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Old February 12th, 2008, 01:36   #1
mcguyver
 
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Systema PTW Basic Info and FAQ

There have been alot of new PTW owners in Canada in the past year, and myself I was new to the MAX guns this past year, but have been a PTW owner for over 2 years now. These guns are not new and have been available for about 4 years now, but have undergone changes and improvements since their inception.

How do I know which PTW I have?

If you have an M16A3, it could be anywhere from a Gen 1 to new Gen 4 (2008) gun. Gen 1 guns were only available as the M16A3, and their electronics were very simple, no dynamic motor braking (so the gun would sound like it could "unwind" as the piston would put pressure on the motor if it stopped while the srping was partially compressed). Gen 1 also had a 6.10mm barrel and required a 7.2v battery. It came equipped with M90, but could be used with up to M130 (risky). Gen 1 was manufactured in 2004.

Gen 2 saw the M16A2 and M4 released for the first time, and came with improved electronics (dynamic braking) and better current consumption (480 motor and improved switching), but all else remained the same. Gen 2 was manufactured late 2004 and 2005.

Gen 3 saw the M4 now become available in the kit form. The electronics were improved again, but all else stayed unchanged. Gen 3 was manufactured from 2006-2007.

Gen 3.5 (MAX) The MAX guns became available in 2006 and they had 2 electronics sets. One limited release set used 4 wire control from the EL-001 (main board) to the EL-003 (switch board). Only 150 of these were made, and it's unknown how many, if any, ever made it to Canada. The other set was the same electronics as Gen 3, but an improved hop-up (polyurethane fixed roller) was intoduced to replace the black rubber roller used from Gen 1-3, as well a 6.04mm inner barrel was released in Sept. 2006 and all models shipped after January of 2007 came standard with the 6.04mm barrel. MAX gearboxes now came with all steel planetary gears to accommodate the M150 cylinder. The M16 series started to be shipped with M4-length inner barrels and the older M16-only cylinders reserved for Gen 1 guns were discontinued. 490B motor started to appear in MAX guns in July of 2007.

Gen 4 (MAX) The new series of MAX guns were manufactured from late 2007 and are the most current versions. All factory assembled guns are now 2008 Gen 4. They come with new electronics and the 490B motor. You can identify a 2008 gun by looking at the switch board when you connect your battery. The 2008 guns use a black heat sink to contain the electronics, Gen 2-3.5 (MAX) use clear heat shrink.


I'm looking to buy a PTW. Should I buy a kit or a factory assembled gun?

Well, there's lots of reasons to buy a kit. For some people, they want the challenge of putting one together (hence the name Challenge Kit). Others want the blank receiver that only comes with the kits. Others still want the cost savings of buying the gun as a kit.

However, this must be tempered with the sad fact that the kit guns, although more numerous in Canada than factory assembled guns are plagued by problems, some due to assembly practices, some due to parts failures. Systema has claimed for years that their factory assembled guns are fully tested and tuned by a Systema engineer, so when you open the box, everything should work 100% from day 1. But, when you assemble a gun from parts, some may fail, or be off-spec and things may not go well for you. This is not a problem in countires where the kit comes from an authorized Systema dealer who stocks replacement parts, but there is no such dealer in Canada. Some users have bought the kits and zero problems. Others have had catastophic problems, or anywhere in between.

I personally recommend the factory assembled guns, but the demand for PTWs worldwide has increased significantly in the past 2 years, so thay are not always easy to come by. Currently, as of the writing of this post, the 2008 PTWs are not available in kit form.


What aftermarket parts can I use for a PTW?

Currently, the only internal parts for a PTW are bearings from Kanzen and inner barrels from PDI. Nothing else is compatable internally from any other manufacturer. Externally, anything meant for a real AR, from rails to grips to gas block, sights and stocks can be fit easily or adapted to fit with varying degrees of work, depending on how crazy you want to go. The basic dimesions of the PTW are very close to the real AR, in all aspects that are possible and with minor modifications even real uppers can be fit onto a PTW. Most airsoft accesories will fit a PTW as well.


