How to Best Maintain My Longarm

Posted by on August 16, 2017


Needles:  Your needle should be changed every sewing day and even twice a day if you are sewing heavily.  Keep in mind that artificial fibers are harder on needles than natural fibers.  Needles develop burrs and the tips become dull.  The quality of your quilting will depend on using a fresh and sharp needle.  Always insure that your needle is all of the way up in the needle bar and is inserted with the scarf in the back.

Rails and Carriage:  Rails where encoders run need to kept clear of lint and threads.  Do not oil them or use any dusting product like Pledge.  This will cause the encoders to slip rather than roll.  Also make sure the tracks where the wheels roll are free of dust, lint or thread so the machine will move smoothly.

Bobbin and Hook Assembly: Clean the bobbin and hook area.  Turn the hand wheel and check for lint and other debris.  It takes only a small piece of thread to completely bind up a hook assembly.  Remove the needle plate between projects and clean the hook area thoroughly.

Tension Discs:  Check for lint and thread fragments in the tension discs.  Raise the presser foot lifter and clean in between the discs to ensure there is nothing caught there.

Oil:  Machines vary a bit in oil requirements.  Some, like the Tin Lizzies, have oil wells that distribute oil with a wicking method.  These wells don’t require frequent oiling because they hold more oil.  However, machines must remain lubricated to function well without damage.  Check the dip stick on the bed of the TinLizzie18.  If there is no oil on the dip stick place four to five drops of oil in both the bed oiling area and at the top of the machine.


Anti-Backlash Spring:  Bobbin cases contain a flat metal disc which applies even pressure on the bobbin preventing backlash and assisting in achieving good tensions.  This spring will eventually become worn and cracked.  It can become bent or even dislodged while cleaning.  Check that it is whole and present, but do not be concerned if the color has worn away.

Bobbin Case Tension Strap: Your machine’s bobbin case has a tension spring where the thread slides out of the bobbin case.  This spring applies pressure and is the primary contributor to bobbin case tension.  If the tension spring becomes bent outwards, or unable to apply pressure to the thread, replace it.

Check Spring:  All sewing machines have a paper-clip type spring on or near the main tension assemble.  The top thread grabs this spring during threading and the spring applies pressure while the take-up lever moves up and down.  Thread friction can break the loop portion off, so first check to see that the spring is still there.  Also, be sure it has adequate pressure to pull on the top thread.  It should be at 11 o’clock.

Oil at the back of the Machine: Just above the handwheel is a rubber plug.  Remove this plug and place a few drops of oil on occasion when a squeaking or grinding sound may occur.

Twice a Year

Cone Springs:  Any tensions device with a knob uses a cone spring to apply pressure which creates tension on the thread. Typically, these springs will last a very long time, unless the tension devices have been over-tightened.  Unscrew the tension knobs and check to see that the cone spring completely resumes its original size.  One way to check is to screw the tension knob on until the outside of the knob is just flush with the threaded shaft.  Look to see if the cone spring is loose or if pressure is being applied.  If the spring is loose, replace it.  Also, if you find your cone springs are over compressed and need to be replaced often, reconsider your method for achieving top tension.  You may need to adjust for looser tension all around.  Remember that tension is a tug of war.  The top tension needs to be equal to the bobbin tension.

Drive Belts: If the motor is adjusted to be overly tight, it can destroy the belt and the motor and machine bearings and gears can be put under undue stress.  Check that the eternal belt has about ¼ inch of play.  Also check that the edges of the belt are not shredding into strips.  Some machines only have internal belts and the technicians can check those for you.

O-Rings: Several machines contain rubber o-rings in bobbin winders and regulator encoders.  These o-rings are under pressure and eventually crack especially in dry environments.  If the o-rings are used as a brake they can develop flat sides during use.  Inspect each o-ring, looking for cracks or wear.

Thread Guides: When monofilament thread is used, it can create enough friction to carve into the machine body and cut off thread guides.  Some other threads and conditions can also damage the guides.  Any cuts create rough surfaces and burrs that can affect your thread.  Check them visually and by rubbing them with your finger.  If you do find wear marks, you may need to reconsider the amount of tension you apply to your top tension devices and the type of thread you are using.

Wheels: The tracking system on your machine can become damaged  by running over thread and other objects.  This may leave dents and marks in the wheels, which then cause bumps in the tracking.  Some wheels have also been known to develop a flat side if the machine is left in one place for an extended period of time.  Check the wheels by rolling your machine forward and back, and then side to side.  It is important to move one direction at a time to help isolate any bumps.   If your wheels are not adjusted correctly, they can rub against the track on the sides, causing a groove to be cut around the wheel.  This is a sign that you may need to adjust the wheels properly and get them centered.


These are items that seldom need attention and may be too difficult for the owner to check and service.
Being aware of them and checking them annually can avoid large repair expenses and long down times.  Have a tech check them when your machine is serviced.  Not all machines have all of these items.  Newer motors and models of machine have different technology.

Bearings, Bushing, Gears and motor brushes.

Sewing Hook Assembly:  This assembly holds the bobbin case. The hook is what forms the stitch. It is made of probably the hardest metal in your machine. If it is oiled every time you use the machine it is likely to last as long as the machine itself. If it is not oiled or cleaned regularly l it can fail in five years or less.  To check it, remove your bobbin case and take hold of the inner pin in the center of the bobbin basket.  If it has wiggled room, it may need to be replace.


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips

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