Doug Spray, President ABC

The last few months have been quite interesting and have consistently endorsed one theme; most people want to see change. The expectation for change has gained momentum and the time for change is now. We are often asked by our existing owners, “What’s new?” While we have made many adjustments and improvements to our equipment, no significant changes have been made to the pitching machine for years. There is an old saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, so that is the position we have taken. It is easy to resist change if it is not really necessary. On the other hand, change is good if it produces a favorable and positive result. ABC has been working on some changes for the last couple of years, and with a full season of testing and continued research and development under our belt, we are prepared to make our change. After 24 years of extraordinary service, ABC will be retiring the AP1000 pitching machine and introducing the new Pastime Pitching Machine. The Pastime inherits

the dependability and strengths of the AP1000, plus several enhancements that will make it a better ABC pitching machine of the future.

A significant change on the Pastime is the speed adjustment method for the pitch. We have eliminated the speed crank assembly plus the variable speed pulley, and incorporated an A/C Variable Speed Controller. These controllers have been used extensively in commercial and industrial application for years and have proven to be extremely dependable. Adjusting the speed is as simple as turning the knob on the controller. This new design eliminates maintenance on the variable speed pulley, crank handle, speed adjust bar, and the crank handle nut. Eliminating this entire drive system has greatly reduced the operating noise of the Pastime. It is smooth and quiet with negligible vibration. The newly designed drive system will increase drive belt life and accuracy of the pitch due to precise regulation of the wheel RPM’s.

The Pastime has an attractive re-designed frame that allows for easy access to the entire machine. Servicing the ABC machines has always been minimal, but now it’s even easier. Lubrication is reduced to the shaft bearings and Hi/Low Adjustment handle. The belt cover is removed by simply unhooking a retaining strap, and replacing is made easy with tapered locating pins. Access to the motor is simple with a quick and easy procedure for removing the motor cover. Your maintenance personnel will be more inclined to perform regular and proper servicing of the machine with these design improvements on the new Pastime.

Another movement sweeping the country is energy conservation. Green is good, and the new Pastime is certainly “green”. The new drive system incorporates a 3 phase A/C motor. The machine still operates on the standard 120 volt household current, but will use approximately 40% less power than its predecessor. The 3 phase motor is more efficient and delivers a constant power stream that produces a more accurate pitch, quiet operation, and less wear and tear on drive belts and pulleys. The savings you will experience is dependent on your local electrical costs, but conserving energy and reducing operating costs is a positive step for all.

Even with the increased costs incurred to manufacture the Pastime, ABC will maintain our current pitching machine price throughout 2009. Pitching machines wear out, even the ABC machine, and cage owners that have replaced equipment after years of service have been thrilled with the results. Justifying the cost of replacing old and run down equipment can be difficult. Clearly, with equipment 10 to 20 years old, it has been a great investment that has paid for itself many times over. When you begin to experience an excessive amount of maintenance, repairs, and downtime on the machines, your customers take note. Who likes to drive to the cage only to find it not operating to its full potential or capacity? Are they going to return, or maybe just visit less frequently? All this can affect the cage revenues. Reduced revenues takes you right back to the justification of spending money to make money. It’s a downward spiral of cause and effect.

Take advantage of the current pricing for the new Pastime and avoid going through another season of issues produced by old and tired equipment. Perhaps the time for change has come to your facility.