Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kenmore 158 tension assembly

I promised a reader that I would post a tutorial about the Kenmore 158 tension assembly.  As best as I can tell, the 158.1701 (the assembly in question) looks the same or similar to this one.
Oh my, I had no idea how dirty it was.  This is from a 158.1803.

The first thing to do is take the whole kitnkaboodle out of the machine.
Loosen the set screw but don't take the screw out.  It is tiny and you might lose it.  It will release the assembly without coming all the way out.
Next remove the hex screw from the face of the tension assembly
The indicator ring will come out as well
Then you will see this
You will have to pry this out.  You can see that when you replace it, it will only fit ONE way onto the stud.

 Next you will see the wavy washer.
This should fall right out when you flip the assembly over to get this:
Pull this off and take note of the notch on the inside. (I am not the first person to take this tension assembly apart)
 This is what you get next.  The washer is quite tight and the stop washer is even tighter.

To get to the check spring you have to loosen the set screw.

You have to remove the washer and the stop washer next.  Or you could do this before you release the check spring.  Might be easier.  Check out the position of the stop washer tab.  You want it like this when you re-assemble
The washer comes off readily.  Pry the stop washer off gently.  You then get this.  The cogged "nut" willscrew off easily.  Then take off the spring and the tension release pin stop washer.
Note the position of the "nibs" (red arrow) on the tension release pin stop washer.  Don't put it in backwards.  It won't work.  Ask me how I know.


Tension release pin
Now I admit, I did not take this whole thing apart here.  I just spread things out a bit so that you can see how they go.  There are three tension discs.  One is flat.  The other two are concave.  Make sure that the concave discs "kiss" the flat one between eachother with the concave sides facing the flat discs.  I think that you can see this here.  If your machine does not accept a twin needle you will only have two discs and they should "kiss' eachother with the concave sides in.
A and E  are the outer two discs.
If you want to change the amount of "spring" in the check spring, you must move it one way or the other in the stud.  The short end of the spring fits into one of the slots in the stud. Can't see it so well here.  Sorry.


You want things position about like this before you put the casing back on over the check spring
If it doesn't work quite the way you like it, fiddle with it.  Move the check spring tail one "notch" on the stud and see what happens.
  Replace the casing making sure that you line it up with the tab on the back of the disc

And make sure that the check spring sits in the indentation in the front of the disc.
Make sure that you tighten the set screw adequately.  Otherwise the whole assembly will twist and you will be very sad.    It means starting over, basically.

Put the tension release pin in next.  It will really only go in one way.  The head is the part that comes into contact with the tension release pin washer which goes on next

Next put the spring in
Then the cogged screw.  Just get it started.

 The Stop washer goes next.  It is snug.  Don't force it.  It must go all the way to the threads.  The little tab should line up at the top and should match one of the cogs on the screw.

Next comes the little washer and then the numbered dial.
 When you put the numbered dial on, be sure that little tab on the inside is positioned to the RIGHT of the stop washer tab. It won't twist far enough otherwise.

 Then comes the wavy washer, the tabbed washer and the indicator ring
The tabbed washer sits on top of the wavy washer snugly.  Be sure it is positioned firmly.  It only goes one way.  Lucky us
Next put on the indicator ring.  It has to fit one way or the other.  The tabs on the washer must fitin the indentations on the ring.  Line up the white mark as close to zero as you can.(PS the white mark is on the opposite side of the indentations)
Replace the screw and tighten.

When replacing the tension assembly on the machine you will need the ring that goes between the tension assembly and the machine.  It has a serrated notch where a pin from the tension assembly fits
Put the whole assembly back in the machine, tighten the set screw and stitch it in.  WHEW
I marked the set screw scar so that I could re- align it.  You can see that I have had the assembly out a couple of times during this process today.  New set screw scars.
I suppose I could have put that white indicator on the top.  This project was a bit of a challenge.  I don't think it matters where it is.


30 comments:

  1. What'd I tell ya? YOU are WOMAN! Tension assemblies scare me. I've had many apart, and every time, I screw them up and have to put them back together 15 different ways before I get them right! :/

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  2. Wow. They scare me too. I'm still scared after seeing this, but reassured SOMEONE can do it. Maybe me some day. Thanks!

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  3. This helped me like crazy. I've been looking all over the internet for a diagram of how to put the GD tension control back together! I'm not sure it was ever right, since I'm the not the first owner. Then one day the sewing machine (I have a Kenmore 158.1752) TIPPED OVER ON A DOZEN CUPCAKES. Don't ask. I had to take apart the the tension assembly to clean it, and when I did, things popped off faster than I could account for them so I never knew how to put it back together. This tutorial was was great, and my only reservation is that I don't have the exact same dial (mine has a different indicator ring knob and screw, and doesn't come with a wavy washer or tabbed washer, and the knob came out a little jiggly). But, even if it's slightly wrong, it seems to be working! Hallelujah! Also, why is a diagram of the tension assembly so hard to come by on the internet? Anyway, thanks so much again.

