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Malfunctioning Foredom flex shaft


#1

I have a two to three year old Foredom Tx series flex shaft that is
not working and I would like to do all I can to fix it before I send
it in for repairs. I work with metals only in my limited spare time,
so the machine has not gotten extensive use during the time since I
purchased it.

The issue is one of power: the machine is not getting any. It makes
no noise at all when I attempt to use it (and I have verified that I
am using a working power source and that plugs are secure!), and the
motor did not stop working when I was using it. I just went to use
it one day, and it was not functioning.

I have checked the motor brushes, and they are barely worn,
certainly not anywhere near needing to be replaced. I have looked at
(and taken apart) the footspeed control to see whether it may be the
issue, but nothing about it looks unusual, at least to my untrained
eye.

I have several ideas about what might have caused my problem: first,
I have on several occasions inadvertently stepped on the footspeed
control when I was not using the flex shaft and made it spin madly.
It is possible that I did this since the last time I used the
machine successfully; could I have accidently damaged the motor in
this way? And if so, is there anything I can do about it?

And second, I admit that I had not relubricated the shaft since I
purchased the machine. But, if I have used the machine for more than
50 hours, it would not be by much. Could my lapse in maintenance
procedures have caused the machine to stop working so abruptly, or
would I have heard some indication of motor malfunctioning first?
Again, if this is the issue, can I do anything about it?

And finally, though I do not think that this is the issue, when I
found that the machine was not working, I also noticed that one of
the screws that holds the motor to the bracket it hangs from had
worked its way loose and the motor was hanging not insecurely (the
bracket is strong) but a bit to one side. I found the screw and even
with it back in, the machine is not working. Anything here?

Of course I realize there may be other issues, and I would greatly
appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!

Carrie Clark


#2

First check the breaker box and make sure the circuit is not tripped
as you may have exceeded the amerage on it (15 amps generally)
steppintg on it could have triggered it to switch. slim possibility
but 1st thing to check- and more important thean the screw that has
zero to do with it. then check the brushes (i can’t remeber if the
TX is brushless) replace anyway. clean the collet end of the
handpiece and grease the flexshaft. it is probably not the problem,
nor problematic- you may not need to send it in at all- just
maintenance. the problem sounds like a short in the motor’s wiring-
got mice in the wall?it can happen. barring checking with a
multimeter for continiuty in the line, send it to Foredom- about 16
dollars to get it insopected and possibly fixed with genuine parts by
experts.

by the way, taking apart the footspeed may have voided the warranty.
sometimes not great to publish things like that on the web as Mike
Zagielski regularly checks this forum!!


#3

I hate to state the obvious, but on all except for the older Foredom
motors (and cheaper copy-cat flexshafts) there is a small rocker
switch just above the label. Did you check to make sure it is turned
on? It’s pretty easy to bump it and shut it off without knowing. It’s
also a pretty good April Fool’s joke to switch someone’s flexshaft
off when they’re not lookin’. Right up there with the rubber band on
the sink sprayer handle.

Foredom motors very seldom just quit. They will make noise, slow
down or run erratically when there is something wrong, but if it just
doesn’t work after working fine, there is most likely a power
delivery problem somewhere.

Check the foot pedal by unplugging the pedal and plug the motor
directly into a wall plug. If the motor spins up, you know the
pedal’s the culprit. If it doesn’t do anything, it’s most likely in
the motor wiring itself. If you don’t have experience disassembling
and wiring electric motors, best to return it to Foredom. Their fees
for rebuilding flexshafts are very reasonable and their turn-around
time is good. If it turns out to be the pedal, it’s possible to take
it apart, clean it and reassemble it, but you would probably be
better off in the long run to buy a good one (solid state - not a
carbon pile) and be done with it.

