Monday, July 27, 2015

Loops or Knots on the Underside of the Fabric

Another in the series of troubleshooting tips.  Tips are not in order of most common to least common and do not need to be performed in sequence.  Pick the easiest ones first and work to the more difficult ones.  Not all tips will apply to all machines.

The lower thread lies straight on the underside of fabric and the upper thread appears there in form of loops or small knots.

1. Cause: The tension of the upper thread is too weak or the tension of the lower thread is too tight.
 Solution: Tighten the tension of the upper thread, or loosen the tension of the lower thread, until the tensions of both threads are correctly balanced.

2. Cause: There are dirt, lint or pieces of thread between the Tension Discs.
 Solution: Take apart the upper tension, clean the Tension Discs thoroughly, then replace the upper tension and adjust it correctly.

3. Cause: The upper thread has cut deep grooves into the Tension Discs.
 Solution: Replace the defective Tension Discs with new ones.

4. Cause: The Bobbin Case is not threaded correctly. The Bobbin unwinds itself in the wrong direction.
 Solution: Thread the Bobbin Case correctly.

5. Cause: The head of the Tension Adjusting Screw of the Bobbin Case protrudes too much and catches and retards the upper thread.
 Solution: Adjust this screw correctly. If this condition continues to persist, smoothen the head of this screw with fine emery cloth or replace the defective screw with a new one.

6. Cause: The stitch hole in the Throat Plate or Feed Dog is too small.
 Solution: Replace the Throat Plate or Feed Dog with one that has a larger stitch hole.

7. Cause: The point of the Needle is bent over ("hooked point").
 Solution: Replace the defective Needle with a new one.

8. Cause: The Bobbin is not evenly wound. It unwinds itself irregularly.
 Solution: Replace the Bobbin with one that is wound evenly.

9. Cause: The Bobbin is damaged or bent and does not revolve freely and evenly.
 Solution: Replace the defective Bobbin with a new one.

10. Cause: Lint or dirt in the Bobbin Case prevents the Bobbin from revolving freely.
 Solution: Remove all dirt from this part. Clean and dry thoroughly before replacing in the machine.

11. Cause: The needle is not correctly timed in relation to the Loop Taker (Hook).
 Solution: Make certain that the Needle is pushed all the way up into the Needle Bar and held there firmly. Adjust the point of the Loop Taker in relation to the Needle. For "Timing" follow this general rule: The Needle must have risen about 3/32 of an inch from its lowest position at the moment the point of the Loop Taker is just at the center of the rising Needle. At this moment the point of the Loop Taker must be about 1/16 of an inch above the eye of the Needle.

12. Cause: There is insufficient clearance between the Bobbin Case Holder and the Bobbin Case Holder Position Bracket in horizontal axis Rotary Hook Machines. On vertical axis rotating hook types may be insufficient clearance between tab extending from Bobbin Case to the left and the notch at the underside of the Throat Plate.
 Solution: Turn the machine by hand and observe where the upper thread gets caught.
Increase the clearance, where required, by carefully removing material from the component parts of the machine (by means of fine emery cloth). Smoothen the repaired portions with crocus cloth. The heaviest thread to be used must pass freely between these parts.

13. Cause: The mechanism for releasing the upper thread tension is incorrectly adjusted. It releases the tension of the upper thread too early.
 Solution: Adjust this mechanism so that the tension of the upper thread is released only during the last moment of the upward motion of the Presser Bar Lifter.

14. Cause: The upper thread gets caught somewhere below the Throat Plate.
 Solution: Examine Hook and Bobbin Case with regard to rough spots which may catch the upper thread and retard it, thus causing the loops on the underside of the fabric. Eliminate all rough spots with the aid of an oilstone or with fine emery cloth, and then polish these portions with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.

15. Cause: The Thread Take-up Spring (Check Spring) is not adjusted and does not work properly.
 Solution: Adjust the Thread Take-up Spring until it has the correct tension and its upward motion is just finished at the moment the Needle enters the fabric.

Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ankers Aweigh!

Ankers Aweigh!

In my effort to downsize, I have been culling through my stock of sewing machines with an eye to disposing any that don't please me.  I put this Anker RZ on the shelf years ago for some reason I couldn't remember and decided to break it out and make a final decision.


The machine had not been used in several years but I fired it up and sewed a test swatch.  It sewed beautifully!  I oiled it and sewed a larger project and find it to be one of the nicest machines I have ever used.  It is smooth, quiet, and strong and sews everything I have put under the presser foot without complaining.

I received my new camera today and am now able to get some good photos and don't have to rely on old cell phones for pictures to post.

It's hard to read the badge but it says "ANKER WORKS BIELEFELD GERMANY".


  Like all German sewing machines, it appears to be well-engineered and was probably an expensive machine in its day.



I particularly like the bobbin winder, it is designed like the old Singer winders with a finger that moves back and forth across the bobbin to ensure a smooth, even winding.



I haven't figured out what the pad is below the balance wheel, it is stationary and the only purpose I can imagine it could serve is as a pincushion.


That would keep owners from pinning a piece of fabric to the arm and scratching the paint with pins.