I would like to install an RAS onto my PTW. How do I remove the factory barrel nut?

It is best to use a proper armourer's wrench and AR vise, as Systema has installed the barrel nut with significant torque. Attempts to remove the barrel nut without the proper tools may damage your gun.


Now that I have a PTW, what cylinders and batteries should I get?

Currently, the PTW comes with 4 cylinders for different velocitites. They are:

M150 = 490-550 fps
M130 = 410-450 fps
M110 = 370-400 fps
M90 = 300-330 fps

The cylinder you use depends on the gun you have. Gen 1 guns use a different cylinder lock than all newer guns. The cylinder lock currently in use has the bearing on the cylinder. In Gen 1 guns, the bearing is on the stock tube cap. When the M4 was introduced, Systema could not use this design as well as putting the EL-003 board in the stock tube. If you have a Gen 1 cylinder lock, you need to get a new MAX stock pipe set for M16 if you want to use M4 cylinders (now the only ones available).

Gen 1-3 = M90-M130
Gen 3.5-4 (MAX) = M90-M150

The battery you use depends on the cylinder kit you chose to install in the gun and use that day.

M90-M130 = 9.6v only
M150 = 12v only

And a note on batteries. Systema recommends you use only Systema batteries. And they have good reasons. They have Sanyo select cells from their "AA" bin at the factory to ensure good cell matching and performance. The PTWs will draw very nearly 30 amps while operating (even with the M110) and use of substandard batteries by other manufacturers can lead to electronics failure, even though the main fuse does not blow. Also, Systema batteries are NiCad, and although you may think this is old technology, they have a proven track record for being able to discharge the required current as well as operate at lower temeperatures.

It is not recommended that you use custom-built batteries. It makes no sense to spend many thousands on a gun, and cheap out on batteries to save a hundred dollars.


How do I set the hop-up on a PTW?

The hop-up on factory assmbled PTWs comes preset for 0.20g BBs. Now, as most guys do not use 0.20g with these guns, some adjustements will be required. You need to use the hop-up tool that comes with the PTW, or you can use a metric hex driver (1.5mm). When you turn the adjustment screw (on the hop-up as seen from inside the magwell) clockwise is less hop-up and counter-clockwise is more hop-up. Once the hop-up is set, you should not have to adjust it again (unless you change BB brand or weight), even if you change cylinders. Although there has been some debate on this, I have not found this to be the case with the factory assembled guns.

Setting the hop-up requires some time and a bit of compromise. As you add more hop, the BB will not change basic trajectory for the first 150 feet or so, It will remain flat. When you add more hop, the BBs trajectory will start to climb at the end of it's flight, and too much hop will give you Anti-Aircraft shots as the BB climbs up into the sky. Pick your compromise of range and over-hop to find the balance in trajectory that you like.


Is there any maintainance required for a PTW?

Yes there is. Thankfully, your only real maintainance is in the cylinder, barring a failure in any other part of the gun. Cylinders manufactured up to mid-2007 (round nozzle interior) used Viton o-rings for the nozzle and piston head. The life expentancy of the nozzle o-ring was about 5000-10,000 rounds, or when double or misfeeding would occur. This requires replacement, and good practice is to re-lube the cylinder at the same time. This keeps your shots consistant in velocity. Use Systema cylinder grease only, as silicone greases used in other AEGs does not allow for as good of a seal for the piston head o-ring (I tried it in my old M90 with poor results).

New cylinders manufactured from mid-2007 until current (hexagonal nozzle interior) use polyurethane nozzle o-rings, which have a significantly longer lifespan. No data is avaliable at this time on expected lifespan. The cylinder rebuild kits can be had from a Systema parts dealer for about $12 in Canada. If you require new o-rings and can't get a rebuild kit, the nozzle o-ring is 2mm x 7mm and the piston head o-ring is 2.5mm x 18.0mm. Use Viton as a minimum, but if you can find polyurethane, even better.

