Underpinner Opinions

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Mr.Framey
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Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 10:11 am

Hi. I'm going to be buying a new underpinner and I'm looking for some opinions. I've narrowed it down to these unless someone has some better alternative that I could look at:

Alfamacchine U-200 - About £1000
https://www.fletcher-terry.com/frame-jo ... ine-u-200/

Cassese CS 1 Cart - About £1000
https://www.cassese.com/products/machin ... cs-1-cart/

Cassese CS 1 Cart - About £1000
https://www.cassese.com/products/machin ... i/cs1-uni/

Cassese CS59 - £150
Used from someone locally.

I've always heard that Cassese were the best brand of underpinners, however I've read a lot about the newer machines being much lower quality than before, is that true? I'd prefer to buy new but I have found a very cheap CS59 locally that looks in really good condition. Which would likely be the best choice? I only make frames in low volume, and the only moulding I cut is softwood at 20mm width and 20mm depth. Thanks.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by prospero » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 1:53 pm

I would look for a used Cassese CS88. :wink:

They are very robust machines. Get a spare cable and a spare hammer though. Apart from these items
there is very little to break.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by JonathanB » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 3:12 pm

I used a CS1 Cart underpinner for about four years before moving on to a pneumatic machine. I was very pleased with it and it did just about everything I could have asked of it, with the exception of heavy oak mouldings, which were a bit beyond it. Like all the Cassese machines, it's pretty easy to work on and if you keep a few sensible spares, then you should be fine. It's definitely not as substantial as some of the older machines though. The fact that there are still a lot of CS88's around speaks for itself.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 3:40 pm

I still use a CS-88. Great machines!
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 8:15 pm

Thanks for the advice. I've looked up the Cassese CS88 and it looks like a good underpinner, however I'm always quite sceptical about buying stuff like this second hand. I've found one locally that's apparently refurbished, see below.

Does this look decent? It's about £500. Looks okay condition, but in the picture of the moulding they have uploaded the wedges are off centre? I'm guessing they're not meant to be, is this adjustable on this machine? Another thing that worries me is if the table is flat after years of use. The underpinner I have doesn't have a flat table and it's the reason I'm upgrading. I really like the fact the new Cassese has a solid steel one piece table.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 10:25 pm

That's not what it is I would expect from a professionally refurbished machine. My guess would be that the recieeer block is badly worn, or misaligned in some way. I would readily admit that this probably does not prevent you from producing adequate joints and once the back is taped up there is nothing showing, but if it's a worn receiver block, how long before it wears a bit more and becomes unreliable and starts regularly jamming.

I'd think about this quite carefully, a new receiver block may well cost more than you might expect. They involve some very accurate tolerances and machining. Maybe not a great start! How old is this machine supposed to be?
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 10:38 pm

It doesn't give an age or an estimate on much use it's had, just says it's refurbished. A heavily used machine was my main worry, so I think I'll leave that and purchase a new one.

I think I'll go with the Cassese, but which would be best between the Cassese CS1 Uni and the Cassese CS1 Cart? I understand the only difference is the wedges you can use, but is there an advantage to the CS1 Cart that uses the Cassese cartridges? It seems the CS1 Uni is a little bit more expensive to buy, but cheaper on the wedges so it would be worth it long-term, unless I'm missing something.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by JonathanB » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 10:48 pm

Having used the CS1 cart machine, the cartridges are a great advantage, as you can easily swap between different size wedges with little or no waste. Very useful when you’re busy.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 11:13 pm

The colour coded wedge cartridges make it very easy to see what size wedges are already loaded in to the machine. Not realising that you've got the wrong size wedges loaded in to the machine mcartridges might ruin the frame. Wedges in cartridges cost more, but some of us have worked out how to reload the cartridges and save a little bit.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Thu 12 Sep, 2019 11:18 pm

Ahh right okay, I actually only ever use one sized moulding and wedges so I'm guessing the UNI would maybe make more sense for me. However I can imaging it's harder to sell if I ever wanted to as most people probably want the CART.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by prospero » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 12:09 am

The fences on the CS88 are quite cleverly adjustable. :D Maybe they weren't tweaked quite right on that example
and that would account for the offset insertions. It's not really that much off....