I think this one is a keeper, makes me want to dig out the Haid & Neu and give it a spin!

Ed

Friday, July 10, 2015

Signature URR277E :UPDATE

While trolling through thrift shops in the Harrisburg, PA area, I found a machine that had been eluding me for years. 


  The Montgomery-Ward Signature sewing machines were made by the HAPPY sewing Machine Company of Japan and I had been told that HAPPY made excellent machines and I wanted to see for myself. 


  Until last week, I had never found one in good enough condition at a price I was willing to pay.  The hardest part was having to leave it in the car for the last three days of our vacation because I had no tools, cleaning supplies, or oil in the hotel room.

  I was able to take the manual into the hotel room and peruse it and I noticed that this machine requires a cam to sew zig zag.  I didn't notice a cam installed when I bought it and the machine came with no accessories.  For the rest of our trip, I was thinking of alternatives - would a Singer 306/319 cam fit? probably not.  Could I manufacture a cam from Lucite? Maybe.  How would I determine the dimensions?  All my worrying was in vain because when I opened the lid on arriving home, I saw the zig zag cam installed.  There are other cams but I would never use them, all my sewing is straight stitch and occasional zig zag to form a buttonhole.

  When I got the machine on the bench, the first problem I noticed was that the tension discs did not release when the presser bar was lifted.  A quick look inside the cover showed that the tension release pin was missing.  This is a bad sign because it indicates that the tension has been disassembled by someone who did not know how to reassemble it.  As I would expect, none of my salvaged pins was the correct length and I had to manufacture one from a finish nail.

  When I had the tension assembly removed to install the tension release pin, I noticed that there was no check spring.


 I have tinkered with a lot of tension assemblies and seen very few that do not have a check spring, so I consulted the manual.  Sure enough, the diagram of the machine clearly shows a check spring.



 Apparently the check spring broke and the person who disassembled the tension replaced it with a slightly different spring.
 

The new spring was too long and pushed the tension discs beyond the slot for the thread so the thread sat behind the discs, rather than between them.  I did have a salvaged check spring but had to modify it to make it fit correctly.

The motor belt slipped on startup several times but the belt was tight enough and the machine was loose enough that it should not have had that problem.  Several yards of thread had wrapped around the motor pulley, lifting the belt out of the v-groove so it did not have enough contact to drive the balance wheel.


With those problems corrected, I threaded it up and tried to sew.

 - On the first pass, NOTHING!  The needle would not even bring up the bobbin thread.  The needle bar was about 1/4" too high and the hook didn't come close to the eye of the needle to catch the upper thread.
 - On the second pass, straight stitch worked fine but zig zag only made a stitch on zig, not on zag.




 - Lowered the needle bar a bit more and zig worked every stitch but zag skipped every now and again.



 - Finally, after the third needle bar height adjustment, zig zag and tension are both perfect.


 
Now to find a project to sew.

UPDATE:  It turned out that the needle bar was not too high.  There is a screw in the back of the needle bar


  The end of the screw's shaft is in the slot where the needle sits.


The purpose of that screw is to set the exact place where the needle sits in the needle clamp.  I didn't notice that screw was missing and installed the needle too high up in the needle bar, giving the effect of the needle bar too high in its clamp.  Fortunately, I had one of those screws in my parts bin and was able to fix the problem.  Then, it was a matter of re-setting the needle bar to the correct height.

I apologize for the crappy photos, all my cameras are broken and I'm using my daughter's old cell phone as a camera until I find a camera I like.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Orphan Needle Plates

Today, I need some help.  Over the years, I have acquired hundreds of sewing machines.  Some of them are not worth rehabilitating, so I salvage usable parts and recycle the metal bodies.  I try to keep salvaged parts separated - I have a Necchi box, a Viking box, etc.  However, sometimes when I buy a sewing machine, especially one in a cabinet, there are parts in the drawers from the previous owner's former machines.  I also have been known to purchase lots of sewing machine parts on Ebay to get one or two needed items and taking the rest as "frosting on the cake".

Here are two throat plates that I an hoping someone will recognize and tell me what machine they go to so I can label and sort them.  Due to their rectangular shape, I am guessing they both came from freearm machines, but that may not be the case.  Both are photographed on graph paper with 1/4" squares to give an idea of size.  Neither has any manufacturer logo, name, or part number on it.

The first should be easy, if the right person sees this post.


 It has a sliding finger on the underside that slides right under the needle hole at one position and completely out of the thread path in the other position.  Looks to me as though it might be provide chainstitch capability.

The second might be tougher because it has nothing to distinguish it, like the sliding finger above.


  It is just a plain, rectangular throat plate with 1/2, 3/4, and 1 inch marks.

Please let me know if you recognize either of these so I can remove them from the generic parts box and get them where they belong or find

someone who needs them.

Ed

Thursday, April 09, 2015

My Machine Turns Heavily or Jams

Another in the series of troubleshooting tips.  Tips are not in order of most common to least common and do not need to be performed in sequence.  Pick the easiest ones first and work to the more difficult ones. 