Occasionally, poor magazine feeding can also be the cause of problems. It's best to remove the factory black magazine followers, as they will pop out of the mag and get lost very soon after you get the mags. You can install 2 brightly coloured BBs if you like to aid in quick ID of empty mags, but don't glue them together. Keep them loose. Like any other AEG magazine, put a drop of silicone oil in the mag if you have feeding problems.

On the note of silicone, there is no need to put silicone in the barrel or on the hop-up at all. Silicone is not really compatible with the cylinder grease Systema uses on the hop-up components for lubrication, and a greasy roller will give you poor performance. Keep the hop-up dry and the barrel clean for best performance.


How many shots can I expect with the Systema batteries, as they seem to have an awfully small capacity?

I did some counting over the last year on usage, as there were some games that I did alot of shooting. This is what I found, based on an average summer day:

M150 = about 1100-1500 shots, depending on how fast I go through mags
M130 = about 2500 rounds
M110 = about 3000 rounds
M90 = 3000+ rounds

These numbers are per single battery, but will vary with temperature.


How should I charge my Systema batteries?

If you use the 12v battery, you will need to use a charger that is capable of charging 10 cell packs. I personally use an MRC 989 Super Brain, as it does the full host of charging and discharging for any battery I could ever need. Proper charging and discharging of NiCad pack is key to performance and longevity.


What BBs should I use in a PTW

There are lots of good BBs to use in a PTW. Metal Tech and BB Bastard are the two that come to mind. I have had trouble with some brands being chopped by the guns (KSC Perfect 0.25g). A good test for compatibility is a crush test. Put a BB in a pair of pliers and crush it. If it flakes, chips or shatters, don't use it in a PTW. If it squashes and deforms, but stays intact, you're good to go. The steel nozzle and chamber of the PTW is merciless to BBs and chopped BBs will lead you to have to tear down the gun and clean it thoroughly to avoid more problems from contamination.


Is the range on the PTWs good?

Well, this one has been open to some debate. Some users have experienced beyond excellent range, while others have not. The older modesl of the gun (Gen 1-3) have poor range for a variety of reasons, but mainly it's in the hop-up. Gen 3.5-4 guns (factory assembled) have had by all accounts excellent range. Some folks have experienced range problems with the kits, and some of that has been 100% assembly. Shim placement on the buffer cap is crucial to maintain a good airseal. If your receivers are difficult to open (ie it hurts your hand to slap the stock), then likely you have it correct. If you can open your receiver simply by pushing up on the charging handle with your thumb, you likely have it wrong. Every factory assembled gun I've ever seen, from old Gen 1 to current has been this way.


How is the accuracy on the PTWs?

I have found the accuracy to be good, not the best ever, but better than than any average AEG. I can only speak for factory assembled guns, as there are too many variables with kits and older generations. I have found very little deviance in the horizontal plane at all, with any of my MAX guns, but have found some deviances in the vertical plane, which is the same plane that the hop-up operates. At our local field, I can hit a 1" steel rod at 50 feet all the time, every time, for mag after mag in semi-auto. In full auto and with the M150, the gun will pull and it's difficult to keep it on target without a firm hold on it.

For those with guns that do not have a 6.04mm barrel, the options are to get a new barrel kit from Systema or an aftermarket inner barrel from PDI or Doff Custom in Sweden.

Accuracy also depends on your BB. A good quality BB with size and weight consistancy will affect your accuracy as well.


Can I leave my battery connected in the gun when not in use?

