I decided to go back over the manual and the video provided by Handi Quilter. Part way through the video they showed how the leaders on the take up pole were attached and low and behold mine draped to the front rather than to the back. The installers had put the leader on backwards. I don't know why I didn't twig on this earlier because my other set up is similar and those leaders hang the right way (I put that one together myself).
I finished stitching in the ditch and took the quilt off the frame. I noticed that the backing is slightly crooked, obviously operator error combined with the quilt's shifting on the poles. Luckily the quilt is one I am doing for family and I will be able to live with some of the imperfections... Adds character. (Ahhhhh).
But my machine is now set up properly with the locking mechanisms giving just the right amount of tension!
Note to self. If you think something is wrong...just because it was done by experts doesn't mean you are not right! Trust your gut!