Sunday, July 8, 2012

Singer 201-2 Tension issues

This Singer 201 -2 Centennial is for sale.  I think..  I finally got around to servicing it and getting it stitching  I thought that it was all good to go a few weeks ago.  I tried sewing with it and it was a mess. The thread would get caught somewhere along its path around the hook.  Then the bobbin case would pop out of its proper position in the position bracket and that would be that.

I re-read Rain's blog  all about 201-2 bobbin case maintenance.  I also read his post about removing the hook.  I made sure that the bobbin case was seated correctly and, for good measure I took the hook out and checked that the retaining clips were tight.  Yup.  All good.  Then I looked at the position bracket.  I had  taken it out to get the hook out anyway.   Something did not look quite right to me.  I compared it to the WIP (work in progress)  201 and sure enough, the position bracket was bent.
Now, I know that I did not bend that.  As a matter of fact, this was a part that I purchased on eBay because the original piece was broken, just at that spot.  When I installed this on the Centennial I was unaware that it was bent.  I thought it was supposed to look like that.

I gently bent the piece back into place but I decided that I wanted to use the un-damaged bracket on the case I sell it.

I put that in and the  issue  was solved.  I finished cleaning the machine and tested it.  Very nice stitches.  And it ran like a top.  So fast... so very fast. And quiet.  This is a really nice machine.

Cosmetically it shows its age.  It was a school machine and came with the 401 four drawer school cabinet.  You can see initials carved in the bed of the machine.  I think there are about 4 or 5 sets.   Otherwise it looks ok.  It shines up nicely.  I hope to take some decent photos, just in case.... My camera is sick.  I think I have dropped in one too many times.

I have two   other  201-2s.  One is not usable and the other is "mine."  That machine has the first motor that I rebuilt and so I have decided to keep it.   I think....but it is having tension issues.  It would sew fine at "normal" to slow speeds but if I ran it fast at all, the tension would be all wrong.  Stitches would be ugly with loops on the bottom intermittently.  I knew something was wrong.

  I took out the bobbin case and oiled and cleaned all around in there.  It was pretty clean.  I examined the needle plate. AH HA!  A big old burr on the needle plate
I sanded that down and for good measure I honed the hole as well.  Still not better.  DANG

Out came the bobbin case again.  I figured it had to be something to do with the bobbin tension. I just did not see how the top tension could loosen that easily and intermittently.

The tension felt fine when I pulled on the thread.  It was a little raspy, but the tension itself felt perfect.
I dug around in the spring with my dental pick.  Voila.  LINT!!!!!  
That helped, but there were still times when the stitch would just, well, SUCK.  The 201 is supposed to have the LOVELIEST stitch.  But this one was not so lovely.

So then I went back to square one.  the thread would pop out of the first thread guide.  It was not tight to the body of the machine so I gently tap tap tapped it into place.  No better.  By now its time to go to visit some friends.  I had to give up.  Only temporarily.  The rest of the story......tomorrow.


  1. Hi! I have a 1941 201 and it's tension pin is stuck. While not a huge deal now (I'm rewriting it, weeeeellllll...... my dad is rewiring it for me, it's a daddy daughter project) I do want to get to it. I got a tip that I could put a drop of wd40 on the pin and heat it with a hair dryer to get the pin to pop back out. Does this sound copacetic with you? Its really jammed in there and I haven't been able to take apart the dials to clean it out.

    I was so excited to save this baby. I have been looking for a 201 forever and found this one on Craigslist for $95 and inside of a #42 Deco cabinet! It came with every attachment known to man and a few I had never heard of. I can't wait to get it up and running and throw my junky plastic Brother off a tall roof.

  2. HI Alice
    WD 40 is not a lubricant. It is a Water Displacement (WD) formula (40) designed to get water away from where it isn't supposed to be.....It also leaves a sticky residue behind which will make the tension pin stuck even more. I have soaked gummed up parts in denatured alcohol with good success. I also use LA awesome as a great degreaser but DO NOT use it on the body of a 201 or you will mar the finish. (Ask me how I know). I have used degreaser on tension parts and then I rinse the with denatured alcohol and then dry them really well and then a drop of Tri Flow or SM oil. Tri Flow is probably the best stuff to use. It has penetrating qualities and won't harm things. Good luck with your 201 I love all of mine. Well two fo the three. The third one has become a project Read all about it coming soon to this blog...