Service

How To Prevent Cord Problems on Clippers With Voltage Converters

Some groomers have been experiencing cord problems with clippers having voltage converters on the end of the cord. These converters convert 120 volts AC to DC current that runs your clipper. DC motors have more torque and seem to hold speed better in tough coat. Because of the extra weight of some of these cords, they break and short out right behind the clipper. If the converter is pulled from the wall socket and hits the floor, components inside can break and cause the cord to fail as well. You can prevent these situations from happening with a few modifications you can do yourself.

The Cord

The cord can short where the thick part goes into the clipper. This thick part of the cord is called the “Stress Relief”. It is suppose to be stiff and make the cord do the bending out past the stress relief where the cord is thinner. But with the twisting and turning groomers do these days, that can cause this cord to start shorting right behind the clipper. I have found by using a “zip-tie”, and zip-tying the cord to the hanger in the back, it keeps the cord from twisting behind the clipper. Doing this makes the cord twist and bend out where the cord is smaller, and that’s what it was designed to do. Look at the example in the picture, and zip-tie your cord the same way. If you need the hanger to hang your clipper, get a key ring and run it through the hanger and hang your clipper from it.

IMG_20141014_113714_826

 

The Converter

Another issue with this cord, and any other clipper having a voltage converter on the end where you plug it in, is the cord becoming “Dead”. These converters, even though they are small, are packed with components. If you accidently pull this converter out of the wall and it hits the floor, the chances of one of these components breaking is great, thus the cord will become dead, and no electricity will go to the clipper. Below is a picture of the inside of the voltage converter.

IMG_20140921_111557_623

 

As you can see, there is quite a bit of electronics packed into this small box, and it doesn’t take that big of a whack to break something inside if its pulled from the wall socket and it hits the leg on your grooming table. The solution? Get a power strip, and set it on the floor, then plug your cord with the converter into the power strip. It can’t fall from the floor, and you just saved yourself the expense of a new cord and sending it off for repairs.
In conclusion, if you zip-tie your cord now before it starts to short out, and get a power strip to plug it into and set it on the floor, I think your problems will be over.


As always, read all your labels and manuals, and have a safe day grooming!

Jeff


Spring Check-up For Your Equipment and Shop

Everyone is slow this time of year, and its a good time to go through your grooming equipment and shop equipment. This is the calm before the storm, the snowbirds are coming back and usually their pets are a mess, so our equipment has to be ready.

  • Blades – Even though your blades are cutting now, they may give out later. If you can afford it, get all your 7’s and 10’s sharpened now. Go through your drawers in the shop and look for blades you may have thrown in them for some reason or another, if they are still good get them sharpened. Start oiling them and washing them in blade wash to keep them cutting longer.
  • Clippers – Check every clipper you have for broken cords, worn hinges, and change the blade drive. Check all the screws to make sure they are tight. Now is the time to get them serviced so they don’t quit during shavedown. And don’t try to groom having  only one clipper, you need a backup. The money you loose because you can’t work may buy several clippers.
  • Shears – Same thing. If you can afford it, get them sharpened now. If you start a process of wiping them down and lubing them every night the edge will last longer. Scissor lube is very important, it lubes the pivot of your shears, and it also protects the screw so it doesnt start rusting and loosening up all the time. Shears will rust if you don’t wipe them down. You can get scissor lube from any grooming catalogue, or any beauty supply store.
  • Dryers – Some  groomers dont know how to maintain dryers properly. Dryers need to be cleaned out weekly and sometimes daily. Take the filters out and clean them by blowing them out with a second dryer, or washing the filter in warm soapy water and let dry overnight.  Another thing you can do to prevent the fusable link on the switch is to blow the dryer out. If its a canister dryer, you can take the front and back off and blow the hair out with a second dryer or an air hose. When too much hair accumulates on the inside of a dryer, the motors overheat and blow the fuse on the switch. Happened to me many times before I got smart and started to clean them out. Carbons should be changed yearly. I change them every spring whether they need it or not. Its simple to do if you follow the directions in your manual.
  • Bathing Room – This is usually a mess when I start on it. First I gather up all the nooses and get rid of the broken ones. Next, I go through the towels and toss the ones with holes or are all frayed up. We got our towels used from hospitals, yard sales, GoodWill, and flea markets.  Soaps and mixing bottles are next. I get rid of bad mixing bottles that lost their marks, and I combine soaps of the same kind so I can order new supplies. Check the tubs for leaks, and make sure the hair filters are good and still able to catch the hair. If your using fiberglass tub inserts for a bathing tub, check the bottom of the tub with your fingers and feel for holes caused by nail scratches. You can pick up fiberglass patches from a home improvement store. Fix them while they’re small or you’ll be replacing the tub.
  • Drawers & Cabinets – If you have any drawers or cabinets in your shop go through everyone and throw out stuff thats broken or unusable. If you have a box of clippers your saving for parts, remember that if they sit around in that humid environment for a year or two they may not run anymore. Moisture will ruin the armature, but cords and body parts should be OK.
  • Card Files – Most of us have regular customers that come routinely, so a large card file may be OK. If you have a big shop with multiple groomers you may want to go through the card file and see if the cards are current. If they haven’t been back in two or more years you may want to move that card out of your active files. We did that one year and got rid of 300 cards, some haven’t been back in over 5 years. A card file does need cleaned up once in a while. You can also make cold calls on the cards that are non- active and try to get their business back.
  • Mobile Groomers – You basically have the same chores to do but at a smaller scale. Vehicle maintenance, and generator maintenance are the big concerns for you. Time now to get everything checked before you get real busy.