1a. Cause: Sewing thread has wedged itself between the balance wheel and the arm of the machine.
 Solution: Take off the balance wheel and remove the thread.
1b. Cause: Thread has wrapped itself around the hook shaft.
 Solution: remove the thread from the hook.
1c. Cause: Thread has wrapped itself around the pivot point of the take-up lever.
 Solution: Remove the thread from the take-up lever and oil the point because the thread has soaked up all the existing oil.
1d. Cause: Thread has become wedged between the bobbin case and the bobbin case base.
 Solution: If the thread cannot be easily removed, disassemble the hook and remove the thread.
2. Cause: There is too much pressure on the fabric.
 Solution: Reduce the pressure of the presser foot.
3. Cause: The feed dog rubs against the sides of the slots in the throat plate.
 Solution: Loosen somewhat the screws that hold the feed dog to the feed bar, then adjust the feed dog so that it can move freely in the slots of the throat plate.  Tighten the feed dog screws firmly after this adjustment.  If throat plate slots are badly damaged, replace the throat plate.
4. Cause: Due to accumulation of dirt and gummed oil between the throat plate and the feed dog, the feed dog presses against the underside of the throat plate.
 Solution: Remove throat plate and clean it.  Also clean the parts of the machine to which these parts are attached.
5. Cause: The belt running to the balance wheel is too tight.
 Solution: Adjust or replace the belt.  The belt should have just enough tension so as not to slip.
6. Cause: Dirt, thread, and pieces of broken needles have wedged between the bobbin case holder and the hook.
 Solution: Disassemble these parts, clean them thoroughly, and replace them on the machine.
7. Cause: The bearings of the machine are tight due to rust or the use of improper oil.  The oil may be gummed in the bearings; there may also be dirt in the bearings.
 Solution: Squirt the recommended solvent into all bearings and run the machine for a while.  Oil the machine afterwards with good sewing machine oil.  Do not use thick oil or vegetable oils.
8. Cause: One or several parts inside the machine are tight.  This may be due to improper assembly, lack of oil, or bent parts.
 Solution: Disassemble the machine systematically, always trying whether it turns freely or not.  Stop disassembling once you can turn it freely.  Examine all removed parts and repair or replace them as necessary.  Clean all parts thoroughly in a recommended solvent.  Assemble the machine carefully, making sure it turns freely every time a part has been inserted.  Oil the machine properly after it has been reassembled.
9. Cause: The thread take-up lever is bent.
 Solution: Remove the thread take-up lever and straighten it, if possible.  Replace the lever if it is badly defective.
10. Cause: The throat plate is bent downward due to repeated dropping of the presser foot.  As a result, the feed dog rubs against the underside of the throat plate.
 Solution: Place the old throat plate. Top surface down, on a flat surface and straighten it by tapping it carefully with a hammer.  If badly distorted, replace the throat plate with a new one.
11. Cause: The needle bar is bent.
 Solution: Remove the needle bar and turn the balance wheel by hand.  If the machine turns easily now, it indicates that the needle bar is bent.  Straighten the bent needle bar on a flat surface, if possible.  If the old needle bar is defective beyond repair, replace with a new needle bar.
12. Cause: The tail of the main shaft is bent.  This can happen if the machine was dropped or the balance wheel was bumped.
 Solution:  Watch the balance wheel as it rotates.  If it wobbles, that is an indication that the main shaft tail might be bent.  Remove the balance wheel and rotate the main shaft so that the bent tail is pointing up.  Place a block of wood on the shaft tail and hit the wood block with a hammer, just hard enough to bend the shaft back to the proper position. Do not hit the shaft directly with the hammer, that will damage the soft metal of the shaft and prevent the balance wheel from fitting on the shaft.

Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Machine Skips Stitches

 This is the installment for "Skipping Stitches", one of the most common problems.   Not all steps apply to all machines (if a bobbin case latch is mentioned and you have a top-loader, skip that step).  If you have a newer, electronic machine, I can't help you if these steps don't fix the problem.
  The steps do not need to be followed in sequence and are not in order of the most likely to least likely. 
  Pick the easiest and cheapest solutions first and work your way to the more complicated and expensive ones.
  If you notice errors or can suggest additional causes and solutions, please let me know so I can edit this post and keep it complete and accurate.

Happy Hunting!  Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

1. Cause: The machine is not threaded correctly.
 Solution: Check whether the upper thread runs correctly from the spool of thread to the Needle.

2. Cause: The Needle is inserted incorrectly in the Needle Bar. The eye of the Needle is turned in the wrong direction.
 Solution: Insert the Needle so that its eye is at a right angle with the direction of sewing and the short groove of the Needle faces the point of the Hook.

3. Cause: The Needle is bent and does not stitch straight into the fabric.
 Solution: Replace the bent Needle with a new straight needle.

4. Cause: Lint or dirt in the Needle hole prevent the Needle from stitching straight into the' fabric.
 Solution: Remove lint and dirt from the Needle Clamp, insert a new straight Needle and tighten firmly the screw which holds the Needle.