I seriously doubt that you did any damage to anything by letting it
run momentarily at full speed with no load. Foredom motors are pretty
much bullet proof. They are designed to be able to run at full speed
with a light load or even no load for hours and hours. Also, the
cable will start to make noise long before it would seize. Neither of
those are likely to be the cause of the problem.

Still, check to make sure there’s not a jokester in your midst. If
you find one, a little wax in their torch tip is a good payback.

Dave


#4

Carrie; to determine if it is in the pedal or the flexshaft unplug
the flexshaft from the pedal and plug directly into the outlet.Make
sure the switch is on, on the side of the motor (I assume you tried
that you didn’t mention it). The flexshaft will run at full speed
until the switch is turned off or it is unplugged.


#5

Thanks to those who responded to my query about my malfunctioning
flex shaft. I want to share my story so that none of you make my
mistakes.

To identify whether my issue was with my foot pedal or the motor
itself, I decided to plug the motor directly into an outlet without
the intermediary of the foot petal. Because the motor plug
configuration was different from that of the outlet, I found an old
computer cable with the appropriate configuation to make the
connection. I plugged it in only long enough to realize that the
direct plug did indeed provide power to the motor (though I did
notice that the RPM rate seemed slower than usual), concluded that
my problem was with my foot pedal and decided to order a new one.

Here’s the rub – before I had even posted my initial query, I had
relubricated the shaft, but had been unable to let it run (as
Foredom instructs) to let any excess grease run out because I could
not get power to the motor. Well, I decided to do that by plugging
the motor directly into the outlet, and within a minute the motor
sputtered and flamed. It startled me but I dealt with it easily,
knowing that now I really had ruined it.

My mistakes: I should have realized that the different plug
configurations (that I had not mentioned in my original post) and
the low RPMs I noticed when I first plugged the motor directly into
the outlet were clues that I should not have done that. I’m guessing
that most (or at least many) flex shafts do not have the same
electrical confuguration as mine does, so I DO NOT fault anyone who
helped me. One person specifically told me not to make the direct
connection without making sure that the motor has a rectifier first,
but by the time I received that advice, I had already plugged it in
the first quick time and mistakenly concluded that it was okay to do
so. (Of course, the fact that I had no clue what a rectifier was
probably made me irresponsibly pass on that suggestion; I now have a
basic understanding that a rectifier converts one type of current
into another usuable one -?-). I probably made other mistakes as
well.

Anyway, while I was congratulating myself on being resourceful in
trying to figure out what was wrong with my flex shaft, I failed to
be as careful as I should have been in realizing that I did not know
what I was doing, and I did not try to understand all the advice I
received as well as I should have. I’m not sorry I tried, but I hope
I have learned to pay attention to all clues. That darn impatience
got the better of me AGAIN.

I thank all who gave me advice and continue to find Orchid a great
resource. Life (and machines!) are complicated…and lessons get
learned many ways.

Carrie


#6

Are you sure that your TX Flex Shaft is plugged into a TX foot
pedal?

I recently was doing demos, and had two TX Flex Shafts at my bench.
One had the wrong foot pedal, and it was not working well at all.

I hope this helps!

Kate Wolf in Portland, Maine.
Hosting wicked good workshops by the bay.
www.katewolfdesigns.com


#7

I’m sorry I didn’t catch you sooner !!!

I don’t have one of the TX ones nor even seen one-- but knew a bit
about the DC motors–

I have used a bunch of this type motor on other tools usually that I
make or change to variable speed DC.

I responded to the post suggesting what you did as fast as I saw
it-- sorry I didn’t get to you sooner with my no-no !!

I was hoping they would have used different connections between the
foot pedal and the tool-- but You are not the first resourceful
person to try to outwit safety preventative measures!!!

I am a retired engineer and have seen disasters including loss of
life and a lot of destroyed machinery when someone tries to do things
like this.

