Service tip: stitch regulator stutter [VIDEO]
Your APQS Stitch Regulator is the best on the market and will quilt hundreds of quilts with fantastic results, including precise points and consistent stitches. If you discover that the stitches begin to change length or the machine starts to hesitate when the regulator is engaged (but behaves normally in manual mode), it may be time to adjust your machine’s encoder wheels.
On standard tables with eight horizontal wheels, small rubber “encoder” wheels rub against the larger wheels on your sewing head and carriage, and send a signal to the circuit board to tell it to fire a stitch as you move. Those little rubber wheels are like car tires, and eventually the tread starts to wear down from use. The carriage encoder wheel tends to wear more quickly than the head encoder, because you are making long passes along the length of your table.
If you can identify that your machine skips stitches in one direction or the other, you can isolate which encoder wheel needs attention. If you see missing stitches with left to right motion, the carriage encoder wheel needs tweaking. Missing stitches in the front to back motion indicate that the sewing head encoder is the culprit. The sewing head encoder is that black box you see on your sewing head’s rear axle—just in front of your thread stand. On standard tables, the carriage encoder box is mounted to the rear carriage axle on the left side. (Note: if you have skipped stitches when the regulator is NOT engaged, it could mean that your machine needs some timing attention instead of encoder wheel adjustment.)
To adjust the encoder wheel, loosen the gold bolt that travels from the underside of the larger wheel up through the encoder box’s silver mounting plate. Slide the black box closer to the larger wheel, which will simultaneously move the encoder wheel with it. Once the rubber encoder wheel makes good contact with the larger wheel again, tighten the gold bolt.
If your table uses the Bliss Track System, your sewing head encoder box is still visible in front of your thread stand. However, your carriage encoder is tucked inside your Bliss carriage where it makes contact with a steel bearing instead of the standard wheels. While your sewing head encoder wheel is subject to the same wear as standard table users, your carriage encoder wheel will last longer due to the reduced wear between the wheel and steel bearing.
At some point, your encoder wheels will wear to the point of needing replacement. That’s also easy to do. It’s a good idea to have a back-up encoder wheel in your parts stash so that a worn wheel doesn’t stop your quilting. They are under $25 and are a good investment in ongoing quilting enjoyment! To learn more about replacing your encoder wheels, watch the video below.