5. Cause: The Needle is too close to the edge of the stitch hole in the Feed Dog and even strikes the edge of this hole.
 Solution: Check whether the Needle is bent. Replace a bent Needle with a new straight Needle. Check also whether the Feed Dog Screws are loose and tighten these screws firmly, if necessary.

6. Cause: The grooves in the Needle are clogged with dirt and do not permit the loop of the upper thread to form properly.
 Solution: Clean the Needle with a soft rag. Be careful not to bend the Needle.

7. Cause: The slot (or the stitch hole) in the Presser Foot is too wide (or the stitch hole is too large). This causes the rising Needle to carry the fabric with it when sewing over thin fabrics, thus preventing the loop of the upper thread to form properly.
 Solution: Replace the incorrect Presser Foot with one having a correct slot (or stitch hole).

8. Cause: If a one-piece Presser Foot is used, the foot, when sewing from thick to thin fabrics, or conversely, does not hold the fabric down firmly.
 Solution: Hold the fabric down by hand while sewing, or replace the one-piece Presser Foot with a Hinged Presser Foot.

9. Cause: The pressure of the Presser Foot upon the fabric is insufficient. The fabric is not held down firmly.
 Solution: Increase the pressure upon the fabric.

10. Cause: The Needle is too close to the edge of the slot (or of the stitch hole) in the Presser Foot.
 Solution: Line up the Presser Foot as follows: Loosen the screw that holds the Presser Bar in position. This screw is located behind the Face Plate of the machine. Now turn the Presser Bar until the Needle goes through the center of the slot (or of the stitch hole) in the Presser Foot. Tighten firmly the above screw after this adjustment.

11. Cause: The Bobbin is empty.
 Solution: Replace with a filled Bobbin.

12. Cause: The end of the lower thread, which extends from the Bobbin, is too short and cannot be carried along and brought above the Feed Dog by the upper thread.
 Solution: Pull more thread (about four to five inches) out of the Bobbin Case.

13. Cause: The upper thread is too heavy for the Needle in use.
 Solution: Replace the Needle with one of the correct size.

14. Cause: The Needle is too heavy for the thread in use. The thread has too much space in the eye of the Needle.
 Solution: Replace the Needle with one of the correct size.

15. Cause: The thickness of the upper thread is not uniform. The thread has knots or heavy and thin portions.
 Solution: Replace the inferior thread with one of uniform thickness.

16. Cause: The upper thread may be too soft and does not form a proper loop underneath the Throat Plate.
 Solution: Replace the thread with one of proper quality. Use a somewhat stiffer thread.

17. Cause: Oil on the upper thread prevents proper formation of the loop underneath the Throat Plate.
 Solution: Remove the oily portion of the thread and prevent the upper thread from getting soaked with oil. Carefully wipe oil from Needle, Throat Plate and Hook and feed dog.

18. Cause: The Thread Take-up Spring (Check Spring) is not adjusted correctly. It has too much tension or releases the upper thread too late.
 Solution: Adjust the Thread Take-up Spring. The upper thread must become loose at the moment the Needle enters the fabric.

19. Cause: The Hook is timed too early or too late in relation to the Needle. If timed too early, the loop of the upper thread is still too small to be caught and entered by the point of the Loop Taker. If too late, the loop of the upper thread is already too large and twists sideways, thereby being missed by the point of the Loop Taker.
 Solution: Make certain that the Needle is pushed all the way up into the Needle Bar. Also check whether the Needle is timed correctly in relation to the Hook. For "Timing" follow this general rule: The Needle must have risen about 3/32 of an inch from its lowest position at the moment the point of the Hook is just at the center of the rising Needle. At this moment the point of the Hook must be about 1/16 of an inch above the eye of the Needle.

20. Cause: The clearance between the Needle and the point of the Hook is too large.
 Solution: Bring the point of the Loop Taker closer to the Needle. The point of the Loop Taker should be set as close as possible to the needle without touching it.

21. Cause: The point of the Hook is blunt, damaged or broken off.
 Solution: If the point of the Hook is worn or damaged to a minor degree only, sharpen it with a fine emery stone or with fine emery cloth, then polish it with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel. The material of the Hook must not be taken off from that side of the point that faces the Needle. If the point of the Hook is broken off or if the Hook is defective beyond repair, replace the old Hook with a new one.

22. Cause: The lower end of the Needle Bar is bent. The Needle, therefore, does not stitch straight into the fabric.
 Solution: If the machine turns easily, bring' the Needle Bar to its highest position, then tap the Needle Bar lightly with a hammer until the Needle goes through the center of the stitch hole in the Feed Dog.

23. Cause: The Needle Bar or Needle Bar Frame is badly worn. The Needle Bar is too loose in its bearings and sways sideways.
 Solution: Replace the worn Needle Bar with a new one. Replace also worn Needle Bar Frame.

24. Cause: The Needle Bar has play (lost motion) in vertical direction. This may be due to the Needle Bar linkage being badly worn.
 Solution: Replace the worn and defective parts with new ones.

25. Cause: The Throat Plate is not flat, but is slightly bent downward due to repeated dropping of the Presser.
 Solution: If facilities for repairs are available, place the old Throat Plate, top surface down, on a flat surface (surface plate) and straighten it by tapping it carefully with a hammer. If badly defective, replace the old Throat Plate with a new one.