I just wanted to get everyone aware of some things you can do to get you and your shop ready for spring and summer. You can use this list again after the kids go back to school this fall to get ready for the Christmas rush. Being proactive with your equipment and shop could prevent surprizes and untimely bills.

Hope this can help somebody. Be safe, and remember to read those labels.

Jeff

 


Mobile Sharpeners: Can Their Sharpening Equipment Get Out Of Calibration Because They Are Mobile?

Yes it can, the calibration does get off when doing mobile sharpening.  I did mobile sharpening in 5 states down here in the south before I went strictly mail-in for 15 years. Even though your equipment is solid in your van or trailer, going over bumps, hitting pot holes,  and going over railroad tracks does vibrate the calibration off. I would check my calibration weekly on my automated blade machine,  and the arm position on my scissor sharpening machines. Most times they were still dead on, sometimes they were off just a couple thousands, but that little variation can cause a scissor to fold at the tips, and blades to fail the rub test (explained later on).

In my sharpening shop, the scissor machines never move, but when I roll my two automated blade machines around to clean or when I change the sharpening plate, I check the calibration of the automated arms. Once in a while I have to adjust, but its nothing like when I was on the road bouncing around all the time. Bad calibration can really shorten the life of the cutting surface of the blade because the hollow ground of the blade isn't centered correctly.

I've taught several sharpeners who purchased the same equipment I use the importance of getting the blade centered on the hollow grind of the plate, and not assume the factory marks on the automated arms were correct. And also to check the calibration weekly of their automated machine. Bumpy roads can be certain death to an automated blade machine, but taking the time to check calibration will prevent alot of very angry customers when the blades start to have issues.

Whats “Hollow Ground” on a blade?

Blades dont have flat surfaces like it seems when you look at them. The cutting surfaces are "Pitched" a few thousands so the tips of the cutter teeth, and the very rear of cutter touch the blade underneath it. This enables the blade teeth to cut like a tiny pair of scissors as the teeth go back and forth across each other. If they were flat, they would snag in the first inch of hair you tried to cut with them. Sharpening plates aren't flat either, they are pitched as well to grind this "hollow ground" as we call it to make the blade work. When the blade is put on the plate to be sharpened, the very center of the blade must be in the center of this pitch. If its past the center, or short of the center, cutting life is shortened.This is where calibration is so important.

 Hollow ground is checked by rubbing a freshly sharpened cutter blade on a flat steel plate (test plate), sharpeners  call this "rubbing the blade out". After you rub it on the plate and turn it over you can see a small shinny area across the very tips of all the teeth, and areas on both sides of the back rail, this shows pretty good hollow ground. If the entire tooth is shinny , its out of calibration too far. If the teeth are shinny on each side but not in the middle of the blade, the calibration is too short. Sharpeners who use a manual sharpening machine (one without automated arms),  have no calibration to check. Creating a good hollow ground depends on holding the blade in their hand with a magnet, and going back and forth across the plate trying to keep the blade as straight as they can. With a manual machine, every blade is sharpened differently, and the variation can be enormous.


