Report on the Tippmann Boss

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Well, since purchasing my Boss stitcher in Dec 18, I've had very little chance to use it..... some just hit and miss stuff. Well, last week I decided it was time to get serious and on some sheath sewing.

About 50 stitches into the project, everything just locked up! Couldn't move the handle....nothing. Pull off the back cover, and the "rack gear" was broken into 3 pieces!!! WHAT!!?!? On the phone with Tippmann. "Oh! You machine is 3 months OUT OF WARRANTY." :mad: New parts ordered....and "we will have those out today"..... but after two emails and 3 business days, no response and no email/tracking. Just today, I was looking at the machine, and also discovered teeth missing on the handle gear. This is starting to look like a serious train wreck!! Pretty ticked off right now...... got a $1,200 boat anchor on the bench! GRRRRR!
 

chrisstaniar

Well-Known Member
So, it's April now and they are saying it is 3 months out of warranty? If I'm reading that right their warranty is only a month?
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Randy is correct..... I purchased it IN Dec 18. One year warranty. Still no parts, and no answer to my emails....these people are starting to tick me off.
 

Kevin R. Cashen

Super Moderator
Ed, I think the quality of these units may have went down with each subsequent generation. The ones before mine were black, mine is red, and the black had a much sturdier look and feel. The ones now make mine look the same. I never liked the flimsy plastic insert that went on the back to make the unit look solid, rather than a cast front shell, and I removed it and just keep the unit where it is clean. As I have previously mentioned, they are touchy and need to be dialed in just right, and then they do pretty well, but then I never had anything break. one thing I did do, well after warranty, was adjust the handle gear that engages the rack gear up about 1/8 a turn so that the needle tops out entirely when pulling out of a stitch, as I had a lot of issues with it not completing the cycle and the bobbin double grabbing a loop. Tension has to be surprisingly tight on the top to make pretty stitches consistently .
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I was having issues with it picking up the bottom stitch. When I called the company to ask for help, the advice I got was "You have to cycle it like your angry." So I made sure I "jacked" it all the way in both directions.... and as I mentioned above, about 50 stitches in, it locked up, and that's when the rack gear broke. Of course my mind went to..... It broke because I was "jacking" it back and forth so hard.....and that's what they told me to do...... GRRRRRRR!
So it seems that now I'll be waiting on parts, and farting around with this machine..... util I get so mad I rip it off the bench and junk it. :eek:
 

vlegski

New Member
Ed. Sorry to hear your Tippman is giving you fits. Mines old (1000 serial number) and as Kevin indicated its cast iron. Who ever told you to manhandle it, hasn't used the machine. My machine likes a steady pace with nice firm even full strokes. Short strokes on the handle lead to dropped stitches or skips or loose stitches. The tension on the thread as adjusted by the top two tension device are critical. 75 % of my problems come from thread tension. I also find that contact or rubber cement can screw with stitch tension and that causes you to start overpowering the stroke. That leads to uneven stitches or broke thread. I avoid oils and prefer a light grease. Oils tend to drip down onto leathers. Hope this helps. Later...Vic Legg
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Hi Vic!!

The one who told me to "cycle it like you're angry" was the Tippmann tech dept! After that was when the rack gear broke. I'm gona give them a chance once the new parts arrive to help me get this machine usable, and if not, I'll chuck it, and go another direction. In fact, right now I'm going back and forth with the folks who sell the "cowboy" series of machines..... asking questions and feeling them out. They sell what I thought was/is a "knockoff" of the Boss, but after talking to them yesterday, there's some doubt about as to who copied who! The cowboy hand stitcher is all cast iron, with all steel gears/teeth, etc..... maybe I should have found them before buying the Boss.
 
Last edited:

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
The new rack gear arrived in Friday's mail. Got it install, and the machine timed, and all back together. THEN....spend a good portion of Friday night trying to get it to sew...... and still no luck. The first stitch is NEVER picked up, then it will sew a few stitches, then will miss picking up 2-3 stitches in a row from the bobbin side, then it will sew for a number of stitches, but wads up the bottom stitches until the thread breaks. I tried thread and matching needle sizes from 160 needles thru 250. Each time starting at the base line thread tension, and adjusting as I went, in an attempt to get this thing to sew.
After taking pics and notes along the way, I sent an email off to the company with pics, and went to bed about 4am. We'll see how long it takes them to get back to me.....if they even do. I was so frustrated that I was ready to rip the machine off the bench and chuck it out the door! Unless the company can help me get this thing going reliably, it's going to get sold off and I'll do what I should have in the first place....buy a Cowboy, Cobra, or TechSew. As far as I can tell, they are all the same machine.... only different colors and name plates. And the saga continues...
 