26. Cause: The bottom surface of the Presser Foot does not rest fully (flush) upon the fabric.
 Solution: Check whether there is lint or dirt between the Presser Foot and the Presser Bar. Remove lint or dirt and tighten firmly the Presser Foot Screw. Check whether the Presser Foot rests upon the machine.  If the Presser Foot is defective, replace it with a Foot that rests with its entire bottom face upon the machine.

27. Cause: The type of fabric to be sewn makes the formation of the loop of the upper thread difficult. The fabric may also be sticky and, therefore, does not permit the proper formation of the loop of the upper thread.
 Solution: Experiment with various grades of threads and needles, until a proper stitch can be obtained. It may also be necessary to adjust the Hook in relation to the Needle in such a manner that a proper stitch can be obtained. Sometimes it will help to give a different tension to the upper thread or to the Thread Take-up Spring (Check Spring).

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Folded Seams

I have been having a problem occasionally with seams folding over as they run under the presser foot.  Not all the time, just some of the time.


I have linked this phenomenon to a specific feature of certain sewing machines,  This Kenmore 17881


 And this Riccar Super Lite


cause the folded-over seams but the Singer 403 and the Pfaff 1222 that I have used recently do not.

I think I have the issue pinpointed to the configuration of the throat plates.  The Kenmore and the Riccar have throat plates elevated a bit above the surrounding surface




while the Singer and Pfaff have throat plates level with the surrounding surface.




The elevated lip of the Kenmore and Riccar throat plates catches the seam allowance and pushes it back as the fabric feeds across the plate.  When a seam approaches the throat plate, I have to lift the fabric up and physically push the seam allowance where it belongs, then continue sewing.

Now that I know that, I will not use those machines for projects involving sewing over seams.

Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Needle On My Sewing Machine Breaks

This is the installment for "The Needle Breaks", another common problem.  Not all steps apply to all machines (if a bobbin case latch is mentioned and you have a top-loader, skip that step).  If you have a newer, electronic machine, I can't help you if these steps don't fix the problem.

  The steps do not need to be followed in sequence and not in order of the most likely to least likely.

  Pick the easiest and cheapest solutions first and work your way to the more complicated and expensive ones.

  If you notice errors or can suggest additional causes and solutions, please let me know so I can edit this post and keep it complete and accurate.

1. Cause: The operator pulls the fabric during sewing. The Needle strikes the presser foot or throat plate and bends or breaks.
Solution: The fabric must not be pulled during sewing. The machine alone must feed the fabric.

2. Cause: Some portions of the fabric are too hard or too thick. The Needle bends or breaks.
Solution: Sew SLOWLY over such hard or thick portions of the fabric. If necessary, use a heavier Needle.

3. Cause: There is no material between Presser Foot and Throat Plate during sewing. The thread gets en-tangled below the Throat Plate and the Needle breaks.
Solution: Make certain that there is always material between Presser Foot and Throat Plate during sewing.

4. Cause: The Needle is held loosely in the Needle Bar.
Solution: Insert a new needle and make certain to tighten the needle clamping screw firmly.

5. Cause: The Needle is bent and strikes the Presser Foot or the feed dog.
Solution: Replace the defective Needle with a new straight Needle.

6. Cause: The Needle is too long and hits the Bobbin Case.
Solution: Replace the wrong Needle with one of correct length. (This applies mainly to users of the Singer 206, 306, 319, and 320 models that require the 206x13 needle)

7. Cause: The Needle is set too low.
Solution: Insert a new Needle and push it entirely up into the Needle Bar. If the Needle Bar is set too low, adjust it correctly.

8. Cause: The stitch hole in the Feed Dog is too small for the Needle in use.
Solution: Select a Feed Dog with a sufficiently large stitch hole. The Needle must go through the center of the stitch hole.

9. Cause: The Throat Plate is not held firmly in place. Its screws are not tightened securely. The Throat Plate shifts around and is being hit by the Needle.
Solution: Locate the Throat Plate correctly and tighten firmly the throat plate screws.

10. Cause: The Presser Foot is not attached firmly to the Presser Bar and shifts sideways. The Needle hits the Presser Foot.
Solution: Tighten firmly the Presser Foot Screw.

11. Cause: The Presser Foot is not lined up correctly in the machine and is being struck by the Needle.
Solution: Line up the Presser Foot as follows: Loosen the screw that holds the Presser Bar in position. This screw is located behind the Face Plate of the machine. Now turn the Presser Bar until the Needle goes through the center of the slot (or of the stitch hole) in the Presser Foot. Tighten firmly the above screw after this adjustment.

12. Cause: The Hinge Type Presser Foot, when installed, is worn excessively. The lower portion (plate) of the Presser Foot has too much looseness and shifts sideways, causing the Needle to strike it.
Solution: Replace the worn Presser Foot with a new one.

13. Cause: The upper thread is too heavy for the Needle in use. The Needle bends, strikes the Throat Plate or Feed Dog and breaks.
Solution: Replace the wrong Needle with a correct one, or change the size of the upper thread. Consult the Needle and Thread" chart.