I notice that machine is set for joining while standing in front and that the clamp has been removed. That's just what I did
with mine. Just my preference- it's what I'm used to. You can move the pedal the work it from behind and that has the advantage
of not having to stand inside the frame. But standing in front you can 'lean in' to the joint and dispense with the clamp, which frankly
is a nuisance.

btw. Mark. I did what you said and managed to refill a cartridge with Uni wedges left over from my (retired) Euro machine.
Works a treat. :clap:

btw2. Newer cartridges don't seem to be as well made as older ones. I had a lot of jamming with new cartridges and had to sand down
the fronts to get them to work.

btw3. I stripped down the hammer block and the machine is a dream to work on. Very well-made.
re-greased it. It now works like a smooth, well oiled machine as Capt.Mainwaring would say. :lol:
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by prospero » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 12:15 am

Mr.Framey wrote:
Thu 12 Sep, 2019 10:38 pm
It doesn't give an age or an estimate on much use it's had, just says it's refurbished. A heavily used machine was my main worry, so I think I'll leave that and purchase a new one.
For 500 quids I'd snap it up. I'll wager it's hardly worn at all and all it needs is a bit of jiggling. :wink:

Worth a shot IMHO.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 8:43 am

But if the guy really knew how to refurbish these I don't think he'd post a picture of a really poorly joined piece of moulding with off centre wedges to sell the machine. Surely he'd have seen the issue and corrected it.

Speaking of the adjustable fences, I notice the fences aren't adjustable on these newer Cassese underpinners, is that a major issue?

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:24 am

prospero wrote:
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 12:09 am
btw2. Newer cartridges don't seem to be as well made as older ones. I had a lot of jamming with new cartridges and had to sand down
the fronts to get them to work.
I do the same. I had assumed that it was a tolerance issue with the machine, because I had just bought a new machine and never realised it could be something to do with the cartridges.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Justintime » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:28 am

I bought a CS1Uni cart new. Two and a half years later, I sold it for less than half and found a bargain CS88 for £100.
I cleaned it, changed the hammer and bought a spare cable.
It changed my working life.
To be able to change cartridges mid underpin is brilliant, as is adjusting the fences, tilt and angle.
Wood is wood, sometimes you need the adjustment.
Also, for some reason with the cs88 the wedges go in so much more smoothly.
Have a chat with Mark at underpinner spares.co.uk
He'll give you an unbiased opinion on Cassese choices.
Have a look at ebay recent sold prices, i think you'll find that £500 is a bit high, £180-£325 is more like the current sold prices.
Having used a cs88, I now wouldn't go near a CS1 especially the UNI.
When I upgrade again, it will probably be a secondhand Alfamachine 4.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Justintime » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:33 am

A new cs88 wedge distribution block is £150inc.
I took mine apart, cleaned, greased, new hammer no problems.

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:52 am

prospero wrote:
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 12:09 am
The fences on the CS88 are quite cleverly adjustable. :D Maybe they weren't tweaked quite right on that example
and that would account for the offset insertions. It's not really that much off....
If I was buying the machine, I would want to be sure what was causing the issue before parting with the money.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by cleaver » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 1:35 pm

Justintime wrote:
Fri 13 Sep, 2019 10:28 am
I bought a CS1Uni cart new. Two and a half years later, I sold it for less than half and found a bargain CS88 for £100.
I cleaned it, changed the hammer and bought a spare cable.
It changed my working life.

JT, you are the bargain master!

I find it shocking that the 'new' Cassese isn't up to the CS88....to the extent that you had to replace it with a used CS88. I hope Cassese are taking note. They sound like a great company, so I expect they will learn from this.

Well done again for making that work financially (or at least not as painful as it could have been).
:head:

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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Not your average framer » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 7:02 pm

I think that you need to consider the build standard. Underpinners that are aimed at the entry level in the market are not really design to last to long, or stand up to long term heavy usage. They are built to sell at a low price and getting a worthwhile profit out of producing items for this level in the market is all about balancing volume of sales, cost of production and an adequate level of profit. The secondhand value of such machines is very low and finding a buyer at all for your second hand machine will be a major challenge.