Yours was a little one.

jesse


#8

A flexshaft has an ac-dc motor. It can run on either current. Ac
motors do not have brushes, ac-dc do. The ac-dc motor has fixed
magnets around the commutator (part that spins)that the magnetic
field developed by the coils in the center of the motor reacts to
providing the motion of the commutator.The brushes allow the voltage
to be applied to the commutator, the commutator has sets of coils
that receive the electricity and the brushes charge different sets
of coils as it spins to provide the propulsion of the shaft, and
varying the voltage varies the speed by varying the strength of the
electomagnetic field between the permanent magnet and the
commutator. An ac motor has a coil around the commutator that become
an electromagnet that cause the commutator to revolve. If the shaft
of the motor on the flexshaft would not rotate and voltage was
applied, the coil that gets electicity will get to hot and burn up.
If you plug it in quickly and it hums but does not turn and you
quickly disconnect it, no damage should occur.

If the brushes wear out, get too short, they can cause binding of the
commutator, which will result in one coil getting the electricity,
heating up, and being damaged. I once had the cord from the flexshaft
going to the foot control get lodged under the back of the foot
control preventing the foot control from being able to return of the
off position, and I do not know how long it was turning very slowly,
not audible unless it became very quiet. The motor was hot. If the
shaft was not able to rotate the motor would have burned up.

Richard Hart


#9

It could very well be your foot pedal. I had a Fordom that was not
working well. Someone on Orchid told me to buy a better foot petal
and it would be fine. The cheap ones like used on sewing machines
are not good. I did what they told he to do and he was right. I was
ready to throw the the whole thing out. It was one of my first
experiences with Orchid. Been a believer ever since.


#10
It could very well be your foot pedal. I had a Fordom that was not
working well. Someone on Orchid told me to buy a better foot petal
and it would be fine. 

Are you saying that Foredoms come with sub-standard foot pedals? Why
would such a reliable company who make good quality machines, farm
them out with components that don’t match the quality of the
machines they are to work? I have a Foredom SR series flexshaft which
fortunately works beautifully. What advantages do these "better"
foot pedals have over the standard Foredom foot pedals?

Just curious really.

Helen
UK


#11

Helen:

With your SR, you’ve probably got a great modern foot pedal. The main
issue is with the older CC (and similar) series of flex-shafts.
They’ve been in production since the late Jurassic, and over the
years, the standard for what was ‘OK’ in terms of speed control
evolved. The early foot pedals were essentially small kilns made up
of ceramic blocks with coils of resistance wire and a movable
contact. Some of the really early ones only had three speeds.
(They’re a lot like (and in fact usually interchangable with) the
foot pedals that went with 1940’s-1980’s home sewing machines.) The
issue arises from those units being built like tanks. There are 30
year old flex-shafts still floating around out there, and the foot
pedals will still fit a modern machine.

As the field advanced, there was demand for better low-end control,
and low speed, hi-torque control that the original foot pedals
simply couldn’t meet. A selection of after-market or ‘pro’ foot
pedals appeared to fill this need, both from Foredom themselves and
from other vendors like Lucas. (No, not that Lucas. These actually
work, and well. I have one, and my lights haven’t flickered in
years.) Just as there are different handpieces available for
different tasks, there are different foot-pedals available as well.

As the responses earlier in this thread demonstrated, most jewelers
have most of their experience with CC class flex shafts. (With a CC,
all of that ‘plug it into the wall’ advice would have been exactly
right.) As the follow-up from the original poster indicated, with a
modern DC powered TX flex shaft, that was catastrophically the
wrong answer. Most of the machines out there are still CC class, so
that’s what we all use and know best. The modern TX and similar
variable DC flex shafts were developed to cater to the need for
better low-end control and torque.

Now I really have to stop procrastinating and finish my bloody
taxes…

Regards,
Brian Meek.


#12
Are you saying that Foredoms come with sub-standard foot pedals?
Why would such a reliable company who make good quality machines,
farm them out with components that don't match the quality of the
machines they are to work? 

