View Full Version : Thunderbirds...new owner
08-16-2007, 06:32 AM
I talked to the new owner of the Etch marc company yesterday because mine werent working,and it looks like he is really improving the reliability of the product.I am sending one in to see if he can make some mods to the current unit.His name is Doug Wilson.
08-16-2007, 12:32 PM
Never heard of it. What dose it do?
08-16-2007, 04:27 PM
Jay, I am looking to buy a launcher do you like the thunder bird? I am stuck between thunder bird or bumper boy. I want to go with the one that will spend more time throwing bumpers, less time in repair shop. What do you recomend and why.
08-16-2007, 07:56 PM
With your criteria, buy a Bumper Boy.
08-17-2007, 07:14 AM
Richard, have you owned both products? What if any problems does the bb have. I know they all have problems. I just cant stand a day of training working on my equipment! Thanks for the info!
08-17-2007, 06:47 PM
John, I have BB's I've had for probably four years now. I've replace the servo's at least once each year and have also replaced wiring harnesses twice. Parts aren't that expensive but you're out of commision about a week and a half waiting on parts. My training buddy got a single 4 shooter this year and he had had problems since day with one of the stations that won't go off. They told him he had the square box with all the electronic's on too tight. Made an adjustment and so far so good. I'll be the first to tell you though, when it comes to pushing dogs out on marks, you just can't beat BB's. I've trained with max-5000 also, no comparison to BB's. :D
08-17-2007, 07:48 PM
I have 3 4-shooters and 2 Derby Doubles. I have trained with Max-5000's.
The Max 5000 owner told me if he had to do it over, knowing what he knows now, he would have bought the BB's.
No device such as these are without problems. If it uses electronics, you are going to have problems... sooner or later.
I too have replaced wiring harnesses a couple of times, replaced servos, returned transmitters and/or receivers to BB for repair. See second paragraph.
BB has been able to solve many problems over the phone in the last couple of years. They also have been able to run diagnostics over the phone, and many times they can find the problem.
Most problems that I've found, being a former BB sales and tech rep, are users not reading the owners manual, and owners not doing prevenative maintenance of the products.
08-17-2007, 08:35 PM
Amy Burrow BB customer service rep is great
08-17-2007, 08:45 PM
Thanks for the info guys. Thats the stuff I needed to know. I know they all have problems, just needed to know the lesser of two evils! Thanks again!
08-18-2007, 06:02 AM
I have owned all three.The bumper boy 4 shooter when they first came out.....things broke,and didnt work,and possibly they have reworked those problems.Three Max 5000:mega downtime....gave them away to get them out of my face! Two 8 shooter Thunderbirds: Much better...but....still have downtime probably every fourth time using them.One of them is being sent in for troubleshooting by the new owner.Obviously ,Im willing to spend the money for a product that throws remote marks for young dogs,and still will....but I dont want to be a guinea pig any more.Its been nice this summer having my twins throwing for me but they have left for college now.....so Im back in the market!I really do feel that Doug is going to persue a product that is reliable.Until then its reloading Zinger Wingers !
08-18-2007, 07:52 AM
I had BB 4 shooters and the one thing I will say is they worked OK for me. I also will say that either I am a horrible teacher or they are too difficult for other people to learn how to run. Everytime other people ran the controls we would have no birds because it would not go off.
I have since switched to wingers but considered Thunderbirds becuase they use the same easy to use electronics and would be usable back and forth with the wingers without 2 remotes.
08-23-2007, 08:39 AM
Everytime other people ran the controls we would have no birds because it would not go off..
You all know, of course, the BB transmitter will automatically time out after 45 seconds. :roll:
Other folks using the transmitter, may not know how to re-arm the transmitter, resulting in no firing. :cry:
09-04-2007, 06:32 PM
09-11-2007, 12:51 PM
If you want simplicity and dependability. Give John P. (fcafcblue) a shout via PM. They work.
10-09-2007, 09:40 AM
Got my TB back and tried it on a string of young dogs....the one I sent in does not work.....the other one does! Im going back to zingers and birdboys.
12-04-2007, 01:43 PM
I had two maxes and they were the biggest pieces of crap. Customer service sucked and I will never buy anything from that company again no matter who owns it. I did buy two Gunners up that have worked without fail for four months so far. It sucks to reload but atleast it is reliable.
01-02-2008, 07:18 PM
I currently have 2 Derby Doubles and a Thunderbird 4 shooter. The Derby Doubles are less than a month old. I live in Canada and have been using them this past month in snow with temps at 5 - 45 degrees.
The Thunderbird has worked flawlessly. It has not misfired or failed in any way. We use it on the long marks because we are so confident that it will work every time.
The Derby Doubles have been a real pain. The controller gave use problems during the first week. We have lost sound on one unit. The throws are unbelievably inconsistent. Some times we will get a 3 yard through, sometimes we will get a 35 yard throw. We use these on shorter marks so that we have to walk less to fix them. Having said all this, I think they will probably work fine in the spring and summer.
What we do like about the Derby is the range of bumper choices. We throw both the regular bumpers and the duck imitations. Both are excellent if we could get the machine to throw consistently.
I do know that Doug Wilson at Thunderbird is launching (no pun intended) his new machine in the next few weeks that I understand will be a significant improvement over the older 5000 and current launchers. It appears that he has put a lot of research into the new machine and will not sell the current machine. I have an order in place for one and will offer feed back on the operation of the machine in our climate.
At this time my choice between the two machines is the Thunderbird. It may be that my view has been impacted by the cold climate I live in but I just want a machine that will throw marks consistently. I'm hoping that as the weather warms the Derby Double will be more reliable.
