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Improving function and usability.

'H' linkage nut replacement

'H' linkage nut replacementWhen the 'H' linkage mounting plate on my Top-O-Matic broke off I decided to try 8-32 rivet nuts to both hold the piece on and to simplify machine breakdown. Like the Supermatic II (with super-glued top nuts), only a 14mm wrench and a flat-bladed screwdriver are needed. The Supermatic II 'H' linkage bolt bodies are the same diameter as the TOM bolts and work just fine. Its not great aesthetically but then neither is the TOM :).
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Adjustable Cutter

Adjustable CutterThe main issue with all sheet-metal/aluminum machines is hidden gunk buildup. Tobacco makes its way between moving parts, gets smeared between them and sticks. The adjustable cutter holds the cutter up snug against the top of the tobacco chamber with two 1/4 x 1/4" nylon setscrews. Because the cutter is held up and ridding on nylon, friction is minimized and shake can make its way out of the chamber without getting smeared and stuck to the bottom of the cutter. The cutter is also more effective because tobacco no longer gets folded/caught/smeared between the cutting edge and chamber.

P.S. The slots look mangled because the setscrews are homemade from a nylon screw (I couldn't find nylon setscrews locally).
[ page | comments (7) - Friday, 02-Mar-2007 | top ]admin

Adjustable Spring Tension

Adjustable Spring TensionAfter coming up with the Roller Release I was trying to experiment with different springs and the ones I had weren't fitting too well. This solved that problem and allows me to fine tune the gripper spring tension. I drilled a hole through the side of the TOM and threaded it and the brass hook... It works out even better with the Supermatic (just tapped the existing hole with a 4-40 tap)... Modding the Supermatic II requires an additional piece.

With this mod, the roller release, and latex surgical tubing on the gripper, the machine can make any size filtered cigarette without adjustment (i.e. with the release plate removed). Increase spring tension until you start tearing tubes (any size) and then back the adjuster off one turn. The surgical rubber gripping properties are consistent because its more durable than the stock gripper and its 'give' can accommodate variations in tobacco/packing without the need for a release plate. You could try this without the roller release. Without the roller, the increased spring tension will make the action stiff/tight, especially during cutter retraction.
[ page | comments (23) - Friday, 28-Mar-2008 | top ]admin

Base plate

Base plateA simple piece of 1/4" board, used in conjunction with the Rubber Mat Alternative, holds the machine solidly in place. After bench-testing with screws I mounted it with double-sided tape on my cigarette making cart. I tried another setup without the rubber edging, this stays put better and has a quieter/nicer feel. This mods only drawback is that it makes cleanup a bit of a hassle.
[ page | comments (16) - Sunday, 11-Feb-2007 | top ]admin

Cig size through 100's

Cig size through 100'sAll the pieces have fallen in place and I now have a machine that runs smoother, requires less maintenance and can make any size filtered smoke without adjustment.

The image is a series of smokes (Zen 100's and Rizla cig size) made in order on my modified Supermatic II (Roller Release, Adjustable Cutter, Adjustable Spring Tension without a release plate, Smaller Nozzle, Shortened Spoon and Hopper Tray). I didn't change the machine in any way while making the smokes and they all got my traditional two butt taps.

While this was done primarily to test the range of the Adjustable Spring Tension gripper (without a release plate) it also shows that the cig size mods (shorter spoon and smaller nozzle) are harmless when using longer and larger diameter tubes.

I'm not a 100's smoker and I have to say its not the easiest way to make a smoke (careful attention to fully and evenly filling the chamber is required) and its hard on the machine (noticeably more cranking force is required and tobacco moisture content is more critical). The size of the tobacco chamber limits the tobacco plug to ~75mm long. While I was able to get perfectly flush tipped Zen 100's its almost impossible to make a smoke that long that doesn't benefit from a couple of butt taps (setting the tobacco a bit inside the tip). Since you only want to fill part of the tobacco chamber when making cig size smokes the end results can be more variable (tobacco recessed or protruding from the tip).
[ page | comments (3) - Wednesday, 03-Oct-2007 | top ]admin

Crank Arm

Supermatic_Crank.jpgI used an Excel a long time before buying a Supermatic. The Excel was real easy to hold on to and I could pile a few smokes worth of tobacco into its bowl. I found the Supermatic awkward to hold on to, the crank would collide with my hand, and there was no space for extra tobacco. When I took the nut off the crank I found a little metal piece that I could flip over and thus change the cranks path. The new path was more comfortable/ergonomic and gave me room for a pile of tobacco. I still didn't have a nice handle to hold on to but I was content with this setup for quite a few months. I started playing with a few ideas and eventually came up with the Hopper Tray.
[ page | comments (5) - Monday, 20-Aug-2007 | top ]admin

Custom Crank Plate

Custom_Crank_Plate.jpgA simple and inexpensive (discontinued) modification. The stock Supermatic is hard to hold on to because you have to keep your left/holding hand out of the way of the crank. At the end of the machines stroke things are pretty tight/awkward. There's a small slotted plate under the crank arm that determines the cranks path. The cranks path can be altered by changing the location of the plates slot. Starting the stroke earlier allows for a good comfortable grip on the machine and plenty of clearance at the end of the stroke. Being able to have your left hand closer to the centerline of the machine means more leverage to counteract the clockwise force exerted by your right hand. See Supermatic Crank for another option (flipping the stock plate).
[ page | comments (10) - Monday, 03-Sep-2007 | top ]admin


General machine modification discussions.
[ page | comments (11) - Wednesday, 09-Apr-2008 | top ]admin

Handle Extension

Handle ExtensionPosted by ChasM on Friday, 01-Jun-2007
I have found that by adding an extension to my 'matic machines the process of injecting become smoother - easier. I have made this modification to 3 SupermaticII's and a Top-o-matic usually with 1/2" thick-walled aluminum tubing
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Hopper Tray

Hopper_Tray.jpgA handcrafted tray for Supermatic and Top-O-Matic machines. The tray is made from .05" aluminum sheet, has rubber trim and two sided tape for mounting. It measures 8-1/8" x 3-7/8" x 1-1/4" and when attached does not increase the Supermatic's overall dimensions.