Chris Railey

KNIFE MAKER
I hate you are goong through that Ed but posting it has helped me, I was seriously looking to invest in a Tippmann shortly. I have looked at the cowboy but considered it a knock-off but if its got steel gears and stuff I will look again. Thanks.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Hi Chris..... Well, it's Monday morning, and we'll see how long it takes....or IF the folks at Tippman will get back to me on the issues. I actually have been emailing back and forth with the folks who sell the Cowboy machines...... They've been very forth coming with info, saying that they have had only one of the cowboy machines returned in the last 15 years. Unless we can get this Boss machine going correctly, I'm gona be putting it up for sale, and going to one of the powered machines..... very likely the Cowboy CB4500.... that is if I can talk them down a bit..... There are two others that I am pretty certain are the exact same machines.... just different paint/stickers.... one is TechSew, out of Canada, and the other is the Cobra class 4. I should have followed my own rules, and just sucked it up and spent the money I sensed I should have in the beginning.
 
Last edited:

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Well, to their credit, I did get a call from Tippmann support this morning, and spent better than hour on the phone with them. Worked on/adjusted the machine, and unfortunately, it's still not sewing correctly.... it sews, but it shows the "loops" at the top the stitch.
According to the support individual the adjustments are maxed out on both the thread and bobbin of my machine (at his direction), so now he wants me to get a smaller needle size, to increase the "lower tension" and see if that works.
At the end of our conversation..... I just came right out and asked the question..... "No BS, am I ever going to get this machine to sew reliably?" Of course he said "yes"..... but now, that the conversation is over, and I've chewed on it a bit.... it seems to me that there were a lot of "I don't know" in our conversation, and if I'm having to do all of this to make the machine sew...... is it really worth it? I've already ruined 1/2 dozen leather sheaths...... which I suppose some would not called "ruined" (just the stitches look "off" and pretty terrible to me).....but for me being a perfectionist with my stuff... they were. Well, just one more thing..... not sure were this will take me, but am suspecting that sooner of later it will mean a different sewing machine.
 

Self Made Knives

Well-Known Member
Ed, seems like they should offer to do a refurb on your machine. You should be able to send it in to them and let them get it working correctly, even if it's out of warranty. I would think they would want to make this right to salvage/protect their reputation. For example, I've had my eye on one of these machines for a while now, but you're experience is making me doubt that now. It's in their best interest to fix this and make a happy customer.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I've been holding that as a last resort.... asking for them to refurb it. But it's coming VERY soon. I'm waiting on the "smaller needles" (that they made me purchase by the way) to arrive. Then, if this thing doesn't straighten up and fly right, I'll be asking for the refub..... and see where that goes.

I've already spoke with folks at Cobra, Cowboy, and SewTech about a motorized machine. All three are the EXACT same machine....with different motors and speed controllers....and paint/stickers.

Cobra 4: I first tried, and ruled out Cobra because it took me leaving 4 messages before getting a return call, and when I asked him "What can you do for me on price...with the current situation in mind?" The response: "The price is what it is....you want it or not?" Me: "We're Done!".
Cowboy: Decent folks, but asking $200 more for the same machine, without any accessories/packages. When I told them that TechSew had the same machine WITH an accessory package, they agreed to meet TechSew's price, but refused to discount anything further.
TechSew: Was on the phone with them for over an hour today...nice folks. Very Patient and willing to answer any/all questions. We talked price and they agreed to knock a bit off the machine/accessory package price, AND cut $150 off the freight/shipping.... and the individual said that's good for as long as I needed to decide!
HMMMMM..... Right now, Ed is leaning towards the TechSew 5100, and then selling off the Boss for whatever I can get to cut my losses.