Here is a question to ask the sharpener your currently using : "When was the last time you checked the calibration of your equipment"? or "Do you rub blades out to check the hollow ground"? If you get a "NO" for either of these questions, that sharpener has no idea what kind of work they are putting out. The blades may cut good now, but for how long? Another reason to rub blades out is to check if the machine is indeed grinding a hollow ground blade. Sharpening too many blades on a sharpening plate will decrease the hollow ground capability of it, and the blades will be sharpened flat and will not work long  if they work at all. If a sharpener rubs out blades religiously, and sees the shinny area on the tips of the cutter teeth start to come down the tooth, its a signal to change that sharpening plate.

I know this was kinda long, but Im hoping to have some sharpeners as part of my audience, as well as interested groomers. It may actually let a few sharpeners re-evaluate what they are doing to insure they are putting out good work for their customers. Those that are doing this already know what Im talking about and will agree "Its better for YOU to catch a potential problem, and not let your customer catch it for you". Calibration is an important part of the sharpening process, and the customer perspective of our work is something we never want to get tarnished.

Now everyone knows more than me about all this, and its good to know as a groomer what it takes to ensure your blades are sharpened correctly. Knowledge is power!

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels.


WHAT DAMAGE CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU DROP YOUR CLIPPER

We all hold our breath when we drop a clipper because we hope it still runs when we pick it off the floor. Our clipper is the most important tool we have as a groomer, so we have to do our monthly maintenance, clean the hair from it, and make sure it doesn’t hit the floor.

All clippers have the same problems when they are dropped, but we will look at the Andis AGC Ultra Edge because its the most common clipper among most groomers.

THE SWITCH

When the clipper hits the floor, it jars the insides very much. The switch has a capacitor on it that can bust loose from the curcuit board. It has two small wires that are only soldered to the board, and when the clipper hits the floor they can break.

AGC Switch_capacitor

If just one of these wires is broken, you will loose your high speed. The switch is screwed into the rear motor mounts of the clipper. The motor mounts are just two plastic posts located on the bottom clipper body that holds the rear of your motor. If either of these mounts break off when the clipper is dropped, it can cause your clipper to get hot when running. The motor vibrates because nothing is holding it at the back thus causing the heat. This ever happen to you? Lower clipper bodies are about $10.00

THE MOTOR FIELD

This is a big thing that can short out your armature, blow your switch, and possibly cause smoke to come from the clipper. Figure about $90 to fix this if the damage is this extensive.

The motor field is a round steel tube lined with two curved magnets, your armature spins inside this tube. When your clipper is turned on, your brushes cause a negative polarity to the magnets and this causes the armature to spin, which moves your blade drive back and forth making the blade cut.

Broken magnet

If you drop your clipper, and it hits hard enough, you can crack these magnets. They can fragment causing shorts which can blow the armature and switch. Also, if one the the fragments is small enough, it can lodge against the aramture inside and pin it so it doesnt move. Usually when this happens you can hear the clipper “hum” when you turn it on, but it wont run. If you experience this, don’t try to use it anymore and send it in for repair. A new motor field can cost about $25.00, armatures are about $40.00, switches are about $15.00, plus the labor charge.

Since your clipper is so important to your working or not, you need to take care of it. I learned by experience a long time ago that setting a clipper under a dog on the table can really ruin your day. I use a small table next to my grooming table, and I set shears and clippers on it when not using them. It may be a lifestyle change for you to start doing that as well if your having your equipment kicked off the table on a regular basis.

Read those labels, and have fun grooming!

jEFF


The Three Daily Goals Of A Pet Groomer

To be successful in this business doesn’t depend on your knowledge of grooming or the equipment you use, it actually depends on some very basic goals you accomplish every day. My grooming instructor over 30 years ago covered these goals with us and I think about them from time to time in my own shop. They are simple goals such as “Make Money”, “Customer Perspective”, and “Safety”. Three little goals that pass through our minds everyday, but we never really think about how much they impact every day we work.

Make Money

We all know making money is what we get into this business for in the first place, but how we make money is important. You make money several different ways like “Saving Money”, trying to get the best deals on products you use like soaps, conditioners, the products your shop runs on every day. Careing for your equipment, doing some of the repair work yourself as opposed to paying a sharpener to fix stuff for you. Compulsive spending is the biggest thing you have to watch. Do you really need that pair of shears everyone is talking about? If you can curb compulsive spending you will see a huge increase in your net income. Watching your utilities like electricity, are you running dryers longer than needed? Air conditioning set too low? The little things add up at the end of the month. We all charge a fair price for our grooms for the areas we work in, but being frugal in our spending, our payroll, and our operating costs can make us additional money by actually saving it.