The tray holds well over a packs worth of tobacco to simplify and speed cigarette production. The tray significantly reduces the mess associated with making cigarettes and makes the Supermatic much easier to hold on to. It also simplifies working with shags and can be used for blending. See the image gallery for examples (near bottom, or start here) ... or view the Pouches, Shag, and Blending image pages (3 images per page).

After using one of these trays for 8 months (see Stuffing Video) I decided to make a few more. I've now done a few small production runs and try to keep the trays in stock and ready to ship. All trays now come with an alignment tool to simplify installation. The price is $24.99 (8.3% tax for WA residents). Priority Mail shipping with delivery confirmation is $4.05 (US only). If you don't like it, return it undamaged and I'll refund your money.

The 'Standard' tray mounts with two sided fiberglass tape, is easy to install and can last a long time (I had one in daily usage for 8 months before taking it off, mileage varies). The 'Glue Ready' tray is a, relatively simple, permanent mounting option that uses two sided tape and a bead of adhesive (not included).

Installation pictures/instructions start here.

May '07: I'm currently out of the trays and I'm really not sure when I'll make more, selling one per month makes them a low priority.

[ page | comments (46) - Monday, 08-Nov-2010 | top ]admin

Quiet spring and spoon arm

Qiuet spring and spoon armHeat-shrink tubing on the spring, and cabinet door bumpers on the end of the spoon arm, quiets the machine quite a bit. While I put heat-shrink on the hooks and body of the spring, its the tubing on the body that killed the spring 'sing'. I slightly heated the center of the sleeve to keep it from sliding around. The door bumpers on the end of the spoon arm only works with the blue Supermatic. Its the only machine where the spoon base isn't flush with the chamber sidewall (when the machine is in the open position, the bumpers bring it flush).
[ page | comments (1) - Saturday, 05-Feb-2011 | top ]admin

Roller Release

Roller ReleaseWhen trying to increase gripper spring tension the punched tab on the 'H' linkage was a limiting factor (noticeable rubbing/friction) so I came up with this. I thought it was an original idea but a week later Smitty sent me some vintage Supermatic pics including one showing that there used to be a round release pin on the Supermatics.
[ page | comments (2) - Wednesday, 09-Jan-2008 | top ]admin

Rubber Mat Alternative

Rubber Mat AlternativeI prefer rubber sheet-metal edging to the rubber mat bottoms of the Supermatic and TOM.
[ page | comments (3) - Wednesday, 03-Jan-2007 | top ]admin

Smaller Nozzle

While mainly for 'Cigarette Size' tubes, it may be useful if you experience a lot of tight fitting tubes. I have not found the smaller nozzle to be an issue when using 'standard' diameter tubes but I have heard others complain about loose fitting tubes (on a stock nozzle, not sure why).

'Cigarette Size' tubes will fit on some (most/many?) handhelds and maybe the Excel but the 'matics nozzles are too big. Unless you don't mind a lot of tobacco sticking out of the tip of the finished smoke, a shorter spoon is also a good idea (see also: Using : Long Filtered Tubes). There are two ways you can make the nozzle smaller, replace it with a custom nozzle or use sandpaper to make the existing nozzle smaller.

Custom Nozzle (mostly from May '05):

I got a piece of 5/16 brass tube (K&S stock #133), cut off a 3" piece, cut a 45 degree angle on the end, put the other end in a drill and rotated tube against a file until the outside diameter was small enough that the cigarette size tubes would fit. The resulting wall thickness is on the thin side but doesn't appear particularly fragile.

The Supermatic Premier nozzles are glued in and have a half-round spacer that helps to provide a bit more structural integrity (the Supermatic II nozzles are just glued in). I used needle-nose pliers to get the the spacer off, scraped off what glue I could, then pulled the nozzle off (I don't know if the super-glue solvent I used made any difference or not). I cut the new nozzle to matching length, glued it and the spacer in with a bit of super glue, then filled the area with epoxy.

I later pulled a Supermatic II nozzle out, left the glue in place, and just super-glued the new nozzle in place. Its something like two years later now and the nozzle is still solidly in place.

Sandpaper (mostly from Sept/Dec '05):

You will need to at least detach the gripper assembly from the machine body. With the Supermatic you can take the gripper assembly off the machine without loosening the adjusting screw, with the Top-O-Matic you cannot. When I did this on a TOM I left the adjuster flopping around, it wasn't fun but I was able to keep it out of the way.

Cut something like 1" x 6" strips of 220grit sandpaper and fold them in half lengthwise with the grit facing out (you'll probably tear/destroy a few). With the creased side up against the machine housing, loop the paper halfway around the nozzle and pull back and forth (like shining shoes). Be sure to keep the creased edge tight and up against the body. Work around the nozzle. Since you cannot loop over the top of the nozzle, work mostly from the front and back of the machine.
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Spoonless Supermatic

Spoonless SupermaticPosted by David Brown on Tuesday, 08-Apr-2008
I have found that with the supermatic C. model you can achieve perfect smokes without a spoon. More information including pictures can be found here

[ page | comments (12) - Wednesday, 09-Apr-2008 | top ]admin

Stuffing Video

An abbreviated stuffing session video (< 1MB .avi) with my Supermatic II and hopper tray. Older versions of WMP may need this XviD codec (146KB).
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