Not all Foredoms are sold as a “kit.” One can buy the motor, foot
pedal and handpiece all separately.

Thus the customer may choose to buy a cheap foot pedal.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#13

Thanks for your very detailed description of the issues with
flexshaft foot pedals Brian. I was concerned that my foot pedal was
somehow wanting but thanks to your explanation, my mind’s at rest. I
really am thrilled with my SR series Foredom. It’s SO much better
than my husband’s Dremel that I was borrowing previously and I was
able to return it to him before I burned out the motor! The Foredom
really does feel like it’ll last decades. Well worth the money. I had
to buy it from Rio Grande in the States though, as it was twice as
expensive in the UK even with import duty and VAT - often the case
I’m afraid.

Thanks again.

Helen
UK


#14

This is in response to Helen’s Question. For UK Orchadians, there is
very reliable flexible drive unit which is sold by
www.axminster.co.uk that comes with several different handpieces. I
have one which is very reliable, it is also very much cheaper than
the well brands like Milbro and Fordham. It also come with a good
quality foot control!

Richard UK


#15

Hello All!!

Regarding Malfunctioning foredoom/ alternate foot pedals

I feel compelled to add a comment here regarding the Lucas Low Boy
footpedal!!

I started out with a foredoom footpedal, which still works fine.

However, a friend recommended a “Lucas low boy” footpedal to me,
when I was specifically having a bit of trouble drilling with very
fine (small).5mm drill bits.

For some reason, my original footpedal did not maintain enough
"sensitivity" (I hope that is the right word to use here)(for me
personally) at the “low end” (a very slow rotation speed), and I
would find that the “jump” of the motor (from “zero”, to a higher
rotation than I was looking for) would also jerk the flex shaft
cable, which would subsequently jerk the handpiece… (and I do
usually adjust my motor/ cable height to try to maintain correct
cable “flow”/ positioning)

The Lucas low boy, (which is very well priced, and well worth it)
has changed my life!!! I would list this as one of my all time best
tool buys!!

It is delivers very very very very good speed control! The pedal
profile is…flatter (less of an angle). You can (if that is what
you are wanting) press down lightly, and the motor reacts instantly
and specifically, and there is a sense of total control.

I like to drill, and watch the curls of metal, and know that my
drill bit is cutting well, as I have a tendancy to unconsciously
"bear down" when I should really just be getting a new drill
bit…and then accidents happen!!! It is a good reminder for me to
"stay in the present", even though it may not seem to be very time
efficient…(it eventually saves me time avoiding extracting a
broken drill bit!!)

Best to all!!
Julie Balonick


#16
I have one which is very reliable, it is also very much cheaper
than the well brands like Milbro and Fordham. It also come with a
good quality foot control! 

Thanks Richard. Apparently my new Foredom has a good quality foot
pedal and the problematic ones are the ones that came with the very
old foredoms that a lot of seasoned jewellers are still using! They
apparently go on for decades if looked after so I should have no
flexshaft worries all being well.

Helen
UK


#17
However, a friend recommended a "Lucas low boy" footpedal to me,
when I was specifically having a bit of trouble drilling with very
fine (small).5mm drill bits. 

Where does one buy such a marvel?

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#18
I really am thrilled with my SR series Foredom. It's SO much better
than my husband's Dremel that I was borrowing previously and I was
able to return it to him before I burned out the motor! 

I just bought myself a foredom almost a month ago. I’ve had the same
feelings, it is in a completely different league from the dremel.
The motor feels like I could smash it against concrete and still have
it run unharmed. The speed control can go from a few tens of rpm, all
the way up to 18,000 with ease. I love it:)

Paul Anderson


#19

Hi Elaine,

Regarding “Lucas low Boy” footpedal for flexshaft. I purchased one
out of the Otto Frei tools catalog. They are out of San Francisco.
www.ottofrei.com (it is called “Lucas foot control”)

Best Regards,
Julie