14. Cause: The upper thread has knots that cannot pass through the eye of the Needle.
Solution: Replace the inferior thread with one of good quality.

15. Cause: There is not sufficient pressure on the Presser Foot while sewing heavy fabrics.
Solution: When sewing heavy fabrics, increase the pressure on the Presser Foot.

16. Cause: The user of the machine removes the fabric from underneath the Presser Foot without releasing the upper thread tension.
Solution: Every time the fabric is withdrawn from the machine, the Presser Bar must be raised to its highest position by means of the Presser Bar or knee Lifter. This will release the tension of the upper thread. The fabric must always be withdrawn AWAY from the operator.

17. Cause: The Needle is still in the fabric while the operator tries to remove the material from the machine.
Solution: The Needle must always have risen ABOVE the fabric before the material is removed from the machine.

18. Cause: Dirt in the Needle Clamp prevents the Needle from stitching straight into the fabric.
Solution: Remove all dirt from the Needle Clamp, insert a new straight Needle and tighten firmly the screw that holds the Needle.

19. Cause: The lower end of the Needle Bar is bent. The Needle, therefore, does not stitch straight into the fabric.
Solution: Remove the bent Needle Bar and replace it with a new one.

20. Cause: The Needle Bar or the Bearings of the Needle Bar are worn excessively. The Needle Bar sways sideways; the Needle strikes the Presser Foot, the Feed Dog or the Throat Plate and breaks.
Solution: Replace the worn Needle Bar or the worn Needle Bar Frame with new parts.

21. Cause: The Thread Take-up Spring (Check Spring) is not adjusted correctly. It exerts too much pull on the upper thread at the moment the Needle enters the fabric. The Needle bends, strikes the feed dog, etc. and breaks.
Solution: Adjust the Thread Take-up Spring. The loop of this spring must have finished its upward motion at the moment the Needle enters the fabric.

22. Cause: The point of the Hook is too close to the Needle.
Solution: Adjust the clearance between the Needle and the Hook by moving the Hook somewhat away from the Needle. The point of the Hook should be set as close as possible to the Needle without touching it.


Happy Hunting!  Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pfaff 1222



I haven't attended the local Friday night auction for some time and I haven't bought a sewing machine in a while.  This week, the auction posted a photo of a Pfaff but, as usual, no description - not even model number which is prominently displayed on the front of the machine.  The auction site's photo was so small and fuzzy, I couldn't read the model number in the photo.

I went to the sale with the thought that, if it was a model with Dual Feed, I would bid on it.  I checked Ebay for comparables and arrived with a maximum bid in mind.  When I got there, I found an immaculate Pfaff 1222 free arm with Dual Feed.


 It had the instruction manual,


extension table,


 several feet,


 and three drawers full of notions.



Several potential bidders were closely examining the machine and I expected to be in for a fight if I wanted it.  As it turned out, all those other bidders wanted to steal it for pennies and I ended up with it for $85 - about 1/3 what they are selling for on Ebay and I didn't have to pay shipping!

Another surprise that accompanied the machine was an insert for a table to make the free arm more like a flatbed.


Unfortunately, neither of my tables with wells have the correct size opening.



  I may customize one of my other tables to take advantage of this accessory.

My purchase is just sitting in the garage right now and I am anxious to play with it.  Tomorrow is supposed to be nice weather and I will plan to take it to my basement shop to clean and oil and see how it performs.

Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop

Friday, January 16, 2015

Upper (Needle) Thread Breaks

  I found a very comprehensive troubleshooting chart in a service manual for industrial machines and edited it for home machines and home sewers.  I will publish it here in installments because it is just too long to do all at once.  Each installment will address a specific problem so you don't have to read through the whole document to find a solution to yours.  Not all steps apply to all machines (if a bobbin case latch is mentioned and you have a top-loader, skip that step).  If you have a newer, electronic machine, I can't help you if these steps don't fix the problem.

  The steps do not need to be followed in sequence and not in order of the most likely to least likely.

  Pick the easiest and cheapest solutions first and work your way to the more complicated and expensive ones.

  If you notice errors or can suggest additional causes and solutions, please let me know so I can edit this post and keep it complete and accurate.

This is the installment for "Upper (Needle) Thread Breaks", one of the most common problems.


1. Cause: The tension of the upper thread is too tight.
Solution: Loosen the tension of the upper thread by turning the Tension Nut counter-clockwise.

2. Cause: The machine is not threaded correctly.
Solution: Check whether the upper thread runs correctly from the spool of thread to the Needle.

3. Cause: The upper thread is of poor quality.  The thread may be too weak or it may be rotten due to improper storage and does not withstand the tension imposed on it.  The thread may also be too hard and not possess the necessary elasticity.
Solution: Loosen the tension of the upper thread by turning the Tension Nut counter-clockwise.  If possible, replace the inferior thread with one of good quality

4. Cause: The upper thread is of irregular thickness and has small knots which cannot pass through the eye of the needle.
Solution: Replace the inferior thread with one of good quality.