Sure, you can, but it will kill your battery dead in a short time. All electronics will draw a small amount of current, even at idle. This is especially true when voltage regulation circuits are present, like in a PTW. Systema had to incorporate this as most electronics will run either +/- 5 volts or +/- 15 volts. As PTWs use 9.6v and 12v batteries, the electronics would have to be +/- 5 volts. This means that they must see that 5 volts all the time, no matter what battery you use. Basic voltage regulation uses a resistor to drain away the excess voltage above 5 volts. As your battery gets depleted, this circuit is still going to be active, even if the gun is in safe. This is going to be the largest current draw in a standby mode, and in a matter of a few days to a week will kill a battery dead.

I've seen users do this, and I tried to charge a 12v battery from a teammate who did this. I got the battery with 0.11v potential on a 12v battery. After 2 days of charge/discharge cycles to recover the pack, I eventually did, but it nearly cost the owner a $100+ battery.

It also makes good safety sense for any AEG to not leave a battery connected to the gun, but with the electronics in a PTW, it can cost you some $$$ if you are not conscious to disconnect the battery when the gun is not in use. This does not affect long game days however, as the newer generations of PTW are pretty decent about idle current consumption. The Gen 1 guns are known to kill 4000mah batteries overnight.


MY PTW doesn't work. What's the problem and how do I fix it?

The one thing that makes a PTW what it is is also the place to look for problems. In any other AEG (with few exceptions), the current used to run the motor (which in turn runs the gun) must pass through a mechanical switch. When you install a battery and pull the trigger, and nothing happens, you have only 4 places to look, and problems are always immediately obvious. In a PTW, the electronics that give the gun it's snappy response and gear control do not always give you obvious signs of problems.

There is a few problems which are common. They are:

1) No action at all
2) Sector gear stopping in incorrect position
3) Misfeeding or double feeding

No action at all
To troubleshoot a gun with no action, there is a basic procedure. First, make sure the battery is properly charged. Don't assume anything, and use a mulitmeter to confirm it is charged. I had the embarrassment of this happen to me, when I installed a 12v battery that I thought was charged, and nothing happened. The 2006/2007 Gen 3.5 does have a low battery detection system that will lock out the electronics if you install a dead battery. This does not function though if you deplete a battery while it's connected to the gun. When you disconnect a battery, it takes about 10 seconds for the electronics to reset. So, installing a dead battery will be seen by the gun when the electronics are reset.

Next, check the fuse. In the M4 series, it's easiest to remove the buffer cap to access the fuse. You need to pry it off with a flat-blade screwdriver or similar item, using small moves around the top and sides of the buffer opening. It is tight to remove, and even tighter to re-install. If you've confirmed the fuse is blown (30A mini ATO in Gen 3.5 and 35A in Gen 4), replace it. If the fuse is OK, proceed to the next step. When re-installing the buffer cap, be careful not to damage the o-rings, as they are necessary to maintain the airseal bewteen the cylinder and hop-up. If you can't get it back in (rubber o-ring sliding on smooth metal stock tube), use cylinder grease on the o-rings to aid in assembly. A hammer or similar item may be required.

If your battery is charged and your fuse is OK, remove your grip to expose the motor. Use your multimeter to check for voltage at the motor terminals when the trigger is pulled (make sure the gun is in semi or full). Put 1 meter lead on 1 motor terminal and the other meter lead on the other motor terminal, and set your meter for DC (and 20A if applicable). If you pull the trigger and get very close to battery voltage (make sure your receivers are closed, more on that later), but the motor doesn't turn, you have a bad motor. If there is no voltage present, the problem is in the electronics, and most times it will be with the EL-003 board located in the stock. Either of these parts should be replaced, but with the motor itself, a good cleaning of the commutator points (especially with the 490 motor) may be in order.