At the top end of the market you've got the Minigraphs, the Gielli 4000E and various up market models offered by the main stream manufacturers, which have been very often jazzed up by adding some additional electronic fancy functionality. Where the electronics is intended to be a throw away circiut board, which is intended to be replaced by a new circuit board at a fixed cost, you've got a problem after the point in time when the manufacturer decides to discontinue the availabilty of replacement circuit boards. At this point, your expensive top of the range machine is potentially only saleable for spares, or repairs.

That leaves the main part of the market in between the already mentioned lower and higher ends of the market. Somebody has already mentioned something about what is the best machine on the market. Well, it would be nice if this was a straight forward question, but unfortunately it's not that easy. The middle of the market is where the best combination of volume of sales and most advantageous return on cost of sales exists. Are the various manufacturers going to pull out all the stops to compete in this most lucrative part of the market? Of course they are! Unfortunately, if these machines last forever, the ability to generate ongoing future business might not be so good.

As a result, there is always a strategy to ensure that these machines will eventually reach the end of the road and the viability of repair at a worthwhile cost will eventually become unreasonable. With this thought in mind, what is the smart thinking when buying a new, or secondhand underpinner? I don't intend to suggest that any one manufacturer is better, or worse than any other. In stead, I will look at a few things that those who don't come from a design, engineering and production oriented background probably don't think about.

!. The top clamp on most underpinners operates through vertically oriented bronze bearing bushes. These will eventually develop wear and one day they will no longer be up to the job. Most lower and middle priced underpinners are not designed with any intention for these bushes to be replaced and the underpinner slowly becomes not as good as it once was.

2. Wedge driving hammers. Cassesse came up with a hammer pressed out from flat steel. It does the job perfectly well, but it won't last as long as a traditional hammer made from a lump of tool steel. It is however an indication of a design phliosiphy where the cusomer will be footing the bill for replacing various expendable parts throught the life of the machine, which many have come to expect and don't pay much attention to. Some manufacturers machines will require a replacement part, with often very little warning, so be aware that some machines will need attention more frequenty and therefore there maybe unexpected times of down time.

In fairness to Cassesse, most of the machines are designed to be easy to fix and every machine comes with a spare hammer, a tube of grease and some allen keys. This is a clear indication that Cassesse consider most machine owner competent to tackle certain failures without relying upon calling somebody else to solve the problem.

3. Machines fitted with electronic control boards are not usually going to be something that can be repaired by the machine owner, so don't be too dazzled by what extra functionally the electronics provide. If it goes wrong, it may be time to call out the engineer, which will cost you in both down time, call out for the engineer and perhaps new electronics parts for the machine.

In the end what I'm I telling you. The advantages of ever make of machine can still have pros and cons. Lots of people appear to like Cassesse machines. The system of using wedge cartridges is a big advantage. You don't need to change wedge firering blocs, or anything else, just the wedge cartridge and the colour coded cartridges tell you at a glance which wedges the machine currently loaded with.

However more complex machines come with extra funtionality and more things in the machine to go wrong. In terms of more reliablity of more complex machines, expect the price tag to be a good indicator of what you are getting. Apart from Minigraph machines other machine can be less attractive as secondhand machines to some degree. Machines with only one distributor in the UK may leave you exposed to difficulties obtaining spare parts, if that distributor is currently out of stock. Any parts that are permanently fixed and not relaceable, will not be feasable to replace under normal conditions and should attract special attention if buying as second hand. All second hand machines will have some wear and it's up to you to determine the severity and the consequences of that wear. Never buy a machine without trying it out very thoughly first if second hand.
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Re: Underpinner Opinions

Post by Mr.Framey » Fri 13 Sep, 2019 8:19 pm

Thanks for all the great advice here. It's a real shame the comments I'm reading about the new Cassese machines. I think JonathanB is the only guy in the thread who has liked the experience. Everything I read on the forums is really quite bad.

Okay, so I guess the older Cassese underpinners are better, however I can't find a decent one for sale. What would your recommendations be at a new machine for about £1000? The only one I can seem to find as an alternative is this:

Alfamacchine U200
https://www.lionpic.co.uk/p/32023/Alfam ... nderpinner

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