Customer Perspective

This is the most important of the three goals, this can actually make or break you in this business. Customer perspective has three parts in it as well, your customer has to have a good perspective of “Your Work”, Your Shop”, and most importantly “YOU”. You can be the best groomer in the world and not be successful. Customer perspective of your work doesn’t include how perfect the groom is, but does mean “Did you do what the customer asked for?”. Sometimes you have to leave your idea of how a groom should be to the side and “Do exactly what the customer wants you to do”. Making your customer happy is the goal, even if the groom looks stupid to you, it made your customer happy and they will be back. Customer perspective of your shop is important also because they are leaving their “child” with you. Is your shop clean, uncluttered, can a customer sense danger in your shop? Does your shop smell clean or can you smell the cages in the parking lot? A good shop can bring customers back just for that reason alone regardless of the groom. Finally, your customers perspective of YOU. Do you treat the pets nice and not yell at them all the time. Pets sense this and sometimes act like they don’t want to come into your shop. Are you a pleasant natured person, or do you let things get to you all the time? Do you carry an attitude all day if something happened or something is bothering you? If a customer senses animosity in any form to them or their pet, they may take it personally and never come back. A good example of displaying animosity in the shop is when a customer comes early for a pickup and the pet isn’t done yet. Its very easy to make that person feel bad for coming early and you don’t even know your doing it. One time can change that customers perspective of you forever. So try to be happy if you can, it can be profitable for you.

Safety

When we think of safety, we think since no one got bit, and no pet got hurt, its good. Thats not all, we have to go further and think of other things like controlling “unsafe acts” and “near misses”. A grooming shop is a haven for near misses and unsafe acts because its the most aggressive form of hair care in the world. Our clientel just doesn’t come in and sit down, we have to fight them sometimes to get them in the tub and washed. If you really think about it, there are things you do every day that can actually injure you with no real fault of your own. Near misses are accidents that almost happened but didn’t, and most of these can be prevented from turning into a real accident that could injure you. A good one that comes to mind is when your getting a wet dog out of the tub and your feet slip alittle while your getting it over to the drying table. You didn’t slip and fall with the dog and hurt either of you, but the potential was there for some serious injury. To prevent the near miss in this situation would be to have the floor dry, or put some sort of non-slip media on the floor to prevent slipping. Just think about the near misses you’ve had in your shop and what you can do to prevent them. An unsafe act is something you do that you know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway for some reason. We have all done stupid things that we shouldn’t have done and got away with it. But remember this, Mr Murphy (Murphys Law) walks back and forth in front of our grooming shop everyday, we don’t want him knocking on the door. Please, don’t be unsafe by cutting corners, not following directions, and worse yet doing something completely stupid, its not worth it in the long run. You are in control of 90% of what happens in the shop, so use that control to be safe, and you and your clients will go home every night un-injured.

Now that you've read these goals, think how or if they can apply to you and your business. They can help.

Be safe, read those labels, and have a great day grooming!

Jeff


New things about the Wahl 5-N-1 blade

REMEMBER TO GREASE THE CUTTER NOTCH 

A customer sent me her Bravura and several blades and complained the clipper was burning up and vibrating during her last groom. On inspection of these items I discovered there was nothing wrong with the clipper, but the blades had been melting while on the clipper.

The cutter notches on both blades sent were melted and rounded out terribly.  I called and told her the clipper was fine (she was relieved), but I also fould out she cleaned the blades in soap and water. Washing them this way is fine, but most soaps will totally clean the blades of any oil and grease.

In the clipper head of your Wahl trimmer there is a round white cam with a silver post sticking out from it. This post sticks in the cutter notch, and as it spins it moves the cutter back and forth on the blade to make it cut. This silver post doesn't spin, its not on a bearing, it just pushes on the inside of that cutter notch and can create alot of friction if its not lubricated. This is what happened to these blades, the friction was so great from not greasing the cutter notch after washing that  the revolving post melted the insides of both cutter notches. Below is a picture of both cutter notches, look closely at the inside of the notches and you'll see how they are melted out.