5. Cause: The upper thread has wrapped itself around the spool pin on top of the machine.
Solution: Unwind the thread from the spool pin.  Eventually, place a felt washer underneath the spool of thread.  If necessary, remove some of the thread from the full spool.

6. Cause: The upper thread is held back somewhere on its way from the spool of thread to the needle.
Solution: Examine the string of thread from the spool to the needle and eliminate any interference with the free motion of the thread.

7. Cause: The upper thread curls around itself before entering the tension disks.
Solution: Place a felt washer underneath the spool of thread.  If necessary, remove some of the thread from the full spool.

8. Cause: The eye of the needle is rough or sharp, or the grooves in the needle are too shallow.
Solution: Insert a new needle.

9. Cause: The needle is not straight.
Solution: Insert a new needle.

10. Cause:The needle is too fine for the upper thread and for the fabric being sewn.
Solution: Consult the Needle and Thread chart in the manual and insert a needle of the correct size.

11. Cause: The upper thread is too coarse for the size of needle that is being used.
Solution: Consult the Needle and Thread chart in the manual and select a thread of the correct thickness.

12. Cause: The needle is not inserted correctly in the machine. The needle grooves do not line up correctly.
Solution: Insert the needle so that the short groove faces the point of the hook.

13. Cause: The needle is threaded incorrectly.
Solution: Thread the needle so that the thread passes through the eye of the needle from the long groove to the short groove of the needle.

14. Cause: The wrong type of needle is inserted.
Solution: Consult the Instruction Manual and replace needle with the one recommended for the material being sewn.

15. Cause: The needle is bent and rubs against the stitch hole in the needle plate.
Solution: Check whether the needle is bent and replace it, if necessary with a new needle.

16. Cause: The operator pulls the fabric in the direction of sewing.  The Feed Dog cuts the upper thread.
Solution: The fabric must not be pulled during sewing.  The machine alone must feed the fabric.

17. Cause: The machine is started at full speed.
Solution: Start the machine at low speed and increase speed gradually.

18. Cause: The machine is started with the thread take-up not in its highest position.
Solution: Start the machine with the thread take-up lever in its highest position.

19. Cause: The bobbin is bent and cannot revolve freely in the bobbin case.
Solution: Replace the defective bobbin with a new one.

20. Cause: Bobbin is wound too full.
Solution: Remove some of the thread from the bobbin.

21. Cause: Thread is wound unevenly around the bobbin.
Solution: Replace the bobbin with one wound correctly.

22. Cause: The lower end of the needle bar is bent.  The needle strikes the presser foot, the throat plate, the feed dog, or the hook.
Solution: Replace the needle bar with one that is straight.

23. Cause: The throat plate is not held firmly in place and shifts around.  The needle strikes the side of the stitch hole in the throat plate.
Solution: Tighten firmly the screws holding the throat plate to the machine.

24. Cause: The feed dog is not held firmly in place and shifts around.  The needle strikes the side of the stitch hole in the feed dog.
Solution: Tighten firmly the screws holding the feed dog to the machine.

25. Cause: The needle is not pushed up entirely in the needle bar or in the needle clamp.
Solution: Push the needle up entirely in the needle bar.  Tighten firmly the screw that holds the needle.

26. Cause: The needle is not held securely in the needle bar.  The needle shifts slightly up and down.
Solution: Make sure the needle is pushed up entirely in the needle bar.  Tighten firmly the screw that holds the needle.

27. Cause: The bobbin case latch does not close entirely due to accumulation of dirt and lint underneath.  The upper thread is prevented from sliding freely around the bobbin case and breaks.
Solution: Remove dirt and lint under the latch.  Clean the entire bobbin case thoroughly with a small brush dipped in kerosene.

28. Cause: Lint or dirt has accumulated in the circular groove on top of the center post of the bobbin case holder (shuttle).  The center post is the part upon which the bobbin case is placed.  Due to the accumulation of dirt or lint, the bobbin case latch does not close entirely; the upper thread is prevented from sliding freely around the bobbin case and breaks.
Solution: Remove the dirt or lint from the circular groove of the center post.  Clean bobbin case holder thoroughly with a small brush dipped in kerosene.

29. Cause: The feed dog is timed too early.  Excessive tension of the upper thread is required to eliminate the small loops of thread which appear on the fabric.  The excessive tension causes the upper thread to break.
Solution: See whether loops of thread appear on the underside of the fabric.  If increased tension of the upper thread does not eliminate these loops, adjust timing of the feed dog.
30. Cause: The thread take-up spring is not adjusted correctly and does not take up the slack of the upper thread.  The needle pierces and tears the upper thread.
Solution: Adjust the take-up spring.  There must be no thread under the point of the needle when the needle is about to enter the fabric.

31. Cause: The thread take-up spring is bent out of shape or broken.
Solution: Bend the deformed spring back to its proper shape, if possible.  Replace a badly defective or broken spring with a new one.

32. Cause: The loop of the upper thread twists around itself below the throat plate, forming two small loops.  The point of the hook enters both loops, causing the upper thread to break.
Solution: The point of the hook is too close to the needle.  Adjust the clearance between the needle and the point of the hook so that the point of the hook is as close as possible to the needle without touching it.