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  4. I FIXED IT! IM SO HAPPY! omg who know a 16 year old could do this. i broke the dial by accident, scoured the internet until i finally found this real tutorial, and thanks to this i fixed it just in time before my parents got home. xD now they'll never know it was broken in the first place hallelujah

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  5. Thank you for this picture by picture blog, I was looking all over the internet for the reassembly steps, I took apart the knob out of frustration. I sewed and undid the stitches 4 times on a chiffon top , couldn't get the stitches right so I thought my tension needed readjusting. Well now thanks to you i don't have to buy a whole new tension knob.

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  6. I'm so glad I found your blog, it has excellent information!! If I am just replacing one tension thingy for a new one can I just loosen that set screw put in the new one and tighten? Or do I have to bother with all those other details in the part you talked about?

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    1. If you are replacing one tension assembly with a new one, I would start with the easiest thing. Just put it in and see how it works.

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  7. A friend messed around with her Kenmore 158 tension assembly, didnt take any photo 'before' she took it apart and was in trouble. I found your blog post and was able to put it back together. Thank you so much.

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  8. I teach classes at a Grandma's Attic Quilt Shop in Dallas Oregon and track down old machines to fix. We use them in classes and donate them to people that have found quilting but do not own a machine. Your site has been and will always be my GO TO for fixes and repairs. This article was awesome and very good photos. Thank you so much!!!

    Cheryl

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  9. Wow! The local sewing machine doctor seemed unable to cure my 158.18022's tension problems, but you have provided the remedy with this tutorial. I was able to take the assembly apart, move the spring a bunch of notches and get it all back together. The machine now runs like a champ. Seems to me that you should be able to teach trigonometry, quantum mechanics, and all things incomprehensible (as far as I am concerned), given your obvious gift of patience and your ability to cut to the quick. Thank you.

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    1. Your local sewing machine doctor could have ordered a brandy new tension assy (assembly) from his supplier if he had cared. BUT it is so much better that you figured it out yourself. It's ok. Next time you drive by the Sewing Machine Doctor's shop, feel the pleasure of your accomplishment (or flip the bird, which ever gives you the most satisfaction).

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  10. Thank You very much ! Your information and pictures helped a lot!

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  11. Cannot thank you enough! Perfect instructions helped fix a mess I created a few years ago and haven't been able to fix!!!

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  12. Thank you so much for this. I bought a Kenmore 158.1350 + cabinet at a garage sale and it works, but the tension assembly is very wobbly. There is no tension on it right now no matter how I twist things. I'm pretty sure this will be the remedy, and if not I'll buy another assembly.

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  13. Is the top thread tension supposed to have that metal casing that is pictured below the white indicator? Is it also supposed to sit tightly in the machine or can it still work if it's loose and can be easily taken out. On the part I have, I can see the spring and pin and have nothing covering it. Can the piece still be used this way? I tried to post a picture to accompany the post but was not able to do so.

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    1. Some Kenmore tension assemblies are different. The tension assembly should sit in the machine so that only the dial turns. If the whole assembly turns it is not seated properly and will not give you good stitches.

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  14. You are a livesaver! I received a Necchi 539 in very sad shape. The tensioner was not working, but information on that machine is scarce. I did a google images search for sewing machine tension assembly diagrams and found this blog. The tension assembly installed on my Necchi is almost identical to the Kenmore 158. Thanks to you, I now have a functional tension assembly on my Necchi. I will post a link to this page in the Necchi forums so others can also benefit from your excellent post.

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  15. I recently acquired a Kenmore 148.292 and made the mistake of not taking a picture of the tension dial assembly before taking it apart. It should be relatively simple as there are only 5 pieces, but I can't figure it out. Can you help me? Thanks!

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    1. There are so many different styles of tension assemblies. I did the same thing yesterday with a Singer 201. Go to Sears Parts Direct and type in your model number You can look at the diagram and find the part number for your assembly. Then you could search that on the web and see if you can find a replacement. Good luck

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  16. You are a lifesaver!
    I managed to have my assembly explode across the table as I attempted to disassemble it for cleaning. While not EXACTLY the same assembly, your instructions and helpful hints were stellar, and I'm back up and running again. Thank you!!!!!

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  17. Thank you so much for this. Picked up an old sewing machine and the tension adjuster was totally wrong.

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  18. my tension knob is missing. do i really need that to sew.

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  19. Yes. Check with Sewing Parts Online. They will have a tension assembly, I bet

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  20. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Search 1/2 online and finally found you! Did it myself following your instructions!

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    1. As my husband loves to say " We aren't building pianos here."

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  21. My Kenmore 158 had a slightly different tension assembly but this was enough information to get the job done.
    Thank you for posting the instructions.

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  22. I have a Japanese clone zig zag deluxe- I've seen them badged as White and Stradivaro. I like to think I saved it from a landfill because it was freely given by a stranger. The tension assembly was nonworking and it had a sticky reverse button. I disassembled and reassembled the tension assembly several times before I stumbled onto your blog. This post helped me tremendously!!! Mine is a little different- no stop washer, no tabbed washer, a couple extra smooth washers on either side of the numbered knob. But I followed your instructions where applicable and it worked like a charm!!! I don't know what I was doing wrong, but it's all better now!! Add a good oiling and now it hums beautifully!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!

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