Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I have three 201s.  I am keeping the very pristine 201-2 that came in a lovely #42 cabinet and the 201-3 that I treadle.   The other one is cosmetically challenged.  I got it out the other day.  It really sews quite nicely.  I cleaned out the gunk from the needle clamp area.  Those of you familiar with the 201 know that sometimes getting that needle clamp back on with its "built in" thread guide is a PITA.  I managed to do it without too much confusion.  Afterward I noticed that the needle clamp had more play than I thought it should.  It sewed ok, but I was concerned that at high speed, the stitch would get wonky.  I love a nice stitch.

I spent a fair amount of time fecking around with it.  More than I should have.  I even tried to find a different needle clamp in my SR parts stash.  No luck.  Finally, I gave up and put the machine aside for a bit and played with the 401.

Sunday I decided to take another look.  I put Daffy (as in the Duck.  You know, ugly duckling) on the dining room table and set up Priscilla, the Pristine 201, in her cabinet

"Honey, come see if you think there is more play in this needle clamp than in Priscilla."  (I didn't really call the machine Priscilla, it would have totally confused the DH)

"Definitely."  He then sat down and scrutinized Daffy's needle bar area.  "It's not the needle clamp that's loose.  It's the whole needle bar.  Take a look."

"See?  When I move the needle clamp (B12) the whole thing moves.  If you could just tighten that screw (S3) that holds the needle bar connecting link (V3) it might help.  But you can't get to it."
I know that you know that he didn't really say THAT.   He really said "The whole thing moves and you need to tighten it up.  Looks like that screw might do it, but you can't get to it."

I said, "Oh yes I can." and I turned the handwheel to position the screw (S3) in an accessible position.

I tightened it up and there was NO PLAY in the needle clamp.  There also was NO MOVEMENT in the handwheel.  It appears that one must not tighten S3 too much.  I backed it off a bit and found that there was some play, but not much and certainly not nearly as much as there had been.  It was comparable to Priscilla's needle clamp play so I was happy.

So what did Steven do?  He looked at the problem area and followed it backward through the mechanics of the machine.  Four years ago Ray White taught us to do that on the first day of class.  I just focused too much on the needle clamp and failed to look at the bigger picture.  It is good to remember this.

The machine was also missing the second to the last thread guide.  I did find one in my stash and I installed it today.

The machine is quiet and smooth.  It is quieter than it was, now that the needle clamp has less play.  It makes quite a lovely stitch and I am enjoying sewing the dolls with it.  (I had to put the 401 away, the thread kept getting caught in the bobbin case.  Something is wrong there. )

I am pleased that the machine is working so well.  I have someone potentially interested in it and, while it was sewing nicely, that needle play bugged me to no end.  I was not happy about it.  Now, I am very happy with how the machine functions and absolutely happy to let it go. 

Today Steven returned home from Vermont.  He saw me sewing with Daffy.

"How's it working?"

"Great and I installed a new thread guide, too," and I showed him.

"Did you write a blog post about fixing the needle clamp play?"

"Not yet."

But now I have.  I wonder, do you think he wanted to show off?  


  1. Was Daffy the one I sewed on? It was such a pleasant machine, I should have taken it with me. The 201 that I rescued and you redid the motor on is not as sweet running as that one. Maybe I just bond with Velveteen Rabbits. Wish I could have taken the Ray White classes.

  2. From the photos, he looks like a rub down with TR3 will serve him well.
    Was it the faceplate thread guide?
    You a Steven, a formidable team! I suppose if he hasn't caught the bug by now, he never shall.

  3. I too had a problem with the bobbin thread getting caught in my 401. I was using a very fine thread. Changing to a slightly thicker thread solved the magic!