5n1 cutter1

A 5-N-1 BLADE SPECIAL FOR VETERINARIANS

I received a different looking 5-N-1 blade recently. It had super fine teeth and had only one setting. The customer complained the blade never cut when brand new, and I could see by the tooth spacing it wouldn't go through the coat on many breeds. I called my factory rep and he said they did manufacture these blades for vets and they were for surgery.

I have a couple pictures of this blade below. You can see its not the blade you want to use in regular pet grooming. The first picture compares this vet blade to the fine blade that is commonly used. The second picture shows it has no adjustment lever, it has one setting.

IMG_20130511_135546_268

IMG_20130511_135038_150

I didn't do anything to this blade but test it. It went through my fine test hair but I had to go super slow, and it took the hair down past NOTHING LEFT! This is actually what a vet wants prior to surgery and this blade will do it no problem. If you happen to acquire one of these blades somehow, good luck, its not going to be what your used to using.

Not a long post this time but I wanted to share what can happen if you forget to grease the cutter notch. It can cause friction and hurt the cutter notch, or make you clipper run hot and vibrate. This information is also for sharpeners as well as groomers. Sharpeners can run across these problems from their customers, and now they have answers.

We have a lubrication guide for the 5-N-1 blade on our website, and we return a copy to customers who send us 5-N-1 blades for refurbishing. We refurbish these blades with new parts for $10 each, see the website for more details.

Have agreat day grooming, and please read those labels

Jeff


Having trouble with cords shorting out all the time?

There seems to be alot of groomers with cord problems recently. Many think the cords are made of junk, but really they are not. All the twisting and pulling on the cords during a groom can break the wires on the cord right where the cord enters the clipper body. Then as you move the clipper around during a groom its starts to short out momentarily which can drive you insane. There is an "Old School" trick you can use that saved our cords from breaking and shorting out. In fact, once we did this little trick we never had a cord problem again unless a dog bit through it.

If your clipper has stiff a "hanger" on the back like Andis or Wahl your in luck. Swivel hangers like on LAube and Oster clippers aren't rigid enough to do this trick properly, but it can be done. All it takes is a zip-tie! You zip-tie your cord to your clipper hanger to prevent the cord from bending or twisting at the clipper and it won't break. Thats where the break in the cord is usually at....right where the cord enters the clipper. So when you prevent it from bending in the thick part of the cord where it goes in the clipper, and force it to bend where the cord is flexible, it won't break. We did this to all our Andis clippers a few years back and haven't had a cord problem since. Below is a picture of an Andis clipper, and a Wahl clipper with the cords "zip-tied" to the hanger.

Clipper hangers

Now your thinking "If I zip-tie the cord to my hanger, I won't be able to hang my clipper up anymore" Don't worry you still can. We use a "key ring" from the hardware store that cost less than a dollar. We thread it though the hanger like you would a key and it gives us a better hanger to hang the clipper up with. Below is a picture of a 1 1/2 inch key ring.

Key ring

Just attach this key ring on the hanger, either side of the cord that is zip-tied to it, and your good to go. Hope this helps with your breaking cords all the time.

Have a great day grooming and read those labels!


Cordless Clipper Battery Charging (Do's and Don'ts)

When we buy a new cordless clipper, most forget to read the fine print in the instruction manual, or forget to read the manual altogether. We look at the convenience of things we get for our shops and cordless clippers are at the top of the list. 

Even though the manual says you can leave the handset in the charging stand all the time, or the batteries never obtain a memory and can’t be over charged, don’t believe it!

We summerized what we’ve learned with external batteries, internal batteries, and charging techniques that saved us from experiencing dead batteries and burned up handsets over the years. Take caution over convenience and you’ll be OK. 

No matter what the manufacturer states, or what kind of battery you have, there is a chance you will have trouble with it if you over-cook the battery with charging. You will get a longer battery life and running time of your clipper by a simple technique change, It involves a little more work, but its worth it to have your clipper running when you need it.

This new technique can be applied to cordless trimmers, as well as A5 cordless clippers.

Charging

When you get your new cordless clipper chances are the batteries will have a charge in them. How much we don’t know, but I think the first initial charge of a battery is important to the life of the battery. So I ran the charge out of the battery by running the clipper until it was completely dead. You won’t hurt a thing by running your clipper without a blade on it. My clipper ran about 10 minutes and the motor slowly came to a stop. If you have external batteries, do this for each battery. Dont rely on a button on your charging stand that says it will deplete the charge in the battery. It most likely doesn’t drain it like running the clipper would. 