01-02-2008, 08:11 PM
Is it possible snow is getting inside the bumpers? I've never seen inconsistent throws just from the cold. The only problem I've had is getting them wet inside.
01-02-2008, 10:41 PM
We think there is a couple of possibilities but at this time are uncertain as to the exact cause of the multiple issues mentioned. In using the DD we are quite diligent about keeping the bumper cylinder clear of snow. That said we think there is a possibility that the bumper cylinder may be freezing causing the inside diameter to decrease slightly. This may cause a overly tight fit on the fire tube creating the inconsistent throw.
I continue to say "may cause" as we just don't know for sure.
I can tell you that we have a vested interest in finding a solution soon. Walking back and forth to correct malfunctions is tough in farm fields. When you add 6" - 10" of snow on top of ice it becomes a real pain in the wrong part of the anatomy. (referring to my sore legs)
Given the positive comments I hear about Derby Doubles on this web site and others, I would assume the climate as a lot to do with our difficulties.
01-02-2008, 11:29 PM
I often use a 12 guage wire brush in the field to keep my bumper cylinders clear of junk. I've also found a little grease applied around the o-ring has helped when it is throwing it inconsistently. This may not work as well in extremely cold weather though.
01-03-2008, 08:38 AM
Thanks for the recommendation. I will give it a try.
Any particular grease work well in cold temps?
01-03-2008, 12:27 PM
I used the grease that they provided...not sure what kind it is though. It was pretty thick and dryish. I will point out that it gets maybe in the 20's - 30's on a very cold day where I am, and I'm not sure if the cold is what caused the original problems, as there was a little moisture involved a couple of times.
I have also used that CLP stuff to clean the metal cylinder in the bumpers and the shaft on the base itself. It was the grease on the shaft around the O-rings that really helped though.
01-04-2008, 06:05 AM
Thanks again JB,
I was also tyinking about using lithium grease.
Seems that it has a higher range of temp use.
01-04-2008, 06:31 AM
Silicon grease is the best thing to use on the o-rings. It doesn't cause the rubber to break down and shouldn't freeze.
01-04-2008, 12:39 PM
I have 2 of the Thunderbird 4 shooters and have been happy with them.
Do not confuse the Thunderbirds with the Maxx 5000, they are entirely different.
When I first got them (I got some of the first ones made) there was a few problems but they were worked out to my satisfaction. They had to do with initial design and not sufficient airflow into the case and some loose wiring that I fixed in 5 minutes after I was told how to fix.
One thing I will tell you to do with the Thunderbird that has help me I will fire a bumper before I carry them into the file to be sure the propane tank is attached properly and there are no plugs loose or dead batteries and again after I get them in the field, I will test fire each unit.
The only problem I have had is you push the button once to rotate the cylinder and that starts the gas release then you push the button again after a few seconds to fire the bumper. Sometimes, I will either not wait long enough or the thrower does not get both signals and I will get out of sync and since I cannot see the throwers, I do not know the cylinder has not rotated properly. Well, that and you have to remember that on a 4 shooter, you cannot try to fire a 5th bumper without reloading.
In short, I would buy them again. They are loud enough to be heard, the throws are good and they are reliable if I do my part of keeping the plugs in, the batteries charged and the propane tank full.
The best part of having these throwers is I can do a training series in an hour or less, do not have to do tests that someone else wants to do and not what I need to do, I can train when I want for as long or short as I want
I have two Thunderbird 4 shooters that I have used very little. One thing I have figured out is that they work off of what I believe is 8 AA batteries. Those batteries have to be working and that part is sort of like a toy. How often does a toy's batteries run down? They run down pretty often, and if you don't expect that, you get a little perplexed.
I wouldn't mind selling mine, but they aren't all bad. One thing it does is get a dog used to picking up that kind of bumper. I don't like the hollow bumpers, but my dogs don't mind them. They are heavy as lead too. I've only been through one mapp gas canister on one, and not the other one.
01-04-2008, 07:00 PM
I'm glad you mentioned use of batteries in the Thunderbird because I was not aware the unit used them. Having read your comment I reviewed my invoice and instructions from Etch-Marc (Thunderbird) and you are correct. I bought mine March 20, 2006 and have used it extensively. Worse again I stored it outside all summer and winter (specifically against the old manufacturers instruction) and have not replaced the batteries as yet.
I am certainly going to change them this weekend because I'm sure to be in the middle of a training session and have the unit fail.
Thanks for the reminder.
I completely agree with your comments about running the machine and the charging period for the gas. I guess I have been lucky because it is something I worked out real quickly. I am also told that the new machine will not require that additional step making it much simpler. I'm looking forward to trying it.
01-05-2008, 09:48 AM
Man I'll stick with the wingers. Had Zingers for about 7 years now and no problems. I dont mind reloading them. I need the exercise anyway and to me to ability to use real birds far out weigh the ability to fire multiple marks without reloading.
01-05-2008, 04:59 PM
I have three wingers and would not be without them. I just love them and there isn't a better machine for throwing birds.
I do however believe that the ability to push multiple birds can be extremely useful in many situations.
It is not a case of one being better than the other, it is just nice to have the option to use the tool you need at the time you need it.
I also could use the extra walk to, but man it sure is nice not to have to!
01-05-2008, 09:29 PM
Well for those who are currently turned off the Thuderbirds be advised that the machine/company was sold to a new owner in the US and from the looks of it has been redesgned in a metal case, with actual leg's that adjust arch, and likely many new upgrades. Do not kow much else and this time, but sppousedly in the next few months will be ready for re- release.
01-06-2008, 09:08 AM
After the problems I had with the maxes I bought not only the product but with customer service and getting it repaired I would recommend sticking to a company that has a better track record.
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