Looking back, over the amount of time and effort that I have spent trying to get this Tippmann to not only sew, but do it reliably...... and it's literally HUNDREDS of hours over the past year+. I'm just about at my wit's end with Tippman support, even though they are nice folks, I honestly think they know they have a badly flawed product, but are into it too deep to admit it and face the repercussions. One thing I have learned during my saga is that the Cowboy hand stitcher, which many consider a "knock off" of the Tippman Boss, is actually built FAR better! How? The Tippmann uses zinc gears, cogs, guides, etc. The Cowboy hand stitcher uses all steel gears, cogs, etc. So with that simple fact, I would tell folks to look/go for the Cowboy hand stitcher over the Tippmann.
All that being said, my experienced advice now, is to steer clear of the Tippmann Boss..... unless you're into solving mysteries..... which is exactly what you'll have trying to make it operate correctly and reliably. If this "smaller needle" thing doesn't work.... I'm done with mine...... WANNA BUY IT?? :p:D:p
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
the CB4500 has a larger flywheel than the others. Ryan Neel had that improvement made as most of your stitching is not done at high speed...a little more throw weight helps. I bought the CB4500...they ALL have learning curve. I loaned mine to my sheath maker friend as I was trying to build a batch of knives and just was not feeling good enough to tackle one more thing...He loves it and is cranking out nice stuff with it.

In my current condition I don't think I could even hand stitch...lol. My buddy is on board for stitching anything I come up with.

Ryan Neel...1-330-692-1418.... is very helpful. Called me back from the hospital one time...Dedicated!
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
CB4500 has a larger flywheel than the others
Hmmmm. That's a possible "sway". :)

I've been on the phone with Ryan, and thankfully, he let me in on something that I had not considered/known....that being IF I ever had to send a machine for service to TechSew, it would be import/export fees both ways, plus shipping, plus repairs........ Lions and Tiger and Bears OH MY!!! :eek:

So, that is also a swing towards Cowboy..... so.....now considering that Cowboy must pay the 25% import fee that TechSew does not....which means even at $200 more than TechSew, the folks at Cowboy are making far less money on each machine.... and are being honest about it to potential customers. I also do admire the fact that Cowboy is a lot like many of us.... Sole Proprietor, and values the things that we do.

Looks like it's very close to decision time for Ed. :) I'll let ya know!! OH! Who wants to buy a Tippmann Boss???? :p
 

C. Killgore

Well-Known Member
So I had convinced my dad to do sheaths for me and he purchased a cobra 4 a number of years ago. I also have a local knifemaker friend that uses the tippmann. Local guy loves it.

I haven't used the cobra 4 but have watched my dad tinker with it. Reading some of your issues with the tippmann sounds familiar. Seems he's constantly messing with tension to try and get it to sew right for a certain thickness of leather, etc. I feel like all these sewing machines require some tinkering to get them to sew the way you want. Good luck!
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
I agree with the "tinkering".... I certainly expect a given amount of that, along with a learning curve for any machine, however, with the specific Tippmann machine I have, there is significantly more time spent "tinkering" than actually sewing with it, and very often more tinkering/adjusting AS I am trying to sew with it....which just isn't right.

Yesterday, during my research, I stumbled upon, and spent some time speaking with an individual that I wish I would have found prior to purchasing this boss machine..... An individual that worked for Tippman, and I learned the entire story of how the Boss machine came to be. Interesting story, but more interesting was how/why the Boss became, in this individuals words "a second rate" machine..... as it was told to me, the machine started with cast iron body and steel/heat treat parts, but due to that, the profit margin wasn't enough for the company....... then a couple of years later, in a cost saving effort, the company switched to cast aluminum bodies, and purchased a die casting machine, and changed to zinc for the gears and internals. After that, the individual said they had parts breaking and machines being returned "left and right"..... and not long after, he quit the company because of the situation. Pretty interesting, and again, wish I'd known this before I plunked down the money.....but one more life lesson for Ed. :)

I also learned more about the same type machine that Cowboy sells.... called the "outlaw". Same basic design as the Boss, BUT, with a cast iron body, and all steel/heat treated gears/internals. I can only speculate, but I suspect the same "tinkering" would be necessary with it, just because with these hand operated machines, it seems that thread tension is everything as to if it performs correctly or not.....where as that seems to be less important with the motorized machines. If nothing else, I've learned even more now, than when I researched prior to buying the Boss.
 
Last edited:
Top