Now put the battery or clipper in the charging stand (or hook up the power cord) and start the intitial charging. This first charge is very important, only charge the battery(s) until the indicator says its fully charged, then stop charging the battery. Even though the manual says the charger will automatically stop charging when its fully charged, dont believe that. Take the battery completely out of the charger, you know that stops the charging. If charging continues, it can over-cook the battery causing cell damage and it may not hold a charge very long. With your batteries all charged up, your ready to start grooming. 

Running Your Clipper

You use your clipper now as you would any clipper. Lets say you’ve been running it for a while and your done with the job your using it for, What do you do now? You want to put it back on the charger like the manual says you can do, should you? I wouldn’t. Replacing the handset or battery back in the charger after short runs where the battery doesn’t have the charge depleted is what causes “memory” in your battery. That battery was designed to let that clipper run for a long time, but you can teach the battery that it only needs to run for short periods of time. I’m assuming the battery cells adjust themselves to run for short periods because they start to act that way.  This is why you think the batteries aren’t holding a charge very long or are bad. Once they get trained this way (memory), there is no training them to hold a charge longer, at least in my experience. 

Here is what I started to do with my cordless trimmer when I first got it. It has an internal battery, a charging stand, and a power cord that attaches to it so it can run on house current. In the five years I’ve used it before writing this article, I’ve have had no problems with battery life, charging, or any hot handset problems.  

•  I set up the intial charging like I stated above. I ran the clipper until the battery was dead then charged it until it was fully charged and stopped the charging process.
•  I ran the clipper for several grooms and never put it back in the charger. I wanted to run the clipper until there was no charge left in the battery. This actually took a long time to complete, I was surprised how long.
•  When the charge was gone and the clipper stopped during a groom, I hooked up the power cord and finished the job. If your using external batteries, change the battery and finish the job, then charge the dead battery. Keep the fresh battery in the clipper and use it until the charge is completely gone before changing that one.
•  I left the power cord hooked up to the clipper until it was completely charged, then disconnected it. I never leave the power cord hooked up, or the handset in the charging base when I’m not using it. I only charge the battery when there is no charge left in it, then only charge it long enought to get it fully charged again.

If you change what your doing now, and do what Im doing, you may not have battery problems anymore.

Have a great day grooming, and read those labels!

Jeff


Why do switches on clippers go bad and/or burn up?

Switches have been upgraded from a simple toggle switch, to switches that regulate voltages and have circuit boards that are fragile.

Look at the old Oster switch of yester year, it was simple. The voltage came in at 115 volts AC, and you turned the clipper on with a simple toggle switch. The clipper came on and you were grooming.

Oster switch

 The Oster switch above was simple, you could leave it plugged in all the time with no worries of voltage surges. We used to hook boosters upto our Oster clippers and make them run faster, some of you remember these days. And if the clipper didn't run hot enough to burn the palm of your hand, you thought it wasn't running good and needed repair. Those were the days!

The Changes in the clippers today!

Today, its a whole new ballgame. Clippers don't run on normal house current anymore, most run on DC voltage and its converted right in the clipper with circuit boards on the switch.

Andis switches

As you can see by this collection of Andis switches, they consist mainly of circuit boards and wires. They take normal house current and convert it to DC voltage so the motor runs with more torque and more efficiently. All brands of clippers have circuit boards now so you can't get away from them. They can last forever, but fail if certain criteria are met. Let's look at this criteria.

Why clipper switches with circuit boards fail?

1. Dropping the clipper.

No matter what clipper you have you can crack a circuit board by dropping it on the floor. The boards are actually fragile, and can do wierd things when cracked. They can let the clipper run good until you shut if off, then it wont come on. If you break a certian capacitor off the board (Andis), you will only have the low speed. The high speed is controlled electronically with this capacitor. Some of you think its a battery when you hear something rattling around inside the clipper.