Sector gear stopping in incorrect position
This is not as common a problem, but it can happen. The sector gear has 2 holes in it, and there are sensors (red posts) mounted on either side of the sector gear. They use an infrared beam shot through the holes to tell the microprocessor where the sector gear is and to shot-count for 3-burst. If these holes get plugged with grease, the processor can't do it's job and know when to stop the sector gear. You can inspect these visually with a flashlight and by turning the sun gear (the gear beside the sector gear with helical teeth) until the holes are visible. You can use a sewing needle to clean the grease out and keep the gun running smooth. To operate, these sensors must not have external light, like sunlight, or your light bulb in your house. Cover the gear train with your hands (carefully or OUCH!!) or close the receivers.

It's also important that sensors themselves are clean. This is easily done by removing the bolt catch mechanism (drive out the pin and pull the bolt catch out, but don't lose the spring underneath it). Then you can pull straight up on the EL-001 board and expose the sensors (you only have to pull the board about 1/2 way out). Then use a Q-tip to clean off the sensors and put everything back. This takes only about 5 minutes to do, but only needs to be done if you have a problem.

The next reason for incorrect sector gear position is the motor. In guns with the 480 motor, this was a very rare occurance, as the 480 is pretty rock-solid. The new 490 motors have had some troubles, mainly with brushes and/or commutator points. If the motor has a bad connection between the brush/comm point, or with a winding itself, it will fail to run and stop smoothly. It may have what's known as a "dead spot", and may not have enough magnetic field form at a given winding to turn the motor, especially under load. This can lead it to stop prematurely. If this happens, spin the sun gear to move the gear train and see if the motor restarts. If it does, you need to either do some motor service (clean the comm points and/or install new brushes) or replace the motor if all service attempts fail.

Misfeeding and or double feeding
There are a couple of reasons why this can occur. The most common is nozzle o-ring, but poor mag feeding is also a possibility.

The nozzle o-ring is a regular maintainance item. In older cylinders (with round nozzle interior), this should be done every 10,000 or so, maybe more, maybe less. In newer cylinders with hexagonal nozzle interior, this should be at more rounds, but no absolute numbers yet as they are still pretty new. Another issue for a few months last year was the piston head screw. Systema missed Loc-Tite on the screw for a few months last year, and the head would have a tendancy to undo itself (just like on any other AEG without securing that screw). A good practice is to open a cylinder when you first get it to ensure this has been done. Five minutes now could save you some $$$ later. Older cylinders (round nozzle interior) are immune from this, as it is a new issue.

Magazine feeding is also a problem for misfeeds. If the mag doesn't feed smoothly, the BBs could get chopped or fail to feed. Remove the factory hourglass-shaped mag follower, and install 2 BBs (brigh coloured for easy empty mag ID) work better, but don't glue them together. Keep them loose. A drop silicone oil down the mag can also help.

Barrel position. This is usually not an issue with factory assembled guns, but is with kits. The barrel fits into the upper with a pin in a groove on the top of the barrel. There is a small bit of play, and tightening the barrel nut with the barrel rotated slightly can cause the hop-up to also be rotated, and it will not mate well with the mag. This is an easy fix, and attention to this should be paid during assembly.


My gun fails to fire with a fresh mag. What gives?

The bolt catch interlock that allows the PTW to stop firing when the mag is empty is a touchy thing. The main mag follower must push up in the bolt catch (just like a real AR does) when the follower is up (empty mag), but must also fall down when the mag has BBs in it. The bolt catch itself must follow this action sequence. So the mag spring must be just slightly stronger than bolt catch spring for all this to occur. When you are running around the bush, or have the gun slung across your chest, it's easy to apply pressure to the bottom of the bolt catch and offset this balance. Then, when you pull the gun up to fire, no-go. A good practice is to always tap the bolt catch after inserting a fresh magazine, as well as when you haven't fired the gun in awhile. You can insert shims underneath the bolt catch spring to increase it's effective strength, but then you run the risk of dry-firing if it's too strong.

I look at it as a quirk of the design and adapt my procedures to make sure I give the bolt catch a quick tap before using it.


Do I need to decompress my spring prior to storage?

