If you can't make it to Paducah or another major show (that would be my first choice) then contact the dealer for your area and see if they have any customers close to you. It might be that they have a good one who wouldn't mind you coming over for a bit and doing a test drive and Q & A.
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:44 AM
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Another bonus in going to Paducah, as if you needed one, is that if you talk to the vendors sometimes you can get a really good deal on one of their demo machines. I bought a demo from local dealer and was pleased with the deal I got. Had seen other good deals at quilt shows before I was finally able to get my sit down HQSweet Sixteen. Also you should be able to play with some of the machines to get a feel for them. I played with a stand up long arm at a class and realized I hated the feel of it, but loved the sit down.
Good luck and happy hunting!
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:47 AM
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You for sure need to test drive them. That is a major purchase and you need to make sure you like it. I have a Gammill but I have done some long arm classes on other models and they just aren't the same.
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Old 03-19-2014, 08:08 AM
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Machine Quilter's Showcase is in 2 weeks in Wichita KS. Lots of classes, inspiration and vendors for test drives!
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:35 AM
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There are many considerations to buying a LA. Are you ever going to quilt for others, what room do you have, etc.
I would definitely test drive though.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:16 AM
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I own a Nolting 24" PRO. Any problems are only a phone call to the plant in Iowa ... they have never let me down. I suggest you join some of the longarm machine groups on Yahoo or other longarm forums. Most of the machines are really the same except for their bells/whistles. 99.9% of dealers have used machines ... don't be afraid to buy used. Ask if anyone lives close to you and would they let you tryout their machine. Maybe there's a shop that rents longarms ... give it a try.

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/MQSG/info generic
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/..._quilters/info Noltings

http://mqresource.com/forum/ generic
http://forum.apqs.com/ apqs

There are many more. NQA is in late May, Columbus OH. Good luck
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:27 AM
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Long-winded story but here is why I would not make that kind of investment without test driving.

When I was in the market I went to the Machine Quilter's Showcase - at the time it was in Springfield, IL - at least an 8 hr. drive. DH did go with me and we both took classes - he on maintenance, me on quilting and the business aspect. I tried all the different machines, several times each on different days of the show and asked lots of questions.

There is one VERY well known brand of machine, heavily advertised, many award winning quilters own it. I tried it and did NOT like how it handled. It seemed 'stiff' and not easy to move. The sales people told me it wasn't set up right, they didn't have time to do that at a show and it's hard to keep it adjusted when there were that many people trying it. (There were probably 4 or 5 different models of this brand set up, they didn't set any of them up right???? And is it so finicky that you have to be super careful that you don't knock it out of adjustment?) Needless to say I did not buy that brand. In subsequent years I attended that show again as well as others where there were several machine vendors. I still would go try that well-known brand of machine, and never ONCE did I like how it handled. I even quilted a quilt on a friend's machine of that brand, and I made her swear to not tell anyone I quilted it - it looked like a 2 year old had done it!! I could not get a smooth curve or a circle to save my life. You would think I had never touched a quilting machine before (I had over 5 years of experience at that point).

If I had bought that machine sight unseen, I probably would have quit machine quilting, thinking I was no good at it. Instead, I have been going strong for 10 years, now have 2 machines, and a loyal customer base. And yet, there are people who LOVE that machine. It just wasn't the right one for me.

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Old 03-20-2014, 04:07 AM
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How far would your DH go to buy a car...about the same kind of investment. Don't be hasty, check out as many as you possibly can. Call it vacation time, research, etc. It's a big hunk of money and you want to be happy with your purchase.
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Old 03-20-2014, 04:29 AM
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I would definitely try it out first. I have an APQS which I absolutely love. It handles beautifully for me. I have a friend thought who bough a Gammill and she just loves how that machine works for her. It really does make sense to test drive as every machine is a little different and it's mostly personal preference.
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