2. Voltage spikes or irregularities.

All switches have an incoming voltage range they operate successfully in, the norm is about 112 volts to 125 volts AC. Above or below this voltage range can burn up components on the switch circuit board. Here is a big example: Your clipper is plugged into the same line your dryers are plugged into. Not the same recepticle, but the same line hooked up to the same circuit breaker in your electric box. When you turn a dryer on, it uses about 20 amps to start the motor, then drops back to its operating amps of about 10-15 amps. Bigger the dryer, the more amps it takes to start. The problem is when the dryer amprage falls back from 20 amps at startup, to 10 amps running, it throws a little spike in the electricity. This spike can be 120 volts AC,  or 130 volts AC (we don't know). This little spike is what blows resistors on your switches circuit board. The resistors can take alot of punishment, but one day they won't and thats when it blows. Your clipper will probably run until you shut it off. This doesn't happen all the time, but it can.

Low voltage is just as bad on switches. A customer of mine who is a mobile groomer had problems with switches failing monthly. Her unit ran off a generator, and she had a large dryer plus an air conditioner running all the time. When she used her clipper, she said it ran slower than when she used it in the house. This is another bad thing. The circuit board has resistors that can blow if the voltage is on the low side 105 volts to 112volts AC. The switch trys to compensate the DC voltage its trying to put out that runs the clipper, and it just fails. I suggested a Universal Power Supply (UPS) so she could plug just her clipper into it. The UPS system has batteries inside that raise the voltage to 115 volts AC when its low, and cuts off the peaks when the voltage gets above 122 volts AC coming into the unit. She never had a problem with switches after that.

3. Lightning, plus surges and brownouts from your electric company.

We all know lightning can burn up about anything when it strikes, but it can also produce small surges that the electric company can't ground out before it reaches your clipper. In my shop one night we had a storm with lightning, and when we came in the next day a clipper smelled like it was burning when we turned it on. A surge had come into the shops electric line and went through the switch of the clipper and melted some windings in the armature. How that happed I can't figure out without blowing the switch in the process, but it did. I replaced the aramature and the problem was fixed, and the switch is still working good. Leaving clippers plugged into the wall overnight can have problems the next day from spikes or brownouts in the line. Even though the clipper is turned off, voltage can jump that brass slide switch and do harm to the components of that switch. We use a power strip now with a surge protector on it ($13.00 at home depot). The surge protector will blow if something comes in the line, and this disconnects any power to the recepticles of the power strip. Its worth looking into.

My suggestions to help keep your clippers running.

A. Get and use a power strip with a surge protector.If you don't know, or your not sure the status of the electrical outlets, and what circuit breaker is controlling what, get one. Corporate grooming salons have problems because they build the store first, then put the salon in a corner where they have room left. The electric circuits are already laid down and won't be changed. So if the outlets in the grooming salon are on the same circuits as the dryers in the back, you may have problems. Even in your own shop, if the clipper is changing speeds when you turn a dryer on, it can help and so could a UPS. And when you go home just turn the strip off to keep surges from the electric company doing any damage if you shut the strip off. I'd even put your shop refrigerator on a strip because the compressor can fry if a surge comes in.

B. If your mobile, get a UPS system. All generators have different voltage outputs, don't assume its perfect 115 volts AC. In my mobile sharpening unit I have a small volt meter on both the incoming voltage from the generator, and one on the output voltage of the UPS. And there is a BIG difference!! My blade machine takes 15 amps to start, and with my air running it will make the UPS beep. When this happened I got a larger generator so it wouldn't drop power so bad. As a mobile groomer you may have the same problems. If you turn your air on, then your dryer, maybe a clipper vac, and your UPS keeps beeping, your generator isn't large enough. Your UPS is telling you the voltage is too low and it will compensate until the batteries it go dead.

**** While Im on the subject of generators for mobile groomers I'll give you an example that happened to a local mobile groomer who had these problems. It's a guy, and when he got his unit it came with a generator in the back. The unit came with a Handy Vac, a HV dryer, and the unit had a Coleman top mouted air conditioner. He did get a UPS because he did his invoicing with a laptop computer, and that was a very smart move. When he turned the HV on, or the Vac system on with the air running the UPS would beep one time. This is normal I told him, mine did it as well. Thenhe bought an 850 Double K dryer so he could get faster and do more dogs per day. When he turned that thing on the UPS system started to beep and kept on beeping until he either turned the vac or the air off. I don't know the size of the onboard generator but it needed to be replaced if he kept the 850 in line. His unit was a trailer and he pulled it with a truck.

