Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Singer 500a Will Not Form Zig Zag Stitch

To keep all my old sewing machines limber, I like to take them off the shelf occasionally and use them on a project.  I really should tag each machine to tell me when was the last time it was oiled and used but I’m just too lazy.  Anyway, I pulled this Rocketeer off the shelf, oiled it and tested the stitches.  I have no idea how long it had been sitting unused, maybe years.

Straight stitch was fine

but wide zig zag was not. 

I narrowed the stitch width and it got a wee bit better, but still not in the acceptable range.

My first thought was that the needle bar had been shoved up in its clamp by hitting a button or zipper but the marks on the needle bar were in the correct position so I knew that was not the cause.

The next thought was hook timing.  The point of the hook should pass just above the eye of the needle when the lower timing mark on the needle bar is at the needlebar bushing.  It was, so that was not the issue.

When I was watching the hook pass by the needle, I noticed that there seemed to be a more-than-usual separation between the needle and the hook point.  The service manual says that distance should be .018 inches but I measured it at .032 inches – almost twice what it should be.

To be sure that the needlebar was not bent, I installed a size 18 needle and a straight stitch needleplate and checked where the needle passed through the hole in the needleplate.  It looked just like the drawing in the service manual, so the needlebar was not bent.

The next step was to move the hook closer to the needle.  The service manual says to loosen the two setscrews indicated by "O"

And move the entire hook saddle.  It was easy enough, after loosening the two screws, the hook saddle swivels around the shaft it is mounted on and the hook point can be moved closer to or farther from the needle.  I moved the hook as close to the needle as possible without hitting it and tightened the screws.

I now still have good straight stitch and the narrow zig zag is as it should be.

I am not getting the full width zig zag that the machine is capable of, but that is a different problem that I will tackle later.



Michelle said...

Try opening the left end and put oil on the round slide that moves in and out to make the needle zig zag back and forth. Work it with your hand until it moves freely all the way from left to right at the widest stitch. If it is stubborn, take the hair dryer to it and soften the old oil. This always works for me.

Jonathan said...

I had no idea the hook could shift on these machines. Thanks for posting. I have trouble remembering when I last used a machine also. I think I'm going to start putting post it notes (with a date) on the bed of the machine.

Phyllis in Iowa said...

Thank you for posting these clear, well written tutorials!

anna sews said...

i also have a 500a just left to get serviced. but i wanted to ask you about my necchi i just got it and was giving it a look through i noticed i am missing the screw that holds the feed dog lever from the right side i assume it is a screw the other side has a pin. am i correct and if so where can i find one or what size is it

Revati said...

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Anonymous said...

Can you tell me where I can find a written source of trouble shooting information like this for my Singer 403 and Singer 500?
Thanks for any help.

Patricia on the farm

anna sews said...

i have serviced my 500a but my feet won't sit straight i have changed the screw that holds feet in place and have bought several different feet nothing has corrected this issue they all sit crooked??? what might be the problem?

jane said...

Boy do I wish I could take a class or seminar in this kind of stuff. Unfortunately I have a problem learning it from a written lesson.

Dody said...

I have a singer 338 with fashion disc ( cams) that I'm trying to work on. It's driving me crazy. Someone gave me the machine. I like its color (mint green). I cleaned it up oiled it put a new belt on. It sews fine, but I can not get the cams to work right. It sews when I put the cams in, but not the design that it's suppose too. I think I'm doing something wrong.

Dody said...

Thanks in advance if you can help.

Anonymous said...

My Mom still has her Singer 500a and is still sewing at age 93. I learned to sew on that great machine. Still going strong....Mom and the machine! She made curtains last week and I made a blouse while visiting a couple of months ago. Thanks for the Fitbit bracelet pattern. Will make one too....or several!!