No. The PTW is designed to that the sector gear stops with no teeth (or at maximum 2) at the gearbox/cylinder joint. This means that the piston is never engaged with the sector gear, when the gun is working properly. There is a possibility though that if you end your game day with a loaded magazine, that there may be a BB chambered. You can clear the gun by removing the mag and holding down the bolt catch and firing off the chambered BB, just as a good practice to ensure your gun is safe before storage.
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Last edited by mcguyver; February 15th, 2008 at 00:55..
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Old February 13th, 2008, 21:55   #2
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Thanks mcguyver, for taking the time to put all of this together, its really appreciated.



edit : it would be a great idea to stickied this thread as the number of PTW owners is going up for the last past year.

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Old February 13th, 2008, 22:50   #3
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Thanks Mac.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 13:25   #4
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shit, just realised that my battery is sitting in the gun and has been for 4-5 days....fuckme. I knew about this too, and just forgot to pull it out.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 15:10   #5
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Not wanting to start a PTW vs the world thing Mac, I think your write up is awesome. ONe thing I noticed that should be put in there is the problems/failures PTWs are starting to show... I find a lot of players think this is the end all be all gun as there are no problems with it, which you clearly know isn't true.

Good job
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Old February 14th, 2008, 16:52   #6
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very informative but you left out how durable it is. thats one of my biggest concern.

Is the electionics sealed in the 2008 Max versions? if i decide to play in the rain or the grass being very damp
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Old February 14th, 2008, 17:33   #7
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Not wanting to start a PTW vs the world thing Mac, I think your write up is awesome. ONe thing I noticed that should be put in there is the problems/failures PTWs are starting to show... I find a lot of players think this is the end all be all gun as there are no problems with it, which you clearly know isn't true.

Good job
This isn't a "How to fix my PTW" thread.

It needs to be said however, that nearly all PTW failures you hear about are with the kits. Factory QC'd and assembled guns would display these problems upon testing and set-up, and would be corrected at the factory. I have gotten hundreds of PMs about broken PTWs, and all but 1 was a kit, and this is from dozens of users. This is why I included a small kit vs. factory assembled bit in the FAQ.

Assembled properly and working properly, the PTW outperforms any other out-of-box AEG there is, and can withstand an M150 for, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of rounds with minimal maintainance. That's the design, but in practice, all mechanical things will fail, that's a given.

You know Jay in Calgary, there's maybe 1 or 2 factory assembled PTW and about 15-20 kits. Guess whose break down?

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Is the electionics sealed in the 2008 Max versions? if i decide to play in the rain or the grass being very damp
You can play in the rain. I have. I just would avoid torrential downpour and taking the gun swimming. Wet grass is fine. You would need to get alot of water on/in the gun before it will make it's way to the electronics. There are things you can do to help seal the gun, like install a thin skin of silicone on the receiver joints.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 17:43   #8
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Nice read, learned a bit in general. Thanks.

Time to go home and unplug a battery
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Old February 14th, 2008, 18:14   #9
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Good job McG ! Would you mind if people add info to this post in regards to maintenance & troubleshooting?
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Old February 14th, 2008, 23:14   #10
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Awsome! Now people can read all this in one area and not have to hunt all over the place and re-hash the same info over & over,Cheers!
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Old February 14th, 2008, 23:40   #11
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you should elaborate on the battery charging discharging procedures mac, common practices, ect.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 23:46   #12
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Awesome write up MC. Thanks alot!i Also remembered somewhere that you wrote you dont have to dry fire to semi like normal AEGs before storage or opening the gun. Just wanted to add that.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 00:32   #13
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Good job McG ! Would you mind if people add info to this post in regards to maintenance & troubleshooting?
Done.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 09:36   #14
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I find myself wanting a PTW now.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 23:26   #15
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Very good work Mc!

Who ever said PTW's aren't as good as its advertise. Go try one, and no, kits don't count. It's like saying a BMW sucks because it broke down after you assembled it, completely bypassing BMW QC.
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