The very next time I was there sharpening we talked about generators and I told him about my problem and new generator that was in the back of my truck. He wanted to test my generator because he seen what I had running inside so we did. When I shut down, he ran a cord over to my generator, and he started all his equipment in his trailer. He was shutting down things and started them back up and his UPS never made a sound!!!!  So he went to Lowes and bought the Troy-Built 7000 XP which has 15,000 watts of cranking power. He set it in the back of his truck like I did and everything has been fine. The generator cost about $850, so not a bad deal and Lowes are everywhere. I think with an "all-in-one" unit your limited on generator space, so you have to contact your dealer for a more powerfull powersource. Enough on generators *****

C. Try not to drop your clipper.The hardest thing to do is NOT set your clippers on your table under a dog, I know this too well! The most innocent dog can accidently kick your clipper and you have a 50/50 chance of it working properly when you pick it up off the floor. Its a lifestyle change to remember to not do that, and here is what I did because I had room. I set up a little stand next to the table that held the blades I was using, oil, scissors, and a small bowl of bladewash. The first week I had to think every time I set the clipper down to actually put it on that stand. It took about a month to curb my habit, but now if I work in the shop the first thing I do is locate that stand. I don't groom without it, and its my suggestion to you if you can try that. It costs money to fix clippers and scissors, so a little prevention can really help.

Thats my take on the subject of clipper failure. I know it was long, but again my audience is not only groomers, but sharpeners as well. I get alot of phone calls about this subject and most are from sharpeners who really don't know why clippers do what they do, they just fix them. So if this information can help their clients as well as groomers who read this, its a win/win all around. NOTE: The voltages I described in the text came from several different places in my research. They all listed different voltages for the same components so I just took an approximate. They may be a little off, but my intent was the meaning behind them and the points I was trying to get across, so excuse me on that.

I hope you all have great days grooming, and read those labels


Stay away from Small Flat Rate Boxes when shipping equipment.

 Small FRB

The Small Flat Rate Box was not intended to jam as many blades and shears inside and ship like the TV commercial says "If it fits-It Ships". WRONG. Let me say from experience that your not saving any money what so ever if equipment gets damaged or lost. We have received 24 blades and two pair of shears in a very over packed SFRB, and they were upset that I wasn't going to ship back to them that way. It's insane trying to save a couple bucks by risking all your equipment.

When you pack blades into any box you have to have the proper "packing" to make sure blades are safe. They can't bang into each other, or they can't bang against a pair of shears during shipment either. The SFRB is small enough where the postal worker is going to throw it into a bin rather than placing it there. If your SFRB is filled and heavy with all that metal, it may burst open when it hits the back of the bin because of the lack of proper packing. The SFRB is constructed of very thin cardboard, its not as thick as the bigger boxes. This alone will invite cracks and splits if its overpacked and dropped or thrown. Remember this, if your box bursts open during shipment, it will probably just get swept up and forgotten. It will not be forwarded in that condition.

To head off any disappointment, pack your equipment properly in a shipping box thats the appropriate size to hold the amount of stuff your sending properly packed. So its not a flat rate box, if you jam everything you can into a SFRB to save a couple dollars, you stand to loose alot more than just the savings on the shipping. Breaking one tooth on a blade during shipment will cost you $20 to replace that blade, you didn't save anything. Getting the right box, or even a blade box to secure those blades will save you money in the long run.

Bladebox_full
Here is a blade box filled with blades. They are safe and will not have broken teeth when the box is dropped or thrown.

 If you insist on using a SFRB, use this as a guide. Use a SFRB when you have 6 blades or less, wrap them real good in bubble wrap and they may be good. Fill in any spaces with packing media so you hear nothing moving when you shake the box. A couple small pair of 6 inch shears is good as well (8" shears are too long). Wrap them in bubble wrap and make sure they are small enough not to poke out the sides. They see that, the box will go no further. Fill in any spaces with packing media as well.

 The SFRB is a very needed mode of shipping for something small, without costing alot of money. Please don't missuse the SFRB by over packing it, it's just not worth it. Use the right size box. Below is the proper box containing blades in a blade box and shears wrapped in bubble wrap. The weight difference between putting this much stuff in a SFRB and the one used below was one pound, and the difference in the shipping costs was $2.70. Isn't it worth $2.70 to make sure nothing gets broke in the mail???

340_right_way_to_pack

I hope these examples will help you feel not so scared to ship equipment for sharpening.

Have a blessed day and read those labels

Jeff