Monday, June 11, 2012

Singer 221: How to remove the bobbin case base

Rose emailed me about her Singer 221 (aka Featherweight).  She turned the hand wheel backwards and it is all bound up.  I told her I thought it might have a thread lock.

There is a free adjuster's manual available on line.  If you go to my resources page and scroll down to the link about FW you will see it.

First remove the needle plate.  Betsy is demonstrating this.  I like to use the Brownell bit set.  She, however, is a fan of the long shaft screw driver.


Now the proverbial finger of the bobbin case is released from the position bracket on the needle plate.  When you replace the bobbin case base be sure it is positioned correctly with the finger nestled in the position bracket. (This is a 301, it is the exact same concept though the parts are not necessarily interchangeable)


Loosen the gib screw that holds the gib in place and rotate the gib outward.

 Now you will be able to turn the bobbin case base clockwise a bit and lift it out

If there are threads locked in behind the hook, that will be another post.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for all the great posts with clear pictures on how to maintain the Featherweight - I love your blog! I have just acquired my first Singer, a 222 (http://www.retrotechgeneva.com/2012/07/sewing-machine-sundays-singer.html) and I am reading all your posts just in case I need to take anything apart later. So far it seems ok, although I have to play with the tension settings a bit to get everything nice and even (sometimes the bobbin thread forms loops). I am glad there are so many resources on the Featherweight online, and I am really glad to have found your site especially.

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    1. Thank you for reading. When you say sometimes the bobbin thread forms loops, I take it you mean on the top side of your work. When that happens, for any readers who don't know, that means that the top thread is too tight, or the bobbin thread is too loose. If the loops are on the bottom, then that means that the top thread is too loose (or that the bobbin thread is too tight). Tension is adjustable and remember that the numbers on the dial are ARBITRARY and for comparison only. So if your perfect ss tension is at three, looser would be less than three and tighter would be more.....

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  2. Hello Elizabeth,

    Thank you so much for responding and for your help with figuring out the tension; I really appreciate it. The loops are on the bottom, so I adjusted the top tension a bit and it did make a difference. Thanks for clarifying that the numbers are arbitrary; I was a bit worried about having to increase the tension - on my Elna Grasshopper, I keep it close to 0 for normal sewing as the manual indicates and it works just fine.

    I have a couple more questions if you have some time: the +/- indicator on the tension indicator dial is not pointing due north as shown on the manual - does it need to be? It doesn't seem to be moveable by hand and I would like to avoid disassembling the tension apparatus if it is not necessary (seems to adjust the tension fine anyway). The other thing is that the tension discs/ thread guides are not completely tight on the machine - I am not sure if there is a bit of play naturally since this is the first Singer I have used.

    Also, there is a faint vapor/smoke that comes out of the motor area when I start to sew and it has a bit of a plasticky smell. It fades quickly and I have read this is normal (old dust burning off?) but I was just wondering if you had any input. We looked inside the foot controller and also took off the receptacle to take a look, but everything is so clean and new-looking that it seems hardly worth the trouble to remove and examine the motor also if we don't have to (plus risk having a bear of a time taking it off and reinstalling it).

    Thanks so much!

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    1. Hello Adwoa,

      First, I am not an expert so keep that in mind.......

      I do not believe that electric motors are supposed to smoke and smell like plastic. I would not use it with out looking at the motor inside to be sure there is nothing burning up......but I am no expert.

      The +/- indicator is also arbitrary and it only needs to match the manual if you want it to. Someone took it out and did not pay attention to that orientation when it was re-installed.

      The tension discs are supposed to be totally loose when the presser foot is up. When the presser foot is down the discs should close on themselves and provide tension to the thread that passes between them, the looser the tension the more "play" but actually there should not be much play at all.

      -E

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  3. Thanks for the great site and great photos. Recently acquired a 301 - the same model my grandfather used. We used to bunk together, he was more or less bedridden the last couple years of his life and made 20+ quilts with a 301... I HATED the sound of that machine when I was trying to fall asleep - now I love it. Glad I was able to rescue a 301 and restore it using your site...

    Thanks!
    john M.

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    1. Oh, how sweet is that! My grandfather did not sew, he collected stamps. Very quiet hobby. I love him still, though he has been gone for many many years. What a nice memory for you as you sew with your 301. I am touched.

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    2. Me too...:-)

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  4. I just got an old 301 at a garage sale for 25 bucks! I am so thrilled. But, I can't get the bobbin to come out of the machine by lifting the little hinge and pulling. Do you think I need to take the bobbin case assembly out like you have described above and oil it real good? I know the machine needs tlc and will do so, I just thought I would take the bobbin case out now.

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    1. NO. You should not have to remove the bobbin case base to remove the bobbin case. If the machine has sat for a long time it could just be stuck with old oil and dirt. Gently heat the area with a hair dryer for at least 180 seconds. Let it cool and try it again. If you carefully squirted some denatured alcohol in there it might loosen it too

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    2. Thank you! I will try all your suggestions tomorrow. I really appreciate you taking time for my question!

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  5. I have struggled since Saturday trying to figure out the housing on the bobbin for my 301A I just bought. I bought it off Craigslist, fellow says he buys them on the cheap and cleans and repairs and makes little $ reselling them. I am still happy with it and think I got it for a reasonable price. Yet the clue should have been when I went to look at it, he was clueless about this machine and really had little knowledge with anything related to sewing machines. Once I had the machine home and under bright lights, it is filthy, hasnt been cleaned in years. I initially took off the throat plate to clean under there. Wiped the machine down and learned how to thread it etc. Then the problem came when I tried sewing and the bobbin case wouldn't do right? I tried everything. Thought maybe the "hooker" bobbin housing needed to be taken out and cleaned. I was on internet all night long. Now this evening I was still struggling. I remembered reading that the 301 is basically at Featherweight so I thought I would query Featherweights/301's. I knew my problem was with the bobbin housing spinning loose but couldn't figure out the problem? Your detailed photos and narratives have put me in the right direction! Eureka! When I initially took off the throat plate, I had no idea when replaced the top pin of the bobbin housing needed to go through that slot on bottom of plate. Thank you so much. I am good to go now! I never go return to a site to post a reply or review but I am so pleased I need to give you my thanks! Many thanks. I will definately be bookmarking your site.

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  6. hello,
    i used these instructions and removed a thread lock, i think. when i try to sew it gets jammed up after about four stitches. might that indicate thread caught somewhere behind the hook? have you done a post on that?
    or might it be that i haven't put things back together correctly?
    the thread locks seem to happen a lot with my machine. is it something to do with how / what i'm sewing? i am a bundle of questions! i would be grateful if you have any suggestions. thank you for this post - i have reffered to it many times.

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    1. Be sure that the bobbin case base finger is positioned correctly in the needle plate bracket. Be sure to bring your bobbin thread to the top of your work before commencing sewing. Be sure that your needle is positioned correctly and that you have a new needle. Be sure that you have the bobbin threaded correctly in the bobbin case. Make sure you have all correct parts.

      You could have a thread caught in the looper. That would require removing the hook. If so, email me via contacts and I will direct you.

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  7. Hello - I am trying to clear a thread jam by removing the bobbin case. However, the gib screws will not budge and seem completely frozen. Do you have any tricks or tips for loosening those screws?

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  8. Oil and heat. Repeat. Use liquid wrench or tri flow. Apply heat with a hair dryer. Do it over and over and over and over and over and over.

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  9. Hi, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    I have followed all your steps, through rotating the gib outwards, but the bobbin case base is stuck tight. Any suggestions? Heat and liquid wrench as for the previous person?

    Thank you!

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