There are no maintenance-free clippers. All clipper require regular maintenance and inspection for parts wearing out. Whether you choose to do the maintenance or you use the services of a technician, it is best to know more about your clippers than they cut hair.
Regular maintenance will prevent failures that may happen during the work day when you depend on them the most. This advisory is for all brands of clippers. But this article will start with Andis because they are the most popular brand for American groomers, vets and trainers.
Andis clipper maintenance regardless of model is very straightforward. There is no such thing as a “tune-up.” Parts need to checked and changed along with a general cleaning. Many of the tasks can and should be done by the user. Without regular maintenance the performance of the clipper is significantly reduced. Start maintenance by inspecting the head of the clipper. Check to see if the latch has a hook on it.
Next check the hinge screws. If they are loose by even one-quarter turn it can cause drag and corn rows in the cut. Frequent use of comb attachment can loosen hinges. Continue your inspection by looking at the black part of the blade drive. Is it chewed up from being in the blades? If so, it can cause a loose fit of the top blade in the blade set. When this happens you might get drag and corn rows. Worse yet blades could snag when using comb attachments.
The Blade Drive
The blade drive is the most misunderstood part of an Andis clipper, and yet the heart of the clipper. When the blade drive is weak or bad the clipper will not perform correctly. The blade drive is made of plastic with scored ribs and connects to the tip which inserts into the top of your blade. Plastics fail with continued use and become soft. The blade drive shown in the picture is 4 weeks old, and it is completely worn out. This drive is discolored from spray coolants being sprayed on running blades. The metal bar across the front is lifting off the drive at the ends.
When a blade drive is worn out completely like this one, your clipper will not perform. The reason is simple. The plastic of the scored ribs is now so soft the drive bearing pushes the blade drive to one side of the clipper. It then hesitates before the drive bearing can pull it back the other direction. Thus you can have drag, corn rows, hair stuck in blades with combs and other issues.
Change the blade drive and symptoms should go away. Andis clipper instructions state that users need to routinely change blade drives. A bad blade drive makes the clipper useless, so you should always have extra blade drives on hand.
Hair is the enemy of any clipper. If it is not cleaned out there will be problems with the cutting system. The Andis clipper can have a big problem when hair is impacted around the drive bearing where it fits into the back of the blade drive. This can shorten the back and forth stroke of the blade considerably, which may cause performance problems with very thick coats or when using comb attachments.
When changing your blade drive dig out any impacted hair very carefully. Clear the impact from around the drive bearing and also behind the hinge. If there is hair impacted behind the hinge the blade will not lock on tight and the result is drag.
Andis clippers need to breathe. There is a hole that goes completely around the drive bearing. The airflow, even though it may look small, keeps the armature on the inside cool. It also provides a way for carbon dust from the brushes to get away from the commentator. It is extremely important to keep impacted hair from getting inside your blade drive and stopping its airflow. The clippers will get warm and copper windings of the armature could start to burn. Clipper life will shorten. Avoid spraying coolants on blades running on your clipper. I have seen this same warning on Andis operating instructions under DANGER heading #7.
Coolants are nothing more than alcohol and propane gas used as a propellant. They cool by evaporation only. Clipper instructions advise users not to use spray coolants for the purpose of lubrication because there is no lube in the spray. It lubes only while it is wet on the blade. This explains why blades heat faster when you use spray coolants in this manner.
Coolants pose serious health risks. The M.S.D.S. information warns of the potential dangers to body organs and respiratory systems. User instructions clearly state you should wear an appropriate safety mask when using them. Regular unprotected breathing of spray coolants can make you feel tired and give you headaches.
Andis uses two clipper body halves to hold the cord at the back of the clipper. As you walk around your grooming table the cord can bend in different directions. The body halves can bite down on the cord and over time it may short out.
You can help prevent this cord problem from happening with a simple “plastic zip tie.” Zip tie your cord to the hanger as shown. This will make the cord bend out away from the clipper and not cause wear and tear leading to shorts. Ultra Edge users need to to first straighten the bend in the hanger with pliers before attaching the zip tie. ▀