33. Cause: The hook has burrs, rough spots, or sharp edges that cut the upper thread.  The point of the hook may be blunt or damaged.
Solution: All portions of the hook that come in contact with the upper thread must be perfectly smooth.  Smooth the defective portions of the hook with an oilstone or fine emery cloth, then polish with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.  If the point of the hook is damaged to a minor degree, sharpen it with a fine emery stone and polish with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.  The material must not be taken off the side of the hook point that faces the needle.  If the hook point is defective beyond repair, replace the old hook with a new one.

34. Cause: The head of the screw used for adjusting the tension of the bobbin case protrudes too far beyond the tension spring.  This causes the upper thread to catch and break.
Solution: Adjust the screw so that the upper thread can slide smoothly over it.  If necessary, remove some material from the head of the screw by grinding or filing.  Polish the head of the screw after this correction.  If a new screw can be obtained, replace the faulty screw with a new one.

35. Cause: The top surface of the bobbin case is damaged, or has burrs or rough spots preventing the upper thread from sliding smoothly around the bobbin case.
Solution: All portions of the bobbin case that come in contact with the upper thread must be perfectly smooth.  Smooth the defective portions of the bobbin case with an oilstone or fine emery cloth, then polish with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.

36. Cause: The small coil spring inside the bobbin case which presses against the bobbin case latch is either broken or has become weak, compressed, or clogged with dirt and lint.  The bobbin case latch no longer closes entirely and catches the thread.
Solution: Remove the latch and latch lever from the bobbin case, then remove the spring with a needle.  Clean the spring and stretch it somewhat, then replace in the bobbin case.  If the spring is broken, badly deformed, or too weak, replace it with a new spring.

37. Cause: The bobbin case holder (shuttle) may have rough spots or sharp edges that cut the thread.
Solution: Smoothen the defective parts with an oilstone or fine emery cloth, and then polish with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.

38. Cause: The hook or bobbin case may be misshapen and not permit the thread to slide freely around these parts.
Solution: Remove the slide plate from the machine, turn the balance wheel by hand , and observe how the upper thread slides around the hook or bobbin case.  Take those parts out of the machine and with fine emery cloth, remove any excess material from those portions where the upper thread gets caught.  Polish these portions with crocus cloth or on a buffing wheel.  If not successful, replace the defective part.

39. Cause: The hook is not adjusted (timed) correctly in relation to the needle.
Solution: Adjust the machine so that the point of the hook enters the loop of the upper thread at the correct time.  For timing, follow this general rule: The needle must have risen about 3/32 of an inch from its lowest position at the moment the point of the hook is just at the center of the rising needle.  At this moment, the point of the hook must be about 1/16 of an inch above the eye of the needle.(Do not attempt without instructions for hook timing.  Use this solution to determine if hook is out of time and then either adjust in accordance with instructions in a service manual or take to an experienced technician.)

40. Cause: Some of the parts along which the upper thread passes (thread guides, tension discs, thread take-up spring, take-up lever, etc.) have become rough or sharp and possess deep, sharp grooves.
Solution: With fine emery cloth or emery cord remove all rough or sharp portions and grooves.  If these parts are too badly worn, replace them with new parts.

41. Cause: The top edge and inside of the stitch hole in the feed dog have become rough, sharp, or chipped.  This may be due to wear or broken needles.
Solution: Smooth the stitch hole with fine emery cord.  If the damage is excessive, replace the feed dog with a new one.

42. Cause: The needle is too close to the edge of the slot (or stitch hole) in the presser foot and rubs against the presser foot.
Solution: Check the straightness of the needle and replace it if necessary.  If the presser foot is not correctly aligned, loosen the screw that holds the presser bar in position; turn the presser bar until the needle goes through the center of the slot (or hole in the presser foot; tighten the screw firmly.

43. Cause: The needle is too close to the hook and rubs against the point of the hook.
Solution: Check the straightness of the needle and replace it if necessary.  If the new needle still touches the point of the hook, adjust the clearance between needle and hook by moving the hook somewhat from the needle.  The point of the hook should be as close as possible to the needle without touching it.

44. Cause: The portions of the presser foot close to which the needle passes are rough, sharp, or chipped.
Solution: Remove the presser foot and smooth the defective portions with fine emery cloth.  Polish them afterward with crocus cloth.

45. Cause: The balance wheel revolves in the wrong direction.
Solution: The feed dog must move the fabric away from the operator.  Observe the feed dog and change direction of rotation so that the above requirement is met.(Mostly applies to treadle machines that can spin either direction)

46. Cause: Sometimes the fabric being sewn causes breakage of the upper thread.
Solution: Experiment with various grades of thread and with different thread tensions.

47. Cause: A needle thread of the wrong twist is used, causing the thread to unravel or break
Solution: Use needle thread with twist recommended for the machine in use.  Left twist thread is required for single needle machines.(Probably only applies to industrial machines)

Happy Hunting!  Ed
Ed's Vintage Sewing Machine Shop