I'm still here!!
the kids are done with school, so I'm working slow now over the summer.
(I do have my wonky house quilt on the frame though and have started quilting it)
I wanted to write about my long arm machine and why I love it so much!!
My machine is a Voyager 17 and Summit Frame by Hinterberg.
here is a link to their site
When my husband bought this for me over 3 yrs ago, he researched not only price but ease of use and customer service and maintenance on this and picked this out.
The voyager 17 is 17" so it's technically a mid arm- I think long arms start at 18", oh well!! I don't miss the extra few inches and being only 5' tall it suits me just fine, I don't think I could reach that far in anyways.... who knows.
the summit frame is hinterberg's BEST frame, it's more in price but well worth it!
My husband saw the pictures of the wooden frame and you can just tell it's well designed and sturdy, in danish we have a word "KRAM" which means it's something that looks good, feels good, is well made etc. just makes you feel good too :-) this frame is KRAM!
well for $5000 you can get this whole setup, vs. 20K for other long arm machines, that's a BIG difference. Now "we" paid a bit more 3 yrs ago, because hinterberg merged with Nolting 2yrs ago and they were trying to have V17 owners trade in their perfectly working machine to a Nolting (21" I think) so they have all these V17 machines that have been used, which they are selling as refurbished, but they are JUST like new....
One thing about the V17 machines, they are actually industrial singer machines where the arm has been recast and stretched to be a long arm machine, again the machine is KRAM!
plus now you get the Stitch Length Regulator WITH the setup (we paid $500) and much more.
One more thing about the price:
Let's say you take your queen/king size quilt to your long arm quilter- like me- I charge 2c per sq in and up, so for a 100 x 100" quilt it's $200
for $5000, after 25 quilts the frame and machine is "paid" for!!
I would say the only other two things you need to buy after this, apart from thread!
is a good hopping foot which is about $100
and a bobbin winder which is also $100
EASE OF USE:
The voyager 17 is very crude and basic and easy to use, it's built like a tank, literally!! it weighs 75 lbs, but runs on caster wheels and it rolls like BUTTER...
You will get the SLR (stitch length regular) as part of the package which is a GREAT learning tool!
so when you slow down, the machine slows down, when you speed up, it speeds up.
OR you can work manually and you have a little speed dial on the right handle where you can adjust the speed, after a while you kind of set it on a good speed and adjust your movements accordingly, but I still use the SLR occasionally, I'm still very happy to have the SLR, though I don't use it much anymore, but it was like getting training wheels on a bike when you first learn to ride it!
The manual and DVD that comes with the setup, teaches you how to work the machine, how to load a quilt, how to thread the machine etc.
The Summit frame is AWESOME, in that it has these cranks on the sides for the rear roller (all parts of the quilt is pinned to leaders which are attached to the rollers) so when you are quilting and forward a quilt and the rear roller is getting thicker from the quilt "sandwich" you can raise and lower the bar by a smidge, by using these cranks, where other frames you raise and lower it in increments or even have to crawl under the machine to do it. Not this one! I raise and lower the bar in 2 seconds, it has to be about a finger thickness above the machine bed.
When I got my machine I joined a yahoo group for hinterberg owners, which helped me a lot, new owners ask a lot of questions and there's always someone there to answer back.
OR if you call hinterberg directly, there's no hold time and for technical things you get to talk to DANNY! (it's a small company)- we've all talked to Danny, at one time or another, and he quickly helps you out or calls you back right away.
Here's a BIG money saver!
You do all the maintenance yourself.... it can be a bit "scary" but the manual ad dvd shows you step by step how to do it. unlike some other machine where you have to send the machine out or get a repair guy to come to your house and fix it.
and really, there's not MUCH maintenance you have to do, you just have to oil it on a regular basis, and there's little holes all over the machine where you drop a little oil into each hole. I do it after every 1-2 quilts.
Now here's the BIG maintenance thing, which happens rarely but you will get to do it ONE day.
Re-TIMING the machine, I've done this maybe 3 times while I've had the machine. It happened after I put in a new needle and started quilting, then I hadn't screwed the needle in tight enough and it slipped out and dropped into the bobbin case and got "stuck" so that messed up the allignment of the bobbin area vs the needle area, I then had to re-time the machine and again the manual shows step by step with pictures too, how to retime the machine, it's a nail biting experience, but as long as you follow it step by step, it's not hard! and again You save money by doing it yourself!
I could talk on and on about this machine. I just LOVE it and I don't think I would ever trade it in.
Here's a picture of the frame with a quilt on it.
and without a quilt- just the leaders on rollers.
you have to buy 6 conduit pipes at the home improvement store to go with the frame.
That's another thing I think it's great, that the company doesn't make you buy them from them and pay shipping when they are cheap at the store and easier to buy locally too.
Here's a picture of my bobbin winder!
and I'm still accepting sign ups for my pin cushion swap, starting soon!