Here is a photo of our old track extender system at the top of the photo with the new track, labelled 'B' underneath. I'm going to tell you a story about how we came up with the new track.
Our original tracking system was an innovation at the time because they were amazingly smooth! The tracks were also continuous at the 6 foot size and extendable to 8 and 10 feet. But with the extensions, there was a bump at the join. And this proved frustrating when you were working on a larger quilt. In an effort to get round this we did make a continuous 8 foot track. But the larger size was unwieldy and awkward to transport. Couriers would not accept anything over 6 feet in length and it was difficult to fit the long 8 foot tracks in many cars.
Paul, our innovative genius designer, likes to get things right. And he wasn't happy about the bump! So Paul has been trying to figure out a better way to extend the tracks for some time.
Paul uses wood for the tracks because the wood helps to absorb the vibration of the sewing machine. Metal tracks magnify the vibrations and the vibrations of the metal carriage wheels make small marks in the metal tracks, especially a light weight metal like aluminium. Over time, these indentations affect the smoothness of the carriage as it rides over the tracks. The natural elasticity of wood absorbs the vibrations. Over time the wooden track actually becomes smoother. So Paul definitely wanted to continue using wood. The challenge was how to create a seamless join, so the tracks could be extendible and portable.
Sometimes the answer to a puzzle is so simple you just wonder why you didn't think of it sooner. Paul's friend Phil suggested cutting the join at angle! A simple brilliant solution!
Paul developed a self-aligning fixture in the bottom of the track joint that ensures that the two sections are always exactly level with each other – but it still wasn't quite perfect until Phil (our “Man in Massachusetts” who helps with design and manufacture) suggested cutting the joint at an angle instead of straight across the track. Brilliant! That’s Phil, on the right with Paul, in the photo above.
Wow, what a difference! You can hardly feel the join when you run your finger over it. And with the carriage it's practically seamless. Well done Paul and Phil! Now the track can be extended to any size we like, and we won't feel the join while we're quilting. Not even a little bump!